/ahr'kee ol"euh jee/, n.
1. the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other such remains, esp. those that have been excavated.
2. Rare. ancient history; the study of antiquity.
Also, archeology.
[1600-10; < Gk archaiología the discussion of antiquities. See ARCHAEO-, -LOGY]

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Scientific study of material remains of past human life and activities.

These include human artifacts from the very earliest stone tools to the man-made objects that are buried or thrown away in the present day. Archaeological investigations are a principal source of modern knowledge of prehistoric, ancient, and extinct cultures. The field emerged as an academic discipline in the late 19th century, following centuries of haphazard antiquarian collecting. Among the archaeologist's principal activities are the location, surveying, and mapping of sites and the excavation, classification, dating, and interpretation of materials to place them in historical context. Major subfields include classical archaeology, the study of ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilizations; prehistoric archaeology, or general archaeology; and historical archaeology, the study of historic-period remains to augment the written record. See also anthropology; coin collecting; stone-tool industry.

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▪ 1995


Eastern Hemisphere.
      Old World archaeology suffered in 1994 from political circumstances in the Near East, in southeastern Europe, and in various parts of Africa and Asia, which understandably were not encouraging to field excavations. The number of yearly summaries on fieldwork given in the American Journal of Archaeology for some areas of Europe and for the Near East—but not, understandably, for countries such as Iran and Iraq—continued to increase.

      Heinrich Schliemann recovered a spectacular amount of gold artifacts in the site of Troy in the late 1800s and presented the "gold of Troy" to a Berlin Museum. During World War II it disappeared, but it was recently reported to be safely stored in a Moscow museum. The Russians were considering returning it—but to whom? An international conference was scheduled in Moscow to discuss the matter. Troy is in Turkey, and the Turks requested the collection; Greece claimed it, believing Troy's antecedents were Greek; and Germany claimed it since the artifacts were Schliemann's gift to them.

      The Institute of Paleolithic Culture in Japan reported the recovery of stone tools (hand axes, choppers, cleavers) of about 600,000 years ago. Given the region and the time, it was thought that these finds might relate to Pithecanthropus of Java. In northern Greece an impressive hand ax about 200,000 years old was recovered. Joint Russian and American work in the northwest Caucasus recovered sites of Mousterian hunters, while a French and American study was made of the faunal remains of the classic Mousterian cave sites at La Quina.

      The lost half of a group of famous "Venus" figurines, about 18,000-25,000 years old, found in the Grimaldi cave in Italy in 1883, was recovered. The original finder, Louis Jullien, moved from France to Canada, apparently taking the missing pieces with him. A sculptor found the lost figurines in an antique shop in Montreal.

      Knowledge of prehistoric art in Europe was enriched by two major finds. Archaeologists exploring a cave in the Ardèche River canyon in southern France discovered a gallery decorated with some 300 paintings of an astonishing variety of prehistoric animals, including bison, rhinoceroses, bears, horses, panthers, and owls. Thought to be 20,000 years old, the images were being compared to the world-famous cave art found at Lascaux, France, and Altamira, Spain. In northern Portugal a discovery of comparable age came to light: images of more than 60 animals such as bison, horses, ibexes, and deer chiseled with stone tools into the rock face along a deep gorge of the Côa River. The carvings, already partly covered by backed-up water from a dam on the Douro River, were being threatened with complete inundation by a second dam under construction in the region. News of the discovery came amid charges that knowledge of the prehistoric site's existence had been kept quiet for more than two years to allow building of the second dam to proceed.

      To the extent that field work could be done in southwestern Asia, the attention to sites yielding evidence of agricultural beginnings continued. Particularly remarkable was the evidence for early pig domestication at Hallan Cemi in southeastern Turkey. Round or U-shaped house plans indicated year-round occupation around 10,500 years before the present. The site's early date and locality challenged the general current assumption that the beginnings of food production began only in the Levant (south and west Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan).

      Excavations were especially active in southern Turkey and north-central Syria at sites yielding materials of the earlier urban periods. Public buildings with impressive wall paintings continued at the University of Rome's Arslantepe site near Malatya, and there were various other locations of interest farther south in the Euphrates valley in Turkey yielding further hints of Uruk (southern Mesopotamian) connections. There was also activity in northeastern Syria, where tributaries flow to the Euphrates. A Belgian expedition fueled the growing interest in the early literate range with a find of pre-Sargonid tablets at Tell Beidar. While many archaeologists working within the Euphrates drainage system might have preferred to work in southern Mesopotamia (Iraq), their enforced choices had nonetheless succeeded in opening a new area of considerable interest.

      Excavations at sites of the historic ranges in Israel and Jordan were focused on sites in the later historic ranges, although work on the early village site of 'Ain Ghazal in Jordan continued. Many of the exposed Israeli sites appeared to have been of 1,000 BC or later, but interesting Chalcolithic materials appeared on Tell Shiqmim—a joint American, French, and Israeli excavation. Impressive Late Bronze Age architecture continued to appear on Tell Hazor. Several teams made new clearances at Petra, Jordan.

      A variety of interesting excavations were reported north and west of the Tigris-Euphrates drainage—surely a reflection of the favourable prevailing circumstances for field work. At Troy a burned level discovered below Troy I, Schliemann's earliest excavations, demonstrated still earlier settlement, and broad later clearances (Troy II-VI) were made. More details of the tin mining and smelting at Goltepe-Kestel were recovered. Excavations on the long-worked sites of the later Bronze and Iron Age ranges and of Greco-Roman and Byzantine times continued.

      The lack of field news from Egypt in 1994 reflected, to some degree, the prevailing political tension and perhaps the interest of some archaeologists there in not encouraging hordes of tourists. An Old Kingdom stone-paved road, about 12 km (7.5 mi) long, was cleared. It appeared to have facilitated the transportation of good stone for monumental use at Giza. In Sinai, near Egypt's border with Israel, a huge Roman fortress and large town were exposed in a region being cleared for a new agricultural development canal.

      In early Europe continued study added to information about the life of "Ötzi," the 5,300-year-old "Iceman," whose frozen remains were found in the Ötz valley high in the Alps in 1991. Both the body itself and more than 20 artifacts and clothing had aroused much interest. In southern Russia and Kazakhstan, an impressive amount of evidence concerning the very early development of wheels (on remains of chariots) was recovered. Vast areas being prepared for drainage for agriculture, in the fenlands of eastern England, yielded over 2,000 sites (7th millennium BC to medieval times).

      In Greece much interest turned to the clearance and yield of the site of the battle of Actium, near Corinth. The identification of ash (from a datable ice core taken in Greenland) was believed to fix the date of the Santorini volcanic eruption that buried the Minoan colony there at about 1623 BC. The eruption may well have given rise to the Atlantis legend.

      As the centre of Athens was laid partially bare in recent months for the construction of a subway, graves dated from the 5th century BC as well as materials of later Byzantine and Turkish times were being recovered. The general dearth of archaeological news from Greece might be ascribed to something of a xenophobic attitude on the part of the country's antiquity service or possibly to the tensions between successive Greek governments (for example, Melina Mercouri [see OBITUARIES (Mercouri, Melina )], who served as minister of culture under the former Socialist government, was an energetic campaigner for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece).

      In Lugnano, a town on the Tiber River 110 km (70 mi) north of Rome, a large 5th-century AD children's cemetery was being exposed—thus far, 49 skeletons had been recovered. Skeletal evidence pointed strongly to a plague of malaria mentioned in contemporary records. Attila the Hun may have cut short his invasion of Italy because of a fear of malaria. Similarly, a comparative study of the depictions of women on the Pompei frescoes with physical evidence from their skulls indicated hyperostosis frontalis interna, a hormonal disorder. At Suffolk, a Roman British site, 14,780 gold and silver coins, tableware, jewelry, and other ornaments were found and officially declared "treasure trove," thus the property of the Crown.

