Archaeologists study ancient objects. They use these objects to learn about the past.
 
Archaeologists ask many questions and discover information from objects. When did people develop tools, and how did they use them? What did they use to make clothing and what did they eat? Did they live in large groups or in smaller families? Did they trade with people from other regions? Were they warlike or peaceful?
 
History Of Archaeology
 
The word "archaeology" comes from the Greek word "arkhaios." It means "ancient."
 
People have dug up the past for thousands of years. Often, these people were grave robbers. They were looking to make money or find objects for their collections. 
 
In the 1800s, the tomb of Pharaoh Ramses I was found.
 
Ramses I ruled Egypt about 3,300 years ago. His tomb also held pottery, paintings, and jewelry. Looters stole everything they could sell. They also took the mummy of the pharaoh.
 
Ramses I wound up in a museum in the United States. He was returned to Egypt in 2003. 
 
Some archaeologists of this time were rich explorers. Now their work is seen differently. They took advantage of local people and stole their history. The Elgin Marbles are an example.
 
In 1801, Lord Elgin was a British official. He took ancient marble sculptures from Athens, Greece. Then he brought them to England. The government of Greece is still trying to get them back.
 
Today, in most countries, archaeologists must get permission. Anything they find is owned by that country.
 
Disciplines Of Archaeology
 
Archaeology is based on the scientific method. Archaeologists ask questions and develop hypotheses. They use evidence to choose a dig site. They observe and record what they find. They decide what it means and how it fits in with other pieces of information. Then they share their results.
 
Archaeologists specialize in many different kinds of things. Underwater archaeologists study shipwrecks and buried cities.
 
 
There are two major areas of archaeology. The first is prehistoric archaeology. The second is historic archaeology. Prehistoric civilizations did not leave behind written records. 
Their artifacts and buildings are the only information we have about them.
 
Stonehenge is in Great Britain. It is a ring of giant stones and was built about 5,000 years ago. Its builders did not leave records. Archaeologists do not know for sure why it was built and used. They must rely on the enormous stones for clues.
 
Another area of archaeology is paleopathology. Paleopathologists study ancient diseases. They might examine teeth to see what people ate thousands of years ago.
 
Historic archaeology uses written records.
 
The Rosetta Stone is a large slab of marble. It was discovered in Egypt in 1799.
 
The stone was carved in three different languages. Two were ancient Egyptian languages and the third was Greek. Experts only knew Greek.
 
Using the Greek part, they figured out the other two languages.
 
Other Disciplines
 
Ethnoarchaeologists study how people use objects today. It helps them understand how older groups of people used them.
 
Some archaeologists are interested in modern San people. They live in southern Africa. The archaeologists study their tools. The tools show them how the ancient San hunted animals.
 
Environmental archaeologists study weather conditions in the past. Sometimes, the weather can have a big effect on culture.
 
About 1400 years ago, the climate in the Brazilian highlands became wetter. The forest grew. It provided more timber, plants, and animals for the local people, called Taquara/Itararé.
 
Experimental archaeology is another field. Experimental archaeologists make copies of old artifacts.
 
One of the most famous examples is the Kon-Tiki. It was a large raft built by a Norwegian explorer. In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl sailed the Kon-Tiki from South America to Polynesia in the South Pacific. He wanted to show that ancient people crossed the Pacific Ocean.
 
Where To Dig?
 
Most archaeology involves digging. 
 
Winds and floods carry sand, dust, and soil. They bury objects and buildings.
 
Cities and communities also are built in layers. Rome, Italy, has been a city for thousands of years. 
 
For example, archaeologists may be looking for an ancient Roman fortress. First, they may have to dig up a bakery from the 1500s. Often it's hard to figure out where to dig. Sometimes they decide based on old stories.
 
Before digging, an archaeological team looks for artifacts on the ground. Some technologies will show them what is underground.
 
Sometimes, sites are found by accident. In 1974, workers were digging a well in Xian, China. They discovered an enormous grave for Qin Shi Huangdi. He was China's first emperor. It included 7,000 life-sized clay soldiers, horses, and chariots. The soldiers are called the Terra Cotta Warriors.
 
