Archaeology is the study of the human past using objects that people created, changed, or used. 

 
Archaeologists use artifacts and features, like buildings and roads, to learn how people lived in specific times and places. They want to know what these people's daily lives were like, how they were governed and interacted, and what they believed and valued. 
 
Sometimes, artifacts and features provide the only clues about an ancient community or civilization. Prehistoric civilizations did not leave behind written records. 

 
Archaeologists studying Stonehenge in Great Britain, for instance, do not have ancient manuscripts to tell them why it was built or how it was used. Archaeologists must rely on the enormous stones themselves for clues.
 
Most cultures with writing systems leave written records that archaeologists consult and study. Some of the most valuable written records are everyday items, such as shopping lists and tax forms.
 
Many ancient civilizations had complex writing systems that archaeologists and linguists are still working to decipher. The written system of the Mayan language, for instance, remained a mystery to scholars until the 20th century.
 
The Maya were one of the most powerful pre-Columbian civilizations in Mesoamerica. Understanding the basics of the Mayan writing system helped archaeologists discover how Mayan culture functioned. They learned how they were governed, what they ate, and what gods they worshipped. 
 
As archaeologists become more fluent in Mayan writing, they are making new discoveries about the culture. Today, some archaeologists work with linguists to preserve the once-lost Mayan language. 


 
History Of Archaeology
 
The word "archaeology" comes from the Greek word "arkhaios," which means "ancient."
 
People have dug up monuments and collected artifacts for thousands of years. Often, these people were not scholars, but looters and grave robbers looking to make money or build up their personal collections. For instance, grave robbers have been plundering the tombs of Egypt since the pyramids were built.

 
Grave robbing was such a common crime in ancient Egypt that many tombs have hidden chambers. The family of the deceased would place treasures there to keep them safe. 
 
In the mid-1800s, an Egyptian man who said he was searching for a lost goat stumbled across the tomb of Pharaoh Ramses I.
 
Ramses I ruled for a short time in the 1290s B.C.E. Besides the body of the pharaoh, the tomb held artifacts such as pottery, paintings, and sculpture. Looters would sell anything from the tomb that could make a profit.
 
The mummy of Ramses I wound up in a museum in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, where it remained until 1999. The Canadian museum sold the Egyptian collection to the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, which returned Ramses I to Egypt in 2003. 
 
One of the most well-known archaeological finds was the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut. Unlike many other Egyptian tombs, grave robbers had never discovered King Tut. His resting place lay undisturbed for thousands of years until it was discovered in 1922.
 
In addition to the mummy of Tutankhamun, the tomb contained some 5,000 artifacts, including gold and jewels.
 
Many early archaeologists worked for invading armies. When General Napoleon Bonaparte of France invaded Egypt in 1798, he brought scholars and scientists to document his conquest. Napoleon's troops took home tons of Egyptian antiquities.
 
Some archaeologists of this time were wealthy adventurers, explorers, and merchants. These amateur archaeologists often had a sincere interest in the culture and artifacts they studied. However, now their work is seen as exploiting local people. The Elgin Marbles are an example.
 
In 1801, Greece was still a part of the Ottoman Empire. At the time, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Elgin, claimed he received permission to remove half of the sculptures from the famous Acropolis of Athens, Greece.
 
Lord Elgin claimed he wanted to protect the marbles from damage. He brought them to England, where they are now on display at the British Museum in London.
 
The government of Greece has been lobbying for the return of the Elgin Marbles ever since. Most Greeks view the sculptures as part of their cultural heritage.
 
Eventually, archaeology evolved from treasure hunting into a more scientific field. Scientists started using standard weights and measures for recording and removing artifacts.
 
They required detailed drawings and drafts of the entire dig site, as well as individual pieces.
 
In the 20th century, archaeologists began to reassess their impact on the cultures and environments where they dig. Today, in most countries, archaeological remains become the property of the country where they were found.
 
In Egypt, for example, archaeological teams must obtain permission from the Egyptian government to excavate. All artifacts become the property of Egypt.

 
Disciplines Of Archaeology
 
Archaeology is based on the scientific method. Archaeologists ask questions and develop hypotheses, and use evidence to choose a dig site and where on the site to dig. They observe, record, categorize, and interpret what they find and then share their results with other scientists and the public.
 
Underwater archaeologists study materials at the bottom of lakes, rivers, and oceans.
 
Shipwrecks are one kind of artifact studied by underwater archaeologists.
 
