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For the most part, the only things that survive are durable items such as potsherds (small fragments of pottery), tools or buildings of stone, bones, and teeth (which survive because they are covered with hard enamel).
Because many items disintegrate over time, archaeologists get an incomplete view of the past that they must fill in with other kinds of information and educated reasoning.
Archeology is the scientific study of past human culture and behavior, from the origins of humans to the present.
Archaeology studies past human behavior through the examination of material remains of previous human societies.
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.
Archaeologists have documented that the development of agriculture took place about 10,000 years ago.
For example, fabrics and flowers were found in the celebrated tomb of Tutankhamun, an Egyptian pharaoh who was buried in 1323 BC.
Archaeological research spans the entire development of phenomena that are unique to humans.
For instance, archaeology tells the story of when people learned to bury their dead and developed beliefs in an afterlife.
Archaeology also examines many of the same topics explored by historians.
But unlike historythe study of written records such as government archives, personal correspondence, and business documentsmost of the information gathered in archaeology comes from the study of objects lying on or under the ground Archaeologists refer to the vast store of information about the human past as the archaeological record.