Archaeology

What is Physical Anthropology



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Archaeology, or Physical Anthropology, is one of the four branches of Anthropology, which is, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, "the scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans". The other three branches of Anthropology include Cultural Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, and Forensic Anthropology.




Within archaeology, there are quite a few sub-disciplines, mostly categorized by a focus on a specific time period, geographical region, or an overall theme. Many of these are detailed below.




TIME PERIOD FOCUS

Historical Archaeology This is the study of civilizations that had a system of writing, and therefore left behind a written record. Not only does this include ancient Middle Eastern and Egyptian societies, but also the study of more modern cultures, including our own.




Prehistoric Archaeology This is the study of civilizations that had no system of writing, and therefore left no economic or social records. These cultures are studied mainly through the physical remains (artifacts) they left behind.




Industrial Archaeology This is the study of the Industrial Revolution; the preservation of its artifacts, and the study of the history of work.




Medieval Archaeology This is the study of post-Roman Europe through the 15th century.




Post-medieval Archaeology This is the study of Europe from the 16th century to today.




Modern Archaeology This is the study of modern societies, like our own, using archaeological methods and tools.




GEOGRAPHICAL FOCUS

Assyriology This is the study of the civilizations of ancient Assyria, or Mesopotamia.




Phoeniciology This is the study of the civilizations of ancient Phoenicia (the region around modern-day Lebanon).




Classical Archaeology This is the study of ancient Greece and Rome.




Egyptology This is the study of Dynastic Egypt.




Middle Eastern or Biblical Archaeology This sub-discipline overlaps a couple of the other sub-disciplines in that it focus on the study of the locations and occurances detailed in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Its focus can stretch from modern-day Iran (Persia) to Egypt.




THEME FOCUS

Ethnoarchaeology This is the study of a modern society that resembles an extinct one in order to draw conclusions about the extinct one.




Taphonomy This is the study of how artifacts that cultures leave behind degrade over time. This sub-discipline is useful to most of the other disciplines because they generally base most of their conclusions on physical artifacts of some type.




Archaeoastronomy This is the study of ancient buildings and monuments and their relationship to astronomical alignments. An example of this is the study of the Pyramids at Giza and their alignment with the cardinal points.




Archaeozoology This is the study of animal remains discovered within human settlements. This study can tell researchers what types of animals lived in the area, and what animals were food sources for the humans.




Archaeobotany This is the study of the plant remains discovered within human settlements. Like Archaeozoology, this sub-discipline illuminates the types of plants in existence in that time period, and which the culture used as food sources.




Battlefield Archaeology This is the study of conflict and war by examining the sites using archeological principles.




Environmental Archaeology This is the study of the long-term relationship between humans and their environment. It focus on the impacts the studied culture made on their environment, and vice versa.




Forensic Archaeology This is also known as Forensic Anthropology, one of the four branches of Anthropology. It is the application of archaeological tools and principles assist in solving crimes.




Landscape Archaeology This is the study of archaeological sites as components of a wider geographic area.




Maritime or Marine Archaeology This is the study of underwater archaeological sites, such as shipwrecks or submerged human settlements.




Paleopathology This is the study of ancient diseases of both humans and animals as evidenced from skeletal remains.




Cognitive Archaeology This is the study of the how humans think about gender, race, social class and status, and kinship through physical artifacts, like art.




Commercial Archaeology This is the study of the material aspects of a culture, such as its commerce, areas, and methods of transportation.




Economic Archaeology This is the study of how civilizations control economic resources, especially their food supplies.




Experimental Archaeology This is the study of past processes, conducted by reconstructing those processes. The most common form of this sub-discipline is flint-knapping, the process of creating stone tools by chipping away the stone.




Paleontology This is the study of the Eath before humans appeared, most notably by studying dinosaur bones.




SOURCES

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeological_sub-disciplines

http://archaeology.about.com/od/archaeology101/tp/subfields.htm

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