Culture-historical archaeology is an archaeological theory that emphasises defining historical societies into distinct ethnic and cultural groupings according to their material culture. Originating in the late nineteenth century as cultural evolutionism began to fall out of favor with many antiquarians and archaeologists, it gradually began to become unpopular amongst the archaeological community, being superseded by new archaeological theories, namely processual archaeology, in the mid twentieth century.

Cultural-historical archaeology had in many cases been influenced by a nationalist political agenda, being utilised to prove a direct cultural and/or ethnic link from prehistoric and ancient peoples to modern nation-states, something that has in many respects been disproved by later research and archaeological evidence.

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