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Lecture 1

CLASSICS 1A03 Lecture 1: Lecture 1

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Michele George

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1 Chapter 1: The Discipline of Archaeology; The Bronze Age in the Mediterranean September 8 2016 What is Archaeology?  Study of past cultures through the materials they made and left behind  Culture = human behaviour, beliefs (Why we do what we do, determines behaviour)  How to discover this from ancient societies? Human Culture Produces things  Material culture  Non-text based culture, although texts can be useful (true of classical archaeology)  Must navigate a course, know when text helps, or contradicts, or what agenda it has  Includes small things: tools, weapons,  Includes bigger things: architecture, roads etc.  Useful for archaeologists – obtained through excavation (digging + recording + interpreting) What is an archaeology site?  Anywhere humans left remains What do you find?  Features: Fixed objects not easily removed e.g. buildings, graves, walls, shrines, structures, drains, hearths (where you burn), kilns (pottery)  Artifacts: Things that can be easily moved e.g. pottery, glass, bones, toys, tools What is context  Huge critical dimension to understand  Association of artifacts and features found in a particular area of excavation or layer, and the relative position and relationship of this area or layer to the ones above and below it  The context of archaeological finds is what allows us to interpret them and to understand their function and meaning  All material culture is of interest from cheap to expensive, because it tells us something about human activity and human value systems Goal of archaeology  To reconstruct past of different cultures  Prehistoric archaeologists = no text  Historical archeologists = many written texts (e.g. archives, diaries)  Archaeology is divided by culture and by period 2  Egyptian (by culture over many centuries)  Mediaeval (by period e.g. a shorter historical period)  Classical archaeology = to reconstruct the societies that flourished in the central and western Mediterranean The Archaeological Process  Must deconstruct to reconstruct  Excavation destroys the layers of deposited materials as it goes further down  Documentation of what is found is essential  Excavators have day books – record the day, what you found, record level depth etc.  Without a record it is only destruction Where to dig and how do you know?  Ancient texts  Modern scientific tools  Aerial photography  Remote sensing e.g. GPS – Global Positioning System  Ground penetrating radar (electromagnetic radiation using a magnetometer)  Digging is expensive and timely – must be justifiable  Core – where you must start, be careful, ploy and plan  Archaeology survey e.g. discovery of surface debris The principals Behind excavation  Material – earth, garbage etc. is deposited gradually over time on top of a site  In order to understand accurately what happened, excavation must proceed slowly and carefully
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