Archaeology

Archaeology

Overview

Archaeology, or archeology (from Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 , archaiologia – , arkhaios, "ancient"; and , -logia, "-logy
-logy
-logy is a suffix in the English language, used with words originally adapted from Ancient Greek language ending in -λογία...

"), is the study of human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, primarily through the recovery and analysis
Analysis
Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle , though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.The word is...

 of the material culture
Material culture
In the social sciences, material culture is a term that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations. Studying a culture's relationship to materiality is a lens through which social and cultural attitudes can be discussed...

 and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, biofact
Biofact (archaeology)
In archaeology, a biofact is an object, found at an archaeological site and carrying archaeological significance, but previously unhanded by humans. A common type of biofact is a plant seed...

s and cultural landscapes (the archaeological record
Archaeological record
The archaeological record is the body of physical evidence about the past. It is one of the most basic concepts in archaeology, the academic discipline concerned with documenting and interpreting the archaeological record....

). Because archaeology employs a wide range of different procedures, it can be considered to be both a science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and a humanity
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

, and in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 it is thought of as a branch of anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, although in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 it is viewed as a separate discipline.

Archaeology studies human history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 from the development of the first stone tools in eastern Africa 3.4 million years ago up until recent decades.
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Quotations

Archaeology is destruction.

Mortimer Wheeler|Mortimer Wheeler Archaeology From the Earth (1954|1954)

Archaeology is archaeology is archaeology

David L. Clarke|David Clarke "Analytical Archaeology" (1968|1968)

History is too serious to be left to historians.

Ian Macleod, The Observer|The Observer (July 16, 1961|1961)

He that diggeth a pit, shall fall into it.

Bible|King James Bible Proverbs 26:27,
Encyclopedia

Archaeology, or archeology (from Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 , archaiologia – , arkhaios, "ancient"; and , -logia, "-logy
-logy
-logy is a suffix in the English language, used with words originally adapted from Ancient Greek language ending in -λογία...

"), is the study of human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, primarily through the recovery and analysis
Analysis
Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle , though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.The word is...

 of the material culture
Material culture
In the social sciences, material culture is a term that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations. Studying a culture's relationship to materiality is a lens through which social and cultural attitudes can be discussed...

 and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, biofact
Biofact (archaeology)
In archaeology, a biofact is an object, found at an archaeological site and carrying archaeological significance, but previously unhanded by humans. A common type of biofact is a plant seed...

s and cultural landscapes (the archaeological record
Archaeological record
The archaeological record is the body of physical evidence about the past. It is one of the most basic concepts in archaeology, the academic discipline concerned with documenting and interpreting the archaeological record....

). Because archaeology employs a wide range of different procedures, it can be considered to be both a science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and a humanity
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

, and in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 it is thought of as a branch of anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, although in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 it is viewed as a separate discipline.

Archaeology studies human history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 from the development of the first stone tools in eastern Africa 3.4 million years ago up until recent decades. (Archaeology does not include the discipline of paleontology.) It is of most importance for learning about prehistoric societies
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

, when there are no written records for historians to study, making up over 99% of total human history, from the Palaeolithic until the advent of literacy in any given society. Archaeology has various goals, which range from studying human evolution
Human evolution
Human evolution refers to the evolutionary history of the genus Homo, including the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids and mammals...

 to cultural evolution and understanding culture history.

The discipline involves surveyance, excavation and eventually analysis
Post excavation
In archaeology once the archaeological record of given site has been excavated, or collected from surface surveys, it is necessary to gain as much data as possible and organize it into a coherent body of information. This process is known as post-excavation analysis, and is normally the most...

 of data collected to learn more about the past. In broad scope, archaeology relies on cross-disciplinary research. It draws upon anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, art history
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

, classics
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

, ethnology
Ethnology
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

, geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

, geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

, linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, information science
Information science
-Introduction:Information science is an interdisciplinary science primarily concerned with the analysis, collection, classification, manipulation, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information...

s, chemistry
Chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, statistics
Statistics
Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

, paleoecology
Paleoecology
Paleoecology uses data from fossils and subfossils to reconstruct the ecosystems of the past. It involves the study of fossil organisms and their associated remains, including their life cycle, living interactions, natural environment, and manner of death and burial to reconstruct the...

, paleontology
Paleontology
Paleontology "old, ancient", ὄν, ὀντ- "being, creature", and λόγος "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments...

, paleozoology
Paleozoology
Paleozoology, also spelled as palaeozoology , is the branch of paleontology or paleobiology dealing with the recovery and identification of multicellular animal remains from geological contexts, and the use of these fossils in the reconstruction of prehistoric environments and ancient...

, paleoethnobotany
Paleoethnobotany
Paleoethnobotany, also known as archaeobotany in European academic circles, is the archaeological sub-field that studies plant remains from archaeological sites...

, and paleobotany
Paleobotany
Paleobotany, also spelled as palaeobotany , is the branch of paleontology or paleobiology dealing with the recovery and identification of plant remains from geological contexts, and their use for the biological reconstruction of past environments , and both the evolutionary history of plants, with a...

.

Archaeology developed out of antiquarianism in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 during the 19th century, and has since become a discipline practiced across the world. Since its early development, various specific sub-disciplines of archaeology have developed, including maritime archaeology
Maritime archaeology
Maritime archaeology is a discipline within archaeology as a whole that specifically studies human interaction with the sea, lakes and rivers through the study of associated physical remains, be they vessels, shore side facilities, port-related structures, cargoes, human remains and submerged...

, feminist archaeology
Feminist archaeology
Feminist archaeology employs a feminist perspective in interpreting past societies. It often focuses on gender, but also considers gender in tandem with other factors, such as sexuality, race, or class. Feminist archaeology has critiqued the uncritical application of modern, Western norms and...

 and archaeoastronomy
Archaeoastronomy
Archaeoastronomy is the study of how people in the past "have understood the phenomena in the sky how they used phenomena in the sky and what role the sky played in their cultures." Clive Ruggles argues it is misleading to consider archaeoastronomy to be the study of ancient astronomy, as modern...

, and numerous different scientific techniques have been developed to aid archaeological investigation. Nonetheless, today, archaeologists face many problems, ranging from dealing with pseudoarchaeology
Pseudoarchaeology
Pseudoarchaeology — also known as alternative archaeology, fringe archaeology, fantastic archaeology, or cult archaeology — refers to interpretations of the past from outside of the academic archaeological community, which typically also reject the accepted scientific and analytical methods of the...

 to the looting of artifacts and opposition to the excavation of human remains.

Purpose



The purpose of archaeology is to learn more about past societies and the development of the human race
Human Race
Human Race refers to the Human species.Human race may also refer to:*The Human Race, 79th episode of YuYu Hakusho* Human Race Theatre Company of Dayton Ohio* Human Race Machine, a computer graphics device...

. Over 99% of the history of humanity has occurred within prehistoric cultures
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

, who did not make use of writing
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

, thereby not leaving written records about themselves that we can study today. Without such written sources, the only way to learn about prehistoric societies is to use archaeology. Many important developments in human history occurred during prehistory, including the evolution of humanity
Human evolution
Human evolution refers to the evolutionary history of the genus Homo, including the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids and mammals...

  during the Palaeolithic period, when the hominins developed from the australopithecines through to the early homos
Homo (genus)
Homo is the genus that includes modern humans and species closely related to them. The genus is estimated to be about 2.3 to 2.4 million years old, evolving from australopithecine ancestors with the appearance of Homo habilis....

 in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and finally into modern Homo sapiens. Archaeology also sheds light on many of humanity's technological advances, for instance the ability to use fire, the development of stone tool
Stone tool
A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistoric, particularly Stone Age cultures that have become extinct...

s, the discovery of metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

, the beginnings of religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and the creation of agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. Without archaeology, we would know nothing of these evolutionary and technological changes in humanity that pre-date writing.

However, it is not only prehistoric, pre-literate cultures that can be studied using archaeology but historic, literate cultures as well, through the sub-discipline of historical archaeology
Historical archaeology
Historical archaeology is a form of archaeology dealing with topics that are already attested in written records. These records can both complement and conflict with the archaeological evidence found at a particular site. Studies tend to focus on literate, historical-period societies as opposed...