Before moving any dirt, archaeologists must map the area. They also take photographs. Then they divide the site into a grid. These squares help archaeologists keep track of where things are found.
 
Today, scientists use technology to find how old an artifact is. Bones can tell them what kinds of animals people ate.
 
The Big Dig
 
Digging is the work of archaeology. Sometimes, archaeologists move earth with bulldozers. Usually, they use small tools to scrape away the earth. To catch the tiniest artifacts, they sift dirt through a screen.
 
Archaeologists take lots of notes and photographs. They use Global positioning systems (GPS) to help them make maps. GPS devices use satellites to pinpoint a place.
 
Uncovered Artifacts
 
The archaeological team makes a record of the artifacts. They use photos, drawings, and notes. The artifacts are often broken or damaged. After they come out of the ground, they are cleaned and labeled.
 
The scientists write up their findings. They publish them in scientific magazines.
 
archaeology
Not all archaeologists are as swashbuckling as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Some, but not all.
abandoned
Adjective

deserted.

accurate
Adjective

exact.

Acropolis
Noun

large, flat-topped hill that is the highest point of the city of Athens, Greece.

aerial photograph
Noun

picture of part of the Earth's surface, usually taken from an airplane.

Noun

the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

alpine glacier
Noun

mass of ice that moves downward from a mountain.

Alps
Plural Noun

(highest peak: Mont Blanc, 4,807 meters/15,771 feet) large mountain range in southern Europe.

amateur
Adjective

person who studies and works at an activity or interest without financial benefit or being formally trained in it.

ambassador
Noun

person who represents a place, organization, or idea.

analysis
Noun

process of studying a problem or situation, identifying its characteristics and how they are related.

ancestry
Noun

family (genealogical) or historical background.

ancient
Adjective

very old.

antiquity
Noun

ancient object.

archaeologist
Noun

person who studies artifacts and lifestyles of ancient cultures.

Noun

study of human history, based on material remains.

Noun

material remains of a culture, such as tools, clothing, or food.

artillery
Noun

weapons that launch or fire large projectiles, such as cannons or catapults.

assess
Verb

to evaluate or determine the amount of.

backhoe
Noun

large piece of construction equipment consisting of a digging bucket on a maneuverable arm.

Plural Noun

(singular: bacterium) single-celled organisms found in every ecosystem on Earth.

Bible
Noun

holy book of the Christian religion.

bulldozer
Noun

vehicle used for moving large obstacles, such as boulders or trees.

carbon-date
Verb

to estimate the age of an organism by tracking the decay of the isotope carbon-14. Also called radiocarbon dating.

catastrophe
Noun

disaster or sudden, violent change.

charcoal
Noun

carbon material made by burning wood or other organic material with little air.

chariot
Noun

vehicle with two or four wheels and pulled by horses.

Christianity
Noun

religion based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.

Noun

complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.

Civil War
Noun

(1860-1865) American conflict between the Union (north) and Confederacy (south).

classicist
Noun

person who studies ancient Greek and Roman civilization.

climate
Noun

all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

Clovis people
Noun

(13000-9000 BCE) one of the first people and cultures native to North America. Also called Llano.

Clovis point
Noun

style of stone knife, spearhead, or arrowhead (projectile point) found throughout North America and associated with the ancient Clovis culture.

Noun

dark, solid fossil fuel mined from the earth.

Noun

edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

coffin
Noun

box containing the body of a dead person.

colonialism
Noun

type of government where a geographic area is ruled by a foreign power.

commercial
Adjective

having to do with the buying and selling of goods and services.

community
Noun

group of organisms or a social group interacting in a specific region under similar environmental conditions.

complex
Adjective

complicated.

conflict
Noun

a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

conquest
Noun

victory.

conservator
Noun

person who repairs, restores, or maintains the quality of valuable items.

Noun

part of a continent that extends underwater to the deep-ocean floor.

controversy
Noun

disagreement or debate.

Noun

deep crack, especially in a glacier.

