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Emplotment as Epic in Archaeological Writing: The Site Monograph as Narrative


To emplot a narrative as epic is to present a story of vast scope and multiple plots as a legitimate member of a tradition of other such stories. This article argues that emplotment as epic is the broadest of three levels of plot in archaeological writings. At that level, the site monograph emerges as a characteristically archaeological form of narrative, fundamental to archaeology as a discipline and a source of chronic anxiety for archaeologists. The ‘stories’ told in site monographs are epic in length, diversity of materials covered and multiplicity of themes, plots and authors. Indeed, the more complexities of that sort the better, since those are features that help to emplot the work as good archaeology.

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