What is Archeology?

What Does Archeology Mean

We explain what archeology is, what is its object of study and branches into which it is divided. Also, its relationship with paleontology.

Archeology unites treasure hunting, scientific analysis, and cultural interpretation.

What is archeology?

Archeology is the study of human material remains preserved over time and dispersed in geography . Through the analysis of these remains it is possible to recompose and understand the changes that human societies have experienced throughout their history .

It is both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In some countries it is considered a subdivision of anthropology . His name comes from the Greek voices archaios , "old", and logos , "to know", which describes his field of interest quite well, combining treasure hunting with scientific analysis and cultural interpretation.

Part of a necessarily transdisciplinary approach : history , anthropology , geography , geology , linguistics , physics , chemistry , paleontology and statistics are just some of the areas to which it turns in search of knowledge and tools.

Archeology was born from the antiquarian profession of 19th century Europe , which was a fondness for things of the past or antiquities, for collection or resale. Its peak was in the period of European colonialism, in which the museums of that continent were filled with pieces from the rest of the world, such as Egyptian mummies, Mesopotamian objects, Mesoamerican calendars, etc.

Today, it is not only dedicated to the study of ancient civilizations , nor does it respond to the premise of finding mythical lost cities , but it even applies to more recent times, such as the Middle Ages , with the aim of understanding the social processes that determined the history of civilization.

See also: Evolution of man

What does archeology study?

Archeology studies the set of material remains of cultures , civilizations and human societies that have already disappeared , which make up the entire archaeological record.

Their findings are interpreted as evidence of a reality to be reconstructed or at least understood. It uses technological tools and knowledge from other disciplines , in order to develop a reliable approach to the determining events of societies long before the contemporary.

The societies that he studies could exist from prehistory and the first human settlements, until the classical era of Antiquity or even medieval Europe. Archeology interests are tailored to the region of the world where its professionals work.

Branches of archeology

Historical archeology studies civilizations that relied on writing.

Archeology has a huge number of subdivisions, generally dedicated to the study of a specific and concrete aspect of past human reality. Some examples of this are:

  • Archeology of battlefields. As its name implies, it focuses its efforts on understanding war or military events that occurred in a certain place and in remote times. Especially of those famous battles that ended or began dynasties, empires, invasions, etc.
  • Historical archeology. Although its name might sound redundant, it is not: this branch of archeology is dedicated to the study of documented history, that is, written history, thus dealing with documents, chronicles , evidence and inscriptions.
  • Cognitive archeology. His efforts are focused on understanding the way of thinking of past societies or communities , from the study of the cultural and symbolic content that can be recovered from their archaeological remains.
  • Genre archeology. This branch focuses its studies on the understanding of the roles formerly associated with each of the human sexes, in order to better understand their evolution in the passing of history, and understand why today we understand that a woman or a man must be socially and culturally in a specific way and not in another.
  • Archaeometry. It is about the archaeological study twinned with different physical-chemical techniques, in order to obtain more and better knowledge regarding the composition, characterization and manipulation of certain materials by ancient societies. For this they turn to X-rays and other contemporary materials study techniques .

Archeology and paleontology

Paleontology includes the study of pre-human life forms.

Paleontology and archeology are two very different sciences , although at first glance it may not seem so. Both study the past of our planet from the physical evidence that can be obtained in the earth's crust .

However, while archeology focuses on humans and past societies, paleontology goes back to a much earlier past, where humans did not exist . Study the geological evidence of life and its origins, of the complex facets of its evolution. Thus he traces a history of ancient life, either before or during the appearance of man.

More in: Paleontology

Bachelor of Archeology

Archaeological discoveries are also important tourist attractions.

Archeology constitutes a higher university-type study , generally associated with faculties of Social Sciences or Humanities. It normally comprises a five-year study to obtain a bachelor's degree.

Subsequently, this science offers its professionals numerous specialized and postgraduate branches . On the other hand, it also allows them to access other disciplines to diversify their knowledge .

Archaeologists can engage in work in museums, universities, study and research centers . They can also be part of practical work teams , to carry out excavations and field investigations, in search of archaeological remains in different parts of the world.

Archaeological formation is very important in countries that actively explore their ancestral past or that inherited great ruins or monuments from it. In addition, it allows you to take advantage of this heritage to obtain important tourist and scientific income.

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