CT scanner
Noun

(computerized tomography scanner) device combining X-ray and computerized equipment to provide cross-sectional images of internal body structures. Also called a CAT scanner.

cultural heritage
Noun

traditions and customs of a specific population.

cultural resource management
Noun

the practice of studying and preserving ancient remains on sites where construction is scheduled to occur.

Noun

steady, predictable flow of fluid within a larger body of that fluid.

data
Plural Noun

(singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.

Dead Sea Scrolls
Noun

(100 BCE - 135 CE) leather, papyrus, and copper scrolls containing ancient Jewish writings.

debate
Verb

to argue or disagree in a formal setting.

deceased
Adjective

dead.

decipher
Verb

to figure out or interpret.

decree
Noun

formal or legal order.

deduce
Verb

to reach a conclusion based on clues or evidence.

demotic
Noun

(700 BCE - 400 CE) informal written language of ancient Egypt.

dental pick
Noun

small, sharp instrument used to remove material from teeth.

designate
Verb

to name or single out.

digital imaging
Noun

process of creating, processing, storing, and displaying images made from binary code.

diplomatic relations
Noun

the formal ties between nations.

discipline
Noun

field of study.

disease
Noun

harmful condition of a body part or organ.

DNA
Noun

(deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule in every living organism that contains specific genetic information on that organism.

domesticate
Verb

to tame or adapt for human use.

Noun

tiny, dry particles of material solid enough for wind to carry.

dye
Noun

pigment used to color cloth or another object.

earthquake
Noun

the sudden shaking of Earth's crust caused by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.

economic
Adjective

having to do with money.

Egyptologist
Noun

person who studies the culture and history of ancient Egypt.

Elgin Marbles
Noun

(440-430 BCE) large collection of ancient Greek statuary displayed in the British Museum, London, England. Also called the Parthenon Marbles.

Emerging Explorer
Noun

an adventurer, scientist, innovator, or storyteller recognized by National Geographic for their visionary work while still early in their careers.

emperor
Noun

ruler of an empire.

encase
Verb

to enclose or completely confine.

engineer
Noun

person who plans the building of things, such as structures (construction engineer) or substances (chemical engineer).

enormous
Adjective

very large.

environmental archaeologist
Noun

person who studies how environmental conditions influenced people in the past.

erode
Verb

to wear away.

ethnoarchaeologist
Noun

person who studies how people today use and organize objects in order to understand how they used and organized objects in the past.

evergreen
Noun

tree that does not lose its leaves.

excavate
Verb

to expose by digging.

experimental archaeologist
Noun

person who replicates techniques and processes used to create or use objects in the past.

exploit
Verb

to use or take advantage of for profit.

explorer
Noun

person who studies unknown areas.

Explorer-in-Residence
Noun

pre-eminent explorers and scientists collaborating with the National Geographic Society to make groundbreaking discoveries that generate critical scientific information, conservation-related initiatives and compelling stories.

extend
Verb

to enlarge or continue.

extinct
Adjective

no longer existing.

familiarize
Verb

to understand how something works or operates.

feature
Noun

non-portable archaeological remains, such as pyramids or post-holes.

fiction
Noun

media, such as books or films, that are imaginative and not true stories.

Noun

scientific studies done outside of a lab, classroom, or office.

Noun

overflow of a body of water onto land.

fluent
Adjective

able to speak, write, and understand a language.

Noun

material, usually of plant or animal origin, that living organisms use to obtain nutrients.

forensic archaeologist
Noun

person who excavates and studies the remains and artifacts surrounding areas containing graves, or sites of murder or genocide.

formal
Adjective

official or standardized.

fortress
Noun

protected place. Also called a fort.

fragile
Noun

delicate or easily broken.

geneticist
Noun

scientist who studies the chemistry, behavior, and purposes of DNA, genes, and chromosomes.

Genghis Khan
Noun

(1162-1227) founder of the Mongol empire.

genocide
Noun

intentional mass murder of a specific religious, cultural, or ethnic group.

Noun

any system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on the Earth's surface.