. For many literate cultures, such as Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, their surviving records are often incomplete and biased to some extent. In many societies, literacy was restricted to the elite
Elite
Elite refers to an exceptional or privileged group that wields considerable power within its sphere of influence...

 classes, such as the clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 or the bureaucracy
Bureaucracy
A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...

 of court or temple. The literacy even of aristocrats
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 has sometimes been restricted to deeds and contracts. The interests and world-view of elites are often quite different from the lives and interests of the populace. Writings that were produced by people more representative of the general population were unlikely to find their way into libraries
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 and be preserved there for posterity. Thus, written records tend to reflect the biases, assumptions, cultural values and possibly deceptions of a limited range of individuals, usually a small fraction of the larger population. Hence, written records cannot be trusted as a sole source. The material record may be closer to a fair representation of society, though it is subject to its own biases, such as sampling bias and differential preservation.

Theory


There is no one singular approach to archaeological theory that has been adhered to by all archaeologists. When archaeology developed in the late 19th century, the first approach to archaeological theory to be practiced was that of cultural-history archaeology
Cultural-history archaeology
Culture-historical archaeology is an archaeological theory that emphasises defining historical societies into distinct ethnic and cultural groupings according to their material culture...

, which held the goal of explaining why cultures changed and adapted rather than just highlighting the fact that they did, therefore emphasizing historical particularism
Historical particularism
Historical Particularism is widely considered the first American anthropological school of thought.Founded by Franz Boas, historical particularism rejected the cultural evolutionary model that had dominated...

. In the early 20th century, many archaeologists who studied past societies with direct continuing links to existing ones (such as those of Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

ns, Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica
Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...

ns etc.) followed the direct historical approach
Direct historical approach
The direct historical approach was an archaeological and anthropological technique developed and promoted by such American scholars as William Duncan Strong, Waldo Wedel, and others during the 1920s and 1930s....

, compared the continuity between the past and contemporary ethnic and cultural groups. In the 1960s, an archaeological movement largely led by American archaeologists like Lewis Binford
Lewis Binford
Lewis Roberts Binford was an American archaeologist known for his influential work in archaeological theory, ethnoarchaeology and the Paleolithic period...

 and Kent Flannery arose that rebelled against the established cultural-history archaeology. They proposed a "New Archaeology", which would be more "scientific" and "anthropological", with hypothesis
Hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. The term derives from the Greek, ὑποτιθέναι – hypotithenai meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it...

 testing and the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 very important parts of what became known as processual archaeology
Processual archaeology
Processual archaeology is a form of archaeological theory that had its genesis in 1958 with Willey and Phillips' work Method and Theory in American Archeology, in which the pair stated that "American archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing" , a rephrasing of Frederic William Maitland's...

.

In the 1980s, a new postmodern movement arose led by the British archaeologists Michael Shanks
Michael Shanks (archaeologist)
Michael Shanks is a British archaeologist who has specialized in Classical archaeology and archaeological theory. He received his BA and PhD from Cambridge University, and was a lecturer at the University of Wales, Lampeter before moving to the United States of America in 1999 to take up a Chair...

, Christopher Tilley
Christopher Tilley
Chris Tilley is a British archaeologist known for his contributions to postprocessualist archaeological theory. He is currently Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at University College London....

, Daniel Miller
Daniel Miller (anthropologist)
Daniel Miller is an anthropologist most closely associated with studies of our relationships to things and the consequences of consumption. His theoretical work was first developed in Material Culture and Mass Consumption and is summarized more recently in his book Stuff...

, and Ian Hodder
Ian Hodder
Ian Hodder FBA is a British archaeologist and pioneer of postprocessualist theory in archaeology that first took root among his students and in his own work between 1980-1990...

, which has become known as post-processual archaeology
Post-processual archaeology
Post-processual archaeology, which is sometimes alternately referred to as the interpretative archaeologies by its adherents, is a movement in archaeological theory that emphasizes the subjectivity of archaeological interpretations...

. It questioned processualism's appeals to scientific positivism and impartiality, and emphasised the importance of a more self-critical theoretical reflexivity
Reflexivity (social theory)
Reflexivity refers to circular relationships between cause and effect. A reflexive relationship is bidirectional with both the cause and the effect affecting one another in a situation that does not render both functions causes and effects...

. However, this approach has been criticized by processualists as lacking scientific rigor, and the validity of both processualism and post-processualism is still under debate. Meanwhile, another theory, known as historical processualism has emerged seeking to incorporate a focus on process and post-processual archaeology's emphasis of reflexivity and history.

Archaeological theory now borrows from a wide range of influences, including neo-Darwinian evolutionary thought
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, phenomenology, postmodernism
Postmodernism
Postmodernism is a philosophical movement evolved in reaction to modernism, the tendency in contemporary culture to accept only objective truth and to be inherently suspicious towards a global cultural narrative or meta-narrative. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from the...

, agency theory
Structure and agency
The question over the primacy of either structure or agency in human behavior is a central debate in the social sciences. In this context, "agency" refers to the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. "Structure", by contrast, refers to the recurrent...

, cognitive science
Cognitive archaeology
Cognitive archaeology is a sub-discipline of archaeology which focuses on the ways that ancient societies thought and the symbolic structures that can be perceived in past material culture....

, Functionalism, gender-based
Gender archaeology
Gender archaeology is a method of studying past societies through their material culture by closely examining the social construction of gender identities and relations...

 and Feminist archaeology
Feminist archaeology
Feminist archaeology employs a feminist perspective in interpreting past societies. It often focuses on gender, but also considers gender in tandem with other factors, such as sexuality, race, or class. Feminist archaeology has critiqued the uncritical application of modern, Western norms and...

, and Systems theory
Systems theory in archaeology
Systems theory in archaeology is the application of systems theory and systems thinking in archaeology. It originated with the work of Ludwig von Bertalanffy in the 1950s, and is introduced in archaeology in the 1960s with the work of Sally R. Binford & Lewis Binford's "New Perspectives in...

.

Methods


An archaeological investigation usually involves several distinct phases, each of which employs its own variety of methods. Before any practical work can begin however, a clear objective as to what the archaeologists are looking to achieve must be agreed upon. This done, a site is surveyed to find out as much as possible about it and the surrounding area. Second, an excavation may take place to uncover any archaeological features buried under the ground. And, third, the data collected from the excavation is studied and evaluated in an attempt to achieve the original research objectives of the archaeologists. It is then considered good practice for the information to be published so that it is available to other archaeologists and historians, although this is sometimes neglected.

Remote sensing


Before actually starting to dig in a location, satellite imagery
Satellite imagery
Satellite imagery consists of photographs of Earth or other planets made by means of artificial satellites.- History :The first images from space were taken on sub-orbital flights. The U.S-launched V-2 flight on October 24, 1946 took one image every 1.5 seconds...

 can be used to look where sites are located within a large area.

Field survey




The archaeological project then continues (or alternatively, starts with) with a field survey. Regional survey is the attempt to systematically locate previously unknown sites in a region. Site survey is the attempt to systematically locate features of interest, such as houses and midden
Midden
A midden, is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics , and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation...

s, within a site. Each of these two goals may be accomplished with largely the same methods.

Survey was not widely practiced in the early days of archaeology. Cultural historians and prior researchers were usually content with discovering the locations of monumental sites from the local populace, and excavating only the plainly visible features there. Gordon Willey
Gordon Willey
Gordon Randolph Willey was an American archaeologist famous for his fieldwork in South and Central America as well as the southeastern United States...

 pioneered the technique of regional settlement pattern survey in 1949 in the Viru Valley
Viru Valley
-The Viru Valley Project:In 1946 the first attempt to study settlement patterns in the Americas took place in the Viru Valley, led by Gordon Willey. Rather than examine individual settlement sites, Willey wanted to look at the valley as a whole and the way that each village interacted with the others...

 of coastal Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, and survey of all levels became prominent with the rise of processual archaeology some years later.