In 1985, Robert Ballard helped locate the wreck of the RMS Titanic, which sank in the Atlantic in 1912. About 1,500 people lost their lives. By exploring the Titanic using remote-controlled cameras, Ballard and his crew discovered that the ship broke into two large pieces as it sank. They also found hundreds of artifacts, such as furniture, lighting fixtures, and children's toys.
 
Prehistoric And Historic Archaeology 
 
There are two major areas of archaeology — prehistoric archaeology and historic archaeology. Prehistoric archaeology deals with civilizations that did not develop writing. Artifacts from these societies may provide the only clues we have about their lives.
 
Archaeologists studying the Clovis people, for instance, have found only arrowheads — called projectile points —  and stone tools.
 
The arrowheads were first discovered in Clovis, New Mexico.
 
Archaeologists have dated these Clovis points to 13,000 years ago. This places the Clovis people among the earliest inhabitants of North America.
 
A subdiscipline of archaeology is paleopathology, the study of disease in ancient cultures.
 
Paleopathologists investigate disease in a community and how different communities reacted to disease. Studying the history of a disease helps scientists now understand modern diseases. Paleopathologists can also find clues about people's overall health. By studying the teeth of ancient people, for example, they can deduce what kinds of food they ate, how often they ate, and what nutrients the foods contained. 


 
Historic archaeology incorporates written records into archaeological research.
 
One of the most famous examples of historic archaeology is the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is a large slab of marble discovered near Rashid, Egypt, by French archaeologists in 1799.
 
The stone is inscribed with a decree by Pharaoh Ptolemy V. The decree was written and carved into the stone in three different languages — hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek. Hieroglyphics are the picture-symbols used for formal documents in ancient Egypt, and demotic was the informal script of ancient Egypt. Before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, Egyptologists did not understand either one.
 
They could, however, understand Greek. Using the Greek portion of the Rosetta Stone, archaeologists and linguists were able to translate the text and decipher hieroglyphs.
 
Historic archaeology contributes to many disciplines, including religious studies.
 
The Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, are a collection of about 900 documents. The tightly rolled parchment and other writing sheets were found between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Qumran near the Dead Sea. Among the scrolls are texts from the Hebrew Bible, written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. 
 
The Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest versions of biblical texts ever found, dating from between the third century B.C.E. to the first century C.E.
 
The scrolls also contain texts, psalms, and prophecies that are not part of today's Bible. Discovery of the scrolls has increased our knowledge of the development of Judaism and Christianity.

 
Another subdiscipline, industrial archaeology, is the study materials from the Industrial Revolution of the 1700s and 1800s.
 
One of the most important sites for industrial archaeologists is the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England. During the Industrial Revolution, the gorge was used to transport raw materials such as coal, limestone, and iron.
 
By studying artifacts and features, such as the iron bridge, industrial archaeologists trace how the area developed.
 
Other Disciplines

Ethnoarchaeologists study how people use objects today to understand how people used tools in the past.
 
Archaeologists researching the ancient San culture of southern Africa, for instance, study the modern San culture. Archaeologists study the tools of the modern San to understand how the ancient San tracked and hunted animals and gathered native plants.
 
Environmental archaeologists help us understand the environmental conditions that influenced people in the past.
 
They discovered that the expansion of the Taquara/Itararé people of the Brazilian highlands is closely linked with the expansion of the Araucaria forest there. As the climate became wetter, the forest grew and provided more resources, like timber, plants, and animals.
 
Experimental archaeologists replicate how people created or use objects in the past.
 
One of the most famous examples is the Kon-Tiki, a large raft built by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. In 1947, Heyerdahl sailed the Kon-Tiki from South Aerica to Polynesia. He wanted to show that ancient mariners, with the same tools and technology, could have navigated the Pacific Ocean.
 
Forensic archaeologists excavate the remains of victims of murder or genocide in areas of conflict. The Killing Fields are the sites of mass graves in Cambodia of the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, forensic archaeologists studied the remains of the bodies, discovering how and when they died.
 
Cultural resource management (CRM) architects help assess and preserve remains on construction sites.
 
Where To Dig?
 
Most archaeology involves digging. 
 
Winds and floods carry sand, dust, and soil, depositing them on top of abandoned features and artifacts. These deposits build up, burying the remains.
 
In places where earth has been carved away — like in the Grand Canyon in Arizona — you can actually see the layers of soil that have built up over time.

