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He attempted to chart the chronological stylistic evolution of handwriting, medieval architecture, costume, and shield-shapes. These excavations began in in Pompeii, while in Herculaneum they began in The discovery of entire towns, complete with utensils and even human shapes, as well the unearthing of frescos , had a big impact throughout Europe.
However, prior to the development of modern techniques, excavations tended to be haphazard; the importance of concepts such as stratification and context were overlooked. The father of archaeological excavation was William Cunnington — Cunnington made meticulous recordings of Neolithic and Bronze Age barrows , and the terms he used to categorize and describe them are still used by archaeologists today. One of the major achievements of 19th-century archaeology was the development of stratigraphy.
The idea of overlapping strata tracing back to successive periods was borrowed from the new geological and paleontological work of scholars like William Smith , James Hutton and Charles Lyell. The application of stratigraphy to archaeology first took place with the excavations of prehistorical and Bronze Age sites. A major figure in the development of archaeology into a rigorous science was the army officer and ethnologist , Augustus Pitt Rivers ,  who began excavations on his land in England in the s.
His approach was highly methodical by the standards of the time, and he is widely regarded as the first scientific archaeologist.
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He arranged his artifacts by type or " typologically , and within types by date or "chronologically". This style of arrangement, designed to highlight the evolutionary trends in human artifacts, was of enormous significance for the accurate dating of the objects.
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His most important methodological innovation was his insistence that all artifacts, not just beautiful or unique ones, be collected and catalogued. William Flinders Petrie is another man who may legitimately be called the Father of Archaeology. His painstaking recording and study of artifacts, both in Egypt and later in Palestine , laid down many of the ideas behind modern archaeological recording; he remarked that "I believe the true line of research lies in the noting and comparison of the smallest details.
Petrie was the first to scientifically investigate the Great Pyramid in Egypt during the s.
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These scholars individuated nine different cities that had overlapped with one another, from prehistory to the Hellenistic period. The next major figure in the development of archaeology was Sir Mortimer Wheeler , whose highly disciplined approach to excavation and systematic coverage in the s and s brought the science on swiftly. Wheeler developed the grid system of excavation , which was further improved by his student Kathleen Kenyon. Archaeology became a professional activity in the first half of the 20th century, and it became possible to study archaeology as a subject in universities and even schools.
By the end of the 20th century nearly all professional archaeologists, at least in developed countries, were graduates. Further adaptation and innovation in archaeology continued in this period, when maritime archaeology and urban archaeology became more prevalent and rescue archaeology was developed as a result of increasing commercial development.
The purpose of archaeology is to learn more about past societies and the development of the human race. Without such written sources, the only way to understand prehistoric societies is through archaeology. Because archaeology is the study of past human activity, it stretches back to about 2. Many important developments in human history occurred during prehistory, such as the evolution of humanity during the Paleolithic period, when the hominins developed from the australopithecines in Africa and eventually into modern Homo sapiens.
Archaeology also sheds light on many of humanity's technological advances, for instance the ability to use fire, the development of stone tools , the discovery of metallurgy , the beginnings of religion and the creation of agriculture. Without archaeology, we would know little or nothing about the use of material culture by humanity that pre-dates writing.
However, it is not only prehistoric, pre-literate cultures that can be studied using archaeology but historic, literate cultures as well, through the sub-discipline of historical archaeology. For many literate cultures, such as Ancient Greece and Mesopotamia , their surviving records are often incomplete and biased to some extent.
In many societies, literacy was restricted to the elite classes, such as the clergy or the bureaucracy of court or temple. The literacy even of aristocrats has sometimes been restricted to deeds and contracts. The interests and world-view of elites are often quite different from the lives and interests of the populace.
Writings that were produced by people more representative of the general population were unlikely to find their way into libraries and be preserved there for posterity. Thus, written records tend to reflect the biases, assumptions, cultural values and possibly deceptions of a limited range of individuals, usually a small fraction of the larger population.
Hence, written records cannot be trusted as a sole source. The material record may be closer to a fair representation of society, though it is subject to its own biases, such as sampling bias and differential preservation. Often, archaeology provides the only means to learn of the existence and behaviors of people of the past.
Across the millennia many thousands of cultures and societies and billions of people have come and gone of which there is little or no written record or existing records are misrepresentative or incomplete. Writing as it is known today did not exist in human civilization until the 4th millennium BC, in a relatively small number of technologically advanced civilizations.
In contrast, Homo sapiens has existed for at least , years, and other species of Homo for millions of years see Human evolution. These civilizations are, not coincidentally, the best-known; they are open to the inquiry of historians for centuries, while the study of pre-historic cultures has arisen only recently. Even within a literate civilization many events and important human practices are not officially recorded. Any knowledge of the early years of human civilization — the development of agriculture, cult practices of folk religion, the rise of the first cities — must come from archaeology.
