Archaeology Then and Now

I was struck by the reading from Bard’s book this week and her discussion of the growth of Egyptian Archaeology. Things that seem like common sense to me now took years for early archaeologists to make a standard part of excavation. The fact that pottery was once thrown out as useless is mind-blowing to me.  These archaeologists came in seeking things of monetary value and didn’t see all artifacts from the past as having intrinsic value. The scientific thoroughness of modern archaeology seems the only way to do the past justice, and I have a hard time understanding the mindset of those first explorers.

The discussion of these modern methods and the way archaeology has expanded to include other disciplines really opened my eyes to the complexity of a site. In order for a scientific approach to be applied accurately, it only makes sense that a lot of different factors would have to be taken into account. I didn’t know that specialties like zooarchaeology and geoarchaeology existed. Such specific disciplines could help date or add context to artifacts that couldn’t be fully explained previously.

I can’t imagine all the complexities that must go into collaborations between all these specialists for one site. If each specialist were used to a certain approach and a certain language of analysis, it would take careful communication for all of the specialists to come to a consensus about the meaning of any discovery. Compiling all the facts together would be quite an undertaking to cover all of the details that are now available to a team spanning many disciplines. I am curious to see what other specialties will continue to pop up to fill in gaps of knowledge in the archaeological record. What will form next to fill a need in the field of archaeology? It makes me excited to consider what new understandings we could reach if people from many different walks of life took an interest in archaeological finds and put their own specific talents to work in decoding enigmas from the past.