      On the Chiang Jiang (Yangtze River) in China, where a new dam and flood plain was under construction, a government project began to recover a vast amount of archaeological materials spanning as much as 7,000 years. Many tombs and great quantities of pottery, porcelain, jade, and stoneware objects had already been recovered.

      On a beach dune of Lake Victoria in New South Wales, Australia, a huge necropolis was located, with expected evidence of as many as 10,000 skeletons. The ancient people seem to have left their dead exposed on the sandy dunes, then bundled the disjointed bones for burial. The find suggested that far larger communities of hunter-gatherers existed before the arrival of Europeans than had been anticipated. (ROBERT J. BRAIDWOOD)

Western Hemisphere.
      New World archaeology in 1994 was marked by the announcement of important discoveries concerning the arrival and antiquity of humans in North America, the emergence of significant new evidence suggesting that the agricultural foundations of the Maya may have extended back to preceramic times, and the combining of traditional archaeological techniques with modern biotechnology to resolve a long-standing debate over the origins of tuberculosis in the New World.

      It had been generally assumed that the first human immigrants to North America traveled from Siberia across a land bridge over the Bering Strait. They then moved from Alaska southward via an ice-free corridor through western Canada and down into the U.S. Southwest, where many artifacts of Paleo-Indians and extinct big game were first found. The early peoples were believed to have migrated eastward from the Southwest to the Atlantic Coast several thousand years later. In the past year, however, the discovery of a mastodon tusk in deeply buried sediments below a river in Florida challenged the common wisdom about both the early migration routes and the causes for extinction of the mastodon, an early relative of the elephant, and other Late Pleistocene mammals.

      A team led by David Webb of the University of Florida determined that the tusk, which showed clear signs of butchering by humans, is at least 12,200 years old, centuries older than similar documented activities in the Southwest. Well-preserved marks around the base of the bone tusk suggested that it had been cut off the carcass with sharp knifelike implements. Stone butchering tools were recovered at the site, including a razorlike stone flake for cutting and scraping, as were associated tools and weapons made of ivory and decorated with geometric designs. The Florida excavation now had to be considered the earliest butchering site in North America. The astonishing find supported a new scenario, one in which humans first migrated from Alaska across Canada and down the eastern seaboard, only later spreading to the Southwest. Likewise, the antiquity of the tusk—at least 1,000 years older than the dated human finds in the Southwest—suggested that instead of there having been a rapid killing off of big game through overhunting, mastodons and humans coexisted for at least a millennium.

      The discovery of what may be the earliest evidence of Mayan culture, potentially pushing back the known origins of this ancient Mesoamerican civilization by some 1,500 years, was announced. Working in previously unstudied areas and deposits at the Colha site in northern Belize, a multidisciplinary team led by Thomas Hester of the University of Texas at Austin used radiocarbon dating of pollen cores, botanical identification of the contents of buried refuse pits, and analysis of a set of agricultural tools to establish that the ancient inhabitants were actually engaged in land clearing and the cultivation of domestic crops as early as 2500 BC, long before the introduction of the distinctive Mayan ceramics that were traditionally interpreted as the initial indicators for the advent of settled society in Mesoamerica. Distinctive chipped and carved stone tools with hoelike or axlike edges were similar to those of the later classic Mayan sites, suggesting cultural continuity over time. In addition, shifts in the range and diversity of the natural plants were documented through pollen evidence and indicated that swamp areas bordering the site had been drained. Maize (corn) and manioc pollen identified in refuse-pit deposits suggested that the inhabitants were early agriculturists, present perhaps 1,500 years earlier than previous projections for the earliest manifestations of this culture.

      The 1932 discovery by Alfonso Caso y Andrade of Tomb Seven at Monte Albán, Mexico, renowned for the whole gold mask and pectoral (chest piece) it contained, remains one of the most spectacular single discoveries in New World archaeology. Heated controversy over the site broke out in 1994 over a reinterpretation of the identity of the human skeletal remains in that tomb. Sharisse and Geoffrey McCafferty, associated with Brown University, Providence, R.I., announced that one of the skeletons, which had been thought to be that of a great king or priest, may in fact be that of a queen or priestess. The McCaffertys based their surprising reinterpretation on the fact that one of the original researchers at Monte Albán had belatedly included a female jawbone among the inventory of the contents of the tomb. Furthermore, the site contained a wide assortment of artifacts commonly taken as indicators of female activities—weaving batons, including an assortment of full-size and miniature spinning tools, and small "spinning bowls" on which the base of a spindle is rested when it is twirled—as well as two miniature gold rings that the archaeologists suggested may have served as ritual thimbles. This reinterpretation could result in a radical shift away from the former predication of a predominantly male power structure in ancient Mesoamerican society. It could cause reexamination of artifacts from other early sites to see if they contain similar evidence of elevated status of women. The debate went into high gear when the McCaffertys' reassessment, which some perceived as long overdue, came under attack from others, notably Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus of the University of Michigan, who charged that the McCaffertys, in the words of a Science News article, "parlayed a political concern about inequalities heaped upon women in ancient and modern societies . . . to promote a vision of once-powerful Mixtec woman."

      The first successful use of genetic analysis techniques in the study of ancient disease was reported in 1994 in research into the origin and antiquity of tuberculosis in the New World. While not enjoying the broad media coverage that forensic DNA testing received in U.S. criminal court cases during the year, the study of DNA genetic structure in tissue samples from ancient South American mummies nonetheless proved to be an important new diagnostic tool for researchers.

      The story began in 1990 with the excavation of some 600 pre-Inca burials near the village of Ilo in southern Peru. Archaeologists Jane Burikstra and Todd Holcomb of the University of Chicago investigated some 600 graves in 11 prehistoric cemeteries in the valley belonging to highland peoples who had migrated down to this lowland desert drainage on the coast about 1000 BC. These migrants, as evinced by their distinctive Andean pottery, apparently dominated the lowland valley for at least 2,000 years, until just before the arrival of the Inca empire. About 140 of the burials contained the well-preserved, naturally mummified remains of 700-1,000-year-old individuals.

      The archaeologists enlisted paleopathologist Arthur C. Aufderheide and molecular biologist Wilmar L. Salo both from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Together they identified and extracted tissue samples from what appeared to be tubercular lesions in desiccated lung and lymph node tissue from the body of a 40-50-year-old woman. They then used a modern genetic testing procedure called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which amplifies traces of ancient DNA by an amount sufficient to permit the identification of particular DNA types—in this case the ancient "molecular fingerprints" of the tuberculosis-causing bacterium. This new tool of DNA analysis thus provided unequivocal evidence that tuberculosis existed in the New World at least 1,000 years before the arrival of the first Europeans and demonstrated that the disease probably evolved in the Americas independently of the European strains carried to the New World in the 15th century.

      In addition to throwing new light on the antiquity of tuberculosis, an important disease worldwide, PCR also provided a new line of evidence for archaeologists to use in assessing such issues as the political and economic structure of the large pre-Inca settlements. Given the association of tuberculosis with poverty, crowded living conditions, and poor diet, it seemed probable that the ancient coastal population of Peru may have suffered under such conditions—a type of existence most people did not usually associate with societies predating the arrival of highly centralized empires and their expanded political and economic power.


      See also Anthropology .

