What is Archaeology?
Archaeology is a way of learning about people in the past and deals with the human past.
Where they lived
What they ate
What they believed
What effects they had on the environment
Archaeologists look at and examine the physical remains left by these people including artefacts [man-made moveable object] such as pottery, tools or jewellery which can be made from clay, bone, stone, wood or metal.
They can also examine, through excavation and standing building analysis, evidence for site occupation and evidence of farming.
Archaeologists divide time into periods in order to make it easier to understand.
The Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age began around 10,000 years ago
The Neolithic or New Stone Age began around 6,000 years ago
The Bronze Age began around 4,000 years ago
The Iron Age began around 2,500 years ago
These above time periods are known as pre-history [i.e. before written records began]. We think this site at Caer Alyn is as early as the Bronze Age evidenced by the ‘circular grass grown mound’ or ‘barrow’ in the field just left of Alyn Lodge.
The ‘fort’ on the Caer Alyn site indicates settlement during the Iron Age.
Roman Britain began around 2,000 years ago
The Medieval period began around 1,500 years ago
The Post-Medieval period began around 500 years ago.
In the ground it looks something like this picture
Archaeologists don’t just ‘excavate’ to find answers to questions about our human past. We must remember excavation is destructive and can damage the information we want to preserve. So other methods are also used: -
Aerial Photography – pictures are taken of an area from the air
Written records – where these are available the Archaeologist and Historian will try and locate the information needed.
Building Survey– we can gain much information from the buildings that still stand.
Geophysical survey – archaeologists can see features such as fire hearths and ditches under the ground by measuring the magnetic field.
So if you would like to know more about archaeology then join the Young Archaeologists Club or YAC for short! or you could visit the library and take out an introductory book. Don’t forget to visit your local Museum and archaeological sites in your area.
Posted by Heather Butler, Mar 17, 2007