Flashcards in Historians and Archaeologists Deck (36):
What are historians interested in?
The types of houses people lived in
The type of food they ate
The types of clothes they wore
Tools and weapons
The jobs at which they worked
How they spent their leisure time
The sports people played
The prehistoric period is before writing was used – we rely on archaeology for our evidence of this period
The historic period is when people used writing
What is a source
It is evidence, for example documents and pictures, used by historians to find out what happened in the past
written, spoken, visual or an object from the past
Comes directly from the event, eg. photograph, diaries, speeches
Evidence that comes not directly from the event, eg. history books, movies, tv shows
Where you can find sources
Steps historians take
Read or look at the source carefully
•Where was it created?
•When was it made?
•Why was it made?
Examine how close the author was to the event being described
Judge if the source is reliable
Use as many sources as possible to make sure their story is accurate
Time and place rule
Examining how close the author was to the event being described
Using as many sources as possible to make sure their story is accurate
how to judge the reliability of sources
•Time and place
event happened before Christ
happened after the birth of Christ
The study of the remains left by our ancestors
Objects made by humans, e.g. coins, tools and pottery
When archaeologists dig in the ground looking for remains from the past
Evidence, for example documents and pictures, used by historians to find out what happened in the past
A study carried out on a site before archaeologists start digging
how do objects end up in the ground?
Some are lost
They can be put in the ground for safe-keeping and forgotten about
In pre-Christian times they were buried with dead people
Buildings abandoned and over time covered in soil
good conditions for preserving objects
very cold conditions
•very wet conditions
•very dry conditions
•e.g. bodies have been found in bogs in Ireland
choosing sites of excavations
when a site is chosen because there is evidence that objects could be found
archaeologists sometimes dig on a site before a new road or building is built to make sure no evidence from the past is lost
2. the dig
excavating a site - preparation
-Survey of site is carried out. Narrows down where to start digging.
-geophysical survey is carried out. Similar to x-ray, they use a machine to look at soil underneath surface. Can tell how much earth has been disturbed by human activity.
-Dig test trenches to get some idea of amount of remains expected to be discovered.
-Aerial photographs taken. Show size of site and pick up features missed on ground.
-Detailed plan is made. Site divided into numbered one-metre square areas to investigate.
excavating a site - the dig
Topsoil removed, often with JCB. Spades & pickaxes also used.
Once topsoil cleared, archaeologists can begin to look for remains.
Use a number of tools during excavation:
-layers of earth scrapped away using trowel
-hand-pick used to loosen soil
-when object discovered, have to be careful not to damage. Use brushes and toothbrushes so its not damaged.
-photograph taken after discovery
what soil can tell about the past
timber poles used for building houses leave dark round patches called post-holes
square dark patch suggests fireplace
layer of dark soil suggests site was destroyed by fire
dating an object
coin with sword, coins usually have dates
pollen at site,
artwork & design can tell age, eg. piece of pottery
methods of dating an object
Dates object by depth at which they are found.
Deeper object is found, the older it is.
Carbon or radiocarbon dating
used to find age of object that once lived. All living objects eg. humans, plants, animals, have carbon 14. When they die, amount begins to decline. older an object - less carbon present
Used to date wooden objects eg. parts of buildings or logs. V Every year tree grows new ring. Age of tree determined by number of rings in trunk.
Studying pattern of rings - can estimate age of wooden object.
Where artefacts can be stored
what we can find out from the skeleton
•Male or female - pelvis, skull
•Height of the person - length of thigh, ie femur bone
•The age - teeth
•Cause of death - evidence of wound eg hole in skull
•Facial reconstruction - can happen if skull well preserved
•Their diet - scientific analysis of bones