Monday, August 16, 2004

Wikinfo | Archaeology

Wikinfo | Archaeology This si the Wikinfo article on archaeology. It is a good starting spot when looking for information on archaeology related topics.

From the site:

Archaeology (or archeology) is the study of human cultures through the analysis of material remains (such as Architecture, Artifacts, biofacts, the human body, Landscapes). Archaeology is the primary means for reconstructing the human past when there is no written record (generally, more than 5,000 years ago), when the written record is incomplete, or when the written record is biased.

The material remains of human activity often have aesthetic, political, and monetary value. Consequently, many people identify archaeology with the collection of political or economic treasures. This is promulgated, for example, in popular movies dealing with the exploits of fictional archaeologists, e.g. Indiana Jones or the archaeologists in the recent film The Mummy and those in the book King Solomon's Mines. (For more, see this list of movies that include archaeologists or archaeology in the plot.) It is also promulgated by some high profile amateur archaeologists, including Graham Hancock searching for the Ark of the Covenant (as Indiana did) or Erich Von Daniken (author of "Chariot of the Gods"), but other archaeologists refer to these endeavors as pseudoarchaeology.

Archaeology is a much broader field than suggested by these common conceptions. For example, ethnoarcheologists contribute to the study of contemporary societies. One branch of archaeology that is not usually associated with academic archaeologists is Cultural Resources Management (CRM). Among the goals of CRM are the identification, preservation, and maintenance of cultural sites on public and private lands, and the removal of culturally valuable materials from areas where they would otherwise be destroyed (such as construction sites or dam-flooded areas). CRM is a thriving entity, especially in the United States and Europe where archaeologists from private companies and all levels of government engage in the practice of their discipline. In the United States, CRM archaeology has been a growing concern since the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and most of the archaeology done in that country today proceeds from either direct or related requirements of that measure. In the United States, the vast majority of taxpayers, scholars, and politicians believe that CRM has helped to preserve much of that nation's history and prehistory that would have otherwise been lost in the expansion of cities, dams, and highways.

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