When I was in graduate school the first question that we had to write an essay on was, “Why is archaeology important”? It was a tough paper for me to write because I could not understand how any person could find archaeology not important. Well, we can say I was a naive little gal. Come to find out, there are several people who do not see its importance. Now this is not necessarily because they see no merit in it, but rather they just have not been educated regarding its role and importance. From an ethnographic perspective, I imagine those who do not see the importance of archaeology are in the same boat as myself when I was educated about the importance of a multivitamin and a proper diet.
Archaeology is a branch that is from the anthropology tree. Anthropology is the study of human culture. This means that without culture, the tangible and intangible items/artifacts (archaeology) that are identified have absolutely no meaning. The Great Pyramids would just be a giant triangle of blocks and the Amphitheater in Rome would be a large structure that was just…there. There would be no story, no history, or any individuals involved.
Archaeology allows for the past to come alive again and the stories of those involved to be heard. Otherwise the Great Pyramids could be interpreted as anything from any person. Somebody could even go as far as to say that they were landing pads for aliens (I hope you get the reference)! So then it is safe to say that archaeology is the study of cultural things from the human past.
So why is archaeology important? For starters, it is important because it helps tell the stories of the past. The real stories. Not the stories that some rich aristocrat wants to make it out to be. Still today in the States, stories that I once read in my high school history textbooks are being rewritten by those that actually were a part of the history; archaeology has helped with that process. History defines who we are as a people and as individuals. Without it we are a blank canvas.
Archaeology is also important because it allows us to understand the human past and interaction with a cultures/individuals environmental surroundings and artifacts. It helps answer the questions of “why”?
I am sure this intro on archaeology and its importance sounds a lot more like a course syllabus rather than a blog. But I figure I should share some of the basics with you so you can geek out with me when I post about archaeology and the sites I am visiting. It is also the somewhat quick and easy version as to what archaeology is and why it is important. So if you keep up with the blog you will definitely learn more about archaeology and its importance to our everyday lives.