Artifacts, structures, settlements, materials, and features of prehistoric or ancient peoples are surveyed and/or excavated to uncover history in times before written records.
Archaeology also supplements the study of recorded history. From the end of the 18th century onwards, archaeology has come to mean the branch of learning which studies the material remains of mankind's past. Its scope is, therefore, enormous, ranging from the first stone tools made and fashioned by man over three million years ago in Africa, to the garbage thrown into our trash cans and taken to city dumps and incinerators yesterday.
The objectives of archaeology are to construct cultural history by ordering and describing the events of the past, study cultural processes to explain the meaning of those events and what underlies and conditions human behavior, and reconstruct past lifeways.
Among the specialties in the field are: archaeobiology, archaeobotany, archaeozoology, and social archaeology. Modern archaeology, which is often considered a subdiscipline of anthropology, has become increasingly scientific and relies on a wide variety of experts; such as, biologists, geologists, physicists, sociologists, anthropologists, and historians.
The methods appropriate to different periods vary, leading to specialized branches of the subject, e.g. classical, medieval, industrial, etc. archaeology.
In the U.S., it has helped to create the industries of salvage archaeology or cultural resource management (in the U.K., it is called "rescue archaeology").
Threats to archaeological remains occur in the form of road-building, road improvement, new building of houses, offices, and industrial complexes, the flooding of valleys for reservoirs, and improved farming techniques involving the use of deep plowing.
The rescue, or salvage, archaeologist, is concerned with the retrieval of as much information as possible about the archaeological sites before they are damaged or destroyed. Frequently time is too short and funds are too limited for anything but a brief survey.
In the U.S., the first major program of salvage archaeology was undertaken during 1930, ahead of the construction and dam building done by the Tennessee Valley authority."
The rescue, or salvage, archaeologist, is concerned with the retrieval of as much information as possible about the archaeological sites before they are damaged or destroyed.
2. The study of the human past through the recovery and analysis of material remains.
As people search for their origins, archeology provides insights into their shared heritage.
- In the absence of written records, archeology provides a prime channel for the understanding of human societies and cultures.
- Archeology can complement written or historical sources.
- The recovery of the past has involved the removal of layers of earth to look back in time.
- Archeology is more than digging Iron Age sites or uncovering Maya temples in the jungles of Central America, or studying rock art in Australia's Norther Territory.
- Archeology involves teams of science-based archeologists who analyze bones, seeds, pottery, and metalwork.
- Archeologists learn from anthropologists, who study living societies, since they can suggest social structures or economic patterns for societies that have not left behind written records.
- Humans have probably been curious about the past for centuries because such interest can be traced as far back as the first civilizations of Mesopotamia and China, which left records of ancient remains.
- From the 16th century onward, Europeans began studying ancient monuments and forming collections of antiquities where famous sites were visited, painted, and described for those at home.
The great thing about archeology is that no matter what is found while digging, it is always doing ground-breaking research.
2. An archeologist is a scientist who excavates ancient cities.
Archeology is the study of the human past through the recovery and analysis of material remains. As people search for their origins, archeology provides insights into our shared heritage.