Survey work has many benefits if performed as a preliminary exercise to, or even in place of, excavation. It requires relatively little time and expense, because it does not require processing large volumes of soil to search out artifacts. (Nevertheless, surveying a large region or site can be expensive, so archaeologists often employ sampling
Sampling (statistics)
In statistics and survey methodology, sampling is concerned with the selection of a subset of individuals from within a population to estimate characteristics of the whole population....

 methods.) As with other forms of non-destructive archaeology, survey avoids ethical issues (of particular concern to descendant peoples) associated with destroying a site through excavation. It is the only way to gather some forms of information, such as settlement patterns and settlement structure. Survey data are commonly assembled into map
Map
A map is a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes....

s, which may show surface features and/or artifact distribution.

The simplest survey technique is surface survey. It involves combing an area, usually on foot but sometimes with the use of mechanized transport, to search for features or artifacts visible on the surface. Surface survey cannot detect sites or features that are completely buried under earth, or overgrown with vegetation. Surface survey may also include mini-excavation techniques such as auger
Auger
An auger is a drilling device, or drill bit, that usually includes a rotating helical screw blade called a "flighting" to act as a screw conveyor to remove the drilled out material...

s, corers, and shovel test pits. If no materials are found, the area surveyed is deemed sterile
Sterile deposit
In archaeology, a sterile deposit is a geological stratum that lacks any materials of archaeological significance. That is, there are no artifacts, ecofacts, or features present....

.

Aerial survey
Aerial survey
Aerial survey is a geomatics method of collecting information by using aerial photography, LiDAR or from remote sensing imagery using other bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as infrared, gamma, or ultraviolet. It can also refer to the chart or map made by analysing a region from the air...

 is conducted using camera
Camera
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the camera obscura , an early mechanism for projecting images...

s attached to airplanes, balloon
Balloon (aircraft)
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner....

s, or even Kite
Kite
A kite is a tethered aircraft. The necessary lift that makes the kite wing fly is generated when air flows over and under the kite's wing, producing low pressure above the wing and high pressure below it. This deflection also generates horizontal drag along the direction of the wind...

s. A bird's-eye view is useful for quick mapping of large or complex sites. Aerial photographs are used to document the status of the archaeological dig. Aerial imaging can also detect many things not visible from the surface. Plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

s growing above a buried man made structure, such as a stone wall, will develop more slowly, while those above other types of features (such as midden
Midden
A midden, is an old dump for domestic waste which may consist of animal bone, human excrement, botanical material, vermin, shells, sherds, lithics , and other artifacts and ecofacts associated with past human occupation...

s) may develop more rapidly. Photographs of ripening grain
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

, which changes colour rapidly at maturation, have revealed buried structures with great precision. Aerial photographs taken at different times of day will help show the outlines of structures by changes in shadows. Aerial survey also employs infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

, ground-penetrating radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 wavelengths, LiDAR
LIDAR
LIDAR is an optical remote sensing technology that can measure the distance to, or other properties of a target by illuminating the target with light, often using pulses from a laser...

 and thermography
Thermography
Infrared thermography, thermal imaging, and thermal video are examples of infrared imaging science. Thermal imaging cameras detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum and produce images of that radiation, called thermograms...

.

Geophysical survey can be the most effective way to see beneath the ground. Magnetometer
Magnetometer
A magnetometer is a measuring instrument used to measure the strength or direction of a magnetic field either produced in the laboratory or existing in nature...

s detect minute deviations in the Earth's magnetic field
Earth's magnetic field
Earth's magnetic field is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth's inner core to where it meets the solar wind, a stream of energetic particles emanating from the Sun...

 caused by iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 artifacts, kiln
Kiln
A kiln is a thermally insulated chamber, or oven, in which a controlled temperature regime is produced. Uses include the hardening, burning or drying of materials...

s, some types of stone structures
Stone structures
Stone structures, or "megaliths", have been erected by mankind for thousands of years. Many of these structures were built around the same time, the 3rd millennium BC.Some of the better-known ones:*Easter Island*Egyptian Pyramids*Medicine wheels...

, and even ditches and middens. Devices that measure the electrical resistivity of the soil are also widely used. Archaeological features whose electrical resistivity contrasts with that of surrounding soils can be detected and mapped. Some archaeological features (such as those composed of stone or brick) have higher resistivity than typical soils, while others (such as organic deposits or unfired clay) tend to have lower resistivity.

Although some archaeologists consider the use of metal detector
Metal detector
A metal detector is a device which responds to metal that may not be readily apparent.The simplest form of a metal detector consists of an oscillator producing an alternating current that passes through a coil producing an alternating magnetic field...

s to be tantamount to treasure hunting, others deem them an effective tool in archaeological surveying. Examples of formal archaeological use of metal detectors include musketball distribution analysis on English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 battlefields, metal distribution analysis prior to excavation of a 19th century ship wreck, and service cable location during evaluation. Metal detectorists have also contributed to archaeology where they have made detailed records of their results and refrained from raising artifacts from their archaeological context. In the UK, metal detectorists have been solicited for involvement in the Portable Antiquities Scheme
Portable Antiquities Scheme
The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary programme run by the United Kingdom government to record the increasing numbers of small finds of archaeological interest found by members of the public...

.

Regional survey in underwater archaeology
Underwater archaeology
Underwater archaeology is archaeology practised underwater. As with all other branches of archaeology it evolved from its roots in pre-history and in the classical era to include sites from the historical and industrial eras...

 uses geophysical or remote sensing devices such as marine magnetometer, side-scan sonar
Side-scan sonar
Side-scan sonar is a category of sonar system that is used to efficiently create an image of large areas of the sea floor...

, or sub-bottom sonar.

Excavation





Archaeological excavation existed even when the field was still the domain of amateurs, and it remains the source of the majority of data recovered in most field projects. It can reveal several types of information usually not accessible to survey, such as stratigraphy
Stratigraphy
Stratigraphy, a branch of geology, studies rock layers and layering . It is primarily used in the study of sedimentary and layered volcanic rocks....

, three-dimensional structure, and verifiably primary context.

Modern excavation techniques require that the precise locations of objects and features, known as their provenance
Provenance
Provenance, from the French provenir, "to come from", refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of an historical object. The term was originally mostly used for works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including science and computing...

 or provenience, be recorded. This always involves determining their horizontal locations, and sometimes vertical position as well (also see Primary Laws of Archaeology). Likewise, their association
Archaeological association
Association in archaeology has more than one meaning and is confusing to the layman. Archaeology has been critiqued as a soft science with a somewhat poor standardization of terms.-Finds and objects:...

, or relationship
Relationship (archaeology)
An archaeological relationship is the position in space and by implication, in time, of an object or context with respect to another. This is determined, not by linear measurement but by determining the sequence of their deposition - which arrived before the other...

 with nearby objects and features
Feature (archaeology)
Feature in archaeology and especially excavation has several different but allied meanings. A feature is a collection of one or more contexts representing some human non-portable activity that generally has a vertical characteristic to it in relation to site stratigraphy. Examples of features are...

, needs to be recorded for later analysis. This allows the archaeologist to deduce which artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

 and features were likely used together and which may be from different phases
Archaeological phase
Archaeological phase and phasing refers to the logical reduction of contexts recorded during excavation to near contemporary archaeological horizons that represent a distinct "phase" of previous land use. These often but not always will be a representation of a former land surface or occupation...

 of activity. For example, excavation of a site reveals its stratigraphy
Stratigraphy
Stratigraphy, a branch of geology, studies rock layers and layering . It is primarily used in the study of sedimentary and layered volcanic rocks....

; if a site was occupied by a succession of distinct cultures, artifacts from more recent cultures will lie above those from more ancient cultures.

Excavation is the most expensive phase of archaeological research, in relative terms. Also, as a destructive process, it carries ethical
Ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 concerns. As a result, very few sites are excavated in their entirety. Again the percentage of a site excavated depends greatly on the country and "method statement" issued. In places 90% excavation is common. Sampling
Sampling (statistics)
In statistics and survey methodology, sampling is concerned with the selection of a subset of individuals from within a population to estimate characteristics of the whole population....

 is even more important in excavation than in survey. It is common for large mechanical equipment, such as backhoe
Backhoe
A backhoe, also called a rear actor or back actor, is a piece of excavating equipment or digger consisting of a digging bucket on the end of a two-part articulated arm. They are typically mounted on the back of a tractor or front loader...

s (JCBs
J. C. Bamford
JCB is a global construction, demolition and agricultural equipment company headquartered in Rocester, United Kingdom. It is the world's third-largest construction equipment manufacturer. It produces over 300 types of machines, including diggers , excavators, tractors and diesel engines...

