Archaeology

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Archaeology, or archeology,[1] is the study of the past by looking for the remains and artifacts (historical things) left by the people who lived long ago. These remains can include old coins, tools, buildings, and inscriptions. Archaeologists, the people who study archaeology, use these remains to understand how people lived.

Archaeologists are like historians. They think it is important to understand the past.

Fieldwork[change | change source]

A 12th century BC (Bronze age) hoard from Stockheim in Germany

When archaeologists do fieldwork, they look for remains, often by digging in the ground. As settlements (places where people lived in groups) change and grow, old buildings are get buried. Usually, this is a natural process. A typical student project is to leave an object in a place where there is nothing going on. It will get covered rather quickly, because wind, water and plants will bury it. Sometimes buildings are deliberately buried to make way for new buildings. Ancient Rome, for example, is now up to 40 feet (12 metres) below the present city. This process of natural or man-made burial is why archaeological fieldwork involves digging, and is expensive and takes a long time.

When things are found, or even when nothing is found, the results of the fieldwork are taken back to a base. Short term, the base is often on or near the site. Longer term, the results will usually go to a university or museum. Everything is written down on paper or entered into a computer. Gradually, they build up a picture of what happened long ago. Archaeologists publish their research so others can understand what they learned.

Fields of interest[change | change source]

Archaeologists do not all study the same civilizations, they specialize in different areas of interest. Some fields of interest include Ancient Egypt (these specialists are called Egyptologists), Ancient China, or the Vikings. Archaeologists study every civilization that is known, especially the ones where there is no written history. They can study any time period. For example, one might study the beginning of human life in Africa, or study World War II. Marine archaeologists study things that are now underwater. They search for sunken ships or cities that have been lost under the sea.

Sites[change | change source]

Stonehenge, in England, is a famous archaeological site, or place. Other famous sites include the Roman Forum, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, and Great Zimbabwe. In many countries, governments and other groups of people protect important sites so that they will not be destroyed and so that visitors can always come and see them.

Sometimes archaeological sites are found when foundations are dug for new buildings. Archaeologists have to work quickly when this happens, because people who are building often don't have a lot of time. Many times as soon as the archaeologists are done with their work, the remains that they have found will be covered over, unless they are very important.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Society for American Archaeology, retrieved 2011-01-15 

Other websites[change | change source]