      This updates the article archaeology

▪ 1994


Eastern Hemisphere.
      Reports in 1993 on archaeological excavations were far fewer than normal. Little news was yet at hand for Central and Eastern Europe, or from Africa and Asia, because of political circumstances. No excavations were done in large parts of the southwestern Asian Middle East, and work was difficult in Egypt.

      In addition to the significant "rediscovery" in Russia of Heinrich Schliemann's "gold of Troy," excavated in the late 1800s and missing from a Berlin museum since the time of the Russian occupation after World War II (see Museums, below), it was announced that 10 volumes of critical field notes had been recovered in the Bode Museum in the former East Berlin. In the 1920s and 1930s a joint American-German effort at Medinet Habu, Egypt, recovered a remarkable series of artifacts, and their find spots and associationships were carefully recorded. It was these records—critical to historical understandings of the artifacts—that went to Berlin. Various U.S. museums also faced claims for the return of antiquities, mainly artifacts purchased from sources selling the results of illicit excavation. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, for example, yielded to a six-year legal action by Turkey for the return of the "Lydian Hoard" of gold and silver vessels and jewelry, illegally excavated and exported.

      In 1988 the joint Istanbul University (Beyazit) and University of Chicago excavations at Cayonu, an early village site (c. 9,000 years before the present), recovered an antler haft with evidence of what appeared to be "fossilized" cloth. None of the field staff could positively identify the traces, however, and by national law artifacts may not leave Turkey. In early 1993 Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood of the National Museum for Ethnology in Leiden, Neth., an expert on early textiles, was able to examine the haft and identified the traces as a piece of textile, probably linen. It was the oldest trace of woven textile so far recovered.

Pleistocene Prehistory
      Increasingly, Greece was yielding evidence of very early prehistoric occupation (archaeology there had tended to focus almost entirely on "Classical" times). A Micoquian hand ax uncovered in Epirus expanded evidence of prehistoric sites south of Thessaly, where chopper and flake tools had previously been found. Pleistocene archaeologists were also active in both Israel and Jordan. Cave art in France and Spain received attention again through new techniques in radiocarbon dating and the analysis of the pigments of paintings. It was established that animal figures on the walls of caves, such as those at Altamira, Spain, had not always been painted at one time but could have taken as long as 700 years before completion. New radiocarbon assays at Cosquer, an underwater cave near Marseille, France, dated the drawings at 27,000 years, making it the earliest cave art known.

      Investigations on the climatic interstadial of 11,000-12,000 years ago in Beringia (now submerged under the Bering Strait) and the way it provided for the peopling of the New World from Asia were reported. Traces of starch from an apparently domesticated variety of the taro plant on flint tools from the Solomon Islands suggested that conscious planting was being done in the Pacific as long ago as 28,000 years before the present.

The Middle East
      Interest was increasing in the beginnings of a village-farming community way of life in southwestern Asia, although not in classic southern Mesopotamia or in the more desertic regions. Much more excavation was being done in the Levant—Israel, Jordan, the more westerly regions of Syria—than in the regions beyond the Euphrates. One exception, the site of Hallan Cemi on a tributary of the Tigris in southeastern Turkey, showed fascinating indications of the incipience of food production. In central Turkey a somewhat more developed but still "preceramic" village site, Asikli, was also of interest.

      Pages in the development of agricultural centres and the appearance of towns continued to unfold in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Israel. In Turkey and upper Syria evidence of citylike centres—already apparent (c. 3500 BC) at Arslantepe with its linkages to the Uruk development in southern Mesopotamia—was further exposed at Hacinebi, along the southernmost stretch of the Euphrates in Turkey.

      A Yale University team recovered evidence of a later (c. 2500 BC) climatic decline at Tell Leilan, in northern Syria, where the city reflected what must have been part of the degeneration of the Akkadian dynasty in more southerly Mesopotamia. A clay figurine of a horse discovered at Tell as-Sweyhat on the Euphrates clearly indicated that the horse was domesticated much earlier than had been believed.

      The scarcity of reports of foreign work in Jordan might possibly reflect some political prudence, although archaeologists appeared to have been quite active in Israel. A joint effort between the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Madrid, and the California Institute of Technology made important architectural clearances at 2nd and early 1st millennium levels. At Tel Dan a stone fragment of c. 850 BC bore an inscription reading "House of David." At year's end, with the area soon to be ceded to Palestine, Israeli archaeologists were intensifying their search for antiquities in the vicinity of Jericho.

      There was much interest in Manfred Korfmann's new exposures at traditional Troy. At Bogazkoy new Hittite buildings were cleared, and outside the archaeological territory road repairs yielded an interesting inscribed bronze sword dedicated to one of the Hittite kings.

      In Egypt the well-established yearly field efforts continued, and none of the archaeologists appeared to have been affected by the political unrest in that country. In the Nile delta region, tests indicated the time of the beginnings of fertile soil deposition as about 6500-5500 BC. Farming in Egypt apparently began as a consequence, with settlement from the Levant. There still were claims of earlier plant cultivation in the southern desertic regions, however.

      Egyptian and German archaeologists uncovered the tomb of an army commander of pharaoh Ramses II. At Tell el-Daba in the delta, a site linked to a pharaoh of Hyksos times, the remains of scattered mural paintings were found. The style of the paintings was clearly that of the Minoan murals of Crete.

The Greco-Roman World
      A very useful updating of the current understandings of Bronze Age developments on the Greek mainland was published in the American Journal of Archaeology. This complemented the coverage in Machteld Mellinck's "Newsletter" of the excavations dealing with the same time range in Turkey. Further surface survey work continued on Crete.

      For the Classical (1st millennium BC) time range, the various national archaeological research schools were active in Greece, but little in the way of results was yet available. Excavations at sites in Turkey such as Ephesus, Pergamum, and Sardis were all well reported. At Nikopolis, Greece, site of the sea battle of Actium, ship wreckage was being recovered. Another, earlier seabed recovery was being conducted off the island of Alónnisos; the wreck was a very large, upright ship of c. 400 BC containing hundreds of jars that had held wine. Greek and U.S. experts were involved in the restoration of broken metopes of the Athenian Parthenon.

      In Italy work in various laboratories continued on the Roman bronze statues recovered in 1992 from a wreck near Brindisi. On the island of Ischia, near Naples, detailed attention was being given to a large number of cremated skeletal remains, evidently Greek colonists, of the 8th-6th century BC.

      The remains of a long wooden boat were exposed in Dover, England, while modern sewers were being enlarged. Of middle Bronze Age times, the boat was believed to have been used for cross-channel voyages. Current Archaeology also described work on Celtic, Roman, and Middle Age sites in Britain, Scotland, and Ireland. Recovered town remains dating from some hundred years after London was founded (c. AD 50) suggested about a century of near desertion, from c. AD 150 to 270. The decline was assumed to be economic. A fascinating attempt to present computer-assisted reconstructed views of the very old abbey of Cluny, France, destroyed during the French Revolution, was described in Science.

Asia, Africa, and the Pacific
      Radar images from a National Aeronautics and Space Administration space shuttle yielded evidence of the track of the Silk Road from northwestern China to the Middle East and settlement remains along the route. Much archaeological news from East Asia focused on the problems of antiquity smuggling, evidently particularly troublesome in China. One extraordinary discovery in China was an underground tomb near Xian (Sian) dating to c. 25 BC. It had been looted twice in antiquity, but on its ceiling was a remarkable printed map of the stars and a series of constellations.