), to be used in excavation, especially to remove the topsoil
Topsoil
Topsoil is the upper, outermost layer of soil, usually the top to . It has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms and is where most of the Earth's biological soil activity occurs.-Importance:...

 (overburden
Overburden
Overburden is the material that lies above an area of economic or scientific interest in mining and archaeology; most commonly the rock, soil, and ecosystem that lies above a coal seam or ore body. It is also known as 'waste' or 'spoil'...

), though this method is increasingly used with great caution. Following this rather dramatic step, the exposed area is usually hand-cleaned with trowel
Trowel
A trowel is one of several similar hand tools used for digging, smoothing, or otherwise moving around small amounts of viscous or particulate material.-Hand tools:...

s or hoes
Hoe (tool)
A hoe is an ancient and versatile agricultural tool used to move small amounts of soil. Common goals include weed control by agitating the surface of the soil around plants, piling soil around the base of plants , creating narrow furrows and shallow trenches for planting seeds and bulbs, to chop...

 to ensure that all features are apparent.

The next task is to form a site plan
Archaeological plan
An archaeological plan in an archaeological excavation, is a drawn record of features in the horizontal plane.- Overview :Archaeological plan can either take the form of...

 and then use it to help decide the method of excavation. Features dug into the natural subsoil
Archaeological natural
Natural in archaeology is a term to denote a horizon in the stratigraphic record representing the point before which there is no anthropogenic activity on site and the archaeological record ends. Natural is often the underlying geological makeup of the site and is formed by geological processes...

 are normally excavated in portions to produce a visible archaeological section
Archaeological section
In archaeology a section is a view in part of the archaeological sequence showing it in the vertical plane, as a cross section, and thereby illustrating its profile and stratigraphy. This may make it easier to view and interpret as it developed over time....

 for recording. A feature, for example a pit or a ditch, consists of two parts: the cut
Cut (archaeology)
In Archaeology and archeological stratification a cut or truncation is a context that represents a moment in time when other archaeological deposits were removed for the creation of some feature such as a ditch or pit...

 and the fill
Fill (archaeology)
In archaeology fills are contexts representing material that has accumulated or has been deposited into a cut feature such as ditch or pit of some kind...

. The cut describes the edge of the feature, where the feature meets the natural soil. It is the feature's boundary. The fill is what the feature is filled with, and will often appear quite distinct from the natural soil. The cut and fill are given consecutive numbers for recording purposes. Scaled plans and sections of individual features are all drawn on site, black and white and colour photographs of them are taken, and recording
Single context recording
Single context recording was initially developed by Ed Harris and Patrick Ottaway in 1976, from a suggestion by Lawrence Keene. It was further developed by the Department of Urban Archaeology from where it was then exported, in the mid 1980s by Pete Clarke to the Scottish Urban Archaeological...

 sheets are filled in describing the context
Archaeological context
In archaeology, not only the context of a discovery is a significant fact, but the formation of the context is as well. An archaeological context is an event in time which has been preserved in the archaeological record. The cutting of a pit or ditch in the past is a context, whilst the material...

 of each. All this information serves as a permanent record of the now-destroyed archaeology and is used in describing and interpreting the site.

Analysis


Once artifacts and structures have been excavated, or collected from surface surveys, it is necessary to properly study them, to gain as much data as possible. This process is known as post-excavation analysis, and is usually the most time-consuming part of the archaeological investigation. It is not uncommon for the final excavation reports on major sites to take years to be published.

At its most basic, the artifacts found are cleaned, cataloged and compared to published collections, to classify them typologically
Typology (archaeology)
In archaeology a typology is the result of the classification of things according to their characteristics. The products of the classification, i.e. the classes are also called types. Most archaeological typologies organize artifacts into types, but typologies of houses or roads belonging to a...

 and to identify other sites with similar artifact assemblages. However, a much more comprehensive range of analytical techniques are available through archaeological science
Archaeological science
Archaeological science, also known as archaeometry, consists of the application of scientific techniques to the analysis of archaeological materials. Archaeometry is now considered its own scientific field. The UK's Natural and Environmental Research Council provides funding for archaeometry...

, meaning that artifacts can be dated and their compositions examined. The bones, plants and pollen collected from a site can all be analyzed (using the techniques of zooarchaeology
Zooarchaeology
Zooarchaeology, also known as Archaeozoology, is the study of animal remains from archaeological sites. The remains consist primarily of the hard parts of the body such as bones, teeth, and shells...

, paleoethnobotany
Paleoethnobotany
Paleoethnobotany, also known as archaeobotany in European academic circles, is the archaeological sub-field that studies plant remains from archaeological sites...

, and palynology
Palynology
Palynology is the science that studies contemporary and fossil palynomorphs, including pollen, spores, orbicules, dinoflagellate cysts, acritarchs, chitinozoans and scolecodonts, together with particulate organic matter and kerogen found in sedimentary rocks and sediments...

), while any texts can usually be deciphered.

These techniques frequently provide information that would not otherwise be known and therefore contribute greatly to the understanding of a site.

Virtual archaeology


Some time around 1995 archaeologists started using computer graphics
Computer graphics
Computer graphics are graphics created using computers and, more generally, the representation and manipulation of image data by a computer with help from specialized software and hardware....

 to build virtual 3D models
3D modeling
In 3D computer graphics, 3D modeling is the process of developing a mathematical representation of any three-dimensional surface of object via specialized software. The product is called a 3D model...

 of sites such as the throne room of an ancient Assyrian palace or ancient Rome. This is done by collecting normal photographs and using computer graphics to build the virtual 3D model. In more general terms, computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

s can be used to recreate the environment and conditions of the past, such as objects, buildings, landscapes and even ancient battles. Computer simulation
Computer simulation
A computer simulation, a computer model, or a computational model is a computer program, or network of computers, that attempts to simulate an abstract model of a particular system...

 can be used to simulate the living conditions of an ancient community and to see how it would have reacted to various scenarios (such as how much food to grow, how many animals to slaughter, etc.) Computer-built topographical
Topography
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

 models have been combined with astronomical
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 calculations to verify whether or not certain structures (such as pillars) were aligned with astronomical events such as the sun's position at a solstice
Solstice
A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun's apparent position in the sky, as viewed from Earth, reaches its northernmost or southernmost extremes...

.

Academic sub-disciplines


As with most academic
Academia
Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.-Etymology:The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece. Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning...

 disciplines, there are a very large number of archaeological sub-disciplines
Archaeological sub-disciplines
As with most academic disciplines, there are a number of archaeological sub-disciplines typically characterised by a focus on a specific method or type of material, geographical or chronological focus, or other thematic concern. In addition, certain civilizations have attracted so much attention...

 characterised by a specific method or type of material (e.g., lithic analysis
Lithic analysis
In archaeology, lithic analysis is the analysis of stone tools and other chipped stone artifacts using basic scientific techniques. At its most basic level, lithic analyses involve an analysis of the artifact’s morphology, the measurement of various physical attributes, and examining other visible...

, music, archaeobotany), geographical or chronological focus (e.g. Near Eastern archaeology
Near Eastern archaeology
Near Eastern Archaeology is a regional branch of the wider, global discipline of Archaeology...

, Islamic archaeology, Medieval archaeology
Medieval archaeology
Medieval archaeology is the study of humankind through its material culture, specialising in the period of the European Middle Ages. At its broadest, the period stretches from the 5th to the 16th century and refers to post-Roman but pre modern remains. The period covers the upheaval caused by the...

), other thematic concern (e.g. maritime archaeology
Maritime archaeology
Maritime archaeology is a discipline within archaeology as a whole that specifically studies human interaction with the sea, lakes and rivers through the study of associated physical remains, be they vessels, shore side facilities, port-related structures, cargoes, human remains and submerged...

, landscape archaeology
Landscape archaeology
Landscape archaeology is the study of the ways in which people in the past constructed and used the environment around them. Landscape archaeology is inherently multidisciplinary in its approach to the study of culture, and is used by both pre-historical, classic, and historic archaeologists...