Noun

mass of ice that moves slowly over land.

Global Positioning System (GPS)
Noun

system of satellites and receiving devices used to determine the location of something on Earth.

glyph
Noun

written mark or sign that indicates the meaning of what is written, such as a letter or symbol.

Noun

deep, narrow valley with steep sides, usually smaller than a canyon.

govern
Verb

to make public-policy decisions for a group or individuals.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

Grand Canyon
Noun

large gorge made by the Colorado River in the U.S. state of Arizona.

grave robber
Noun

person who steals valuable objects from a tomb, mausoleum, or other burial site.

Great Depression
Noun

(1929-1941) period of very low economic activity in the U.S. and throughout the world.

grid
Noun

horizontal and vertical lines used to locate objects in relation to one another on a map.

Hebrew Bible
Noun

holy writings of the Jewish faith that correspond with the Old Testament writings of the Christian faith. Also called the Hebrew Scriptures.

Heinrich Schliemann
Noun

(1822-1890) German archaeologist.

heritage
Noun

cultural or family background.

hieroglyphics
Plural Noun

written language using images to represent words.

highlands
Plural Noun

plateau or elevated region of land.

historical map
Noun

representation of spatial information displaying sites of historical interest.

historic archaeology
Noun

study of people, culture, and civilizations that developed writing systems.

Homer
Noun

(~800 BCE) probably fictitious author of the ancient Greek epics The Iliad and The Odyssey.

hypothesis
Noun

statement or suggestion that explains certain questions about certain facts. A hypothesis is tested to determine if it is accurate.

Iceman
Noun

(3300-3255 BCE) naturally mummified body of a man found in the Alps between Italy and Switzerland. Nicknamed "Otzi."

Iliad
Noun

(~750 BCE) epic by the Greek poet Homer, about events of the Trojan War.

inconvenience
Verb

to disturb or bother.

industrial archaeology
Noun

study of the materials created during the Industrial Revolution.

Industrial Revolution
Noun

change in economic and social activities, beginning in the 18th century, brought by the replacement of hand tools with machinery and mass production.

influence
Verb

to encourage or persuade a person or organization to act a certain way.

infrastructure
Noun

structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.

inhabit
Verb

to live in a specific place.

innovative
Adjective

new, advanced, or original.

inscribe
Verb

to mark or engrave a surface.

iron
Noun

chemical element with the symbol Fe.

ironclad
Noun

steam-propelled warship protected by plates of iron or another metal.

Jewish
Adjective

having to do with the religion or culture of people tracing their ancestry to the ancient Middle East and the spiritual leaders Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Judaism
Noun

religion based on the holy book of the Torah and the teaching surrounding it.

Julius Caesar
Noun

(100 BCE-44 BCE) leader of ancient Rome.

Khmer Rouge
Noun

(1975-1979) communist, dictatorial government of Cambodia led by Pol Pot.

Killing Fields
Noun

sites in Cambodia where thousands of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime are buried in mass graves.

Kon-Tiki
Noun

(1947) raft used by explorer Thor Heyerdahl to sail from South America to the Polynesian islands.

lab
Noun

(laboratory) place where scientific experiments are performed.

Noun

the geographic features of a region.

laser
Noun

(acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) an instrument that emits a thin beam of light that does not fade over long distances.

Latin
Noun

language of ancient Rome and the Roman Empire.

limestone
Noun

type of sedimentary rock mostly made of calcium carbonate from shells and skeletons of marine organisms.

linguist
Noun

person who studies language.

lobby
Verb

to try to influence the action of government or other authority.

looter
Noun

thief.

magnificent
Adjective

very impressive.

manufacturing
Noun

production of goods or products in a factory.

manuscript
Noun

written material.

marble
Noun

type of metamorphic rock.

mariner
Noun

sailor.

Noun

part of the ocean protected by the government to preserve its natural and cultural features while allowing people to use and enjoy it in a sustainable way.

mass grave
Noun

large burial site with many corpses, usually unidentified.

mausoleum
Noun

impressive tomb or burial site.