      There was uncertainty about the origins of human occupation of Australia. Existing physical evidence had been determined to be at the limits of the early reach of radiocarbon dating, but thermoluminescence assays now suggested that human settlement began as early as 50,000 years ago. Antiquity considered the interesting circumstances for archaeological research in Australia and discussed how such efforts had changed with the growth in respect for the aboriginal peoples.

      With this contribution, Robert J. Braidwood begins his 51st year of writing about archaeology for the Britannica Book of the Year. The editors and staff would like to extend their special thanks and cordial greetings to our esteemed colleague on this occasion.

Western Hemisphere.
      Archaeological research in the Western Hemisphere in 1993 was marked by discoveries in ancient Mayan and Mexican archaeology, new evidence for the antiquity and origins of early human habitation in North America, and, for the historic period, the unearthing of fortifications built by the earliest 16th-century Spanish explorers. Traditional archaeological discoveries were matched by findings that highlight the role of archaeology in the reconstruction of environmental conditions for areas and time periods before scientific data were collected.

Environmental Archaeology.
      Reliable official hurricane records exist only for the past 120 years, but the use of archaeological stratigraphic records and radiocarbon determinations of storm-deposited sand in an Alabama lake has provided evidence of major hurricanes in the area every 600 years on the average. By studying the depth of sand lenses to determine relative age and their thickness to determine wind intensity, Kam-biu Liu of Louisiana State University developed a technique that may extend the record of storm activity in the Gulf States to 6,000 years before the present. A basis also may be provided for testing models of global warming that suggested that hurricanes intensify in force and frequency with rising global temperatures.

      New insights into the impact of precontact cultures on the landscape helped to explode myths of the pristine nature of these environments. Working in the lowlands of Costa Rica, multidisciplinary teams discovered evidence that America's tropical forests may not be as natural and untouched by past human activity as had been thought. Buck Stanford of the University of Denver, Colo., announced the recovery from the soil of ancient charcoal dating to 1,200-2,000 years before the present, indicating that the area's "virgin" forest was once burned and cultivated. The discovery of a buried stone hearth, burial sites, tools, and food remains supported the idea that the forest inhabitants raised yucca and corn (maize) as early as AD 800. Related studies of corn pollen by Mark Bush, a paleoecologist at Duke University, Durham, N.C., working in the Darién Gap rain forest in Panama, revealed that the area had been heavily altered by cultivation from at least 4,000 years before the present and as recently as 300 years ago. Finally, parallel studies of the traditional raised field agriculture of the ancient inhabitants of highland Mexico also cast doubts upon the environmental health of these practices, long held to represent an example of man's living in harmony with nature. A series of deep lake cores into the sediments of Lake Pátzcuaro, northwest of Mexico City, by a team headed by Sarah L. O'Hara of the University of Sheffield, England, provided evidence that farming may have induced severe environmental impacts. The investigators identified three major episodes of ancient soil erosion, with the third and most destructive dating to between AD 1200 and the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. Roughly contemporaneous with the time of the Aztec Empire, this period was characterized by what O'Hara described as "staggeringly high" environmental impacts and erosion rates of 208 metric tons of soil per hectare (85 tons per acre) per year.

Early Human Sites.
      Archaeologists working in northern Alaska reported evidence from radiocarbon datings that supported the antiquity of one of the earliest early human sites in the Northern Hemisphere. U.S. Bureau of Land Management scientists announced the initial discovery of an early Paleo-Indian site on a high mesa in 1978. In 1993 the team, under the direction of Michael Kunz, confirmed the antiquity of this find at 9,700-11,700 years before the present. In addition, the 50 bifacially flaked fluted points found there were similar to those of the Clovis complex tools found with extinct mammoth remains in the U.S. Southwest half a century earlier. They were quite different from points found at the Nenana culture complex in Alaska, which also dates to c. 11,000 years before the present, and showed strong cultural parallels to early stone tool industries in eastern Siberia for this time period. The discovery of these two distinctive stone tool cultures suggested that two very different Early Man groups were present in northern Alaska at the time of early immigration from Asia into the New World.

Colonial Period in North America.
      Researchers working under the direction of Kathleen Deagan of the Florida Museum of Natural History at Gainesville announced the discovery of Spanish fortifications that appeared to confirm the exact location of the earliest European settlement in Florida and the U.S. Over the summer, archaeologists excavated portions of the moat and defensive palisade of what appeared to represent a fort built by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. Under orders to destroy Fort Caroline, a French settlement near modern Jacksonville, Menéndez built his fort around an Indian longhouse structure. He dug a moat one metre (3 ft) deep and 4 m (14 ft) wide and, inside it, a defensive wall of one-metre-wide wooden posts. This Spanish fort predated the establishment of Jamestown by four decades and the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock in 1620 by half a century.

      After nearly 20 years of investigation at the early Classic Mayan city of Cuello in Belize, archaeologists under the direction of Norman Hammond of Boston University announced the discovery of the earliest known human burials from the Mayan culture, which appeared to date to approximately 3,000 years before the present. The new finds, apparently a family plot containing the remains of five individuals who died at about the same time, were found in deep sediment layers dating to the earliest phase of occupation at the site, c. 1200-900 BC, nearly a thousand years before the time period of the previously excavated burials at Cuello.

      A basalt stela measuring 1.6 ×1.2 m (6 ×4 ft), originally found in 1986 during the construction of a riverside dock near the village of Mojarra, 40 km (25 mi) inland from Veracruz on Mexico's Gulf Coast, provided key evidence for the decipherment of the earliest known readable text in the Americas. The stela depicts the figure of a standing man with an elaborate headdress, bordered on the top and sides by 21 columns of hieroglyphic writing. After two years of study, John S. Justeson, an anthropologist at the State University of New York at Albany, and Terrence Kaufman, a linguist at the University of Pittsburgh, Pa., announced the decipherment of approximately 100 of a total of 150 glyphs from this example of the epi-Olmec writing system and the identification of in excess of 30 "logograms," or image elements, depicting the warrior king, sunrise and the stars, jaguars, and a penis, which figured in the Mayan ritual of renewal for the king and his nobles. The carved stela and text were dated to AD 159. This find led some scholars to believe that the earliest Mayan scripts developed gradually over a long period of time rather than in a burst of innovation.

      Finally, archaeologists working under the direction of Richard M. Leventhal of the Institute of Archaeology at the University of California at Los Angeles announced that at least one Mayan centre, the city of Xunantunich, 112 km (70 mi) west of Belize City, Belize, appeared to have survived as a vibrant urban centre for 150-200 years after other similar centres had declined or been abandoned at the end of the Classic period. Evidence came from large quantities of late Mayan ceramics that could be dated to the 10th century AD and from the excavation of a huge, well-preserved plaster frieze. The elaborate modeled and painted facade of the frieze, 9 m (30 ft) in length and found along the west side of a 13-story pyramid structure, contained the images of a ruler, ancestor gods, dancing figures, shells, and earth monsters, all of which were executed between AD 800 and 900. Leventhal suggested that this urban centre of some 10,000 inhabitants may have managed to survive precisely because of its small size at a time when the larger urban centres in the region, such as Dos Pilas, Tikal, Seibal, and Caracol, were engulfed in warfare and political decline.

      See also Anthropology .

      This updates the article archaeology.

* * *

also spelled  archeology 
 the scientific study of the material remains of past human life and activities. These include human artifacts from the very earliest stone tools to the man-made objects that are buried or thrown away in the present day: everything made by human beings—from simple tools to complex machines, from the earliest houses and temples and tombs to palaces, cathedrals, and pyramids. Archaeological investigations are a principal source of knowledge of prehistoric, ancient, and extinct culture. The word comes from the Greek archaia (“ancient things”) and logos (“theory” or “science”).

