Archaeology is a similar job to anthropology. Both study the various different cultures throughout the world. The major difference is where their information is gathered from. Anthropologists get most of their info from living people and their skeletal remains. Whereas an archaeologist finds the artifacts left behind. They gather these artifacts by excavation and are able to tell us a lot about our ancestors. Certain artifacts or sites can tell us all sorts of things such as the type of government, human behavior, how the culture ran itself, social organization, and especially the contact between other groups around the world. All this does not come without its problems. Dig sites (a term used to signify an excavation site) are being destroyed in many ways. Environmental issues, political change, everyday expansion of the human race, thieves searching for buried treasure, and poor excavation are just a few problems that affect an archaeologist’s job.
The Paleolithic era is divided into three periods. The Lower, Middle, and Upper. Much of our advancement from “cavemen” to modern humans happened in the Upper Paleolithic. This portion of time is then separated into 5 groups based on the technology and tools. They are Chatelperronian, Aurignacian, Gravettian, Solutrean, and Magdalenian. Some of the new ideas and beliefs that came out of the Paleolithic time concerned nature. Nature was seen as a wild threat and home of the barbarians and beast. We went from our equality with nature to the Greco-Roman era to the Judeo Christian days and now into science. Some more changes were everyday tools. Such as spears. A simple point would let a fish slide off after stabbing it or the spear would fall out of a running deer. A spear designed with notches similar to today’s fish hooks. The materials that tools were made of also were enhanced. Instead of only stones or woodman began to use bone, ivory, and other natural resources to make a more complex toolbox.
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People also started to move things farther. Migration spread technology faster and established better shelters and hunting techniques. Hunting and gathering used to be the best way to find food. Gathering meant traveling around and collecting roots, berries, grains, etc.. Hunting meant exactly what it is, but it was performed differently. Often hunting was done in groups and with primitive weapons. A weapon called an Atlatl was invented. It served as an extension for throwing spears. It also increased range and speed which changed hunting techniques dramatically. This was also the birth of the Nation-State which gave us very different mental perspectives. Interdependency, kings, queens, and other rulers sprung up.
During the Mesolithic period probably the biggest change in the world was the domestication of plants and animals. This meant that traveling could be more possible because they could take a food supply with them on the trail. The most domesticated plants were mostly grasses, especially barley and wheat to get grain for bread. Village farms sprang up where people learned to plant crops and raise them for a food supply. Following the Mesolithic came the Archaic times. This was the end of hunting and gathering. Domestication was the replacement. Animals were raised and bread rather than searched and chased after. This was also the time when the art of pottery was created. This meant better storage of food and making it even easier to travel. Following this time was the Nation-State.
The Nation-State is when people finally start to settle down. It is the first time when boundaries are made between villages and regions. Where our language and our minds created the world around us which got us addicted to nonsense. It began roughly 10,000 years ago and it was a time at which we tried to explain ourselves. Much of the changes took place because of environmental changes such as volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, ocean levels, etc. The only area that didn’t change much as the arctic regions. Most Common animals fell into extinction like the mammoth and other prehistoric animals. People became dependent on domestication. Which meant that hunting and gathering took a dramatic drop. This gave rise to sport hunting. Cooking went from fires to stone boiling. Which meant you heated up stones very hot and put them in water to bring it to boil temp.
An interesting fact is that at this time everything we made and used was biodegradable until the industrial age. Horticulture also sprang up. This was a form of slash and burn technique. It was mostly done to get more wheat for flour. The largest changes were to the people. About 6,000 years ago forms of government started and there was more writing. Also, people studied math, astronomy, metallurgy, totems, and architecture. The architecture was more used to show how powerful a nation was rather than build a shelter. The craving for copper and gold spread throughout the world. The Incas even called gold “the sweat of the sun.” In my own opinion the change that affects us more than any other form of that period is the standing army. I wonder how different our world would be without armies or warfare. What probably seemed like a small idea back then is now something that changes your day.
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