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What role does archeology play in the study of history?
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Archaeology can play a very important role in the study of history. It is, of course, more important for the study of prehistoric times, but it can be important even when we study more recent events. Since you have tagged this with “archaeology and Jamestown,” I will refer to Jamestown in my answer.
Jamestown was founded in 1607. This was, of course, well within historical times. Therefore, we have some historical records about what happened in the early years of that settlement. However, those records are fragmentary at best. In addition, even the best of records would not tell us everything about life in a settlement such as Jamestown.
Archaeological finds tell us, for example, about the daily lives of people in Jamestown. These sorts of things would not have been of much interest to the people then. They would not have kept records about things like that. But archaeological evidence tells us, for example, that there was a fair amount of economic activity going on in Jamestown. It also tells us that there were probably friendly interactions with Indians early on. These are things that cannot be gleaned from the records from 500 years ago.
Because records from some historical times are not complete, and because even complete records do not capture the mundane details of daily life, archaeology has an important part in the study of history.
Posted by pohnpei397 on September 2, 2013 at 2:56 PM (Answer #1)
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