What Is Archeology?

What Is Archeology?

The study of Archeology is the study of the past, but more specifically, the study of human activity of the past. By the discovery of old human artifacts, these artifacts are objects, even things like sticks or bones that long gone human beings of old used to use. In its own way, archeology is a unique study compared to many others. Its habitual digging up and dusting is primarily focused on anything that can help our archeologists of today find out more about old civilizations and cultures that used to roam the earth, to help fill the gaps of our human history, and educate the world. 

It is a subsidiary study of anthropology, biology and linguistics. Archeologists are always on the lookout for any and all artifacts found in ruins, or ancient civilizations, when they come across anything of value; they begin to build models of what they can decipher of that culture. For example, they may find an old plate carved of wood or a piece of old art, like a vase or water pot. With these items, archeologists then try to conclude the way those old cultures used to live. Figuring out how they were made, for instance an old water pot made of clay may vary throughout time and history, such that over time, the craftsmanship of that pot would have changed. The design, skills and ways in which that water pot may have been produced, gives archeologists enough evidence to deduce their findings of that culture at the time.  

Depending on the time and focus of the study, archeology is broken up into different sections of study, these include; 

  • Historic
  • Prehistoric
  • Classical
  • Marine [underwater]
  • Anthropology.  

Each study may be a blueprint, foundation or tool for the other, such that sometimes archeologists may mix two or more studies together to help them produce accurate results in their endeavors. 

Each section of study has a different focus, however only two are classified as the most important and those are, prehistoric archeology and historic archeology. Human history is very old and dates back to centuries and centuries ago, that’s why archeologists use prehistoric archeology, it’s not similar to the study of dinosaurs, only human prehistory. The recordings of human history have been present on this planet in almost every culture, and the practice of recording of human culture has always been a significant and valuable source of preservation for the survival of our whole human species. However sometimes, these recordings become lost over time, that’s where the archeologists come in and using prehistoric techniques, try to uncover those unrecorded human pasts. 

Before modern human beings, about 5000 years ago, who began recording, there is still 5 million years before that of unrecorded human history to be discovered. Over the years a lot has been discovered, but with still thousands of more years of human knowledge that is unknown. Compared to the other important study, historical archeology, prehistory only focuses on that part of past human history that is not known. Historical archeology concentrates on the parts of human history that are known, those that were recorded. Archeologists are always vigilant for what is to their benefit, old records of human history give them an advantage in simplifying and deciphering a culture, factors like written languages, hieroglyphics or carvings for example have greatly produced fortunate results. However that is not always the case with every studied culture, some are more challenging to put together because of a lack of those factors. Only just recently archeologists have reported to make a breakthrough in their studies of the Mayan Culture, deciphering much of their old languages. 

Historic archeology also has many sub studies included; such as; Egyptology, which is a wide study of ancient Egypt. With the combination of classical archeology, they have also managed to study ancient and famous civilizations, like Rome, Pompeii and Greece. Archeologists themselves branch out into many different parts of the world, each with their own different story to tell of the past. From southwestern archeologists, to Paleo-Indian archeologists that studied native Americans, each one varies in their own significance, these are just a few mentioned, but there are many more, each concentrating on a different culture. 

Over the years, and with all the collected research and education of archeology, archeologists have managed to build a skill set and strong evidence of their efforts, all well preserved, this is called the archaeological record. They use it whenever they become stuck on a current study, by relying on its evidence. It comprises artifacts, initial discovery of those artifacts and any other additional discoveries found with them. Lots of valuable knowledge of a culture is unaccounted for, thus they need to rely on different varieties of collected evidence to help them develop and restore a culture. 

Archeologists are called detectives of the past, how they study these lost cultures is a grand combination of many different skills and expertise, such as forensics to study human bones, geology to study volcanic rocks for example, conservation to study art and languages, social skills to help them understand old structures and deduce the way an old culture would organize themselves. Re-telling stories of people’s lives in the past, it is a beautiful and yet exhausting commitment that requires patience and perseverance. Archeology always has different challenges especially when it comes to perishable or sensitive objects, priceless to the touch, they are always attentive and careful with their work to ensure the safekeeping and preservation of even a single item. Using tools in their sites with accuracy, like a brush to slowly stroke away dust from an old burial ground.     Archeological evidence comes from a wide range of variety; from animal bones, to seeds, shells, can teach them about the diets of old human cultures. They also rely on laws to help support their findings; the Geological Law of Association, helps them identify how old artifacts were placed in time and space.

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