Archaeology

How is archaeology related to anthropology?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. Archaeology and anthropology share many similarities. Archaeology is the branch of science dedicated to the search, discovery and interpretation of material remains left behind by humans. Anthropology is the study of all aspects of human beings, including their evolution and relationship to other animals, especially primates. The former often informs the latter by revealing cultural, physical and social components of prehistoric cultures. In this respect, archaeology can be considered a sub-discipline of anthropology.

    In a really broad sense, you could look at it as anthropology being all about us and archaeology being all about our stuff. So it's natural that the two disciplines will often complement each other and cross-pollinate. It would be hard to understand a people without any knowledge of their stuff, and vice versa. Anthropology also is often broken out into areas such as cultural anthropology, physical anthropology and linguistics.

    Curiously, the question hangs in some peoples' minds about what the future holds for anthropology and archaeology's position within it. We live in an increasingly homogeneous world, and distinctions between cultures are growing fainter by the day. For a simple example, many people, the world over, have an iPod or one of its technological cousins. What would those iPods, if excavated from a long-dead city 1,000 years from now, tell a future civilization about us? Given such an increasing sameness in the world, will anthropology and its sub-disciplines become, effectively, obsolete? In a paper for the American Anthropological Association, the National Park Service's David G. Anderson argues otherwise. "Anthropology will endure and prevail, and archaeology will remain and important part of it," Anderson writes. "Anthropology is about people and culture, and archaeology is the best and only way to understand the lives and cultures of the vast majority of people who have ever lived [source: Anderson, D.G.]."

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