In Western society, the debate about objects as conveyors of messages, or vehicles of expression in an iconographic language of things, has been of growing influence since it first entered academic debate in the 1960s, when structuralism drew parallels between objects and language. There is, however, another type of message that is not so evidently communicative and one that has, to some extent, been neglected in this debate. This is the latent and incidental message through which an object becomes an artefact of human interaction as a residue of a social relation. Though this is formally discussed in the field of archaeology where excavated shards of baked clay and splinters of rotten wood are used to reconstruct entire civilizations theoretically, most writers on material culture have focused on the use of objects in purposeful expression. However, in a living society, we ignore the latent and incidental message of objects at our peril, because what is not overtly intended can also be revealing.