Archaeology is a study of all human activity done in the past. This is done through the analysis and recovery of environmental data and material culture that has been left behind. This includes architecture, cultural landscapes, biofacts and artifacts.
Archaeology tied up its field of study with the roots of history. From lifestyles of peasant to kings, all of the information relating to the past are mostly from the findings and researches of archaeologists.
Herodotus was a scholar who systemized the study of archaeology. The antiquarians then followed in the 16th to 17th century with their deep interest in the collection of anything related to the past. From the antiquarian movement, it then shifted to nationalism wherein personal collections are being donated to national museums.
In the 19th century, it finally became a systematic discipline as more anthropological and historical researches are being done. At the same time, great advances have been made with the technologies essential to the field.
Beginnings of Archaeology
Archaeology started as a study of the history of Europe and of the people of the past. The last emperor of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, King Nabonidus, was very much interested with events from past generations that he had aligned himself with all of the past glories. It became an obsession that it came to a point where he initiated a revitalization movement and started rebuilding ancient temples.
Even if the time in which Herodotus conducted his systematic excavations and studies has been labeled to as the ancient times, he has made an investigation of even the earlier years of one of the first formed civilizations in the world. Herodotus was also the first western scholar who systematically collected artifacts and tested them all with accuracy.
With the evidences he has collected, he made a thorough narrative of what he concluded was the past. This narrative is in a set of nine books which he named “The Histories.” The set contains all the things he contemplated about the different regions of the world. To give you a taste of what it contained, he discussed in one of the books the consequences and the causes of the infamous Greco-Persian Wars.
Herodotus has also been able to explore Delphi and the Nile. He has definitely made a compelling narrative of what happened in the past, but most scholars claim that they found crucial errors on his records and that he probably was not able to explore the southern parts of the Nile in contrast to what he claims in his books.
The First Excavations
Stonehenge was one of the first sites to undergo excavation by archaeologists. The archaeological excavation was headed by Gilbert North and Dr William Harvey in the early years of 17th century. The Duke of Buckingham and Inigo Jones both dug in the site shortly afterwards.
The archaeologist that pioneered the recording of myriads of Southern England’s megalithic monuments was John Aubrey. He was also the one who discovered and mapped out the whole of Avebury henge monument. Modern archaeologists would say that Aubrey was way ahead of his time in the case of his findings and analysis. He attempted to make a chart of the stylish evolution of medieval architecture, shield-shapes, costume, and handwriting in a chronological order.
Aubrey has written in Monumenta Britannica a review of the archaeological remains of roads, urns and coins of sepulchral monuments as well as military sites, Roman towns, camps and numerous castles.
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