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History of Archaeology: The Series

The History of the Science of Archaeology


The history of archaeology is a long and checkered one. If there is anything archaeology teaches us, it is to look to the past to learn from our mistakes and, if we can find any, our successes. What we today think of as the science of archaeology has its roots in religion and treasure hunting, and born out of centuries of curiosity about the past and where we all came from.
  • Part 1: The Treasure Hunters
  • The beginning of the series on the History of Archaeology, covering the roots (and loot) of archaeology in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Part 2: You Call This Enlightenment?
  • The first tentative step forward towards archaeology as a science took place during the Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason. Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries was a time of great growth in scientific and natural exploration, and it was a crucial leap forward in the history of archaeology.
  • Part 3: The Tyranny of the Text
  • Is the bible fact or fiction? This question is at the absolute heart of the history of archaeology, central to the growth and development of archaeology, and it is the one that gets more archaeologists into trouble than any other.
  • Part 4: The Biologist, the Geologist, and the Museum Director
  • By the beginning of the 19th century, the museums of Europe were beginning to be inundated with relics from all over the world. Museums all over Europe, were simply becoming overrun with artifacts, from all over the world, completely lacking in order. Something had to be done.
  • Part 5: The Development of Method
  • The real increases towards the techniques and methodology of what we think of as modern archaeology were primarily the work of three scholars: Heinrich Schliemann, Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, and William Flinders Petrie.
  • Bibliography
  • A list of books and articles about archaeology's history for your own research.

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