      The archaeologist is first a descriptive worker: he has to describe, classify, and analyze the artifacts he studies. An adequate and objective taxonomy is the basis of all archaeology, and many good archaeologists spend their lives in this activity of description and classification. But the main aim of the archaeologist is to place the material remains in historical contexts, to supplement what may be known from written sources, and, thus, to increase understanding of the past. Ultimately, then, the archaeologist is a historian: his aim is the interpretive description of the past of man.

      Increasingly, many scientific techniques are used by the archaeologist, and he uses the scientific expertise of many persons who are not archaeologists in his work. The artifacts he studies must often be studied in their environmental contexts; and botanists, zoologists, soil scientists, and geologists may be brought in to identify and describe plants, animals, soils, and rocks. Radioactive carbon dating, which has revolutionized much of archaeological chronology, is a by-product of research in atomic physics. But although archaeology uses extensively the methods, techniques, and results of the physical and biological sciences, it is not a natural science; some consider it a discipline that is half science and half humanity. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the archaeologist is first a craftsman, practicing many specialized crafts (of which excavation is the most familiar to the general public), and then a historian.

      The justification for this work is the justification of all historical scholarship: to enrich the present by knowledge of the experiences and achievements of our predecessors. Because it concerns things people have made, the most direct findings of archaeology bear on the history of art and technology; but by inference it also yields information about the society, religion, and economy of the people who created the artifacts. Also, it may bring to light and interpret previously unknown written documents, providing even more certain evidence about the past.

      But no one archaeologist can cover the whole range of man's history, and there are many branches of archaeology divided by geographical areas (such as classical archaeology, the archaeology of ancient Greece and Rome; or Egyptology, the archaeology of ancient Egypt) or by periods (such as medieval archaeology and industrial archaeology). Writing began 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Egypt; its beginnings were somewhat later in India and China, and later still in Europe. The aspect of archaeology that deals with the past of man before he learned to write has, since the middle of the 19th century, been referred to as prehistoric archaeology, or prehistory. In prehistory the archaeologist is paramount, for here the only sources are material and environmental.

      The scope of this article is to describe briefly how archaeology came into existence as a learned discipline; how the archaeologist works in the field, museum, laboratory, and study; and how he assesses and interprets his evidence and transmutes it into history.

History of archaeology
      No doubt there have always been people who were interested in the material remains of the past, but archaeology as a discipline has its earliest origins in 15th- and 16th-century Europe, when the Renaissance Humanists looked back upon the glories of Greece and Rome. Popes, cardinals, and noblemen in Italy in the 16th century began to collect antiquities and to sponsor excavations to find more works of ancient art. These collectors were imitated by others in northern Europe who were similarly interested in antique culture. All this activity, however, was still not archaeology in the strict sense. It was more like what would be called art collecting today.

The Mediterranean and the Middle East
      Archaeology proper began with an interest in the Greeks (Greece) and Romans and first developed in 18th-century Italy with the excavations of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Classical archaeology was established on a more scientific basis by the work of Heinrich Schliemann (Schliemann, Heinrich), who investigated the origins of Greek civilization at Troy and Mycenae in the 1870s; of M.A. Biliotti at Rhodes in this same period; of the German Archaeological Institute under Ernst Curtius (Curtius, Ernst) at Olympia from 1875 to 1881; and of Alexander Conze at Samothrace in 1873 and 1875. Conze was the first person to include photographs in the publication of his report. Schliemann had intended to dig in Crete but did not do so, and it was left to Arthur Evans (Evans, Sir Arthur) to begin work at Knossos in 1900 and to discover the Minoan civilization, ancestor of classical Greece.

      Egyptian archaeology (Egyptology) began with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798. He brought with him scholars who set to work recording the archaeological remains of the country. The results of their work were published in the Description de l'Égypte (1808–25). As a result of discoveries made by this expedition, Jean-François Champollion (Champollion, Jean-François) was able to decipher ancient Egyptian (Egyptian language) writing for the first time in 1822. This decipherment, which enabled scholars to read the numerous writings left by the Egyptians, was the first great step forward in Egyptian archaeology. The demand for Egyptian antiquities led to organized tomb robbing by men such as Giovanni Battista Belzoni. A new era in systematic and controlled archaeological research began with the Frenchman Auguste Mariette (Mariette, Auguste), who also founded the Egyptian Museum at Cairo. The British archaeologist Flinders Petrie (Petrie, Sir Flinders), who began work in Egypt in 1880, made great discoveries there and in Palestine during his long lifetime. Petrie developed a systematic method of excavation, the principles of which he summarized in Methods and Aims in Archaeology (1904). It was left to Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon to make the most spectacular discovery in Egyptian archaeology, that of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922.

      Mesopotamian (art and architecture, Mesopotamian) archaeology also began with hectic digging into mounds in the hopes of finding treasure and works of art, but gradually these gave way in the 1840s to planned digs such as those of the Frenchman Paul-Émile Botta (Botta, Paul-Émile) at Nineveh and Khorsabad, and the Englishman Austen Henry Layard (Layard, Sir Austen Henry) at Nimrud, Kuyunjik, Nabī Yūnus, and other sites. Layard's popular account of his excavations, Nineveh and Its Remains (1849), became the earliest and one of the most successful archaeological best-sellers. In 1846 Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (Rawlinson, Sir Henry Creswicke) became the first man to decipher the Mesopotamian cuneiform writing. Toward the end of the 19th century, systematic excavation revealed a previously unknown people, the Sumerians, who had lived in Mesopotamia before the Babylonians and Assyrians. The most impressive Sumerian excavation was that of the Royal Tombs at Ur by Leonard Woolley (Woolley, Sir Leonard) in 1926.

First steps to archaeology
      The development of scientific archaeology in 19th-century Europe from the antiquarianism and treasure collecting of the previous three centuries was due to three things: a geological revolution, an antiquarian revolution, and the propagation of the doctrine of evolution. geology was revolutionized in the early 19th century with the discovery and demonstration of the principles of uniformitarian stratigraphy (which determines the age of fossil remains by the stratum they occupy below the earth) by men like William Smith, Georges Cuvier, and Charles Lyell (Lyell, Sir Charles, Baronet). Lyell, in his Principles of Geology (1830–33), popularized this new system and paved the way for the acceptance of the great antiquity of man. Charles Darwin regarded Lyell's Principles as one of the two germinal works in the formation of his own ideas on evolution. Early stone tools (stone-tool industry) had been identified in Europe since mid-16th century. That they were, however, older than 4004 BC, the date of man's origin according to biblical chronology, was not recognized until late in the 18th century, when John Frere (Frere, John) suggested a great age for artifacts found in Suffolk, England, based on their location in certain strata. The discoveries of Jacques Boucher de Perthes in the Somme Valley in France, and of William Pengelly in the caves of South Devon in England, were used to demonstrate the antiquity of man in 1859, the same year that saw the publication of Darwin's revolutionary Origin of Species. Approximate dates for the Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age) of the prehistoric past were thus established, although the expression “Palaeolithic” was not used until John Lubbock (Lubbock, John, 1st Baron Avebury) coined it in his book Pre-historic Times (1865).

      Half a century before this, Scandinavian archaeologists had created a revolution in antiquarian thought by postulating, on archaeological grounds, successive technological stages in man's past. C.J. Thomsen (Thomsen, Christian Jürgensen) classified the material in the Copenhagen Museum, opened to the public in 1819, on the basis of three successive ages of Stone (Stone Age), Bronze (Bronze Age), and Iron (Iron Age). His pupil and successor, J.J.A. Worsaae (Worsaae, Jens Jacob Asmussen), showed the correctness of this museum arrangement by observed stratigraphy in the Danish peat bogs and barrows (funerary mounds). Low lake levels in Switzerland in the mid-1850s permitted the excavation of the prehistoric Swiss lake dwellings, and here again the theory of a succession of technological stages was confirmed.

