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The idea, popularized and expanded by John Chapman, that objects were deliberately broken before the end of their use‐life within a ritual or ceremonial context so that particular fragments could be taken away for circulation within separate social spheres before being deposited in structured contexts. The act of breakage and distribution of parts betokens the creation, maintenance, and development of a set of social relationships. Some objects, for example clay figurines in 5th millennium bc central Europe, may have been made so that they could be broken in particular ways and later reunited. There is also evidence that parts of a significant initial object may be broken again and the pieces given to third parties, starting a string of events that cascaded objects away from their source as increasingly fragmentary components, a process Chapman refers to as enchainment.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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