Maya
Noun

people and culture native to southeastern Mexico and Central America.

medieval
Adjective

having to do with the Middle Ages (500-1400) in Europe.

merchant
Noun

person who sells goods and services.

mesh
noun, adjective

sheet of wires woven together with small, uniform openings.

monarch
Noun

king or queen.

Monitor
Noun

(1861-1862) steam-powered military ship protected by metal plates (an "ironclad") commissioned by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

monolith
Noun

tall column or statue made from a single block of stone.

monument
Noun

large structure representing an event, idea, or person.

mummy
Noun

corpse of a person or animal that has been preserved by natural environmental conditions or human techniques.

murder
Verb

to kill a person.

museum
Noun

space where valuable works of art, history, or science are kept for public view.

myth
Noun

legend or traditional story.

Napoleon Bonaparte
Noun

(1769-1821) military general and emperor of France.

navigate
Verb

to plan and direct the course of a journey.

nomadic
Adjective

having to do with a way of life lacking permanent settlement.

Noun

substance an organism needs for energy, growth, and life.

obtain
Verb

to get or take possession of.

Ottoman Empire
Noun

(1299-1923) empire based in Turkey and stretching throughout southern Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

overwork
Verb

to demand too much of someone or something.

paleopathology
Noun

study of the history of a disease or the history of disease in ancient cultures.

parchment
Noun

carefully prepared skin of goats or other animals used as material on which to write.

Parthenon
Noun

(438 BCE) ancient temple to the goddess Athena on the Acropolis of Athens, Greece.

permit
Noun

official, written permission to do something. Sometimes called a license.

Noun

ruler of ancient Egypt.

plow
noun, verb

tool used for cutting, lifting, and turning the soil in preparation for planting.

plunder
Verb

to rob or steal.

Polynesia
Noun

island group in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand, Hawaii, and Easter Island.

portable
Adjective

able to be easily transported from one place to another.

post-hole
Noun

depression where supports (posts) for a structure once stood.

pottery
Noun

pots, vessels, or other material made from clay or ceramic.

pre-Columbian
Adjective

having to do with the Americas before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

prehistoric
Adjective

period of time that occurred before the invention of written records.

prehistoric archaeology
Noun

study of people, culture, and civilizations that did not develop writing systems.

prior
Adjective

before or ahead of.

pristine
Adjective

pure or unpolluted.

projectile point
Noun

archaeological term used to describe a sharp stone tool that could be thrown (projected), such as an arrowhead, spearhead, dart, or blade.

prophecy
Noun

prediction of the future.

psalm
Noun

sacred song or musical poem.

Ptolemy I
Noun

(367-283 BCE) Greek general who became pharaoh of Egypt. Also called Ptolemy Soter.

Ptolemy V
Noun

(210-181 BCE) Egyptian pharaoh. Also called Ptolemy Epiphanes.

publish
Verb

to provide a written piece of work, such as a book or newspaper, for sale or distribution.

Noun

three-dimensional shape with a square base and triangular sides that meet in a point.

Qin Shi Huangdi
Noun

(259-210 BCE) first emperor of China.

radar
Noun

(RAdio Detection And Ranging) method of determining the presence and location of an object using radio waves.

radiocarbon dating
Noun

to estimate the age of an organism by tracking the decay of the isotope carbon-14. Also called carbon-dating.

radio wave
Noun

electromagnetic wave with a wavelength between 1 millimeter and 30,000 meters, or a frequency between 10 kilohertz and 300,000 megahertz.

raw material
Noun

matter that needs to be processed into a product to use or sell.

regime
Noun

system of government.

rely
Verb

to depend on.

Renaissance
Noun

period of great development in science, art, and economy in Western Europe from the 14th to the 17th centuries.

Robert Ballard
Noun

(1942-present) oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.

Roman Empire
Noun

(27 BCE-476 CE) period in the history of ancient Rome when the state was ruled by an emperor.