      Darwin's Origin of Species implied a long past for man, and the acceptance of the idea of human evolution in the last four decades of the 19th century created a climate of thought in which archaeology flourished and that led to great advances in the unfolding of the full story of man's development.

      In his Pre-historic Times, Lubbock expanded the three-age system of Thomsen and Worsaae to a four-age system, dividing the Stone Age into Old and New periods (Paleolithic and Neolithic). In the last quarter of the 19th century remarkable Paleolithic discoveries were made in France and Spain; these included the discovery and authentication of actual works of sculpture and cave paintings from the Upper (later) Paleolithic Period (c. 30,000–c. 10,000 BC). When Marcellino de Sautuola (Sautuola, Marcelino de) discovered the cave paintings at Altamira, Spain (1875–80), most experts refused to believe they were Paleolithic; but after similar discoveries at Les Eyzies in France around 1900, they were accepted as such and were recognized as one of the most surprising and exciting archaeological discoveries. A succession of similar finds has continued in the 20th century. The most famous of these was at Lascaux (Lascaux Grotto), France, in 1940.

      During the last quarter of the 19th century, Gen. A.H. Pitt-Rivers' (Pitt-Rivers, Augustus Henry Lane-Fox) excavations of prehistoric and Roman sites at Cranborne Chase, Dorset, laid the foundations of modern scientific archaeological field technique, which was later developed and improved in England and Wales by men such as Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Sir Cyril Fox.

20th-century developments
      The 20th century has seen the extension of archaeology outside the areas of the Near East, the Mediterranean, and Europe, to other parts of the world. In the early '20s, excavations at Mohenjo-daro and Harappā, in present Pakistan, revealed the existence of the prehistoric Indus civilization. In the late '20s, excavations at An-yang (Anyang) in eastern China established the existence of a prehistoric Chinese culture that could be identified with the Shang dynasty of early Chinese records.

      The Stone Age has been described and studied throughout the world; among the most sensational discoveries are those of L.S.B. Leakey (Leakey, Louis S.B.), who found stone tools and skeletal remains of early man dating back 2,000,000 years in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Intensive work of great importance has brought to light early Neolithic sites at Jericho in Palestine; Hassuna, Iraq; Çatalhüyük, Turkey; and elsewhere in the Near East, establishing the origins of agriculture in that region.

      Serious archaeological work began later in America than Europe, but as early as 1784 Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson, Thomas) had excavated mounds in Virginia and made careful stratigraphical observations. The 20th century has seen a great increase in archaeological knowledge about prehistoric America: two startling advances were the discovery of the origin of domesticated (domestication) crops (including maize) in Central America and of the Olmec civilization of Mexico (1000–300 BC)—the oldest of the New World civilizations and probably the parent of all the others.

      The enormous growth of archaeological work has meant the establishment of archaeology as an academic discipline; few important universities anywhere in the world are now without professors and departments of archaeology. There are now a very large number of scholarly journals in the field, as well as a considerable body of popularized books and journals that attempt to bridge the gap between professional and layman.


Preliminary work
      Some archaeologists call everything they do out-of-doors fieldwork, but others distinguish between fieldwork, in a narrower sense, and excavation. Fieldwork, in the narrow sense, consists of the discovery and recording of archaeological sites and their examination by methods other than the use of the spade and the trowel. Sites hitherto unknown are discovered by walking or motoring over the countryside: deliberate reconnaissance is an essential part of archaeological fieldwork.

      In Europe, a study of old records and place-names may lead to the discovery of long-forgotten sites. The mapping (map) of new and old sites is an essential part of archaeological survey. This process has been brought to a very high standard of perfection, both in the marking of archaeological sites on ordinary topographical maps and in the production of special period maps. The distribution map of artifacts, especially when studied against the background of the natural environment, is a key method of archaeological study.

      The formerly earthbound archaeologist has been greatly helped by the development of aerial photography. The application of aerial photography to archaeological investigation began in a small way during World War I, as a side effect of military reconnaissance, and was given further impetus by World War II; the photographic intelligence departments of all the combatant nations were extensively staffed by archaeologists, who then carried their expertise and enthusiasm into the postwar years. The University of Cambridge now has its own department of air photography under J.K.S. St Joseph: using its own pilot and aircraft, it flies photographic missions over Ireland, Great Britain, Denmark, and The Netherlands. The number of new sites discovered each year by aerial photography is very large. Some of these are surface sites, especially partly destroyed sites that show up well in special conditions of light, as in early morning or late evening. But many are sites that could not be found on the ground and that show up in aerial photographs as variations in soil colour or in the density of crop.

      Archaeological reconnaissance may be advanced from ordinary surface or aerial methods in a wide variety of ways. A very simple method is tapping the ground to sound for substructures and inequalities in the subsoil. Deep probes have made it possible to trace walls and ditches. The Lerici Foundation of Milan and Rome has had great success with this method since its development of the Nistri periscope, first used in 1957 in an Etruscan tomb in the cemetery of Monte Abbatone. The periscope is inserted into the burial chamber and can photograph the walls and contents of the whole tomb.

      Other modern techniques that have been applied to archaeological prospecting employ electricity and magnetic fields (magnetic field) (geophysical prospecting). A method of electrical prospecting had been developed in large-scale oil prospecting: this technique, based on the degree of electrical conductivity present in the soil, began to be used by archaeologists in the late 1940s and has since proved very useful. Magnetic methods of prospecting detect buried features by locating the magnetic disturbances they cause: these were introduced in 1957–58 and use such machines as the proton magnetometer, the proton gradiometer, and the fluxgate gradiometer. An American expedition discovered the site of Sybaris in Sicily by magnetic prospecting. Electromagnetic methods have been in use only since 1962; they employ developments of the concepts used in mine detectors. Instruments such as the pulsed-induction meter and the soil-conductivity meter detect magnetic soil anomalies, but only if the features are fairly shallow.

      Excavation is the surgical aspect of archaeology: it is surgery of the buried landscape and is carried out with all the skilled craftsmanship that has been built up in the last hundred years since Schliemann and Flinders Petrie. Excavations can be classified, from the point of view of their purpose, as planned, rescue, or accidental. Most important excavations are the result of a prepared plan—that is to say, their purpose is to locate buried evidence about an archaeological site. Many are project oriented: as, for example, when a scholar studying the life of the pre-Roman, Celtic-speaking Gauls of France may deliberately select a group of hill forts and excavate them, as Sir Mortimer Wheeler (Wheeler, Sir Mortimer) did in northwestern France in the years before the outbreak of World War II. But many excavations, particularly in the heavily populated areas of central and northern Europe, are done not from choice but from necessity. Gravel digging, clearing the ground for airports, quarrying, road widening and building, the construction of houses, factories, and public buildings frequently threaten the destruction of sites known to contain archaeological remains. Emergency excavations then have to be mounted to rescue whatever knowledge of the past can be obtained before these remains are obliterated forever. Partial destruction of cities in western Europe by bombing during World War II allowed rescue excavations to take place before rebuilding. A temple of Mithras in the City of London, Viking settlements in Dublin and at Århus, Denmark, and the original 6th-century-BC Greek settlement of Massalia (Marseille) were discovered in this way. An extension of the runways at London Airport led to the discovery of a pre-Roman Celtic temple there.

