In the early 20th century, Vittorio Spinazzola carefully excavated houses in order to understand how they had been buried, and then to reconstruct their facades as they had been before the catastrophe. In sum, the work done at Pompeii set an example of archaeology for the Western world and opened up new horizons of thinking. His goal was to protect French trade interests and undermine British access to its Indian colonies. The campaign was unsuccessful overall, and in he was forced to withdraw and surrender to the British.
The campaign was, however, an intellectual triumph as it heralded the discipline of Egyptology, which is so vast that it is considered a separate field from archaeology or anthropology. Napoleon did something that no military leader had ever done before: He brought along a large group of scholars, the savants, in order to record and collect as much as possible of the Egyptian monuments and antiquities.
Prior to this, illustrations of Egyptian monuments were often highly fanciful, drawn by people who had never even seen them. The savants amassed a tremendous amount of information, and an Egyptology craze swept throughout France and England. It took over 30 years to crack the code, despite constant efforts. Using all available accounts in the Bible and other manuscripts, in , he arrived at the conclusion that God created the world on Saturday, October 22, BCE.
In the s he discovered Paleolithic hand axes in association with longextinct mammals in the gravels of the Somme River valley. Many believed that the tools were what today are called geofacts, or stones that have been modified by natural events. Some even considered them meteorites, or the products of supernatural creatures. It took more than another decade before additional experts confirmed that the tools were indeed made by humans and that their association with extinct mammal remains was beyond question.
Similar finds were made in southern England and France, notably the hand axes at the site of the gravel pits of St. Acheul near Abbelville from which we derive the term Acheulian, early Paleolithic, stone tools. In the late s and early s, scholars finally began to accept the antiquity of humanity. In , Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which, although it did not directly deal with the subject of human evolution and the antiquity of humanity itself, revolutionized scientific thinking.
Sir Charles Lyell — , a lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day and also a great influence on Charles Darwin , published The Geological Evidence for the Antiquity of Man in , in which he discussed glaciers, evolution, and the age of the human race during the Quaternary Period 1. Perhaps no other archaeological endeavor has been as surrounded by mystery and controversy as the search for Troy. Heinrich Schliemann — was a German entrepreneur. Born into a relatively poor family, he struck off on his own as a young man and made considerable money in St.
Petersburg in the s. From there, he made a fortune in California during the Gold Rush. During all this time, he educated himself in the classics. He then returned to Russia where he made an additional fortune in indigo, and then, during the Crimean War, on sulfur, saltpeter, and lead, which he sold to the Russians to make ammunition. Schliemann basically retired from active business in the s and began traveling avidly. The skeptics, for the most part, believed that these epic poems largely recounted myths and legends.
The city was a classical one in the Greco-Roman era, visited by such people as Alexander the Great. Calvert advised Schliemann to dig slowly and carefully. However, as archaeological methods were still in their infancy and the discipline was not yet a professional field, when it came to excavating tells mounds composed of superimposed cities, rebuilt one on top of the other over thousands of years , Schliemann had little learning to go on. To his dismay, it was a small and primitive settlement without any of the riches he had expected to find.
He also smuggled some of his finds out of Turkey, breaking the arrangement he had with the Turkish government, which then refused him further permission to dig; the objects still remain the subject of controversy. However, Schliemann learned from his mistakes and went on to excavate Mycenae the kingdom of Agamemnon in the Peloponnesian peninsula, the nearby Mycenaean-era ca.
His methods had advanced considerably by the s and his finds were spectacular, although the golden treasures he found, especially the so-called Mask of Agamemnon at Mycenae, proved to be hundreds of years earlier than the accepted date of the Trojan War and perhaps even proto-Greek.
He returned to Troy in the late s and early s, dismayed by the knowledge that he had in fact destroyed much of what he set out to find, and died before he was able to continue work there. Despite his much-criticized methods, Schliemann remains a pioneer in archaeology, perhaps the most famous and controversial of them all. Since his time, excavations have rarely ceased at Troy, and show little sign of ever losing the interest of the world.
The image that most people have when the word archaeologist or archaeology is mentioned is that of a man opening up an Egyptian tomb full of golden treasures and containing the mummy of a king. The man responsible for this was Howard Carter — , an English Egyptologist who began his training in Egypt at the age of He studied Egyptian art and inscriptions and later became a student of the renowned archaeologist William Flinders Petrie — , who excavated sites in Britain and all over the Near East.
