"The Science of Archaeology" in What Is Archaeology? Society for American Archaeology, National Geographic Society, and the United States Department of the Interior (1996)

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"The Science of Archaeology" in What Is Archaeology? Society for American Archaeology, National Geographic Society, and the United States Department of the Interior (1996)

URL: http://www.saa.org/AtoZ.html

SITE SUMMARY: Click the link for Archaeology and You, then the link for Chapter Two: "The Science of Archaeology," a part of the book What Is Archaeology? that was first reproduced online in 2000 from a 1996 print version. Features include a definition of archaeology especially with reference to the scientific aspects of this multidisciplinary field of study, and data on the ways that archaeologists use scientific methods or enlist the assistance of other scientists to work on an archaeological site or artifacts from a "dig."


  1. Note the description of physical anthropology, and suggest its connection to the scientific aspect of archeology. Next, describe the similarities and differences between historical archeology and prehistoric archeology. (Hint: Find information in "The Science of Archaeology" document and at the Web sites with Online Companion to Archaeology: An Introduction by Kevin Greene [its glossary or other resources areas], Articles at the Society for Historical Archaeology and Anthropology Internet Resources whose urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.)
  2. See paragraph eight. Identify how each archaeological site is "a unique and fragile remnant of the past."
  3. See paragraphs twelve and thirteen. Identify which two things are important for archaeologists to do at a site and with artifacts found at the site.
  4. See paragraphs nineteen and twenty. How were other scientists useful to archaeologist Jeff Chapman? Which other scientists might have helped, and why?
  5. See paragraphs twenty-one and twenty-three. What do archaeologists do today that may help archaeologists in the future?
  6. See paragraph twenty-seven. Why is archaeology interesting to consider as a career?
  7. Keeping Question/Activity no. 4 above in mind, find an online news item or an article or an article's abstract in an archaeology magazine Web site, on one of the sciences mentioned in "The Science of Archaeology." Identify the archaeological site, dig, and artifact, then the science involved and how it is useful to archaeological study in this particular situation, and to archaeology in general. (Note: Find online archaeological news items at the Anthropology in the News Web site, and in the Current Research data in the publications area of the What Is Archaeology? Web document. Find online magazines such as Archaeology and American Archaeology, and their articles or abstracts of articles via the Web sites for Archaeology Resources, Archaeology on the Net. Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.)
  8. Visit two of the Web areas or sites for Archaeology in the Parks—United States National Park Service—Links to the Past, Online Excavations via the WWWorld of Archaeology, Individual Archaeological Areas at Archaeology Links, Anthropology in the News, and Archaeology Resources. (Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Find two archaeological "digs" (one in the United States and one in another nation). Describe each site and what is found there, then suggest how to analyze the place and its artifacts scientifically. (Hint: Use as guidelines the references to the archaeological dig sites of archaeologists Chapman and Donna Roper in "The Science of Archaeology" Web document.)
  1. See the Online Companion to Archaeology: An Introduction by Kevin Greene. (Its url is cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Note especially chapter five on archeological science, then identify four main subject areas and their subtopics that are connected to archaeological study from scientific viewpoints. Visiting Web sites that are cited with the subjects, or Web sites with archaeological news or articles, then citing bibliographic information plus quotations, write about a particular example of the main topic with relation to one of its subtopics.
  2. Keeping Question/Activity no. 9 above in mind, identify two methods of examination and analysis that Greene refers to with relation to raw materials and artifacts (British spelling: artefacts), then identify three types of artifact material, all as related to archaeological science. Next identify three types of conservation also with relation to archaeological science. Adapt and apply the instructions in Question/Activity no. 9 above and starting with the word visiting, to what you find with relation to artifact material, then to conservation. Optional activities: Define statistics, then experimental archaeology, both as related to archaeological science, then adapt and apply the instructions stated just above.
  3. See the Web site on Anthropology Defined and the one featuring a study guide to the book Anthropology by Carol R. and Melvin Ember. (Their urls are cited in the Related Internet Sites section below.) Choose a subject cited in a section of the guide that is based on a chapter. Describe the subject, then select and do an online activity based on the chapter with the subject you chose. Cite and explain a question or part of an activity about your chosen subject.


What Is Archaeology?


In addition to an introductory statement and brief definition, plus the link to Archaeology and You and its chapters including chapter two on "The Science of Archaeology," see links to other parts of this book reproduced online. Note the links to letters from the National Geographic Society and the Society for American Archaeology, a message from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, an introduction, chapter one on Adventures in the Depths of Time, chapter three on Archaeology as a Career or Avocation, chapter four on Preserving the Past for the Future, chapter five on Archaeology and the Law, and resources for Learning More about Archaeology. See also a link to publications that include Archaeology and Public Education with program and career information plus links to new Web sites, and E-Tiquity (an irregular online series devoted to scholarship in archaeology), and data on Current Research.

