Historical archaeology is a form of archaeology dealing with sites about written records exist. These records can both complement and conflict with the archaeological evidence found at a particular site. Studies tend to focus on literate, historical-period societies as opposed to illiterate, prehistoric societies.
Historical archaeologists try to discover the fabric of everyday life in the past and try to find the broader historical progress of their own and other societies.The most visible branch of historical archaeology is Egyptology, the study of history and archaeology of Egypt, but other sub-disciplines recognized in their own right for conventional archaeology and Assyriology, which study the ancient Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, respectively. Industrial archaeology studies 18th and 19th century buildings in Europe and the United States, whilst there have also been archaeological studies of World War II defenses.
The problem is that ancient records do not cover all topics equally. Literacy was often preserves upper classes, such as the clergy and aristocracy. The general population made few records of there own, those made less likely to be preserved. The literate classes were, understandably, primarily concerned with recording their own interests. Many topics of interest to recent scholars such as economic history and religious history were widely taken for granted and not described in records.
Not all records that were written in antique have been preserved. Much of the knowledge of the Roman Empire was vanished during the early on Middle Ages, before Europe took a renewed interest in its ancestors. In addition, many of the ancient records that have survived are not primary sources. For example, the works of Cristobel's, the historian who accompanied Alexander the Great on his campaigns, were mostly destroyed within a few centuries and supplanted by the writings of later scholars who used him as a source.
Finally, written sources are not always truthful. Those who write about history usually have some personal involvement in that, and they may to bend the truth to cast them in a more positive light. On the other hand, it is practically impossible to systematically distort the archaeological personal involvement in that, and they may to distort the truth to cast themselves in a more positive light. On the other hand, it is practically impossible to systematically distort the archaeological record so as to imply events that never occurred.
Historical archaeology is an international discipline concerned with studying the past using physical evidence in conjunction with other types of historical sources such as documents,maps, illustrations, photographs and oral history. It focuses on the objects used by people in the past and the places where they lived and worked. It can tell us about the way things
were made and used and how people lived their daily lives.
In Australia historical archaeologists investigate sites and relics such as those left by early Asian fishing fleets and Dutch explorers, as well as the settlements of Europeans, Chinese and other cultural groups. The study of Aboriginal sites is another branch of archaeological research. However, historical archaeologists do study sites where interaction between Aboriginal peoples and invading cultures occurred. The study of industrial sites such as factories, mines and mills is a specialist area of historical archaeological study.
Historical archaeological sites are physical evidence of the past and have the potential to increase our knowledge of earlier human occupation, activities and events. Some sites are wholly below the ground surface, others partially or wholly above ground.They can be in ruins, or intact and still functioning.
Types of physical evidence studied by archaeologists include:
Historical archaeologists are people who have completed tertiary training in archaeology,prehistory or a related field and who have specialist training and experience in historical archaeology. Historical archaeologists carry out archaeological assessments, do archival research and undertake survey recording and archaeological excavation.
There are also many dedicated non-professionals who are interested in historical archaeology and have contributed to our understanding of the past. They have developed their skills from researching and recording historical sites and from working on excavations under professional supervision.
This volume offers lively current debates and case studies in historical archaeology selected from around the world, including North America, Latin America, Africa, the Pacific, and Europe..
Significantly revised and expanded, the second edition of this popular book provides a short, readable introduction to historical archaeology.
As an introductory guide for historical archaeology courses, or as a supplement for other undergraduate classes, this volume is unmatched in quality and scope.