Objects constitute core evidence for archaeological research and interpretation. Over the last few centuries, through a variety of noble and ignoble routes, countless objects from the human past have come to reside in museums, filling over-stuffed cabinets and cramped storerooms. Typically, only a small portion are ever exhibited. Through presenting the biographies of several archaeological objects in the U-M Museum of Anthropology's Asia collections, this lecture asks: what is the significance of the authentic object in the digital age? How do we think about singular objects and the larger assemblages of which those objects were a part? And, looking beyond the ancient past in which archaeological objects were made and used, how might archaeological museums better acknowledge and address more recent pasts, and ethical concerns over the routes through which many archaeological materials were removed from their original contexts and communities and brought into the museum?
Carla M. Sinopoli, Director, Museum Studies Program; Curator, Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan