This article charts the possible contributions of history to the cross-disciplinary theory and practice of critical archaeology. Focusing on a crucifix widely associated with the Battle of Lepanto (1571) on display in the cathedral of Barcelona, the article outlines a material microhistory. Microhistorians’ sense for the complexity of the past, the problems of historical knowledge, the implications of doing history, and their experiments with narratives help to
draft reflective and provocative narratives about the past life of objects – and their consequences for the present. The material microhistory of the Lepanto crucifix in Barcelona shifts traditional perspectives. Instead of assuming that the battle was an event of historical significance, the article reflects on how people’s ways of object-related thinking made particular interpretations of the battle as an event of historical significance relevant to their past presence. By examining how objects shaped history and its inherent assumptions about power relations, the article reveals the problematic links between historical materiality and the material of history.