Myth and Folklore

Amy Gazin‐Schwartz

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

Myth and Folklore

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  • Archaeology
  • Historical Archaeology



Folklore and myth intersect with archaeology in several ways. Archaeological sites and landscape features may be the focus of traditional lore and practices. Folklore and mythology about these features reveal cultural interpretations of their meaning, and place those sites in the context of socially understood history. They may also direct our attention to landscape features that are not materially modified, but are the locus of significant cultural meaning. This article first considers the historical relationships between folklore or myth and archaeology, primarily focusing on European and American perspectives. Because issues of authenticity affect these relationships, it addresses how folklorists have dealt with those issues. Next, it examines the folklore of archaeology and myth, looking at how archaeological sites are the focus of traditional stories and practices in different parts of the world. A third section evaluates the use of folklore and myth for archaeological interpretation. Finally the role of folklore and myth in public archaeology is discussed.

Keywords: archaeology; folklore; myth; folklorists; archaeological sites; archaeological interpretation; public archaeology

Article.  6327 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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