      The role of chance in the discovery of archaeological sites and portable finds is considerable. Farmers have often unearthed archaeological finds while plowing their fields. The famous painted and engraved Upper Paleolithic cave of Lascaux in southern France was discovered by chance in 1940 when four French schoolboys decided to investigate a hole left by an uprooted tree. They widened a smaller shaft at the base of the hole and jumped through to find themselves in the middle of this remarkable pagan sanctuary. Similarly, the first cache of the Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin looking for a stray animal. These accidental finds often lead to important excavations. At Barnénès, in north Brittany, a contractor building a road got his stone from a neighbouring prehistoric cairn (burial mound) and, in so doing, discovered and partially destroyed a number of prehistoric burial chambers. The French archaeologist P.-R. Giot was able to halt these depredations and carry out scientific excavations that revealed Barnénès to be one of the most remarkable and interesting prehistoric burial mounds in western Europe.

      All forms of archaeological excavation require great skill and careful preparation. Years of training in the field, first as an ordinary digger, then as a site supervisor, with spells of work as recorder, surveyor, and photographer, are required before anyone can organize and direct an excavation himself. Most museums, universities, and government archaeological departments organize training excavations. The very words dig and digging may give the impression to many that excavation is merely a matter of shifting away the soil and subsoil with a spade or shovel; the titles of such admirable and widely read books as Leonard Woolley's Spadework (1953) and Digging Up the Past (1930) and Geoffrey Bibby's Testimony of the Spade (1956) might appear to give credence to that view. Actually, much of the work of excavation is careful work with trowel, penknife, and brush. It is often the recovery of features that are almost indistinguishable from nonarchaeological aspects of the buried landscape: one example of this is the recovery of mud-brick walls in Mesopotamia; another is the tracing of collapsed walls of dry stone slabs in a cairn in stony country in the southwest Midlands of England. Sometimes it is the recovery of features of which only ghost traces remain, like the burnt-out bodies from the buried city of Pompeii, or the strings of a harp that were found among the furnishings of Mesopotamian tombs at Ur.

      Because of the damage he may cause by inexperience and haste, the untrained amateur archaeologist often hinders the work of the professional. Amateur archaeology is forbidden in many countries by stringent antiquity laws. At the same time, it is certainly true that nonprofessionals have made important contributions in many areas of archaeology. Occasionally, an amateur does make an important discovery the further excavation of which can then be taken over by trained professionals. Such was the case at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk in 1939, when work begun by a competent amateur was taken over by a team of experts who were able to uncover a great Anglo-Saxon burial boat and its treasure, without doubt the most remarkable archaeological find ever made in Britain.

      There are, of course, many different types of archaeological sites, and there is no one set of precepts and rules that will apply to excavation as a whole. Some sites, such as temples, forts, roads, villages, ancient cities, palaces, and industrial remains, are easily visible on the surface of the ground. Among the most obvious archaeological sites that have yielded spectacular results by excavation are the huge man-made mounds (tells (tell)) in the Near East, called in Arabic tilāl, and in Turkish tepes or hüyüks. They result from the accumulation of remains caused by centuries of human habitation on one spot. The sites of the ancient cities of Troy and Ur are examples. Another type consists of closed sites such as pyramids, chambered tombs, barrows (burial mounds), sealed caves, and rock shelters. In other cases there are no surface traces, and the outline of suspected structures is revealed only by aerial or geophysical reconnaissance as described above. Finally, there are sites in cliffs and gravel beds, where many Paleolithic finds have been made.

      The wide range of techniques employed by the archaeologist vary in their application to different kinds of sites. The opening of the tomb chamber in an Egyptian pyramid is, for example, a very different operation from the excavation of a tell in Mesopotamia or a barrow grave in western Europe. Some sites are explored provisionally by sampling cuts known as sondages. Large sites are not usually dug out entirely, although a moderate-sized round barrow may be completely moved by excavation. Whatever the site and the extent of the excavation, one element of the technique is common to all digs, namely, the use of the greatest care in the actual surgery and in the recording of what is found by word, diagram, survey, and photography. To a certain extent all excavation is destruction, and the total excavation of a site subsequently engulfed by a housing estate or gravel digging is total destruction. This is why the archaeologist's field notes and his published report become primary archaeological documents. They are not themselves, strictly speaking, archaeological facts: they are the excavator's interpretation of what he saw, or thought he saw, but this is the nearest the discipline can ever get to archaeological facts as established by excavation. The really great excavators leave such a fine record of their digs that subsequent archaeologists can re-create and reinterpret what they saw and found. To delay publishing the results of an excavation within a reasonable time is a serious fault from the point of view of archaeological method. An excavation is not complete until the printed report is available to the world. Often the publication of the report takes as long as, or much longer than, the actual work in the field.

      When a site like the Palace of Minos at Knossos or the city of Harappā in Pakistan has been excavated, and the excavations are over, the excavator and the antiquities service of the country concerned have to face the problem of what to do with the excavated structures. Should they be covered in again, or should they be preserved for posterity, and if preserved, what degree of conservation and restoration is permissible? This is the same kind of problem that arises in connection with the removal of antiquities from their homeland to foreign museums, and there is no generally accepted answer to it. These problems remain to beset archaeology: should Sir Arthur Evans have reconstructed the Palace of Minos at Knossos? Should the art treasures of ancient Greece and Egypt, now in western European museums, be returned? There is no simple, straightforward, overall answer to these difficult questions.

Underwater archaeology
      Underwater archaeology is a branch of reconnaissance and excavation that has been developed only during the 20th century. It involves the same techniques of observation, discovery, and recording that are the basis of archaeology on land, but adapted to the special conditions of working underwater. It is obvious that no archaeologist working on submarine sites can get far unless he is trained as a diver. Helmeted sponge divers have made most of the important archaeological discoveries in the Mediterranean. The French scientist Jacques-Yves Cousteau developed the self-contained breathing apparatus known as the scuba (scuba diving), of which the most commonly used type is the aqualung. Cousteau's work at Le Grand Congloué near Marseille was a pioneer underwater excavation, as was the work of the Americans Peter Throckmorton and George Bass off the coast of southern Turkey. In 1958 Throckmorton found a graveyard of ancient ships at Yassı Ada and then discovered the oldest shipwreck ever recorded, at Cape Gelidonya—a Bronze Age shipwreck of the 14th century BC. George Bass of the University of Pennsylvania worked on a Byzantine wreck at Yassı Ada from 1961 onward, developing the mapping of wrecks photogrammetrically with stereophotographs and using a two-man submarine, the “Asherah,” launched in 1964. The “Asherah” was the first submarine ever built for archaeological investigation.

      Excavation often seems to the general public the main and certainly the most glamorous aspect of archaeology; but fieldwork and excavation represent only a part of the archaeologist's work. The other part is the interpretation in cultural and historical contexts of the facts established—by chance, by fieldwork, and by digging—about the material remains of man's past. This task of interpretation has five main aspects.

Classification and analysis
      The first concern is the accurate and exact description of all the artifacts concerned. Classification and description are essential to all archaeological work, and, as in botany and zoology, the first requirement is a good and objective taxonomy. Second, there is a need for interpretive analysis of the material from which artifacts were made. This is something that the archaeologist himself is rarely equipped to do; he has to rely on colleagues specializing in geology, petrology (analysis of rocks), and metallurgy. In the early 1920s, H.H. Thomas of the Geological Survey of Great Britain was able to show that stones used in the construction of Stonehenge (a prehistoric construction on Salisbury Plain in southern England) had come from the Prescelly Mountains of north Pembrokeshire; and he established as a fact of prehistory that over 4,000 years ago these large stones had been transported 200 miles from west Wales to Salisbury Plain. Detailed petrological analysis of the material of Neolithic polished stone axes have enabled archaeologists to establish the location of prehistoric ax factories and trade routes. It is also now possible, entirely on a petrological basis, to study the prehistoric distribution of obsidian (a volcanic glass used to make primitive tools).

