Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

pp 724-728

Authenticity in Archaeological Writing and Representation

  • Allison MickelAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Stanford University Email author 


Calling fictional writing “authentic” immediately raises both eyebrows and hackles among linguists, authors, and scientists, along with any person with a passing knowledge of elementary school curricula. The etymologist might protest by citing the origins of the term “fiction,” tracing the word to the Old French ficcion, meaning “something invented,” and beyond that to the Latin fictio, meaning “a fashioning or feigning.” These lingering meanings of pretense, construction, and invention contrast strongly with the concept of authenticity – that which is genuine, real, or original. Novelists might raise a similar objection, stressing the degree of imagination and creativity required to conceive a work of fiction – while the most loudly voiced and popular confusion would likely find its grounding in the vernacular understanding that fiction is by definition “made up.” How, then, can it be considered “authentic?”


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