Post-medieval archaeology

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Post-medieval archaeology is a term used in Europe to describe the study of the material past over the last 500 years. Increasingly the field is referred to as Historical archaeology, a term in international usage. It is closely related to Industrial archaeology, although post-medieval archaeology conventionally has not extended its studies past the mid 18th century. Such a 'cut-off' date is increasingly critiqued by work within historical archaeology and contemporary archaeology.

The traditional date for the beginning of the post-medieval period in Britain has been 1485 when, following the Battle of Bosworth the Tudor dynasty took the throne. In practice, the medieval period is now often extended into the reign of the Tudor monarchs and the boundary between the two eras is not precise. As with all attempts to divide the archaeological record into neat chunks, efforts to impose an exact date on the transition are doomed to be questioned by current and new findings.

Given the relatively strong historical record running alongside the archaeological one, post-medieval archaeology is often better positioned to study the effects of known social and political change. The immediacy of the period means that it appeals in fields such as genealogy as well as to students of social history.

Post-medieval sites include Nonsuch Palace in Surrey, The Rose Theatre in London and Fort Amherst in Chatham.

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