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History & Archaeology

History & Archaeology

Both historians and archaeologists study the past.

For centuries historians have used written records as

their main source of information about historical events,
people and groups.

This reliance on written evidence has limited what

historians can learn about the past.

This is where archaeology comes in studying the

material remains of the past to learn about how people
lived. Thereby helping to fill the gaps left by only
studying written records.

Role of the Historian

What do historians do?

Study written evidence to investigate the


Role of the Archaeologists

What do archaeologists do?

Study the human past through

physical remains called

Artefacts are objects made,

used or modified by humans.

What is Archaeology?

The word archaeology is

ancient Greek in origin. Its simple
meaning is the study of
everything ancient.

Today, archaeology is a
systematic and scientific
approach to collecting, classifying
and interpreting physical remains.

Archaeologists examine objects

from left behind from a society.

What is Archaeology?

These objects often relate to

everyday life particularly
unimportant details of life that are not
recorded in written records.

We can learn more about what life

was like for the average person in a
society from archaeological evidence
than from written records, which are
usually concerned with the wealthy
and important people of a society.

Archaeology is critical for gaining an

understanding of people who did not
leave written records behind.

Historians and Archaeologists

In piecing together evidence about

an ancient event or personality, the
work of BOTH the historian and the
archaeologist contribute to a more
complete study.

Archaeology and history are


For example, a historian would be

interested in reading ancient
Egyptian hieroglyphs on a papyrus,
the archaeologist would be
interested in what material it was
made from, the process used to
manufacture the papyrus and the
way in which the paint was

Sources and Evidence

History and archaeology are really about asking questions, not just
finding answers.

Historians and archaeologists must look at sources and ask

questions to find the evidence they are looking for.

A source is anything that has survived from the past. It can be

written or an archaeological artefact.

A source should not be confused with evidence.

Evidence is the information that comes from a source it tends to

prove or disprove a conclusion to establish a point. A source
becomes evidence once an historian or archaeologist has used it.

Some important terms

Find the definition for the following words, then
define it in your OWN words.


Case Study
The Tomb of King Tutankhamun
If we look at one of the most spectacular
finds in the history of archaeology, the
discovery of the tomb of King
Tutankhamun in ancient Egypt, we can
see how historians and archaeologists
work to piece together the evidence.
The following is a list of evidence of the
tomb of Tutankhamun.

Case Study
The Tomb of King Tutankhamun
Write down which evidence would be studied by an historian and
which would be studied by an archaeologist.

Stelas (ancient stone with inscription)

The sarcophagus (ancient coffin)
Tomb burial goods
Wall paintings
Official documents
Inscriptions on statues
Temple inscriptions
Writings on burial goods
Mummified body
Tomb inscriptions

Looking at Sources
Look at this list of familiar objects:

Opera House
A tombstone
Toilet seat
$2 coin
BBQ tongs
Parramatta Eels football jersey

Imagine that you have never seen these objects before, and have
uncovered them sometime in the future.

Looking at Sources

For each object:

Describe the object

What is it made of?

What is its purpose?

Is it archaeological evidence or a written source or both?

What can it tell you about the people who made and used it?

Is the object most helpful in finding out about:

daily life

culture & beliefs

social and political life?

The Work of the Historian

What is an Historian?

Someone who studies the past using written evidence

The Skills of the Historian
Historians search for evidence in many places: gravestones, inscriptions
on buildings, coins, letters etc. These are sources of evidence as they
provide basic information for the historian.
An historian:

asks questions

researches the past

evaluates sources and makes judgments based on them

analyses and interprets evidence

draw conclusions

communicates and explains the past

emphasises with people from the past

tries to gain and understanding of the past

Study the broken gravestone

1. What is the source?
What is the
For 39 years married to one
husbandleft three surviving children by
him, a son who has held the highest
municipal posts through the favour of
Augustus Caesar, another who in the
army of the same Caesar Augustus has
held the highest posts of the equestrian
rank and is now marked out for a higher
rank, and a most virtuous daughter
married to a most upright man and
through her, two grandchildren...

Broken Roman Grave stone

inscription from Corfinium, Italy

2. What can we learn

about the owner of
the gravestone from
this source?
3. What basic
information about
her is missing?
4. What other sources
may be useful to
help us find the

The Work of the Archaeologist

Archaeology is a multi-faced discipline.
Much like doctors, archaeologists tend to specialise in one area of expertise.
Find the Definition for the Following:

Classical Archaeologists
Near-Eastern Archaeologists
Historical Archaeologists
Industrial Archaeologists
Marine Archaeologists

The Work of the Archaeologist

Archaeology is a multi-faced discipline.
Much like doctors, archaeologists tend to specialise in one area of expertise.
The term prehistory has been used to describe the periods from early human life
to the beginning of written history. Pre-historians therefore study the time of
humans before the introduction of writing.
Study the culture of ancient Egypt. They could be archaeologists mostly
concerned with material remains or historians concerned with the written
evidence of Egypt.

Classical Archaeologists
Study the written and archaeological remains of ancient Greece and Rome.

The Work of the Archaeologist

Near-Eastern Archaeologists
Study the area of the world including Persia, Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).
Historical Archaeologists
Study more recent sites with the aid of written records. In Australia, this would
include the study of early colonial sites.
Industrial Archaeologists

Study sites, buildings and associated objects built and manufactured over the
last 300 years.
Marine Archaeologists
Study submerged buildings, shipwrecks, sea and lakebeds with the help of
complex scientific machinery and techniques.

The Skills of the Archaeologist

An Archaeologist:

investigates the past

identifies material evidence

asks questions of sources

collects evidence and observes

classifies evidence, placing it in its correct context of time and place

interprets evidence and draws conclusions

evaluates material evidence and makes judgements about it

communicates and explains theories about the past

Study the artefacts

Write down the following questions:

What is it?


What is it made from?


Where did it come from?


What is its function?


What does it tell us about the society?

Artefact 1

Artefact 2

Artefact 3

Artefact 4