For archaeology, the “study of the past”, time is a foundational concept. As it happens with many such concepts, they are often used in what mathematicians would call a “naïve” way, i.e., without much discussions on a concept and on the logic of its use, both tasks left to philosophers and logicians. What differentiates archaeology from history is the nature of the sources: archaeologists try to reconstruct and describe past events, people and places, basing on the study of artifacts and their context of recovery, whereas history relies mainly on the analysis of the content of written sources. Archaeology deals with material culture and, through its investigation from various perspectives, places it within spatio-temporal and cultural borders. Key elements in the archaeological research are therefore the excavation process itself and the detailed analysis of the items uncovered by this process, are grouped in categories based on various criteria and systematized in an ordered body of knowledge. Consequently, a fundamental activity in archaeology is the process of classifi cation, which will determine the future assignment of fi nds in a chronology and their affi liation to a given ‘culture’. Thus, the concepts of ‘type’ and ‘time’, together with ‘space’, are the pillars of archaeological knowledge. Despite being such, it is surprising to see that relatively little scientifi c effort
has been invested by archeologists in attempting to defi ne and describe precisely and rigorously these basic concepts in archaeology. In most cases they are taken for granted, and classifi cation, as a method of determining cultural/temporal/functional affi nity of artifacts, is implemented in a rather straightforward, optimistic and positivistic (or antipositivistic) approach. Here we will examine some issues arising in the assignment of ‘type’ and ‘time’, which underpin any further archaeological interpretation.