Portal:Archaeology

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Archaeology portal

The 2,000-year-old remains of Ancient Rome in Italy are being excavated and mapped by these archaeologists.

Archaeology is the science that studies human cultures through the recovery, documentation, analysis and presentation of material remains and environmental data, including architecture, artifacts, features, biofacts, and landscapes.

The goals of archaeology vary, and there is debate as to what its aims and responsibilities are. Some goals include the documentation and explanation of the origins and development of human cultures, understanding culture history, chronicling cultural evolution, and studying human behavior and ecology, for both prehistoric and historic societies. Archaeologists are also concerned with the study of methods used in the discipline, and the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings underlying the questions archaeologists ask of the past. The tasks of surveying areas in order to find new sites, excavating sites in order to recover cultural remains, classification, analysis, and preservation are all important phases of the archaeological process. These are all important sources of information. Given the broad nature of the discipline there is a great deal of cross-disciplinary research in archaeology. It draws upon anthropology, history, art history, classics, ethnology, geography, physics, information sciences, chemistry, statistics, paleoecology, paleontology, paleozoology, paleoethnobotany, paleobotany .

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Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty. Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician, astronomer, meteorologist, geologist, zoologist, botanist, pharmacologist, agronomist, archaeologist, ethnographer, cartographer, encyclopedist, general, diplomat, hydraulic engineer, inventor, academy chancellor, finance minister, governmental state inspector, poet, and musician. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality. At court his political allegiance was to the Reformist faction known as the New Policies Group, headed by Chancellor Wang Anshi. In his Dream Pool Essays of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for navigation. Shen discovered the concept of true north in terms of magnetic declination towards the north pole, with experimentation of suspended magnetic needles and "the improved meridian determined by Shen’s astronomical measurement of the distance between the polestar and true north". This was the decisive step in human history to make compasses more useful for navigation, and may have been a concept unknown in Europe for another four hundred years. Alongside his colleague Wei Pu, Shen accurately mapped the orbital paths of the moon and the planets, in an intensive five-year project that rivaled the later work of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe.


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Treasury of Athens
Credit: Sam Korn

The Treasury of Athens is a building at Delphi, the holiest of Ancient Greek sites and shrine to the god Apollo. It was built to commemorate the Athenians' victory at the Battle of Marathon. It is one of a number of such treasuries, built by the various states—those overseas as well as those on the mainland—to commemorate victories and to thank the oracle for advice important to those victories. The Athenians had previously been given the advice by the oracle to put their faith in their "wooden walls" – taking this advice to mean their navy, they won a famous battle at Salamis.

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