The first systematic recording of archeology is believed to be from Europe during the 15th and 16th century. This date is under speculation, and many believe that a different form of archeology existed long before this. Before artifacts and other remains were properly characterized and recorded in the fashion that it is today, ancient rulers (including those from Egypt and Rome) displayed foreign relics and artifacts for novelty. Some rulers had a fascination with relics of their own culture and collected artifacts that were, ev en to their time period, considered ancient.
The most substantial difference of modern archaeology in comparison to older forms of collection is that artifacts found today are viewed as reflective of the behaviors and culture of their respective makers, and back then not much was thought about the significant nuances the object held. Modern archeology is more sophisticated and specific at describing artifacts age and relative function. Using advanced radiometric, thermoluminescence, and dendrochronology methods, archaeologists are able to give a more accurate answer as to how old any organic object is. In addition, using relative dating methods, artifacts’ characteristics can be compared to other known, datable artifacts to determine age.
Aside from specific categorizing methods present today, the archeologist profession has become more respectable in the science community. What was once regarded as a rare hobby has now formed into groundbreaking research, giving people a better insight on the lives of ancient peoples and societies.
My interest on this subject stems from my brother’s job as an archeologist. As a kid, he learned to appreciate other cultures from traveling and seeing various sites and museums. In my interview with him, he said his job has developed his interest in other fields, such as: biology, art, history etc, which have many applications in his field. Below is a explanation of my brothers work :
“I obtained my bachelor's degree in biological anthropology from University of California Santa Barbara. For the past two years I've worked at a cultural resource management firm in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our goal is to consult private and governmental clients on how land development affects prehistoric and historic remains that are important to all of us.
“Examples of my work include the recovery of artifacts and human remains that would potentially be destroyed by a building's foot print or utility line. Other examples would include the documentation and recovery of the 19th century early developments of the city of San Francisco. You'd be surprised how many buildings, outhouses and even sail ships are preserved right underneath the city. Ultimately I am responsible for conducting field work, field survey, lab analysis, historical research, mapping and report writing.
“Currently I am working on artifact recovery of a prehistoric native American site near San Francisco. It is characterized by a buried shell midden with mixed artifacts eg. shell beads, stone tools, bone tools etc. A midden is primarily composed of shellfish and animal bone, think of it as a pre-historic refuse dump that was used for thousands of years. Although now buried, a middens size could have reached a height of 20 to 30 feet. Our company works closely with members of the local native American tribe to ensure their heritage is respected and preserved.
“Although not often considered, there is a rich history buried beneath our homes, schools, roads and cities.”
Archeology has a deeply rooted history that only recently has become a legitimate field of study. It is evident that the study of archeology and anthropology is more than digging up old bones and artifacts- it is how we draw conclusions from the past that help us not only understand our present, but also our future on earth.