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Archaeology as a study discipline

Archeology has got many numbers of definitions in past 150 years or so. The variance in definitions from different times indicates about the history of archeology and how it has changed with the passage of time, involving much with human behaviors and gradually becoming a science. Many of the definitions indicate how people observe and what they feel about Archaeology. In the words of Graham Clarke, "Archaeology seeks to discover how we became human beings endowed with minds and souls before we had learned to write."  People who study Archaeology are called Archaeologists. An Archaeologist studies the history by using artifacts to find out evidences to ancient civilizations and mysteries.
Archeology is the systematic study of human’s history. In every part of the world the study of archaeology is divided into two main segments – Pre Historic Archaeology and Historic Archaeology.  All archaeological thinking, discussion, and writing relates either to archaeological evidence or to archaeological interpretation. Archaeological proof is the physical remnants of past activities and archaeological interpretation is the clarification of such physical proofs in the effort of rebuilding the past. Generally archaeological proofs present in four types-  

Archaeological Sites - These are places where artifacts, features or both artifacts and features are found as proof to past human activities. These places can be either prehistoric, historic, or both. Some examples of Archaeological Sites are Indian villages, historic mines, seasonal camps, trails, petroglyphs, quarries, hunting blinds, or remains of old homesteads, logging camps.

Archaeological Features – These are stationary objects, made or used by people. These objects can be either prehistoric or historic in origin. Some of the examples of Archaeological Features are housepits, bedrock mortars, Cairns, grave markers, sawpits, cemeteries, house foundations, etc.

Archaeological Artifacts – These are non-stationary objects, which past man made, modified, transported, or used either in prehistoric or historic past. These objects can be found at archaeological sites or as isolated discoveries. Some examples of Archaeological Artifacts include a projectile point, pestle, button, flake, nail, bottle, bead, coin, or can.

Archaeological interpretations are developed to answer the basic questions of archaeology. These questions are:

1: How old are the artifacts, features, or sites?

2: How were they made?

3: How were they used?

4: How did the people who made them live?

5: How important are they?

Archaeological interpretations cannot be precisely formulated until and unless archaeological confirmation has first been collected and analyzed.

Like many other study discipline Archaeology has following fields of study - Prehistoric Archaeology, Archaeology of Early and Classical Civilizations, Historical Archaeology, and Underwater Archaeology. Some fields of Archaeology are derived from other study fields like zooarchaeology, Paleoethnobotany, etc. Modern Archaeology, the pattern on which Archeology studied today concentrates on chronology, reconstruction, and explanation.

Archaeology is a social science. In academics Universities offer different courses in archeology at under graduate and postgraduate level. Degrees like Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate are awarded. The services of qualified archaeologists needed both in government and private organizations.


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