Branches of Archaeology

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Archeology is a sub-field of anthropology (the study of humankind). It is often defined as the branch of anthropology that studies prehistoric people and their cultures. Archeologists use the methods of survey, excavation, analysis, and virtual archaeology to gain knowledge on these peoples and their cultures. To many peoples surprise, there are some very specific sub-branches of archeology. While this list could be endless, here are some of the more popular sub-branches:

*Urban Archeology

Oftentimes, such as in the city of London, old buildings are torn down and new buildings are built on top of them. This process can go on for many centuries in cities that have been around since ancient times, leading to a huge amount of potential knowledge of ancient cultures underneath current urban areas. It is the urban archeologists’ job to discovery these things while dodging the problems of excavating a site in a currently functioning city.


This field of archeology is also known as archaeological science. Archaeometry deals with archaeology along with the application of scientific methods and techniques. These techniques can include yet are not limited to radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology, artifact analysis, mathematical methods, remote-sensing, microscopes, and environmental studies. This field gained popularity with the global warming threat and greenhouse gasses threat, which caused many archeologists to use ice cores and study the air bubbles in them. The analysis of these air balls led to knowledge of the climates of civilizations.

*Classical Archaeology

This is type of archeology that we are most familiar with due to movies and pop culture. They mainly involve the studies of the most civilized cultures of the world. The most popular of these include the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations.


The goal of ethno-archeology is to link the past with the present. This involves anthropology and studies of evolution. This may coincide with some psychological studies, such as humans natural fears.

*Environmental Archaeology

Like the name implies, this study mostly interprets the ancient environments of peoples and cultures. These studies are applies to archeological principles. Methods include carbon dating, soil science, sediments, pollens, diatoms, and other environment related archaeological factors. This includes field study and lab experiments.

*Historical Archaeology:

This branch of archaeology includes the study of ancient history based on historical sites, artifacts and other historical documents that help in arranging the cultural chronology of ancient historic times. It is more or less similar to biblical archaeology that encompasses the study based on written records. It is to be noted that historical records are not always correct and hence, it should be supplemented with other evidences.

The field of archeology is vast, and it’s discoveries affect our lives every day. While these disciplines may seem drastically discipline, they all have similar goals and seek the same type of knowledge. The career opportunities of archaeology are endless, and do not be fooled into thinking that it is a bland profession.

More about this author: Alan Parker

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