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Excavating Tradition: Alternative Archaeologies as Legitimation Strategies

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Abstract For the most part, religiously-motivated actors become interested in archaeological findings when these findings appear to support their religious assumptions, though a small but notable minority seek clues to the ideologies and practices of their presumptive religious ancestors in the archaeological record. This involvement in archaeology can vary tremendously in depth, from trained LDS archaeologists seeking support for The Book of Mormon at Mesoamerican excavation sites, to casual references about Atlantis by ordinary participants in New Age spiritual groups. In many cases, religious appeals to the authority of archaeology to support a specific issue become inextricably bound up with appeals to the authority of tradition, in part because archaeology is brought to bear on past events that are already a part of a given tradition’s sacred narratives.

Affiliations: 1: University of Tromsø, IHR/HSL, Breiviklia N-9037 Tromsø Norway


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