      In the third place, the archaeologist, having dealt with the material of his artifacts by classification and taxonomy, and with its physical nature by petrology and metallurgy, turns to the remaining information he can get from his colleagues in the natural sciences. These tell him the environmental conditions in which the people he is studying lived; he now sees his material remains not as isolated artifacts but in the context of their original environments.

      Having analyzed his discoveries according to their form, material, and biological association, the archaeologist then comes to the all-important problem of dating. Many material remains of man's past have no dating problem: they may be, like coins, or most coins, self-dating, or they may be dated by man-made dates in written records. But the great and difficult part of the archaeologist's work is dating material remains that are not themselves dated. This can be done in one of three ways. Sometimes an object from another culture, the date of which is known (e.g., in the case of pottery, by its style), is found at a previously undated site. Then, using the relative dating principle (see below) the archaeologist reasons that the material found with the imported object is contemporary with it. Conversely, an object from an undated culture may be found at a site whose date is known. Thus nonliterate communities can be dated by their contact with literate ones. This technique is known as cross dating; it was first developed by Sir Flinders Petrie (Petrie, Sir Flinders) when he dated Palestinian and early Greek (Aegean) sites by reference to Egyptian ones. Much of the prehistoric chronology of Europe in the Neolithic, Bronze, and Early Iron ages is based on cross dating with the ancient Near East.

      Aside from cross dating, the archaeologist faced with material in a site having no literate chronological evidence of its own has two other ways of dating his material. The first is relative, the second absolute. Relative dating merely means the relation of the date of anything found to the date of other things found in its immediate neighbourhood. As has already been described, this method also plays a part in cross dating. stratigraphy is the essence of relative dating. The archaeologist observes the accumulation of deposits in a gravel pit, a peat bog, in the construction of a barrow, or in accumulated settlements in a tell, and, like the geologists who introduced the principles of stratigraphy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, he can see the succession of layers in the site and can then establish the chronology of different levels of layers relative to each other. In the excavation of a great tell like Ur or Troy the relative chronology of the various levels of occupation is the first thing to be established. Some archaeologists, even until quite recent times, have mistakenly supposed that depth below ground level is itself an indication of antiquity.

      But even in properly observed and recorded stratigraphic levels there is often doubt, and the question arises: are all the artifacts and human remains found in the same level contemporary? Is it possible that there could have been later intrusions that have been difficult to distinguish in the field? The analysis of the fluorine content of bones (bone) has been very helpful here. Recognized as a valuable technique by French scientists in the 19th century, it was developed in England by K.P. Oakley in the 1950s. If bones in apparently the same geological or archaeological level have markedly different fluorine content, then it is clear that there must be interference—for example, by a later burial, or by deliberate planting of faked remains, as happened in the case of the Piltdown “Man” (Piltdown man) hoax in England.

      Absolute man-made chronology based on king lists and records in Egypt and Mesopotamia goes back only 5,000 years. For a long time archaeologists searched for an absolute chronology that went beyond this and could turn their relative chronologies into absolute dates. Clay-varve counting seemed to provide the first answer to this need for a nonhuman absolute chronology. Called geochronology by Baron Gerard De Geer (De Geer, Gerhard, Friherre), its Swedish inventor, this method was based on counting the thin layers of clay left behind by the melting glaciers when the European Ice Age came to an end. This gave a chronology of about 18,000 years—three times as long as the man-made chronology based on Egyptian and Mesopotamian king lists. Thus, absolute dates could be established for artifacts from the Late Paleolithic Period, the whole of the Mesolithic Period, or Middle Stone Age, and much of the Early Neolithic Period.

       dendrochronology, the dating of trees by counting their growth rings, was first developed for archaeological purposes by A.E. Douglass (Douglass, Andrew Ellicott) in the United States. The application of this method to archaeology depends, obviously, on the use in antiquity of old datable trees in the construction of houses and buildings. It has been possible by dendrochronology to date prehistoric American sites as far back as the 3rd and 4th centuries BC.

      The greatest revolution in prehistoric archaeology occurred in 1948, when Willard F. Libby (Libby, Willard Frank), at the University of Chicago, developed the process of radioactive carbon dating (carbon-14 dating). In this method, the activity of radioactive carbon (carbon-14) present in bones, wood, or ash found in archaeological sites is measured. Because the rate at which this activity decreases in time is known, the approximate age of the material can be determined by comparing it to carbon-14 activity in presently living organic matter. There have been problems and uncertainties about the application of the radioactive carbon method, but, although it is less than perfect, it has given archaeology a new and absolute chronology that goes back 40,000 years.

      Following the revolutionary discovery of radioactive carbon dating, other physical techniques of absolute dating were developed, among them potassium–argon dating (potassium-argon dating) and dating by thermoluminescence. Potassium–argon dating has made it possible to establish that the earliest remains of man and his artifacts in East Africa go back at least 2,000,000 years, and probably further.

Historical judgments
      The last and most important task of the archaeologist is to transmute his interpretation of the material remains he studies into historical judgments. When he is dealing with medieval and modern history he is often doing no more than adding to knowledge already available from documentary sources: but even so his contribution is often of great importance; for example, in relation to the growth and development of towns and the study of deserted medieval villages. When he is dealing with ancient history and prehistory, he is making a contribution of the greatest importance and often one that is more important than that of purely literary and epigraphical sources. For the prehistoric period, which now appears to stretch from 2,000,000 years ago to about 3000 BC, archaeological evidence is the only source of knowledge about human activities. But prehistoric remains have always been the most difficult to interpret, precisely because there are no written records to aid in the task. Now, with exact dating techniques at his disposal, the prehistorian is becoming more like the historical archaeologist and is concerned with the periodization and the historical contexts of his finds.

Glyn Edmund Daniel

Additional Reading
Good general introductions to the aims and methods of archaeology are Leonard Woolley, Digging Up the Past (1930); Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Archaeology from the Earth (1954); and Grahame Clark, Archaeology and Society, 3rd rev. ed. (1957). For the history of archaeology and its relation to the development of anthropology, see C.W. Ceram, Götter, Gräber und Gelehrte (1949; Eng. trans., Gods, Graves and Scholars, 1951); G. Bibby, The Testimony of the Spade (1956); and Glyn Daniel, A Hundred and Fifty Years of Archaeology (1974). Anthologies of archaeological writings that relate both to the history of the subject and its present methods are many. The following are recommended: R.F. Heizer, The Archaeologist at Work (1959), and Man's Discovery of his Past, 2nd ed. (1970); and Jacquetta Hawkes, The World of the Past (1963). For the development of American archaeology, see G. Willey and G. Sabloff, The History of American Archaeology (1973). Special aspects of the development of archaeology are dealt with in D. Brothwell and E. Higgs, Science in Archaeology, 2nd ed. (1969); George F. Bass, Archaeology Under Water (1967); W.F. Libby, Radiocarbon Dating, 2nd ed. (1955); Kenneth Hudson, A Social History of Archaeology (1981); Myra Shackley, Environmental Archaeology (1981); and M.G.L. Baillie, Tree-Ring Dating in Archaeology (1982).

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Universalium. 2010.

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