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An anatopism (from the Greek ανα, "against," and τόπος, "place") is something that is out of its proper place. Thus, for example, an outrigger canoe would be an anatopism in ancient Rome.

The concept of anatopism is less widely familiar than that of anachronism, perhaps because much that is anatopistic is also anachronistic. Yet the distinction is a valid one; not all that is anatopistic is necessarily also anachronistic.

Contents

Examples

Catherine Hardwicke's 2006 film, The Nativity Story, shows a field of maize corn in a Nazareth farming scene. Maize is native to Mesoamerica, not to the Middle East, and in pre-Columbian times was grown only in the Americas. The use of maize in this film is clearly an anatopism.

The Polish writer Bolesław Prus, for the sake of making a point, introduces into chapter 63 of his historical novel Pharaoh, set in the ancient Egypt of 1087–1085 B.C.E., a substance that behaves like gunpowder.[1] This appears to be both an anachronism and an anatopism, since gunpowder is thought to have been invented, probably quite some time later, in China or in Arabia. Another apparent anatopism introduced by the author (in chapter 45) is something, resembling a telescope,[2] that may also be — though this is by no means certain — an anachronism.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Bolesław Prus, Pharaoh, pp. 579-81.
  2. ^ Bolesław Prus, Pharaoh, p. 391.

References


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