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Archaeological Methods and Techniques
Progress Into The Past: How Archaeologists Work 

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The mystery and intrigue of human existence on earth has captured our collective imagination for millennia. As we wonder at the marvel of the human experience, at the same time we ponder the journey that our ancestors took before us. Prior to the end of the 19th Century, basic understanding was limited to myth rather than reality; speculation instead of science. With these so-called “facts” in hand, people, in their quest to understand the past, resorted to “examination” of ancient sites. However, today we realize that this was nothing more than pot hunting and grave-robbing.

At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries, archaeology as a true science began to develop. Methods of scientific inquiry, analysis and documentation began to be applied to the previously random digging of holes. The need for accurate means of controlled excavation, recording and documenting, were seen as essentials if the findings were to be taken seriously. In addition, the necessity of inviting scholars of other disciplines to take part, with their expertise, was recognized as being of paramount importance as well. Hence, collaborative endeavors that bring in geography, geology, paleontology, botany, metallurgy, numismatics, osteology, etc. would become the rule rather than the exception.

This series will examine the discipline of archaeology with a focus on the methods developed for the ancient world. After all, here is where the origins of civilization may be found, as well as the origin of the methodology of excavation. The key to remember, though, is the uniformity of method and technique no matter where one excavates.

- Progress into the Past: the history of archaeological fieldwork in the Near East.

- Types of archaeological sites, the survey and dig preparations.

- The actual digging process.

- Documentation, recording, analysis and preservation.


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