What is Archaeology?
This video defines Archaeology through a discussion of what Archaeologists study—from artifacts to the Pyramids. Why is Archaeology so important? Can it really help us learn about the past AND the present?
Now imagine you’re suddenly… gone. Forever.
All your stuff is left behind.
Oh, and 2,000 years have passed. Your little brother has probably called dibs on everything by now.
What even still exists?
Your banana peels and tissue boxes have decomposed…
What about less… perishable stuff?
Your headphones? Your computer keyboard?
That underwear your parents gave you last year when they forgot it was your birthday?
Based on the stuff you left behind, what could someone understand about you?
Assuming they didn’t have access to your diary. That would be cheating.
Besides, they’ll never figure out where you hid the key.
This is the essence of archaeology.
Archaeologists study the people and cultures of the past, be it 20 years ago… or 200,000.
Although… they tend to find more fossils from 200,000 years ago.
If they uncover remains from 20 years ago,
it probably warrants a friendly call to the local police station.
The process of digging up various old junk is called excavation.
Archaeologists excavate to dig up artifacts… which is basically anything that’s been
hidden below the surface for years.
Could be your sister’s diary… could be a metallic cylinder from the Byzantine era.
But digging isn’t all archaeologists do.
If that were the case, their biceps would be ridiculous.
They also study stuff that doesn’t need to be excavated…
…like the pyramids, the Roman coliseum, or those cool bronze statues they haul out
of the sea once in a while.
Okay, now we know what archaeology is...
…but why in the world is it important?
Can’t we just let the past remain in the past? Are we really going to solve any pressing
modern problems by knowing what the ancient Egyptians used to brush their teeth?
Believe it or not, the stuff we’ve unearthed has given us a better understanding of who
we are today… not just who we used to be.
By examining where we started, and comparing it to where we are today…
…we can piece together patterns of human progress…
…as well as figure out where we might be going wrong.
It’s sort of like there’s this vast world history book buried in the ground…
…and archaeologists are in charge of putting it back together, page by page.
But it’s even more extensive than a regular world history book…
…because it allows us to learn about things that pre-date written history.
Plenty of fascinating stuff happened thousands of years ago…
…even if no one could tweet about it.
Archaeology has helped us to understand ancient religions,
the daily routines of various cultures,
how military weaponry has evolved over time,
and oh so much more.
It also serves as a fantastic backdrop for epic adventure movies.