In addition to their scientific importance, archaeological remains sometimes have political or cultural significance to descendants of the people who produced them, monetary value to collectors, or simply strong aesthetic appeal. Many people identify archaeology with the recovery of such aesthetic, religious, political, or economic treasures rather than with the reconstruction of past societies.
When such unrealistic subjects are treated more seriously, accusations of pseudoscience are invariably levelled at their proponents see Pseudoarchaeology. However, these endeavours, real and fictional, are not representative of modern archaeology. There is no one approach to archaeological theory that has been adhered to by all archaeologists. When archaeology developed in the late 19th century, the first approach to archaeological theory to be practiced was that of cultural-history archaeology , which held the goal of explaining why cultures changed and adapted rather than just highlighting the fact that they did, therefore emphasizing historical particularism.
In the s, a new postmodern movement arose led by the British archaeologists Michael Shanks ,     Christopher Tilley ,  Daniel Miller ,   and Ian Hodder ,       which has become known as post-processual archaeology. It questioned processualism's appeals to scientific positivism and impartiality, and emphasized the importance of a more self-critical theoretical reflexivity. Meanwhile, another theory, known as historical processualism has emerged seeking to incorporate a focus on process and post-processual archaeology's emphasis of reflexivity and history.
Archaeological theory now borrows from a wide range of influences, including neo-evolutionary thought ,   phenomenology , postmodernism , agency theory , cognitive science , structural functionalism , gender-based and feminist archaeology , and systems theory. An archaeological investigation usually involves several distinct phases, each of which employs its own variety of methods.
Before any practical work can begin, however, a clear objective as to what the archaeologists are looking to achieve must be agreed upon. This done, a site is surveyed to find out as much as possible about it and the surrounding area. Second, an excavation may take place to uncover any archaeological features buried under the ground.
And, third, the data collected from the excavation is studied and evaluated in an attempt to achieve the original research objectives of the archaeologists.
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It is then considered good practice for the information to be published so that it is available to other archaeologists and historians, although this is sometimes neglected. Before actually starting to dig in a location, remote sensing can be used to look where sites are located within a large area or provide more information about sites or regions.
There are two types of remote sensing instruments—passive and active. Passive instruments detect natural energy that is reflected or emitted from the observed scene. Passive instruments sense only radiation emitted by the object being viewed or reflected by the object from a source other than the instrument. Active instruments emit energy and record what is reflected. Satellite imagery is an example of passive remote sensing.
Here are two active remote sensing instruments:. Lidar Light Detection and Ranging A lidar uses a laser light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation to transmit a light pulse and a receiver with sensitive detectors to measure the backscattered or reflected light. Distance to the object is determined by recording the time between the transmitted and backscattered pulses and using the speed of light to calculate the distance travelled. Lidars can determine atmospheric profiles of aerosols, clouds, and other constituents of the atmosphere.
Laser altimeter A laser altimeter uses a lidar see above to measure the height of the instrument platform above the surface. By independently knowing the height of the platform with respect to the mean Earth's surface, the topography of the underlying surface can be determined. The archaeological project then continues or alternatively, begins with a field survey. Regional survey is the attempt to systematically locate previously unknown sites in a region.
Site survey is the attempt to systematically locate features of interest, such as houses and middens , within a site. Each of these two goals may be accomplished with largely the same methods. Survey was not widely practiced in the early days of archaeology. Cultural historians and prior researchers were usually content with discovering the locations of monumental sites from the local populace, and excavating only the plainly visible features there.
Gordon Willey pioneered the technique of regional settlement pattern survey in in the Viru Valley of coastal Peru ,   and survey of all levels became prominent with the rise of processual archaeology some years later. Survey work has many benefits if performed as a preliminary exercise to, or even in place of, excavation.
It requires relatively little time and expense, because it does not require processing large volumes of soil to search out artifacts. Nevertheless, surveying a large region or site can be expensive, so archaeologists often employ sampling methods. It is the only way to gather some forms of information, such as settlement patterns and settlement structure.
The simplest survey technique is surface survey. It involves combing an area, usually on foot but sometimes with the use of mechanized transport, to search for features or artifacts visible on the surface. Surface survey cannot detect sites or features that are completely buried under earth, or overgrown with vegetation.
Surface survey may also include mini-excavation techniques such as augers , corers , and shovel test pits. If no materials are found, the area surveyed is deemed sterile. Aerial survey is conducted using cameras attached to airplanes , balloons , UAVs , or even Kites. Aerial photographs are used to document the status of the archaeological dig. Aerial imaging can also detect many things not visible from the surface.
Plants growing above a buried man made structure, such as a stone wall, will develop more slowly, while those above other types of features such as middens may develop more rapidly. Photographs of ripening grain , which changes colour rapidly at maturation, have revealed buried structures with great precision. Aerial photographs taken at different times of day will help show the outlines of structures by changes in shadows.