Anthropology in the News


Texas A&M University provides this site with links to anthropology news published on the Web by the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Magazine, Nature Magazine, ABC TV, CNN, USA Today, Washington Post, and the New York Times, plus university press releases, and other sources. See general list of links to Breaking News, and links to news in Archaeology, BioAnthropology, Socio/CulturalAnthropology, etc.

Archeology in the Parks—United States National Park Service—Links to the Past

http://www.cr.nps.gov/aad/SITES/Npsites.htm or http://www.cr.nps.gov/archeology (click link)

Click on the states on the map to find archeology and ethnography in the parks, or scroll to list of states that have parks and click title links to parks' information.

Online Companion to Archaeology: An Introduction (2002) by Kevin Greene


See links to information derived from the book, plus links to related sites, especially for chapter five on Archaeological Science, and chapter two on Discovery and Investigation, then note chapter one on The Idea of the Past, chapter three on Excavation, chapter four on Dating the Past, chapter six on Making Sense of the Past, other resources, and a glossary. Note also the links on the main page to an article that introduces "Archaeology on the Web," and an article on the "Pros and Cons of Archaeology on the Net" which is based on a speech at an Oxford University Archaeological Society meeting.

Online Excavations via the WWWorld of Archaeology


Click the link to the page of links leading to information about ongoing, recently completed, or upcoming archeological digs.

Anthropology Biography Web


Scroll through the alphabetical list of name links or choose an alphabet letter link for last names starting with that letter and go to a link lists leading to information on various types of anthropologists, including archaeologists, of the past and present.

Archaeology Resources


Links are to resources arranged under a worldwide Regions area, and a Table of Contents that includes a reference desk, digital library (with online publications), portals and general resources, and teaching resources.

Archaeology on the Net


See links under General and Regional categories, and the category Resources (with its field and research reports, academic journals, and more).

UCSB Department of Anthropology Links Directory: Archaeology


Library>Society>Social Sciences>Anthropology>Archaeology


Note links to guides and directories, archaeologists, fieldwork, publications, periods and cultures, and topics.



Note links to archaeologists (with subcategories such as pioneer archaeologists), history, methodology, periods and culture, publications, sites and movements, and topics.


http://www.yahoo.com (click Archaeology)

Follow links that lead to Web sites with authoritative biographies and excerpts from the writings of some noted archaeologists.



Click the Biographies of Noted Archaeologists link for annotated links going to Web sites on noted archaeologists. Note authoritative biographies or information, interviews, and excerpts from archaeologists' writings. See for example, the link to the Web site for Charles Lyell (one of the first geologists) and his writings online, the link to a biography of and an interview with Mary Leakey who is known for discovering footprints of an early or prehuman species, the link to the Smithsonian Institution archaeologist William Duncan Strong Web site with some of his field notes, and the link to the Nobel prize Web site featuring Willard F. Libby who developed the radiocarbon dating method. Note also on the main page links to email interviews and archaeologist directories.

Archaeology Links


See links to sites with basic archeological information at this occasionally updated Web site. Note links to online archeology journals; individual archeological sites, projects, or areas; archeological organizations; and general archaeology links.

Articles at the Society for Historical Archaeology Web Site


Click title links to find information on "What Is Historical Archaeology?" and "Futures in Historical Archaeology" plus "Historical Archaeology Links."

Archaeology and Physical Anthropology at Anthropology Internet Sources

http://vax.wcsu.edu/socialsci/antres.html (click links)

Note also links listed under general and miscellaneous resources. See also the link for What Is Anthropology? then note its information page's references to archaeology and physical anthropology.

Reflections on Prehistory by James Q. Jacobs


More than fifteen articles on prehistoric archaeology subjects, including the titles "The Import of Archaeology," "A Timeline Assessment" (with five key events), "The First Americans," and "The First North American Civilization."

Anthropology Defined, by Carol and Melvin Ember


A brief definition, including scope, approach, and questions in which anthropologists are interested, are provided here in an adaptation from the Embers' 1996 book Anthropology.

Study Guide to Anthropology (1996) by Carol R. and Melvin L. Ember


Via a pull-down menu see links to information and online activities based on chapters, e.g., "What Is Anthropology?" in this book on early civilization and native populations today. Each main category has subcategories including archaeology; horticulture, agriculture, and pastoralism; domestication of plants and animals; increase in food production; cognitive, psychological and emotional development; possible genetic and physiological influences; and cultural ecology, behavioral ecology, sociobiology; etc. Information links include Overview, Key Terms, Web Destinations, and Current Issues. Online activities (done after teacher arranged online registration or by printing out activity pages) include Applied Anthropology, Review and Respond, Multiple Choice, Net Search, Internet Exercises, and Message Board.

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"The Science of Archaeology" in What Is Archaeology? Society for American Archaeology, National Geographic Society, and the United States Department of the Interior (1996)

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"The Science of Archaeology" in What Is Archaeology? Society for American Archaeology, National Geographic Society, and the United States Department of the Interior (1996)