Carter assisted in excavating the grave site of Beni Hassan that contained the tombs of the royalty of the Middle Kingdom, and later went on to discover the tomb of Queen Hatshepsut looted and without her mummy in Deir el-Bahri.
In he was engaged by the Egyptian Antiquities Service, a post from which he resigned 6 years later because of a quarrel that spiraled of out control between a group of French tourists and local Egyptian site guards. In , Carter had the fortune to gain the patronage of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon — , an English aristocrat with an avid interest in antiquities.
Carter hoped that this would prove the one most intact tomb left in Egypt that had escaped the tomb robbers who had been active ever since the reigns of the kings themselves. Carter spent years searching for it in vain in the Valley of the Kings, and Carnarvon was about to pull his funding by , when Carter convinced him to finance one more season. Their gamble paid off, and on November 4, , the steps leading down to the tomb were found. Carter held off supposedly looking inside the tomb until Carnarvon came to Egypt for the revelation.
Carter spent years removing and cataloguing the objects, which are housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Carnarvon, in poor health at the time, nicked a mosquito bite while shaving and died shortly thereafter of blood poisoning in The living mummy, a concept completely absent in ancient Egypt, became a horror movie icon beginning in the early s, which it remains to this day and will no doubt continue to do for as long as movies and literature exist.
Let us now turn to the internal growth of archaeology as a discipline in the 20th century. During the past years, archaeology evolved from what could be broadly termed in many cases a methodological antiquarian approach, to a refined social science. Essential to understanding how archaeology is practiced today is its history as a branch of anthropology. While various universities differ from country to country in having separate anthropology and archaeology departments, few archaeologists would deny that the discipline is inextricably linked with anthropology as a whole, that is, the study of humanity.
We may refer to this as anthropological archaeology, which had its roots in early 20th-century America. While European archaeologists were primarily studying their own roots in their own countries, or the cultural roots of the Western world in countries such as Greece, Italy, and those of the Near East, American archaeologists had to contend with a different situation.
The origins of the Native American Indian populations were, in the 19th century and even into the 20th, largely unknown. Furthermore, the evolution of such complex civilizations as the Aztecs and Maya in Mexico and Central America, and the Inca in Peru, was a puzzle. In North America, archaeologists began to see the connection between modern populations of Native Americans and the archaeological remnants of their past.
They reasoned that by studying what was left of Native American culture, that is, its ethnography, the ancient past might become illuminated. It is important to keep in mind that the American archaeologists studying American archaeology were dealing with cultures and civilizations completely alien to their own European ancestry. This latter point has never ceased to be a subject of controversy between the Native American populations and the American archaeologists who study their ancestors.
In the early to midth century, archaeologists practiced what today we call culture history. Its goal was not necessarily to reconstruct the society under study, because not enough excavation had yet occurred to provide sufficient bodies of material evidence to examine the anthropology of the cultures themselves.
Culture history was concerned with documenting the development of material culture within and between cultures to understand changes and the diffusion of ideas between them. Culture history was, and still is, essential in certain cases in which sufficient material data does not exist. It is the foundation onto which more subtle hypotheses and broader theories can be superimposed. Culture history came under its first major attack when Walter Taylor — published A Study of Archaeology in He mercilessly criticized his senior colleagues in archaeology professing they were practicing anthropology; to Taylor, they were doing no such thing.
One of his main accusations was that his colleagues were simply collecting artifacts and documenting spectacular ruins, such as those of the Maya, without getting to the heart of the cultures themselves. Taylor called the classification and description of one artifact after another and the development of timelines an exercise without a greater purpose. Understanding chronology and changes in material culture was essential, but archaeologists, Taylor maintained, had to probe deeper to get at how the people actually lived.
He advocated less extensive excavations in favor of more intense ones aimed at completely understanding each individual site. Instead of simply documenting only the more spectacular finds, archaeologists should also do the less glamorous work of studying faunal remains, and so forth. However, it was some years before his revolutionary views were embraced and put into practice, even by Taylor himself. Binford and his students advocated using scientific methods to test hypotheses about the cultures they were studying and, as Taylor had advised almost two decades prior, not to rely upon the artifacts themselves to tell the story.
They argued that one must study the environment of the region under question to explain how humans adapted to their external conditions, which might be called cultural evolutionism. The name processual archaeology derives from the idea that cultures change according to evolutionary processes.
