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Archaeology and Material Culture

In the northwest of Middle Earth sits the Shire, a modest agricultural community whose verdant landscape was created and densely described by JRR Tolkien, visually interpreted in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and the subsequent Hobbit, and dissected in enormous spatial depth by a legion of committed readers and artists.  The Shire is perhaps not “real,” but it is ironically better described and far more appealing than most of the real world.  Consequently, fans eager to find such a place flock to the New Zealand sets where Jackson fancied hobbits and elves might live.  Half a planet away Soprano’s fans likewise have migrated to a fantasy landscape constructed in popular culture: New Jersey.  The world of the Soprano’s references genuine places that have a material presence in the same way as the LOTR sets, but both fabricate a world in which New Jersey, Hobbiton, Mayberry

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