Portal:Archaeology

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The 3,000-year-old remains of Ancient Rome in Italy are being excavated and mapped by these archaeologists.

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe it is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.

Archaeologists study human prehistory and history, from the development of the first stone tools at Lomekwi in East Africa 3.3 million years ago up until recent decades. Archaeology is distinct from palaeontology, which is the study of fossil remains. It is particularly important for learning about prehistoric societies, for whom there may be no written records to study. Prehistory includes over 99% of the human past, from the Paleolithic until the advent of literacy in societies across the world. Archaeology has various goals, which range from understanding culture history to reconstructing past lifeways to documenting and explaining changes in human societies through time.

The discipline involves surveying, excavation and eventually analysis of data collected to learn more about the past. In broad scope, archaeology relies on cross-disciplinary research. It draws upon anthropology, history, art history, classics, ethnology, geography, geology, literary history, linguistics, semiology, sociology, textual criticism, physics, information sciences, chemistry, statistics, paleoecology, paleography, paleontology, paleozoology, and paleobotany.

Archaeology developed out of antiquarianism in Europe during the 19th century, and has since become a discipline practiced across the world. Archaeology has been used by nation-states to create particular visions of the past. Since its early development, various specific sub-disciplines of archaeology have developed, including maritime archaeology, feminist archaeology and archaeoastronomy, and numerous different scientific techniques have been developed to aid archaeological investigation. Nonetheless, today, archaeologists face many problems, such as dealing with pseudoarchaeology, the looting of artifacts, a lack of public interest, and opposition to the excavation of human remains.

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Northern Song in 1111
The Song dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960–1279 CE; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, and was followed by the Yuan dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese polity to establish a permanent standing navy. The population of China doubled in size during the 10th and 11th centuries. This growth came through expanded rice cultivation in central and southern China, the use of early-ripening rice from southeast and southern Asia, and the production of abundant food surpluses. Within its borders, the Northern Song dynasty had a population of some 100 million people. This dramatic increase of population fomented and fueled an economic revolution in premodern China. The expansion of the population was partially the cause for the gradual withdrawal of the central government from heavily regulating the market economy. A much larger populace also increased the importance of the lower gentry's role in grassroots administration and maintaining local affairs, while the appointed officials in county and provincial centers relied upon these scholarly gentry for their services, sponsorship, and local supervision. The Song Dynasty is divided into two distinct periods: the Northern Song and Southern Song. During the Northern Song , the Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) and the dynasty controlled most of inner China. The Southern Song refers to the period after the Song lost control of northern China to the Jin dynasty. During this time, the Song court retreated south of the Yangtze river and established their capital at Lin'an (now Hangzhou). Although the


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Photo of the Terracotta Army
Credit: Maros M r a z (Maros)

The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife.

Archaeology News

10 July 2019 – 2019 in archaeology
Paleoanthropologists announce, through the Nature journal, that a human skull (Apidima 1) discovered inside a cave in Greece, is dated to 210,000 years ago, making it the oldest known Homo sapiens individual found outside of Africa. (BBC) (Nature)

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