Analytical methods for document dating
Archaeology also examines many of the same topics explored by historians.But unlike historythe study of written records such as government archives, personal correspondence, and business documentsmost of the information gathered in archaeology comes from the study of objects lying on or under the ground Archaeologists refer to the vast store of information about the human past as the archaeological record.
Archaeology studies past human behavior through the examination of material remains of previous human societies.With its focus on the ancient past, archaeology somewhat resembles paleontologythe study of fossils of long-extinct animals, such as dinosaurs.However, archaeology is distinct from paleontology and studies only past human life.For the most part, the only things that survive are durable items such as potsherds (small fragments of pottery), tools or buildings of stone, bones, and teeth (which survive because they are covered with hard enamel).Because many items disintegrate over time, archaeologists get an incomplete view of the past that they must fill in with other kinds of information and educated reasoning.The earliest subjects of archaeological study date from the origins of humanity.
These include fossil remains believed to be of human ancestors who lived 3.5 million to 4.5 million years ago.
The archeological record encompasses every area of the world that has ever been occupied by humans, as well as all of the material remains contained in those areas.
Archaeologists study the archaeological record through field surveys and excavations and through the laboratory study of collected materials.
Archaeologists have documented that the development of agriculture took place about 10,000 years ago.
Early domesticationthe planting and harvesting of plants and the breeding and herding of animalsis evident in such places as the ancient settlement of Jericho in Jordan and in Tehuacn Valley in Mexico.
Laetoli even reveals footprints of humans from 3.6 million years ago.