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Examples (source; origin)

A Roman coin might have been minted in Germany, stored in the Vatican vaults, sunk in a shipwreck in 505AD, recovered by archaeologists at a specific off-shore location, stolen and then recovered and eventually put on display at a particular museum.
* Provenance would refer to this entire history.
* Provenience would refer only to the wreck site and specifically where in the wreck site archeologists recovered the coin. Because in archeology the provenance rarely can be compiled, the term provenience serves well when discussing physical location and the cultural provenance at that location. Also the origin -- and therefore an element of provenance -- may become known after archeological recovery. Or, in forensic archeology to aid legal investigation or to support physical anthropology, the origin may already be known.


Alteration of provenance


provenience (plural proveniences)

  1. (archaeology) Source; findspot; origin.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The term provenience in archaeology/archeology has largely replaced provenance in order to distinguish and clarify the issue of "findspot" from "ownership." Provenience most frequently refers to the in situ location at the time of archaeological discovery ("the provenience of an artifact"), while provenance is customarily used by historians, museums, and commercial entities to refer to chain of custody, ideally from the time of origin to the current location in museums or private collections.