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By Paul Bahn

This pleasing very brief creation displays the long-lasting approval for archaeology-a topic which appeals as a hobby, profession, and educational self-discipline, encompasses the entire globe, and surveys 2.5 million years. From deserts to jungles, from deep caves to mountain tops, from pebble instruments to satellite tv for pc photos, from excavation to summary concept, archaeology interacts with approximately another self-discipline in its makes an attempt to reconstruct the earlier.

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Extra info for Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

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History (apart from oral history) only begins with the introduction of written records around 3000 bc in western Asia and much later in most parts of the world. And even for the historical periods, information derived from archaeological data is still an invaluable complement to what is known from texts – and in any case it is often the archaeologist who unearths the documents and inscriptions One fundamental difference, of course, between anthropology and archaeology is that anthropologists, by and large, have an easy time of it, able to observe behaviour and interview informants because anthropology happens in the present.

Although equal or greater emphasis is now placed on other aspects of the past, it is nevertheless true that tools have always been the mainstay of human existence, and all of our sophisticated computer-age gadgetry originated in the simple artefacts of our forebears. The bulk of the archaeological record is made up of humanly made artefacts. 5 million years ago up to about 10,000 years before the present; and stone tools are what predominate in its refuse. Unfortunately, although generations of scholars have devoted their lives to detailed analysis and classification of these rocks, we have no idea how important or unimportant they were to their makers.

For example, one has to try and figure out the relative importance of different foods: plants are commonly under-represented because their remains are often poorly preserved, if not totally absent. The same is true of fish bones. And whatever food remains do survive, one has to decide whether they are wild or domesticated; and whether they are truly representative of the occupants’ diet, which can involve assessing the site’s function, the duration of its occupation (short- or long-term), and whether it was lived in irregularly, seasonally, or permanently – a long-term settlement is far more likely to yield representative food remains than a kill-site or specialized camp.

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