Fractal Worlds: An Archaeology of Nested Spatial Scales

Peter Whitridge


Archaeologists approach their evidence at numerous scales, from the intercontinental distributions of people and their things to the microscopic structure in a thin section. This is possible and worthwhile, in part, because people in the past also acted in, and conceived of, their worlds at a variety of scales. The precontact Inuit record reveals not only large-scale regional networks and intricate site structures, but also the diminutive worlds depicted in toys, amulets, and figurative art. The human body was the most popular object of this miniaturization discourse, and it served to anchor the fractal-like proliferation of imagined worlds in everyday bodily experience.


precontact Inuit; miniatures; toys; figurines; fractals; body

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