What is Archaeology?

The term ‘Archaeology’ is limited to the recovery or unearthing of any ancient site or ancient artifact.

With reference to your text book, do you agree/disagree with this statement?

10 thoughts on “What is Archaeology?

  1. I don’t agree with this statement. Archaeology is not just unearthing objects or recovering them from where they lie, it is also the study of these objects. The word archaeology means the discussion of ancient things in Greek.
    “Archaeologists examine the physical remains of the past in order to reconstruct moments in History as completely as possible” From that statement made in our textbooks we can see that archaeologists not only recover the objects but examine them and learn from them so to get a picture and idea of what happened in past times. Their work and the study of archaeology involves study and research not just uncovering the artefacts that they study.

  2. I strongly disagree with this statement. How can archaeology be restricted to uncovering ancient sites, if this where true then they would be found and then just looked at. In order for that statement to be true no tests could be under taken, ruins read and discussed or information published about the discovery.

    In Antiquity 1 it is written that “The word ‘archaeology’ comes
    from a Greek word meaning ‘the discussion of ancient things’.” Therefore based on the very meaning of the word if not other evidence archaeology has to be more than just digging up the past it is discover, investigation, discussion, reconstruction and much more.

  3. This statement is false and too limited a definition for archaeology. Recovering ancient sites and artifacts is an important aspect of archaeology, however archaeology is also using the recovered artifacts in order to learn about the past and put together a full picture of a time and place. According to Toni Hurley et. al, archaeologists “examine the physical remains of the past in order to reconstruct moments in history”. Therefore this statement is not broad enough to encompass the full definition of archaeology.

  4. Ok, edited comment:

    Strictly speaking, this statement is false. Archeology is a subset of anthropology, that is, the study of humans. Whilst the digging up of materials is important, it is merely just a way of accessing information, kind of like looking in a library for a book. Except, the library is the ground, and the book is an artifact of some sort.
    The etymology of the word, which is greek, dictates the meaning. Archaios, meaning ancient, and logios, meaning study. It means the study of the ancients. The modern meaning, as read in most dictionaries and encyclopedias, is the study of prehistoric humans and their culture. However, archeological methods are used for more modern history.
    Thus, archeology does involve excavation, however it is simply a means to access information for the study of the history of humanity.

  5. The term ‘Archaeology’ is not limited to the recovery or unearthing of any ancient site or ancient artefact. Although archaeologists do unearth and recover ancient artefacts it is not the only element of their occupation.
    This is proven by the following statement made by historian, Toni Hurley et al. “Archaeologists examine the physical remains of the past in order to reconstruct the moments in history as completely as possible.” Archaeologists also analyse and display their evidence and findings in order to inform people of the past. Through their work we are able to understand the past and improve the future.
    By Hannah, Claudia, Lizzie and Fran

  6. To an extent, the above statement is correct, however the term ‘Archaeology’ is not just limited to the recovery or unearthing of any ancient site or artefact. T. Hurley et al, writes in the Board of Studies approved text, ‘Antiquity 1’ that archaeology is ‘the discussion of ancient things’, and that the job of an Archaeologist entails examining ‘the physical remains of the past in order to reconstruct moments in history as completely as possible’. In comparison, one can see that the above statement is too limited to explain the broad meaning of the term ‘Archaeology’ and is therefore false.

  7. The term ‘Archaeology’ is not limited only to the recovery or unearthing of any ancient site or ancient artefact because archaeology is not only the unearthing of a site but includes the follow up of studying the artefact and site that have been found and gathering information from them.

    To an extent, this definition is somewhat correct, but archaeology also involves the analysis of the artefact or site that has been unearthed. Toni Hurley et al. write that archaeologists aim to reconstruct moments in history in order to discover more about ancient civilisations and to investigate the past.

    Therefore, the term ‘Archaology’ is not only limited to the recovery or unearthing of any ancient site or artefact as it also involves the analysis of the site or artefact in order to discover more about ancient societies.

  8. Kathleen Davie, Marie James, Jessica Toner
    We disagree with this statement because although it may contain fragments of the truth there is not a completely accurate statement as it is missing many important factors. Toni Hurley et al. believes ‘The Word Archaeology comes from the Greek word meaning the discussion of ancient things.’ Unearthing the sources is an important part in archaeological discoveries however more research, investigating and sometimes even scientific research is needed to deem a source as being studied under the system of archaeology.

  9. ‘Archaeology’ is derived from the Greek word that means “the discussion of ancient things” therefore it is not only limited to the recovery or unearthing of any ancient site or artifact. Archaeology does not just involve unearthing objects and sites, it’s primary purpose is discovering about the past using artifacts as a means to do so. at As discussed by Toni Hurley in Antiquity 1, Archaeologists not only recover ancient sites and artifacts but also “examine the physical remains of the past in order to reconstruct moments in history as completely as possible”. Therefore archaeology involves more than just uncovering sites and artifacts as archaeology also includes discovering information and facts about the site or artifact. While uncovering artifacts is a major part of archeology, another significant component is using a “number of scientific disciplines, including physics, computing, geology and biology” to help archaeologists analyze the artifacts to discover more about the culture, place and time period the artifact was from. Therefore, as discussed, the term ‘archaeology’ is not confined to the recovery and unearthing of ancient artifacts and sites.

  10. Archaeology comes from the Greek meaning ‘the discussion of ancient things.” Archaeologists focus on the material or physical remains of the past. While archaeology is limited to the recovery or unearthing of any ancient site or ancient artifact to some extent, today however an increasing number of scientific disciplines including physics, computing, geology and biology, are used by archaeologists to investigate the past also. Historians C. Renfrew and P Bahn stated “archaeology is partly the discovery of the treasures of the past, partly the meticulous work of the scientific analyst, partly the exercise of the creative imagination.” This evidently shows, that while the study of archaeology in the past was often solely based on the recovery and unearthing of any ancient site or artifact, due to the introduction of scientific methods by pioneers of archaeology, more modern approaches are now used when investigating the past as well. The term “archaeology” is therefore not limited to the recovery or unearthing of any ancient site or ancient artifact, but instead the combination of the the excavation of ancient sites and/or artifacts, and also the study and scientific methods to further investigate the past.

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