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How could handchipped stones, ancient ruins, old broken dishes, and antiquated garbage help students learn about the world and themselves? Within archaeology, these seemingly irrelevant items can enlighten students about the world around them through science, culture, and history. By using archaeology in the classroom, educators can lead students on learning adventures while engaging them in thinking about life in the past and who we are as humans today. This Digest discusses (1) the discipline of archaeology, (2) archaeology in the classroom, and (3) resources for teaching archaeology.
THE DISCIPLINE OF ARCHAEOLOGY.
Archaeology is one of four subfields of anthropology; the others are cultural anthropology, linguistics, and physical anthropology.
Archaeology is the scientific study of past human cultures through their physical remains. By studying the remains of objects people created in the past, archaeologists can understand how those people lived and interacted with each other. Prehistoric archaeologists study cultures without written histories. Historical archaeologists study cultures with written records, and usually focus on the diffusion of those cultures throughout the world.
The archaeological process begins well before an archaeologist moves the first shovel of dirt. Archaeologists first develop questions about past life that they want to answer. They base these questions in the social sciences and seek answers through scientific methods.