At the root of processual archaeology is the paradigm of cultural materialism, which is based on the importance of tangible, material factors, such as environment, population density, subsistence strategies, and technology, to explain the processes by which cultures adapt and evolve. As such, the role of the individual is downplayed. Ideally, such processes should be scientifically predictable so that hypotheses can be tested. Ethnohistorical research, which was far closer to true anthropology than how archaeology was practiced up until the advent of processual archaeology, was seen as critical to gain perspectives on the past.
Processual archaeology, which associated itself with the other social sciences such as political economy and sociology, tried to be as scientifically objective as possible when observing and reporting data. In the s, some archaeologists, especially in Great Britain, decided that processual archaeology had serious drawbacks and developed what was called postprocessual archaeology.
Postprocessual archaeology emphasized the political ramifications of research, examining itself from a detached, third-person point of view to demonstrate that how archaeological research was presented was just as critical as the research itself. The postmodern viewpoint rejected the processual idea that universal laws could apply to humanity.
Furthermore, the roles of the individual, families, social classes, and the like were brought back to the forefront in opposition to the generalist universal viewpoint of processual archaeology. Postprocessual archaeology also claimed that strictly empirical and scientific observation was not possible and, in attempting to practice processual archaeology, archaeologists trapped themselves into a single closed-minded perspective.
There are of course many other archaeological paradigms, but these major trends serve to demonstrate the complex evolution that the discipline has undergone in the past century. Now, in the late 20th and early 21st century, processualism and postprocessualism have backed off from their former extremist viewpoints, leaving archaeologists more freedom than to adhere dogmatically to one school of thought or another. Archaeological methods have evolved alongside modern technology.
From the picks, shovels, and blasting materials of the 19th century, far subtler and less destructive approaches have been increasingly refined. Consequently, archaeologists make the effort to preserve and conserve as much of the excavated material as possible, placing it in a repository such as a museum for safekeeping.
The technology the archaeologist uses depends entirely on his research questions. These research questions, or hypotheses, which processual archaeology advocated, still lie at the heart of archaeological research. Archaeologists no longer dig a site simply to collect as many artifacts as possible, but choose and dig a site to answer specific questions.
It is unlikely that such technology will ever replace excavation. Excavation itself, however, remains almost as basic as it has always been, utilizing picks, shovels, and sometime bulldozers and backhoes to get at deep cultural layers. The simple handheld trowel, commonly used for cementing and plastering, is the primary tool of excavation, used in order to damage as few finds as possible and to find as many as possible in situ so that their exact location within the site can be recorded before they are removed.
Brushes and finer tools such as dental picks are also used. The archaeologist seeking a site that is not visible on the surface is taking a chance. He must either dig a series of test pits or trenches to locate cultural deposits, or else rely on local knowledge or the chance that someone before located the site either accidentally or intentionally.
Tape measures and line levels are standard tools, and many sites can be excavated without any electronic technology. On the other hand, an archaeologist seeking to understand the settlement pattern of a past society might concentrate less on subsurface excavation and more on mapping as many structures as possible in relation to the surrounding environment, such as the proximity of food resources and relations to other settlements in the vicinity.
Modern conveniences such as aerial survey, satellite imagery, and the Global Positioning System GPS provide improved accuracy for this kind of work. Transits and theodolites are still used, but total stations, which use laser technology, can pinpoint positions in three-dimensional space far more accurately and the data are fed into computers.
Technology such as portable three-dimensional scanners can virtually record anything from an artifact to a monumental structure, thus preserving these in computerized form. For archaeologists concerned with human remains, CT scans offer unparalleled insight into the biology of populations. Egyptian mummies that had to be unwrapped in the past can now be left intact and seen in full through this method. Archaeologists must, however, beware of the overuse of these modern marvels and not let their research be led astray by flashy technical displays.
Another important development in methodology is the increasing multidisciplinary approach to research. Archaeologists now collaborate more than ever before with other disciplines. This could be with palynologists to learn about ancient vegetation; with geologists to learn, for example, where the stone or clay used for toolmaking and pottery originated, thus permitting the documentation of patterns of exchange between regions; and with geomorphologists to aid in the interpretation of sediment formation.
Archaeologists may also work closely with experts in various branches of zoology and marine biology, and increasingly with geneticists. These are but a few examples of how archaeology has expanded to acquire as much information as possible about a given site and to address very specific research questions. Home Subjects Writing an archaeology paper. Try it now! USD Order an essay!
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