HISTORY is the study of the past(since the invention of writing).
A HISTORIAN is a person who studies the past.
ARCHAEOLOGY is the study of the Prehistoric past.
AN ARCHAEOLOGIST is a person who studies the Prehistoric past.
PRE-HISTORY is before people learnt to write.
SOURCES are clues which the historian uses as evidence to the past.
PRIMARY SOURCES are evidence taken directly from the past – Eg. Photos, birth certificates, wills, marriage certificates, newspapers, diaries, letters, government reports etc…
SECONDARY SOURCES is information on the past from books or films, produced by people who did not witness the events. The evidence is got second-hand.
BIAS is what a historian has to be aware of when examining the past. He has to recognise a prejudiced or biased view of a historical event. He cannot only examine one side of a story, he must examine both sides of the story.
A historian must also be aware of PROPAGANDA and / or CENSORSHIP which leaders from the past may have used with the help of the media so as to provide a one-sided view of their leadership. This was always favourable to their leadership. PROPAGANDA AND CENSORSHIP were used by the US government during the Vietnam War so that both the troops in Vietnam and the people at home in the US only heard a biased view of the war.
DIGGING UP THE PAST
How does an Archaeologist know where to look for evidence ?
- He gets a lucky find.
- Rescue Archaeology : When builders get the land surveyed for historical importance before they actually build.
- Aerial Photography : Taking photos from the air often provides a better view of the land, particularly in terms of Celtic homesteads.
- Underwater Photography : Taking photos undersea.
- Ruins of old buildings where people once lived.
- Legends often encourage archaeologists to research a particular area – Atlantis.
How does an Archaeologist prepare for a dig ?
A dig is called an EXCAVATION. The place where they dig is called a SITE.
- He makes a PLAN of the site using a grid.
- He divides the land into a grid the same as his plan. This allows him to know exactly where each item was found.
- He digs out the topsoil.
- He digs very carefully in the next layers using a trowel or a brush.
- When he finds an ARTEFACT he dusts it carefully and photographs it and catalogues it, noting on his plan exactly where he found it.
- The soil is also examined for POST HOLES. This is a round black patch in the soil which tells you that a wooden post once stood there.
An ARTEFACT is a man-made object which comes from the past.
How does an archaeologist know how to date artefacts ?
- CARBON 14 DATING – Every living organism has Carbon 14 in it. When it dies the carbon starts to reduce. By measuring the amount of carbon left, an archaeologist can measure roughly how old it is.
- DENDRO-CHRONOLOGY – This is used for dating timber by counting the number of rings in the timber. If the timber was used for a house or a boat we can tell when these were built.
- STRATIGRAPHY – When people have lived in the same place for a very long time, layers of remains will be found, one on top of the other. The oldest remains are at the bottom and then the newest on the top. By measuring the depth at which an object is found, archaeologists can work out how old it is.