Archaeology: A Humanistic Science

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Archaeology: A Humanistic Science When most people think of archaeology, they think of fedora wearing, Indiana Jones' types who are frequently subjected to incredible adventures in search of lost treasures. In reality, archaeology is less treasure hunting and more focused on being responsible for reconstructing the life ways of past societies and their cultures. From the excavations in Pompeii, to the unearthing of the tomb of the most famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun, our knowledge of human history has advanced greatly thanks to archaeological discoveries of numerous magnitudes. While the discipline of archaeology can without a doubt be considered a humanistic one due to its contributions to our understanding of the past, the methods utilized in…show more content…
In order to demonstrate this fact of the matter, it is best to examine archaeology as a humanity and as science as separate aspects, and then combine the two approaches for the purpose of bridging the gap between the common belief that there is either science method or a humanities method way to go about archaeological research. Humanities, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, are the area of learning that pertains to human culture, especially the aspects of literature, history, music, art, and philosophy. Accordingly, archaeology can trace its beginnings to the Renaissance era Europeans that were fascinated with the art of the ancient Greeks and Romans. (Daniel) This led to scores of affluent men eager to finance excavations in order to find and collect ancient works of art. Although archaeology is nowhere near the art collecting preoccupied subject that it used to be, the start what is considered to be the archaeology that is known today was supported by Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion into Egypt. Bonaparte brought scholars who cataloged the relics and other discoveries made during his…show more content…
Before an artifact is presented for analysis, it was forgotten somewhere waiting for somebody to come across it. According to American Antiquity, "archaeological research depends on systematic collection of material objects together with adequate records of the circumstances of the finds and relationships among other objects and their surroundings." (American Antiquity 1961) In other words, the primary context in which the artifact is found of the utmost importance. As soon as the artifact is removed from its context, it has lost its value and is reduced to being simply an object. (Professor Valdez, personal communication 2018) Thus, the methods implemented in the collection of material objects need to be executed thoroughly as possible. Archaeology is done in phases, like any other scientific project. For the most part, the phases can be expressed as asking questions, forming a hypothesis, gather data, and analyze the data in order to assess the results. In regard to the asking questions phase, there are two significant types to be asked: descriptive and processual. (Peregrine 2017) Descriptive questions consist of asking who, what, where, why, and/or when, while processual questions are more concerned with asking about the process of change that a culture undergoes over time. Once there is

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