Archaeology recovers and preserves social systems and their artifacts.
Archaeology is a branch of the science of anthropology that deals with humankind’s social customs, belief systems and its cultural development. Archaeologist Annelise Baer says archeology “contributes to the knowledge and understanding of not just ancient peoples, but all people who have come before us.” The functions of archaeology are revealed through its process of exploration.
Systematic Study of Human LIfe
Archaeology is a science with professional standards, ethics and disciplines. Three primary types of archeology include historic study of cultures and societies, underwater exploration and urban salvaging from excavation areas. Archaeological pursuits help us learn about the history of humans, their language, arts, wars and their impact on the environment. Geo-archaeologist Dr. William Monaghan, of Indiana University, says that the study of archaeology must also take into consideration “cultural ecology” and the human’s relationship to the landscape so the human species can survive by preserving global resources.
Survey and Recovery of Material Culture
A primary function of archaeologists is to determine a site for the surveying and recovery of evidence pertaining to a previous culture. This evidence, known as “material culture,” comprises many things made and used by people. Material culture studies embody analysis of technology, social organization, history and religion. This results in archaeology interfacing with related sciences, such as geology, chemistry, social, psychology and zoology.
Examination and Classification of Material Evidence
After an archaeological site has been chosen and teams of experts employed, painstaking unearthing of artifacts begins. All artifacts found must be carefully labeled, numbered and classified for further analysis to determine origin and meaning. This allows archaeologists to reconstruct the entire dynamics of a previous culture..
Preservation of Material Evidence
Archaeologists consider preservation of material evidence to be a critical function and important ethical practice. After artifacts have been thoroughly labeled and catalogued, scientific methods of preservation must be employed so no evidence will be damaged or desecrated. New preservation technology is always being developed to better preserve different types of material artifacts.
This function, also known as “public archaeology,” educates the public about the importance of archaeology. It also aims to create awareness of the damage thoughtless development and archaeological thefts can cause. Public education includes community outreach through lectures, film, and special curated exhibits.