The history of archaeology has been one of increasing professionalism, and the use of an increasing range of techniques, to obtain as much data on the site being examined as possible.
Excavations of ancient monuments and the collection of antiquities have been taking place for thousands of years, but these were mostly for the extraction of valuable or aesthetically pleasing artifacts.
It was only in the 19th century that the systematic study of the past through its physical remains began to be carried out. Archaeological methods were developed by both interested amateurs and professionals, including Augustus Pitt Rivers and William Flinders Petrie.
This process was continued in the 20th century by such people as Mortimer Wheeler, whose highly disciplined approach to excavation greatly improved the quality of evidence that could be obtained.
During the 20th century, the development of urban archaeology and then rescue archaeology have been important factors, as has the development of archaeological science, which has greatly increased the amount of data that it is possible to obtain.