The Difference between Anthropology and Archaeology Explained

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"The Difference between Anthropology and Archaeology Explained"
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People have always been fascinated by the things that they dig up and if that artifact or source can be linked to the human experience, then all the better, it makes for an interesting perspective and we humans are always ready to enlarge our pan of knowledge gain a better understanding of how we "came to be".

The anthropologist Eric Wolf has described anthropology as "the most scientific of the humanities, and the most humanistic of the sciences." It allows us to view the growth of mankind through a much more complete window of understanding that touches on many disciplines using an enlightened perspective.

Archeology, far from being different to the study of Anthropology it can be seen to be one of the four sub-disciplines of Anthropology, which is the study of people and their biology and culture through the ages:

1. Archeology will analyze the human growth through the recovery and documentation of first degree sources which are artifacts, biofacts, ecofacts, and structures. The field of archeology focuses on asking questions from a source or artifacts that has been recovered through excavation. The answers found to these questions will give us an idea of how humans evolved and lived in our past. Archeology is purely the means to learn more about people from our past who did not leave written descriptions about their ordinary lives. Insight to how people lived and worked can be gained from artifacts, which can be defined as an object that has been adapted, shaped or constructed as a result of human action. This would include tools, weapons, ornaments, pottery and various buildings.

2. Cultural anthropology (also called social anthropology) is used to focus on the behavior, symbolism and the material dimensions of various cultures. It studies social networks and their variances , social behavior, patterns of kinship, law and politics, ideology, religion or beliefs, patterns in production and consumption, socialization, gender, and other expressions of culture with its main credo being the importance of gathering first hand evidence of their field of research. This may mean actually living within the social group whilst they make their observations.

3. The Linguistic anthropologist will study how language is used in society. Anthropological linguistics will concentrate more on the way that language interacts with culture and observe how variation in language across time and space will affect the social uses of language as a whole.

4. Biological or physical anthropology : Includes the study of the behavior of primates, human evolution, osteology, forensics and the genetics of individual populations.

Although archeology can give us valuable insight into the development of the human race and how people lived and died, anthropology fills in the gaps and tries to evaluate the element that raises mankind above the brute beast.

It will investigate the process of "humanization", and by discovering certain patterns of human behavior in our past , will help us to understand how we live, work and approach death in the modern world.

In short, archeology concentrates in building up clues from the past to further our knowledge about our origins as a species, it is used as a useful tool by anthropologists, who go one step further in using these clues to further our knowledge to help us to understand why we behave the way we do and help predict our patterns of development in the modern world

More about this author: Jane Allyson

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