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 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 practiced 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.
According to the overall definition given here based on methodological and theoretical aspects classical archaeology or egyptology as well as medieval archaeology are disciplines of historical archaeology. In practice however - mainly in the Americas - historical archaeology refers to the modern, post-1492 period, which in Europe is often referred to as postmedieval archaeology.
Notable historical archaeology sites
- African Burial Ground National Monument, New York City
- Annapolis, Maryland
- Brunswick Town Historic District
- 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
- Moundville Archaeological Site, Alabama
- Prather Site, Indiana
- San Estevan (Maya site), Ohio
- Tule Springs Archaeological Site, Nevada
- Kreilich Archaeological Site, Missouri
- West Point Foundry Archaeological Site, New York
Notable historical archaeologists
- "Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology".
- "The Society for Historical Archaeology".
- "The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology".
- "Historische Archäologie".
- Connah, Grahame. 1988 "Of the hut I builded" The archaeology of Australia's history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Deetz, James (1991). "Archaeological Evidence of Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century Encounters," in Historical Archaeology in Global Perspective, ed. Lisa Falk. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Deetz, James (1996) . In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life. New York: Anchor.
- Hume, Ivor Noël (1968). Historical Archaeology: A Comprehensive Guide for Both Amateurs and Professionals to the Techniques and Methods of Excavating Historical Sites. New York: Knopf.
- 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.
- Majewski, Teresita; Gaimster, David (2009). International handbook of historical archaeology. New York: Springer.