Archaeological Work

    What is Archaeology?

    The word "考古"(Archaeology) arose long ago in the Chinese vocabulary. Lu Dailin in the 7th year of the reign of Emperor Yuanyau the Northern Song dynasty ( 1092 CE),  compiled a catalogue on antiquities, entitled "考古圖"(Kao Gu Tu); however, archaeology at that time was intended to seek and classify ancient artefacts and had a different meaning from what it currently has (張光直 1993: 53-54). The term "Archaeology", as is mostly understood nowadays, derives from the Greek «Αρχαιολογία», word composed of «άρχαΐοs» (meaning antiquity and ancient things) and «λóγοs» (meaning science, knowledge), and refers to the study of ancient history through material remains (夏鼐, 王仲殊 1994: 1; Julian Thomas 2004: 1).

    Archaeology, nowadays, is a science dedicated to the study of past societies and cultures, through the recovery and analysis of  archaeological traces, such as features and artefacts, these last ones known as "material culture". Material culture includes, for example, stone tools, pottery, porcelain, metal, jewellery, tools, and biofacts, like animal bones, charcoal, remains of plants and pollen, among others. With the in-depth study of the archaeological finds, we can learn more about how people lived in the past and about the various phases of human development. One of the main steps in archaeology is gathering archaeological evidence, and the most privileged method to do so is to conduct excavations. Before an archaeological excavation takes place, it is important to carry out a preliminary study of the site, for which there are numerous techniques and scientific methods available; and it is important to gather relevant historical data and analyze, from multiple perspectives, documents, images and maps. In this way, we can learn more about the site that is to be excavated, which provides a basis for creating the intervention and study plan, as well as prepare the next steps. During the excavation process, all archaeological finds and structures are carefully exposed and systematically recorded according to a certain scientific method, which includes recording their spatial and stratigraphic location, enabling archaeologists to estimate a period of time and correlate the remains with various human activities or livelihoods. After an excavation is completed, all  archaeological finds collected from the site are catalogued for research purposes, the aim of which is to gather information that explains all about the way people lived in the past.

    THOMAS, Julian, “Archaeology and Modernity”. Routledge. E-book. ISBN 0-203-49111-4. 2004. Pp. 1, 4.

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