Historical archaeology is a form of archaeology dealing with places, things, and issues from the past or present when written records and oral traditions can inform and contextualize cultural material. These records can both complement and conflict with the archaeological evidence found at a particular site. Studies tend to focus on literate, historical-period societies as opposed to non-literate, prehistoric societies. While they may not have generated the records, the lives of people for whom there was little need for written records, such as the working class, slaves, indentured labourers, and children but who live in the historical period can also be the subject of study. The sites are found on land and underwater. Industrial archaeology, unless practised at industrial sites from the prehistoric era, is a form of historical archaeology concentrating on the remains and products of industry and the Industrial era. It should be noted that some scholars believe historical archaeology starts ca 1400 CE and goes up to the present day instead of covering all written history .
Historical Archaeology was, for the most part, started in the United States of America by the Antiquities Act in 1906 which preserved and allowed for the restoration of historical sites across America. According to Charles E. Orser Jr, historical archaeology may have started in the 1700's with Thomas Jefferson's work on Native American burial mounds, but was not documented well enough to be considered credible, though it did pave the way for the field to grow in the Untied states. According to the Society for American Archaeology, The field was pioneered by J. C. Harrington at Jamestown, Virginia in 1935. The field at the time was used mainly to restore historical sites and was sometimes referred to as "public Archaeology." Colonial sites are the main focus of historical archaeology in the USA, but it is not limited to just colonial and revolutionary time periods, it can encompass any historical era between colonial America to the present time.
Historical Archaeology in Europe is the study of cultures through material remains from periods of written records. This would encompass anything from ancient Greece to modern day or the renaissance to modern day, depending on the scholar. some places such as ancient Celtic areas that had little to no writing would not encompass this field.
the Flordia Museum of Natural History contains finds from the period of 1550-1680, objects such as pottery and crosses, these would be very common finds for the period.
Another find for historical archaeology is the body of Richard III who's body was found in 2012.
objects such as the Terracotta Warriors
Notable historical archaeology sites
- Colony of Avalon, Ferryland, Newfoundland & Labrador
- African Burial Ground National Monument, New York City
- Annapolis, Maryland
- Jamestown, Virginia
- Monticello, Virginia
- Mount Vernon, Virginia
- Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts
- St. Mary's City, Maryland
- Sully Historic Site, Virginia
- Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
- Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, North Carolina
Notable historical archaeologists
- "Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology".
- "The Society for Historical Archaeology".
- "The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology".
- "Historische Archäologie".
- Historical Archaeology
- Society for American Archaeology
- Connah, Grahame. 1988 "Of the hut I builded" The archaeology of Australia's history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Deetz, James (1996) . In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life. New York: Anchor.
- Orser, Jr., Charles E. (2002). Encyclopedia of Historical Archaeology. London and New York: Routledge.
- Orser, Jr., Charles E. (2004). Historical Archaeology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
- M. Hall and S. Silliman (eds) 2006. Historical Archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Hicks, Dan and Mary C. Beaudry (eds) (2006). The Cambridge Companion to Historical Archaeology. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- South, Stanley (1977). Method and Theory in Historical Archaeology. Academic Press.
- Gaimster, David (2009). International handbook of historical archaeology. New York: Springer.
- "Penn Museum - Historical Archaeology." Penn Museum - Historical Archaeology. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2015
- "Historical Archaeology by Charles E. Orser." Historical Archaeology. Oxford Bibliographies, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.
- Pykles, Benjamin C. "A BRIEF HISTORY OF HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE UNITED STATES." A BRIEF HISTORY OF HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE UNITED STATES. Society for American Archaeology, May 2008. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.