‘The knowledge, skills and cross-disciplinary nature of archaeology will provide many graduateswith the necessary foundation to go into history teaching. Thecurrent reforms to the history curriculum with an increasing emphasis ondeveloping the skills of historical enquiry and onthe important role of the heritage sector in interpreting the past means that archaeology graduates are well placed to make a real contribution to teaching and learning of history inour schools.’
Jerome Freeman,QCA Adviser for History.
What is archaeology?
Archaeology is the study of past people through theobjects and traces they leftbehind. This study can befrom any period from the veryrecent past right back toprehistory. Objects caninclude the remains of thepeople themselves (skeletons,mummies), the things theymade, wore, used or even ateand the places they lived,worked, worshiped or visited.
What do archaeologistsdo?
Their work is wide-ranging,including excavation and fieldsurvey, conservation andresearch into finds, themanagement of computerdatabases, illustration andaerial photography,interpretation and exhibitiondevelopment, liaising withmuseums, planning control,geophysical survey, thescientific study of biologicalremains, and universityteaching. Many go on tospecialise in one or moreareas depending on theirstudy, interests and expertise.‘Four key contexts provide thefoundation on whicharchaeology degreeprogrammes are based:historical and social; ethicaland professional; theoretical;and scientific. Archaeology provides aunique perspective on thehuman past, on what it is tobe human. As the only subjectthat deals with the entirehuman past in all its temporaland spatial dimensions, it isfundamental to ourunderstanding of how weevolved, how our societiescame into being, and howthey changed over time. Archaeology can be definedas the study of the humanpast through material remains(the latter is an extremelybroad concept and includesevidence in the currentlandscape, from buildings andmonuments to ephemeraltraces of activity; buriedmaterial, such as artefacts,biological remains, andstructures; and writtensources). Archaeology'schronological range is fromthe earliest hominins millionsof years ago to the presentday, its geographical scope isregionally-specific butworldwide, its scale of enquiryranges from distributions andprocesses of change at theglobal scale and overmillennia down to the actionsof individuals.’
QAA benchmark statement August 2006