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Archaeology Brief Intro

Intro.: What is Archaeology?

 Study of ancient & recent human past thru. material remains to have broad &
comprehensive understanding of human culture
 Subfield of anthropology (study of all human culture)
How does archaeology help us understand history and culture?

 Offers unique pov. on hist. & culture → understanding of ancient / recent past
 Helps understand basic context of ppl living on Earth and how they lived
o Examine causes of changes that occurred in human cultures over time
o Seek explanations of patterns to explain the origins of human culture
 History V.S. Archaeology
o History: Written records & documents to interpret lives and events
o Archaeology: Not restrained by written languages; glimpse lives of ppl.
thru. analyzing artifacts / sites
 Only field that covers all time periods & geo. regions inhabited by humans
 Helped understand big topics relating to History, Geo, Culture, and others
 Inform us lives of ppl & communities that might otherwise remain invisible
Types of Archaeology

 Prehistoric: No written lang.; excavation / data recovery = cultural evidence

 Historical: Study of past / present cultures during period of recorded history
(1000s of years in parts of Old World, but only 100s years in Americas)
o Classical: Ancient Greece & Rome; related to art hist. V.S. anthropo.
o Biblical: Middle East; evidence & explanation for Bible events
 Underwater: Physical remains of human activity under water bodies’ surface
o Maritime: Study of shipwrecks + submerged cities & harbours
o Dwellings, agricultural, & industrial sites along rives, bays and lakes.
 Cultural Resource Management / CRM: Comply w/ laws protecting sites
 Others: Urban, Industrial, Bioarchaeology, etc.
Archaeological Sites

 Any place where physical remains of past human activities exist.

Archaeology Brief Intro

o Prehistoric: Permanent Native American villages / cities, stone quarries,

rock art petrogylphs & pictographs, cemeteries, campsites, etc.
 Small = Stone tools left by hunter who sharpened spear point
 Large = Stonehenge in England.
o Historical: Found in all areas (NYC / below surface of river / sea)
 Shipwrecks, battlefields,
 Slave quarters, plantations, cemeteries, mills, and factories
Artifacts, Features, and Ecofacts

 Artifacts: Objects made / used by ppl.; analyzed to gain info about ppl. who
made & used them
o Non-portable artifacts = Features
 Soil stains indicating where infra~/structures once existed
 Ecofacts: Natural remains that help understand diet & subsistence patterns

 Relation. that artifacts have to each other + situation in which they are found.
o Every artifact on site has precisely defined location; Not recording
precise location = 0 context → 0 sci. value
 Allows archaeologists to understand relationship between artifacts on the same
site, as well as how different archaeological sites are related to each other.