, battlefield archaeology
Battlefield archaeology
Battlefield archaeology is a sub-discipline of archaeology that began in North America with Dr. Douglas D. Scott's, National Park Service, metal detecting of in 1983...

), or a specific archaeological culture
Archaeological culture
An archaeological culture is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular past human society. The connection between the artifacts is based on archaeologists' understanding and interpretation and...

 or civilisation (e.g. Egyptology, Indology
Indology
Indology is the academic study of the history and cultures, languages, and literature of the Indian subcontinent , and as such is a subset of Asian studies....

, Sinology
Sinology
Sinology in general use is the study of China and things related to China, but, especially in the American academic context, refers more strictly to the study of classical language and literature, and the philological approach...

).

Historical archaeology


Historical archaeology is the study of cultures with some form of writing.

In England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, archaeologists have uncovered the long-lost layouts of medieval villages abandoned after the crises of the 14th century and the equally lost layouts of 17th century parterre gardens swept away by a change in fashion. In downtown New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 archaeologists have exhumed the 18th century remains of the African burial ground
African Burial Ground National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument at Duane Street and African Burial Ground Way in Lower Manhattan preserves a site containing the remains of more than 400 Africans buried during the 17th and 18th centuries. Historians estimate there may have been 15,000-20,000 burials there...

.

Ethnoarchaeology


Ethnoarchaeology
Ethnoarchaeology
Ethnoarchaeology is the ethnographic study of peoples for archaeological reasons, usually through the study of the material remains of a society . Ethnoarchaeology aids archaeologists in reconstructing ancient lifeways by studying the material and non-material traditions of modern societies...

 is the archaeological study of living people. The approach gained notoriety during the emphasis on middle range theory that was a feature of the processual movement of the 1960s.
Early ethnoarchaeological research focused on hunting and gathering or foraging societies. Ethnoarchaeology continues to be a vibrant component of post-processual and other current archaeological approaches.
Ethnoarchaeology is the use of ethnography to increase and improve analogs, which are then used as analogies to interpret the archaeological record. In short, ethnoarchaeology is the application of ethnography to archaeology.

Experimental archaeology


Experimental archaeology
Experimental archaeology
Experimental archaeology employs a number of different methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches in order to generate and test hypotheses, based upon archaeological source material, like ancient structures or artifacts. It should not be confused with primitive technology which is not concerned...

 represents the application of the experimental method to develop more highly controlled observations of processes that create and impact the archaeological record. In the context of the logical positivism of processualism with its goals of improving the scientific rigor of archaeological epistemologies the experimental method gained importance. Experimental techniques remain a crucial component to improving the inferential frameworks for interpreting the archaeological record.

Archaeometry


Archaeometry is a field of study that aims to systematize archaeological measurement. It emphasizes the application of analytical techniques from physics, chemistry, and engineering. It is a lively field of research that frequently focuses on the definition of the chemical composition of archaeological remains for source analysis. Archaeometry also investigates different spatial characteristics of features, employing such methods as space syntax and geodesy
Geodesy
Geodesy , also named geodetics, a branch of earth sciences, is the scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth, including its gravitational field, in a three-dimensional time-varying space. Geodesists also study geodynamical phenomena such as crustal...

, which can be analyzed using computer-based geographic information system
Geographic Information System
A geographic information system, geographical information science, or geospatial information studies is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographically referenced data...

 technologies. A relatively nascent subfield is that of archaeological materials, designed to enhance understanding of prehistoric and non-industrial culture through scientific analysis of the structure and properties of materials associated with human activity.

Cultural resources management


While archaeology can be done as a pure science, it can also be an applied science, namely the study of archaeological sites that are threatened by development. In such cases, archaeology is a subsidiary activity within Cultural resources management
Cultural resources management
In the broadest sense, Cultural Resources Management is the vocation and practice of managing cultural resources, such as the arts and heritage. It incorporates Cultural Heritage Management which is concerned with traditional and historic culture. It also delves into the material culture of...

 (CRM), also called heritage management in the United Kingdom. Today, CRM accounts for most of the archaeological research done in the United States and much of that in western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 as well. In the US, CRM archaeology has been a growing concern since the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, and most taxpayers, scholars, and politicians believe that CRM has helped preserve much of that nation's history and prehistory that would have otherwise been lost in the expansion of cities, dams, and highways. Along with other statutes, the NHPA mandates that projects on federal land or involving federal funds or permits consider the effects of the project on each archaeological site
Archaeological site
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved , and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record.Beyond this, the definition and geographical extent of a 'site' can vary widely,...

.

The application of CRM in the United Kingdom is not limited to government-funded projects. Since 1990 PPG 16
PPG 16
Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning commonly abbreviated as PPG 16, was a document produced by the British Government to advise local planning authorities on the treatment of archaeology within the planning process...

 has required planners to consider archaeology as a material consideration
Material consideration
A material consideration in the UK is a process in Planning Law in which the decision maker when assessing an application for development must consider in deciding the outcome of an application....

 in determining applications for new development. As a result, numerous archaeological organisations undertake mitigation work in advance of (or during) construction work in archaeologically sensitive areas, at the developer's expense
Polluter pays principle
In environmental law, the polluter pays principle is enacted to make the party responsible for producing pollution responsible for paying for the damage done to the natural environment. It is regarded as a regional custom because of the strong support it has received in most Organisation for...

.

In England, ultimate responsibility of care for the historic environment rests with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is a department of the United Kingdom government, with responsibility for culture and sport in England, and some aspects of the media throughout the whole UK, such as broadcasting and internet....

 in association with English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

. In Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, Wales
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

, the same responsibilities lie with Historic Scotland
Historic Scotland
Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government, responsible for historic monuments in Scotland.-Role:As its website states:...

, Cadw
Cadw
-Conservation and Protection:Many of Wales's great castles and other monuments, such as bishop's palaces, historic houses, and ruined abbeys, are now in Cadw's care. Cadw does not own them but is responsible for their upkeep and for making them accessible to the public...

 and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency respectively.

Among the goals of CRM are the identification, preservation, and maintenance of cultural sites on public and private lands, and the removal of culturally valuable materials from areas where they would otherwise be destroyed by human activity, such as proposed construction. This study involves at least a cursory examination to determine whether or not any significant archaeological sites are present in the area affected by the proposed construction. If these do exist, time and money must be allotted for their excavation. If initial survey and/or test excavation indicates the presence of an extraordinarily valuable site, the construction may be prohibited entirely. CRM is a thriving entity, especially in the United States and Europe where archaeologists from private companies and all levels of government engage in the practice of their discipline.

Cultural resources management has, however, been criticized. CRM is conducted by private companies that bid for projects by submitting proposals outlining the work to be done and an expected budget. It is not unheard-of for the agency responsible for the construction to simply choose the proposal that asks for the least funding. CRM archaeologists face considerable time pressure, often being forced to complete their work in a fraction of the time that might be allotted for a purely scholarly endeavor. Compounding the time pressure is the vetting process of site reports that are required (in the US) to be submitted by CRM firms to the appropriate State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). From the SHPO's perspective there is to be no difference between a report submitted by a CRM firm operating under a deadline, and a multi-year academic project. The end result is that for a Cultural Resource Management archaeologist to be successful, they must be able to produce academic quality documents at a corporate world pace.

The annual ratio of open academic archaeology positions (inclusive of Post-Doc, temporary, and non tenure track appointments) to the annual number of archaeology MA/MSc and PhD students is grossly disproportionate. This dearth of academic positions causes a predictable excess of well educated individuals who join the ranks of the following year's crop of non-academically employed archaeologists. Cultural Resource Management, once considered an intellectual backwater for individuals with "strong backs and weak minds" has reaped the benefit of this massive pool of well educated professionals. This results in CRM offices increasingly staffed by advance degreed individuals with a track record of producing scholarly articles but who have the notches on their trowels to show they have been in the trenches as a shovelbum
Shovelbum
Shovelbum is a term used by some archaeologists in the United States to refer to the professional excavators on cultural resource management projects...

.