Rosetta Stone
Noun

(196 BCE) large black stone carved with a decree about the coronation of Pharaoh Ptolemy V. The decree is carved in three languages: Greek, demotic, and hieroglyphic.

rot
Verb

to decay or spoil.

rust
Verb

to dissolve and form a brittle coating, as iron does when exposed to air and moisture.

San
Noun

people and culture native to southern Africa. Also called Bushmen.

sand
Noun

small, loose grains of disintegrated rocks.

satellite imagery
Noun

photographs of a planet taken by or from a satellite.

scholar
Noun

educated person.

scientific journal
Noun

magazine that focuses on developments in scientific research.

scientific method
Noun

method of research in which a question is asked, data are gathered, a hypothesis is made, and the hypothesis is tested.

script
Noun

text or system of writing.

scroll
Noun

rolled-up sheet of paper or other thin material for writing.

Noun

increase in the average reach of the ocean. The current sea level rise is 1.8 millimeters (.07 inch) per year.

Noun

solid material transported and deposited by water, ice, and wind.

sherd
Noun

fragment of pottery. Also shard.

shipwreck
Noun

remains of a sunken marine vessel.

sift
Verb

to separate larger pieces of material from smaller ones.

significant
Adjective

important or impressive.

sincere
Adjective

genuine or real.

slab
Noun

flat, thick piece of material such as earth or stone.

soil
Noun

top layer of the Earth's surface where plants can grow.

sonar
Noun

method of determining the presence and location of an object using sound waves (echolocation).

sophisticated
Adjective

knowledgeable or complex.

specific
Adjective

exact or precise.

starvation
Noun

dying from lack of food.

Stonehenge
Noun

prehistoric monument in Salisbury Plain, England.

storm
Noun

severe weather indicating a disturbed state of the atmosphere resulting from uplifted air.

subdiscipline
Noun

field of study within a larger area of research.

submerge
Verb

to put underwater.

subway
Noun

underground railway; a popular form of public transportation in large urban areas.

survey
Noun

a study or analysis of characteristics of an area or a population.

system
Noun

collection of items or organisms that are linked and related, functioning as a whole.

tax
Noun

money or goods citizens provide to government in return for public services such as military protection.

technology
Noun

the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

temple
Noun

building used for worship.

Terra Cotta Warriors
Noun

(~210 BCE) collection of thousands of life-size clay figures of soldiers, horses, chariots, and other artifacts in Xian, China, buried with Qin Shi Huangdi, China's first emperor.

Noun

land an animal, human, or government protects from intruders.

textile
Noun

cloth or other woven fabric.

Thor Heyerdahl
Noun

(1914-2002) Norwegian explorer.

timber
Noun

wood in an unfinished form, either trees or logs.

time-consuming
Adjective

taking a long time to finish.

Titanic
Noun

luxury cruise ship that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912.

tomb
Noun

enclosed burial place.

trade
Noun

buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

transportation engineer
Noun

person who plans, designs, and maintains facilities for transporting people and goods.

Trojan War
Noun

(~1194-1184 BCE) ancient conflict between the Greeks and the Trojans, written about by ancient poets and historians in works such as the Iliad.

troop
Noun

a soldier.

trowel
Noun

hand-held shovel with a flat blade.

Troy
Noun

ancient city on the Aegean coast of what is now northwestern Turkey. Also called Troia and Ilion.

tunnel-boring machine
Noun

enormous machine that drills tunnels for subways or underground railway lines.

Tutankhamun
Noun

(1341-1323 BCE) Egyptian pharaoh.

underwater archaeologist
Noun

person who studies artifacts and features found at the bottom of lakes, rivers, and oceans.

Union
Adjective

having to do with states supporting the United States (north) during the U.S. Civil War.

urban center
Noun

densely populated area, usually a city and its surrounding suburbs.

vast
Adjective

huge and spread out.

volcanic eruption
Noun

activity that includes a discharge of gas, ash, or lava from a volcano.

warp
Verb

to bend out of shape.

wealthy
Adjective

very rich.

Noun

movement of air (from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone) caused by the uneven heating of the Earth by the sun.

X-ray
Noun

radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum with a very short wavelength and very high energy.