Archeology, Archaeology

(a glossary of archeological terms particularly related to the field of research that can tell us about our origins and our remote past)

absolute dating, chronometric dating
A calendrical date that applies to a site, artifact, or feature.
Literally "high city", a natural hill that formed the center of ancient Greek cities.
Anno Domini (in the year of the Lord) which refers to years dated after the birth of Jesus Christ.
Originally, "the market place", later "a public meeting place", in ancient Greek cities.
1. The study of the cultural development of groups of people by examining their customs, beliefs, and behavior.
2. The study of humans, concentrating on culture, defined as non-genetic human behavior.
    Normally broken down into these various fields:
    • Cultural anthropology, contemporary cultures.
    • Archeology, cultures of the past.
    • Linguistic anthropology, languages and their cultural roles.
    • Physical anthropology, the evolution of humans and the relationsip between biology and culture.
Individuals who collect or study antiquities.

The term usually refers to those scholars and amateurs who investigated artifacts in the 16th-19th centuries, before the development of modern archeology.

archeological record
The sum total of all artifacts, features and other objects produced by humans, which are found at an archeological site.
archeologist, archaeologist
An anthropologist who seeks to document and explain the continuity, changes, similarities and differences among human cultures.

Archaeologists work with the material remains of cultures, past and present, providing the only source of information available about past non-literate societies and supplementing written sources for historical and contemporary groups.

An archaeologist is someone whose career lies in ruins.

—Evan Esar
1. The branch of anthropology that studies past human behavior through the physical remains of the past.
2. The study of the human past through the recovery and analysis of material remains.

As people search for their origins, archeology provides insights into their shared heritage.

  • In the absence of written records, archeology provides a prime channel for the understanding of human societies and cultures.
  • Archeology can complement written or historical sources.
  • The recovery of the past has involved the removal of layers of earth to look back in time.
  • Archeology is more than digging Iron Age sites or uncovering Maya temples in the jungles of Central America, or studying rock art in Australia's Norther Territory.
  • Archeology involves teams of science-based archeologists who analyze bones, seeds, pottery, and metalwork.
  • Archeologists learn from anthropologists, who study living societies, since they can suggest social structures or economic patterns for societies that have not left behind written records.
  • Humans have probably been curious about the past for centuries because such interest can be traced as far back as the first civilizations of Mesopotamia and China, which left records of ancient remains.
  • From the 16th century onward, Europeans began studying ancient monuments and forming collections of antiquities where famous sites were visited, painted, and described for those at home.
—Compiled from excerpts presented in
Archaeology, The Definitive Guide; Consultant Editor, Paul Bahn;
Barnes & Noble Books; New York; 2003.

The great thing about archeology is that no matter what is found while digging, it is always doing ground-breaking research.

Any portable object manufactured or used by humans.
Asia Minor
A peninsula of western Asia between the Mediterranean and the lack seas. It includes a large segment of modern-day Turkey.
A collection of artifacts used at a particular time and place, and thought to represent an ancient activity or set of activities.
A term for the earliest hominids, who appeared in Africa approximately five million years ago.
An artificial earthen mound raised over Neolithic and Bronze Age burials.
Sculpture in which the figures project slightly from the background.

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