Essex County Council Logo Unlocking Essex's Past - from Heritage Conservation at Essex County Council Unlocking Essex's Past Logo
 Home   Links   Help   Search   Feedback  EHER No. Search: GO
Home
Archaeology for Newbies
  What is Archaeology
Ready Made Searches
What is Archaeology

The word archaeology comes from Greek. "Archae-" refers to the past, or old things - it's the same root that you find in words like "archaic", meaning old-fashioned. "-Ology" means the study of, so if you've got an "ology" you're really a student, rather than a scientist!

 

If you put the two together, it's obvious that "archaeology" means the study of the past. There are lots of ways to study the past though, and in order to distinguish between archaeologists and historians we look at the different methods that they use. Historians normally use historical documents , while archaeologists use the archaeological record .

 

The archaeological record is the material remains of the past. This can be found underground or above ground; buildings are just one thing that can be studied archaeologically. Archaeological remains may be entire sites, individual features such as ditches, or small finds, and the real challenge of archaeology is not just to find these things but to interpret them, and use them to say something meaningful about the past.