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Archaeology, also spelled archeology, the scientific study of the material remains of past human life and activities.These include human artifacts from the very earliest stone tools to the man-made objects that are buried or thrown away in the present day: everything made by human beings—from simple tools to complex machines, from the earliest houses and temples and tombs to palaces, cathedrals, and pyramids.Archaeological investigations are a principal source of knowledge of prehistoric, ancient, and extinct culture.The word comes from the Greek artifacts he studies.An adequate and objective taxonomy is the basis of all archaeology, and many good archaeologists spend their lives in this activity of description and classification.But the main aim of the archaeologist is to place the material remains in historical contexts, to supplement what may be known from written sources, and, thus, to increase understanding of the past.Ultimately, then, the archaeologist is a historian: his aim is the interpretive description of the past of man.
Radioactive carbon dating, which has revolutionized much of archaeological chronology, is a by-product of research in atomic physics.
But although archaeology uses extensively the methods, techniques, and results of the physical and biological sciences, it is not a natural science; some consider it a discipline that is half science and half humanity.
Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the archaeologist is first a craftsman, practicing many specialized crafts (of which excavation is the most familiar to the general public), and then a historian.
The justification for this work is the justification of all historical scholarship: to enrich the present by knowledge of the experiences and achievements of our predecessors.
Because it concerns things people have made, the most direct findings of archaeology bear on the history of art and technology; but by inference it also yields information about the society, religion, and economy of the people who created the artifacts.