Archaeology

Introduction to Archaeological Science



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Wouldn't it be nice to be the one to find that lost tribe in the Envira region of the Amazon forest? Wouldn't it be exciting if you were the one who will open a 3,000-year old sarcophagus inside an Egyptian tomb? And wouldn't it be exhilarating to discover sunken Greek treasures? These are just a few of the adventures of archaeologists. But what if you don't have the Indiana Jones type of personality? Is there room for you in the science of archaeology? Yes there is. Broadly defined, archaeology is the study of past cultures. But there are six different aspects of culture. These are government, economics, religion and spiritual beliefs, arts and crafts, learning and technology, and family life and community. How these aspects are studied and which culture is investigated lead to a wide range of specialties in archaeology.

For example, you might be fascinated with the myth of Atlantis, which is supposedly underneath Antarctica. Was it really a myth? Perhaps it was. But the idea of submerged cities exists. In fact, there are many submerged cities to choose from, such as Menouthis and Herakleion, two submerged cities in the Mediterranean off the northern coast of Egypt. There is also a submerged city in the Gulf of Cambay on the western coast of India and there are submerged pyramids in Yonaguni-Jima, an island in south Japan. In south America, there have been theories of a submerged city in the Yucatan Channel.

What were the cultures of these submerged cities before they were lost? To find answers to this archaeological question, your approach may involve radiocarbon dating and isotope analysis. This will reveal that the submerged city in India was more than 9,000 years old. Was there a political structure that existed then? A dive into the submerged city would show relatively sophisticated pottery in the scattered village settlements. If there was a political structure in that ancient culture, it may not be centralized.

Your approach in studying submerged cities may involve an examination of the materials that were utilized in the building of the structures of these submerged cities. You will discover that the underwater pyramids in Yonaguni-Jima and the pyramids in Cairo were built differently. The Cairo pyramids were built by piling huge blocks of stones on each other. The Japanese pyramids were built by carving out steps and sculptures out of an already existing natural structure. What do these differences reflect on the present cultures of the Egyptians and the Japanese? Is there a link between the building of this pyramid and the Japanese shintoism? Shintoism is a religion that emphasizes harmony with nature.

And finally, your approach would be a study of how the peoples of the past cultures interacted with each other. The proximity of Menouthis and Herakleion may have resulted to trading between the two cities. But which city had a better economy? If the complexity of an economic structure is related to the length of existence of a civilization, the submerged megalithic ruins in the Yucatan channel could have been the remains of a progressive society. Unfortunately, the size and exact location of this submerged city is still unknown. The sole source of information are computer models.

Entering the field of archaeological sciences is similar to entering a portal to ancient worlds. The type of adventure you will have will be dictated by the questions you need to answer and the approach you will take.

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