History of archaeology



Flavio Biondo
Flavio Biondo
Flavio Biondo was an Italian Renaissance humanist historian. He was one of the first historians to used a three-period division of history and is known as one of the first archaeologists.Born in the capital city of Forlì, in the Romagna region, Flavio was well schooled from an early age,...

, an Italian Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 humanist historian, created a systematic and documented guide to the ruins and topography of ancient Rome
Topography of ancient Rome
The topography of ancient Rome is a multidisciplinary field of study that draws on archaeology, epigraphy, cartography and philology.The classic English-language work of scholarship is A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome , written by Samuel Ball Platner, completed and published after his...

 in the early 15th century for which he has been called an early founder of archaeology. Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli or Cyriacus of Ancona (31 July 1391 — 1453/55) was a restlessly itinerant Italian humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

 who came from a prominent family of merchants in Ancona
Ancona
Ancona is a city and a seaport in the Marche region, in central Italy, with a population of 101,909 . Ancona is the capital of the province of Ancona and of the region....

. Ciriaco traveled all around the Eastern Mediterranean, noting down his archaeological discoveries in his day-book, Commentaria, that eventually filled six volumes. He has been called father of archaeology.

After that, modern archaeology has its origins in the antiquarianism of Europe in the mid-19th century, where it developed soon after the scientific advancement of geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

, which had shown that the Earth was billions rather than thousands of years old, as was then commonly believed. Soon after this, in 1859, Charles Darwin's
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 On the Origin of Species was published, outlining his theory of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, eventually leading scientists to believe that humanity was in fact millions of years old, thereby providing a time limit within which the burgeoning archaeological movement could study. Meanwhile, in 1836 the Danish historian Christian Jürgensen Thomsen
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen
Christian Jürgensen Thomsen was a Danish archaeologist.In 1816 he was appointed head of 'antiquarian' collections which later developed into the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. While organizing and classifying the antiquities for exhibition, he decided to present them chronologically...

 published A Ledetraad til Nordisk Oldkyndighed (Guideline to Scandinavian Antiquity) translated into English in 1848, in which he proposed the idea that collections of European artifacts from prehistory could be divided up into a three age system: the Stone Age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

, Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 and Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

.Thomsen was not the first scholar to propose the three age system (that idea dated back to Greek and Roman thinkers), but he was the first to apply these categories to material culture, and with that innovation came significant advances in the concept of seriation
Seriation
Seriation is a way of situating an object within a series:*Seriation *Seriation...

, or stylistic changes through time.

It was these three concepts of human antiquity, evolution and the Three-Age system that are often thought of as the building blocks for modern archaeology.

Soon the early archaeologists began to investigate various areas around the world, with the study of ancient Aegean civilization
Aegean civilization
Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea. There are three distinct but communicating and interacting geographic regions covered by this term: Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland. Crete is associated with the Minoan civilization...

 being stimulated by the excavations of Heinrich Schliemann
Heinrich Schliemann
Heinrich Schliemann was a German businessman and amateur archaeologist, and an advocate of the historical reality of places mentioned in the works of Homer. Schliemann was an archaeological excavator of Troy, along with the Mycenaean sites Mycenae and Tiryns...

 at Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

, and of Arthur Evans
Arthur Evans
Sir Arthur John Evans FRS was a British archaeologist most famous for unearthing the palace of Knossos on the Greek island of Crete and for developing the concept of Minoan civilization from the structures and artifacts found there and elsewhere throughout eastern Mediterranean...

 at Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, whilst John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens was an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization throughout Middle America and in the planning of the Panama railroad....

 was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 throughout Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

. However, the methodologies employed by these archaeologists were highly flawed by today's standards, often having a eurocentric bias, and many early European archaeologists often relied on anthropological
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and ethnographic
Ethnography
Ethnography is a qualitative method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group...

 accounts provided by the likes of Edward Tylor and Lewis Henry Morgan, thereby comparing contemporary "savage" peoples like the Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 with the historical peoples of Europe who lived in similar societies. Soon the new discipline of archaeology spread to North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, where it was taken up by figures like Samuel Haven and William Henry Holmes
William Henry Holmes
William Henry Holmes was an American anthropologist, archaeologist, geologist and museum director.-Life:...

, who excavated ancient Native American monuments.

Further advancements in archaeological field methodology arose in the late 19th century. One of the pioneering figures in this was Augustus Pitt Rivers
Augustus Pitt Rivers
Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers was an English army officer, ethnologist, and archaeologist. He was noted for his innovations in archaeological methods, and in the museum display of archaeological and ethnological collections.-Life and career:Born Augustus Henry Lane-Fox at...

, who meticulously excavated on Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase is a Chalk plateau in central southern England, straddling the counties Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. The plateau is part of the English Chalk Formation and is adjacent to Salisbury Plain and the West Wiltshire Downs in the north, the Dorset Downs to the south west and the...

 in southern England, emphasising that it was not only items of beauty or value that should be recorded but mundane items as well; he therefore helped to differentiate archaeology from antiquarianism. Other important archaeologists who further refined the discipline in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were Flinders Petrie (who excavated in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

), Sir Mortimer Wheeler
Mortimer Wheeler
Brigadier Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler CH, CIE, MC, FBA, FSA , was one of the best-known British archaeologists of the twentieth century.-Education and career:...

 (India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

), Dorothy Garrod
Dorothy Garrod
Dorothy Annie Elizabeth Garrod CBE was a British archaeologist who was the first woman to hold an Oxbridge chair, partly through her pioneering work on the Palaeolithic period. Her father was Sir Archibald Garrod, the physician.-Life:Born in Oxford, she attended Newnham College, Cambridge...

 (the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

), Max Uhle
Max Uhle
Max Uhle was a German archaeologist, whose work in Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia at the turn of the Twentieth Century had a significant impact on the practice of archaeology of South America....

 (Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

) and Alfred Kidder (Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

). Further adaptation and innovation in archaeology continued throughout the 20th century, in particular in the 1960s, when maritime archaeology
Maritime archaeology
Maritime archaeology is a discipline within archaeology as a whole that specifically studies human interaction with the sea, lakes and rivers through the study of associated physical remains, be they vessels, shore side facilities, port-related structures, cargoes, human remains and submerged...

 was popularised by George Bass
George Bass
George Bass was a British naval surgeon and explorer of Australia.-Early years:He was born on 30 January 1771 at Aswarby, a hamlet near Sleaford, Lincolnshire, the son of a tenant farmer, George Bass, and a local beauty named Sarah Nee Newman. His father died in 1777 when Bass was 6...

, urban archaeology
Urban archaeology
Urban archaeology is a sub discipline of archaeology specialising in the material past of towns and cities where long-term human habitation has often left a rich record of the past....

 became more prevalent with redevelopment in many European cities, and rescue archaeology
Rescue archaeology
Rescue archaeology, sometimes called "preventive" or "salvage" archaeology, is archaeological survey and excavation carried out in areas threatened by, or revealed by, construction or other development...

 was developed as a result of increasing commercial development.

Popular views of archaeology


Early archaeology was largely an attempt to uncover spectacular artifacts and features, or to explore vast and mysterious abandoned cities. Such pursuits continue to fascinate the public. Books, films, and video games, such as The City of Brass, King Solomon's Mines
King Solomon's Mines
King Solomon's Mines is a popular novel by the Victorian adventure writer and fabulist Sir H. Rider Haggard. It tells of a search of an unexplored region of Africa by a group of adventurers led by Allan Quatermain for the missing brother of one of the party...

, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It was originally released in 1996 for the Sega Saturn, with MS-DOS and PlayStation versions following shortly thereafter...

, The Mummy
The Mummy (1999 film)
The Mummy is a 1999 American adventure film written and directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah and Kevin J. O'Connor, with Arnold Vosloo in the title role as the reanimated mummy. The film features substantial dialogue in ancient Egyptian language, spoken...

 and Relic Hunter
Relic Hunter
Relic Hunter is an anglophone Canadian television series, starring Tia Carrere and Christien Anholt. Actress Lindy Booth also starred for the first two seasons; Tanja Reichert replaced her for the third...

all testify to the public's interest in the discovery aspect of archaeology.

