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What is Archaeology?

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Presentation on theme: "What is Archaeology?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What is Archaeology?

2 Fossils/Artifacts An archaeologist is someone who tries to figure out what life was like in the ancient past by looking at the remains of ancient people – their fossils and their artifacts. An archaeologist must know the difference between an artifact and a fossil. Fossils are remains of living things (plants, animals, people), not of things that were made. Artifacts are remains of things that were made, not the remains of living things.

3 Fossils:



6 Artifacts:



9 What is a site? A "site" is a place archaeologists wish to explore.
At the site, archaeologists literally dig, looking for the remains of ancient civilizations. That is why they call the site at which they are working a “dig”.

10 Finding a site How do archaeologists find sites to explore?
1. They think about what people need to stay alive. Some of those things include access to clean drinking water, a protected place to live, and easy access to trade routes. With this in mind, archaeologists look for remains of civilizations along the banks of rivers and streams.

11 Finding a site 2. They check out reports of artifacts that have been discovered. Artifacts have been discovered by farmers and construction companies while working at their jobs. 3. They check the land from the air, looking for large depressions that could be the ruins of an ancient living area. 4. They use scientific instruments like radar and sonar to look for ruins.

12 The Nazca Lines

13 Archeology from the Air in Denmark
Iron age long houses laid end to end along both sides of a village street.


15 Permission to Dig An archaeologist must receive permission to explore a site.  The owner of the land must grant sometimes permission. Sometimes the government of a country must issue permits.  Once permission is received, archaeologists work in teams with other archaeologists. A team begins to explore the area. They look for evidence that people once lived in the area. Evidence includes fossils and artifacts.

16 Grids & Labeling Before they begin digging, archaeologists design a grid on the ground using rope and string. Each square in the grid must be carefully searched. A record must be kept of anything found, including what was found next to it.


18 Tools of the Trade The tools they use are sometimes very simple. Tools include trowels, brushes, spoons, dental picks, sieves, saws, dustpans, and wheelbarrows. They search each grid very carefully. Digging at a site is slow and careful work.

19 Tools of the Trade

20 Back in the Lab Once objects are labeled and removed from a site, they are taken to a lab, relabeled, and placed into a database. Archaeologists use this information to put together pieces of the past. It takes a great deal of education, training, patience, and attention to detail to work as an archaeologist.

21 What is it? The job of an archaeologist is a great deal like the job of a detective. Here are some puzzles for you to solve. While planting my garden, I found a three-foot long bone made out of stone. Did I find a fossil or an artifact? While exploring in the woods near my house, I found an old arrowhead. Did I find a fossil or an artifact? Answers: A fossil An artifact

22 Discussion Questions What is the value of the archaeology? What does the study of artifacts teach us about a culture that we couldn't learn in other ways? How do you think a team of archaeologists decides where to excavate? What kinds of records should the team consult before starting to dig? What types of tools do archaeologists use? How has technology changed how archaeologists do their work? What are the limitations of archaeology? What can't we learn about another culture by studying fossils and artifacts?

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