 
Cities and communities also tend to be built in layers, such as Rome, Italy, which has been a city for thousands of years. The streets of downtown Rome are several meters higher than they were during the time of Julius Caesar 2,000 years ago. Modern homes sit on top of medieval homes, which were built on the ruins of ancient homes.
 
Archaeologists looking for an ancient Roman fortress, for instance, may have to first excavate a Renaissance bakery and medieval hospital. Because most artifacts lie underground, scientists have developed methods to help them figure out where they should dig. Sometimes they choose sites based on old myths and stories about where people lived or where events occurred.
 
For many years, historians thought the ancient city of Troy was a work of fiction.
 
In 1870, German amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the ruins of the city near the town of Hisarlik, Turkey. He used Homer as his guide. Schliemann helped provide evidence that the Trojan War may have actually taken place, and that the Iliad and the Odyssey may be based on fact.
 
In 1973, archaeologists used historical maps and modern technology to locate the wreck of the USS Monitor. It was an ironclad ship used by the Union during the Civil War. The Monitor sunk in a storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in 1862.
 
Before digging, an archaeological team looks for artifacts on the ground or unusual mounds in the earth. For example, aerial and satellite images can show patterns that might not be visible from the ground. 

 
Other technologies, like radar and sonar, give clues about what lies under the surface.
 
Accidental finds can also lead archaeologists to dig sites. A monumental example of an accidental discovery happened in 1974. In Xian, China, agricultural workers were digging a well and discovered the remains an enormous grave for Qin Shi Huangdi, China's first emperor. The complex includes 7,000 life-sized clay soldiers, horses, chariots, and artillery and are known as the Terra Cotta Warriors.
 
Before moving a single grain of dirt, archaeologists must map the area and take detailed photographs.
 
The last step before digging is to divide the site into a grid to keep track of the location of each find.
 
They always leave some areas untouched. Archaeologists like to preserve portions of their dig sites for future scientists to study — scientists who may have better tools and techniques than today. 

 
Today, scientists use methods like carbon-dating to determine the age of an artifact. They are able to analyze bone to see what kinds of animals people were domesticating and eating at various times.
 
Archaeologists use technology to probe the earth below without disturbing the ground.
 
The Valley of the Khans project uses advanced visualization and satellite technology to locate the tomb of Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire.
 
The Big Dig
 
Digging is the field work of archaeology. Occasionally, archaeologists might need to move earth with bulldozers and backhoes. Usually, however, they use tools such as brushes, hand shovels, and even toothbrushes to scrape away the earth around artifacts.
 
The most common tool that archaeologists use to dig is a flat trowel, a hand-held shovel used for smoothing as well as digging. Archaeologists use trowels to slowly scrape away soil.
 
For very small or delicate remains, archaeologists might also dig with dental picks, spoons, or very fine blades. Often, they will sift dirt through a fine mesh screen, and find tiny objects like beads.
 
Archaeologists take lots of notes and photographs along each step of the process. Sometimes they include audio and video recordings. Global positioning system (GPS) units and data from geographic information systems (GIS) help them map the location.
 
When archaeologists find remains, they are often broken or damaged after hundreds or even thousands of years underground. Sunlight, rain, soil, animals, bacteria, and other natural processes can cause artifacts to erode, rust, rot, break and warp
 
Sometimes, however, they can help preserve materials. For example, sediments from floods or volcanic eruptions can encase materials and preserve them.
 
An glacier">Alpine glacier preserved the body of a man for more than 5,300 years. The person who discovered the "Iceman" in the Alps thought he was a recent murder victim. Forensic archaeologists studying his body were surprised to learn that he was a murder victim — the crime just took place more than 5,000 years ago.
 
Uncovered Artifacts
 
As artifacts are uncovered, the archaeological team records every step of the process through photos, drawings, and notes. Once the artifacts have been completely removed, they are cleaned, labeled and classified.
 
Particularly fragile or damaged artifacts are sent to a conservator, who have special training in preserving and restoring artifacts.
 
Then the artifacts are sent to a lab for analysis, usually the most time-consuming part of archaeology.
 
When did people develop tools, and how did they use them? What did they use to make clothing and what did their clothing styles mean? What did they eat? Did they live in large groups or smaller family units? Did they trade with people from other regions? Were they warlike or peaceful? What were their religious practices? Archaeologists ask all of these questions and more.
 
The scientists write up their findings and publish them in scientific journals. Other scientists can look at the data and argue over the interpretations, which helps us get the most accurate story. The public also learns what scientists are discovering about our history.
 
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.