Much thorough and productive research has indeed been conducted in dramatic locales such as Copán
Copán
Copán is an archaeological site of the Maya civilization located in the Copán Department of western Honduras, not far from the border with Guatemala. It was the capital city of a major Classic period kingdom from the 5th to 9th centuries AD...

 and the Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings , less often called the Valley of the Gates of the Kings , is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom .The valley stands on the west bank of...

, but the bulk of activities and finds of modern archaeology is not so sensational. Archaeological adventure stories tend to ignore the painstaking work involved in carrying out modern survey, excavation, and data processing. Some archaeologists refer to such off the mark portrayals as "pseudoarchaeology
Pseudoarchaeology
Pseudoarchaeology — also known as alternative archaeology, fringe archaeology, fantastic archaeology, or cult archaeology — refers to interpretations of the past from outside of the academic archaeological community, which typically also reject the accepted scientific and analytical methods of the...

".

Archaeology has been portrayed in the mainstream media in sensational ways. This has its advantages and disadvantages. Many practitioners point to the childhood excitement of Indiana Jones films as the inspiration for them to enter the field. Archaeologists are also very much reliant on public support, the question of exactly who they are doing their work for is often discussed.

Public archaeology


Motivated by a desire to halt looting, curb pseudoarchaeology, and to help preserve archaeological sites through education and fostering public appreciation for the importance of archaeological heritage, archaeologists are mounting public-outreach campaigns. They seek to stop looting by combatting people who illegally take artifacts from protected sites, and by alerting people who live near archaeological sites of the threat of looting. Common methods of public outreach include press releases, and the encouragement of school field trips to sites under excavation by professional archaeologists. Public appreciation of the significance of archaeology and archaeological sites often leads to improved protection from encroaching development or other threats.

One audience for archaeologists' work is the public. They increasingly realize that their work can benefit non-academic and non-archaeological audiences, and that they have a responsibility to educate and inform the public about archaeology. Local heritage awareness is aimed at increasing civic and individual pride through projects such as community excavation projects, and better public presentations of archaeological sites and knowledge. The U.S.Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service(USFS) operates a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program called the Passport in Time (PIT). Volunteers work with professional USFS archaeologists and historians on national forests throughout the U.S. Volunteers are involved in all aspects of professional archaeology under expert supervision.

In the UK, popular archaeology programs such as Time Team
Time Team
Time Team is a British television series which has been aired on Channel 4 since 1994. Created by television producer Tim Taylor and presented by actor Tony Robinson, each episode features a team of specialists carrying out an archaeological dig over a period of three days, with Robinson explaining...

and Meet the Ancestors
Meet the Ancestors
Meet the Ancestors aka Ancestors was a BBC Television documentary series that documents the archaeological excavation and scientific reconstruction of human remains.-Series one :-Series two :...

have resulted in a huge upsurge in public interest. Where possible, archaeologists now make more provisions for public involvement and outreach in larger projects than they once did, and many local archaeological organizations operate within the Community archaeology
Community archaeology
Community archaeology is archaeology by the people for the people. The field is also known as public archaeology. There is debate about whether the terms are interchangeable; some believe that community archaeology is but one form of public archaeology, which can include many other modes of...

 framework to expand public involvement in smaller-scale, more local projects. Archaeological excavation, however, is best undertaken by well-trained staff that can work quickly and accurately. Often this requires observing the necessary health and safety and indemnity insurance issues involved in working on a modern building site
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 with tight deadlines. Certain charities and local government
Local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

 bodies sometimes offer places on research projects either as part of academic work or as a defined community project. There is also a flourishing industry selling places on commercial training excavations and archaeological holiday tours.

Archaeologists prize local knowledge and often liaise with local historical and archaeological societies, which is one reason why Community archaeology
Community archaeology
Community archaeology is archaeology by the people for the people. The field is also known as public archaeology. There is debate about whether the terms are interchangeable; some believe that community archaeology is but one form of public archaeology, which can include many other modes of...

 projects are starting to become more common. Often archaeologists are assisted by the public in the locating of archaeological sites, which professional archaeologists have neither the funding, nor the time to do.

Pseudoarchaeology


Pseudoarchaeology
Pseudoarchaeology
Pseudoarchaeology — also known as alternative archaeology, fringe archaeology, fantastic archaeology, or cult archaeology — refers to interpretations of the past from outside of the academic archaeological community, which typically also reject the accepted scientific and analytical methods of the...

 is an umbrella term for all activities that claim to be archaeological but in fact violate commonly accepted and scientific archaeological practices. It includes much fictional archaeological work (discussed above), as well as some actual activity. Many non-fiction authors have ignored the scientific methods of processual archaeology, or the specific critiques of it contained in post-processualism
Post-processual archaeology
Post-processual archaeology, which is sometimes alternately referred to as the interpretative archaeologies by its adherents, is a movement in archaeological theory that emphasizes the subjectivity of archaeological interpretations...

.

An example of this type is the writing of Erich von Däniken
Erich von Däniken
Erich Anton Paul von Däniken is a Swiss author best known for his controversial claims about extraterrestrial influences on early human culture, in books such as Chariots of the Gods?, published in 1968...

. His 1968 book, Chariots of the Gods?, together with many subsequent lesser-known works, expounds a theory of ancient contacts between human civilisation on Earth and more technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilisations. This theory, known as palaeocontact theory, or Ancient astronaut theory
Ancient astronaut theory
Some writers have proposed that intelligent extraterrestrial beings have visited Earth in antiquity or prehistory and made contact with humans. Such visitors are called ancient astronauts or ancient aliens. Proponents suggest that this contact influenced the development of human cultures,...

, is not exclusively Däniken's, nor did the idea originate with him. Works of this nature are usually marked by the renunciation of well-established theories on the basis of limited evidence and the interpretation of evidence with a preconceived theory in mind.

Looting


Looting of archaeological sites is an ancient problem. For instance, many of the tombs of the Egyptian pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

s were looted during antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

. Archaeology stimulates interest in ancient objects, and people in search of artifacts or treasure cause damage to archaeological sites. The commercial and academic demand for artifacts unfortunately contributes directly to the illicit antiquities trade. Smuggling of antiquities abroad to private collectors has caused great cultural and economic damage in many countries whose governments lack the resources and or the will to deter it. Looters damage and destroy archaeological sites, denying future generations information about their ethnic and cultural heritage. Indigenous peoples especially lose access to and control over their 'cultural resources', ultimately denying them the opportunity to know their past.

Popular consciousness often associates looting with poor Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 countries, but this is a false assumption. A lack of financial resources and political will are chronic worldwide problems inhibiting more effective protection of archaeological sites. Many Native American Indians today, such as Vine Deloria, Jr.
Vine Deloria, Jr.
Vine Deloria, Jr. was an American Indian author, theologian, historian, and activist. He was widely known for his book Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto , which helped generate national attention to Native American issues in the same year as the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement...

, consider any removal of cultural artifacts from a Native American Indian site to be theft, and much of professional archaeology as academic looting.

In 1937 W. F. Hodge the Director of the Southwest Museum
Southwest Museum
The Southwest Museum of the American Indian is a museum, library, and archive located in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles, California. It is part of the Autry National Center. Its collections deal mainly with the American Indian...

 in Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 CA, released a statement that the museum would no longer purchase or accept collections from looted contexts. The first conviction of the transport of artifacts illegally removed from private property under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA; Public Law 96-95; 93 Statute 721; ) was in 1992 in the State of Indiana.

Descendant peoples


In the United States, examples such as the case of Kennewick Man
Kennewick Man
Kennewick Man is the name for the skeletal remains of a prehistoric man found on a bank of the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington, USA, on July 28, 1996...

 have illustrated the tensions between Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 and archaeologists, which can be summarized as a conflict between a need to remain respectful toward sacred burial sites and the academic benefit from studying them. For years, American archaeologists dug on Indian burial grounds and other places considered sacred, removing artifacts and human remains to storage facilities for further study. In some cases human remains were not even thoroughly studied but instead archived rather than reburied. Furthermore, Western archaeologists' views of the past often differ from those of tribal peoples. The West views time as linear; for many natives, it is cyclic. From a Western perspective, the past is long-gone; from a native perspective, disturbing the past can have dire consequences in the present.

