Why study Archaeology?

 

Archaeology is the study of the human past. It addresses big questions about our past that cannot be answered in other ways.

As archaeologists we are interested in all aspects of the people of the past, from their diets to their beliefs, the clothes and jewellery they wore, the tools and cooking pots they used, the houses they lived in and the ways they commemorated their dead.  

We might consider long term trends, like the evolution of humanity and the history of the environment, or conduct smaller scale work on a specific site or landscape, or certain types of artefacts or buildings. We also like to think about broader conceptual questions, such as notions of identity, power, and change in human societies, or technology, trade, artistic development, gender relationships, and ideology. Whatever your background, if you have an interest in the past and the people who lived in it, archaeology is a great way to explore it.

Although we study material and society in the past, archaeology is also about the present, and we are equally concerned with the cultural and political significance of the past as it is understood by people today. Many of our ideas about who we are and where we belong are formed with reference to the past, which means archaeology is also about the future.

Whether it is the story of our relationship with the natural world, arguments about the origins of people, or debates about how and why societies change, archaeology is a subject that makes us think about where we are now and where we want to go. Archaeology is all around us. Archaeology matters.

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I chose archaeology because I wanted to really engage with the past first-hand, not just learn what other people say about it. Archaeology is a challenging and hugely enjoyable subject to study.

Benjamin, BA Archaeology, 2nd year

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