Our class has learned a variety of interesting facts about British history over the course of this semester through readings and videos. Throughout this academic year I have been enrolled in a number of European history courses, so I had some background knowledge of British history coming into this course. An aspect of history that had not necessarily been discussed in my prior classes was the archaeological history of Britain. One of the books that we were assigned to read is entitled Discovering Archaeology in England and Wales. I found this book to be very interesting, since archaeology is possibly a field that I would like to be involved with in the future. Now, a little history on archaeology:
The first known archaeological excavations began hundreds of years before Christ by an Assyrian princess known as Ennigaldi-Nanna. She then gathered her finds to create a museum near present-day Iraq. William Cunnington of Heytesbury was a leading archaeologist in the eighteenth century, as he appreciated archaeological digs as a way of obtaining answers to questions of earlier civilizations instead of just obtaining objects to include in collections. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Augustus Lane Fox, or Pitt-Rivers, changed excavation methods for archaeologists to follow.
Rapid growth and development of urban areas caused a crisis during the mid twentieth century for archaeologists. Since these areas were being developed so quickly, there was little time to perform excavations, causing historical sites to be destroyed. In order to prevent any further disasters like this, years later Rescue was founded in 1971. This organization was established in order to help raise awareness of the destruction of historical sites and landmarks. In 1990, the PPG16, or the Planning Policy Guidance Note number 16, was put into place in order to help preserve historical and archaeological sites.
There are many different methods that archaeologists use, with aerial photography being one of them. Aerial photography helps archaeologists to reveal certain aspects of archaeological sites, such as shadows, soil markings, and crop markings. Archaeologists also use several methods in order to date certain artifacts that they may uncover. These dating methods include radiocarbon dating, potassium argon dating, and archaeomagnetic dating. Gravesites can also be very useful to archaeologists. For one, depending on the goods buried within a grave, archaeologists are able to distinguish whether it is the grave of a male or female. Men were usually buried with weapons, while women were buried with beads. Archaeologists can also determine what ancient civilizations or time era a grave is from depending on its contents, or how a person was positioned in their grave when they were buried.
Archaeology is a great field of study that allows us to uncover lost information and better understand the history around us today. Documents of the past are not always helpful when researchers want to learn more about the everyday life of long gone civilizations, but archaeology can be.
Since I have just overloaded your brain with information, I will now leave you to process all of it. Goodbye for now!