As a consequence of this, American Indians attempted to prevent archaeological excavation of sites inhabited by their ancestors, while American archaeologists believed that the advancement of scientific knowledge was a valid reason to continue their studies. This contradictory situation was addressed by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act , Pub. L. 101-601, 25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq., 104 Stat. 3048, is a United States federal law passed on 16 November 1990 requiring federal agencies and institutions that receive federal funding to return Native American "cultural items" to...

 (NAGPRA, 1990), which sought to reach a compromise by limiting the right of research institutions to possess human remains. Due in part to the spirit of postprocessualism, some archaeologists have begun to actively enlist the assistance of indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups that are defined as indigenous according to one of the various definitions of the term, there is no universally accepted definition but most of which carry connotations of being the "original inhabitants" of a territory....

 likely to be descended from those under study.

Archaeologists have also been obliged to re-examine what constitutes an archaeological site in view of what native peoples believe to constitute sacred space. To many native peoples, natural features such as lakes, mountains or even individual trees have cultural significance. Australian archaeologists especially have explored this issue and attempted to survey these sites to give them some protection from being developed. Such work requires close links and trust between archaeologists and the people they are trying to help and at the same time study.

While this cooperation presents a new set of challenges and hurdles to fieldwork, it has benefits for all parties involved. Tribal elders cooperating with archaeologists can prevent the excavation of areas of sites that they consider sacred, while the archaeologists gain the elders' aid in interpreting their finds. There have also been active efforts to recruit aboriginal peoples directly into the archaeological profession.

Repatriation

See Repatriation and reburial of human remains
Repatriation and reburial of human remains
The repatriation and reburial of human remains is a current debate in archaeology. Various indigenous peoples around the world, such as Native Americans and Indigenous Australians have requested that human remains from their respective communities be repatriated for reburial. A famous case is that...


A new trend in the heated controversy between First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 groups and scientists is the repatriation
Repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war...

 of native artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

 to the original descendants. An example of this occurred June 21, 2005, when community members and elders from a number of the 10 Algonquian
Algonquian peoples
The Algonquian are one of the most populous and widespread North American native language groups, with tribes originally numbering in the hundreds. Today hundreds of thousands of individuals identify with various Algonquian peoples...

 nations in the Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

 area convened on the Kitigan Zibi reservation near Maniwaki, Quebec
Maniwaki, Quebec
Maniwaki is a town north of Gatineau and located north-west of Montreal, in the province of Quebec, Canada. The town is situated on the Gatineau River, at the crossroads of Route 105 and Route 107, not far south of Route 117...

, to inter ancestral human remains and burial goods — some dating back 6,000 years. It was not determined, however, if the remains were directly related to the Algonquin people who now inhabit the region. The remains may be of Iroquoian ancestry, since Iroquoian people inhabited the area before the Algonquin. Moreover, the oldest of these remains might have no relation at all to the Algonquin or Iroquois, and belong to an earlier culture who previously inhabited the area.

The remains and artifacts, including jewelry, tool
Tool
A tool is a device that can be used to produce an item or achieve a task, but that is not consumed in the process. Informally the word is also used to describe a procedure or process with a specific purpose. Tools that are used in particular fields or activities may have different designations such...

s and weapons, were originally excavated from various sites in the Ottawa Valley
Ottawa Valley
The Ottawa Valley is the valley along the boundary between Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec along the Ottawa River. The valley is the transition between the Saint Lawrence Lowlands and the Canadian Shield...

, including Morrison and the Allumette Islands. They had been part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization
Canadian Museum of Civilization
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is Canada's national museum of human history and the most popular and most-visited museum in Canada....

's research collection for decades, some since the late 19th century. Elders from various Algonquin communities conferred on an appropriate reburial, eventually deciding on traditional redcedar
Juniperus virginiana
Juniperus virginiana is a species of juniper native to eastern North America, from southeastern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, east of the Great Plains...

 and birchbark boxes lined with redcedar chips, muskrat
Muskrat
The muskrat , the only species in genus Ondatra, is a medium-sized semi-aquatic rodent native to North America, and introduced in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. The muskrat is found in wetlands and is a very successful animal over a wide range of climates and habitats...

 and beaver pelts.

Now, an inconspicuous rock mound marks the reburial site where close to 80 boxes of various sizes are buried, no further scientific study is possible. Although negotiations were at times tense between the Kitigan Zibi community and museum, they were able to reach agreement.

Kennewick Man is another repatriation candidate that has been the source of heated debate.

See also


Further reading

  • Archaeology (magazine)
    Archaeology (magazine)
    Archaeology is a bimonthly mainstream magazine about archaeology, published by the Archaeological Institute of America. Its focus is both for archaeologists and non-specialists alike. The magazine was launched in 1948, and is published six times a year....

  • C. U. Larsen - Sites and Monuments (1992)
  • Colin Renfrew & Paul Bahn - Archaeology: theories, methods and practice 2nd edition (1996)
  • David Hurst Thomas
    David Hurst Thomas
    David Hurst Thomas is the Curator in the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History and an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and the City University of New York....

     - Archaeology 3rd. edition (1998)
  • Glyn Daniel
    Glyn Daniel
    Glyn Edmund Daniel was a Welsh scientist and archaeologist whose academic career at Cambridge University specialised in the European Neolithic period. He edited the academic journal Antiquity from 1958–1985...

     - A Short History of Archaeology (1991)
  • International Journal of South American Archaeology - IJSA (magazine)
    International Journal of South American Archaeology - IJSA (magazine)
    The International Journal of South American Archaeology – IJSA is an eJournal listed by scholarly journal and one of the first fully peer-reviewed electronic journal for archaeology published by Syllaba Press...

  • Internet Archaeology
    Internet Archaeology
    is an international scholarly journal and one of the first fully peer-reviewed electronic journals for archaeology. It published its first issue in 1996. The journal was part of the eLIb project's electronic journals...

     e-journal
  • Kevin Greene
    Kevin Greene
    Kevin Darwin Greene is a former American football linebacker who played in the National Football League for 15 years and who retired after the 1999 NFL season...

     - Introduction to Archaeology (1983)
  • Lewis Binford
    Lewis Binford
    Lewis Roberts Binford was an American archaeologist known for his influential work in archaeological theory, ethnoarchaeology and the Paleolithic period...

     - New Perspectives in Archaeology (1968) ISBN 0-202-33022-2
  • Robert J. Sharer & Wendy Ashmore - Archaeology: Discovering our Past 2nd edition (1993)
  • Thomas Hester, Harry Shafer, and Kenneth L. Feder - Field Methods in Archaeology 7th edition (1997)
  • Alison Wylie
    Alison Wylie
    Alison Wylie is a Canadian feminist philosopher of science at the University of Washington, Seattle. In her own words, Wylie describes her interests in the following:...

     - Thinking From Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology, University of California Press
    University of California Press
    University of California Press, also known as UC Press, is a publishing house associated with the University of California that engages in academic publishing. It was founded in 1893 to publish books and papers for the faculty of the University of California, established 25 years earlier in 1868...

    , Berkeley CA, 2002
  • Smekalova T. N., Voss O., Smekalov S. L. "Magnetic Surveying in Archaeology
    Magnetic survey (archaeology)
    Magnetic survey is one of a number of methods used in archaeological geophysics. Magnetic surveys record spatial variation in the Earth's magnetic field. In archaeology, magnetic surveys are used to detect and map archaeological artifacts and features...

    . More than 10 years of using the Overhauser GSM-19 gradiometer", Wormianum 2008.
  • Bruce Trigger
    Bruce Trigger
    Bruce Graham Trigger, was a Canadian archaeologist, anthropologist, and ethnohistorian.Born in Preston, Ontario, he received a doctorate in archaeology from Yale University in 1964. His research interests at that time included the history of archaeological research and the comparative study of...

     - "A History of Archaeological Thought" 2nd. edition (2007)
  • Ian Hodder
    Ian Hodder
    Ian Hodder FBA is a British archaeologist and pioneer of postprocessualist theory in archaeology that first took root among his students and in his own work between 1980-1990...

    & Scott Hutson - "Reading the Past" 3rd. edition (2003)
  • Adrian Praetzellis - "Death by Theory", AltaMira Press (2000). ISBN 0-7425-0359-3 / 9780742503595

External links