Dating bronze age axe heads
With its focus on the ancient past, archaeology somewhat resembles paleontologythe study of fossils of long-extinct animals, such as dinosaurs.However, archaeology is distinct from paleontology and studies only past human life.
Archaeologists study the archaeological record through field surveys and excavations and through the laboratory study of collected materials.Archaeologists have also recorded how primitive forms of humans spread out of Africa into Asia about 1.8 million years ago, then into Europe about 900,000 years ago.The first physically modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, appeared in tropical Africa between 200,000 and 150,000 years agodates determined by molecular biologists and archaeologists working together.On rare occasions, however, delicate objects have been preserved.For example, fabrics and flowers were found in the celebrated tomb of Tutankhamun, an Egyptian pharaoh who was buried in 1323 BC.Dozens of archaeological sites throughout Asia and Europe show how people migrated from Africa and settled these two continents during the last Ice Age (100,000 to 15,000 years ago).
Archaeological studies have also provided much information about the people who first arrived in the Americas over 12,000 years ago.
Sites containing signs of the first simple but purposeful burials in graves date to as early as 40,000 years ago in Europe and Southwest Asia.
By the time people lived in civilizations, burials and funeral ceremonies had become extremely important and elaborate rituals.
Archaeology became established as a formal discipline in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
At that time, most archaeological work was confined to Europe, to the so-called cradle of civilization in southwestern Asia, and to a few areas of the Americas.
The earliest subjects of archaeological study date from the origins of humanity.