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Archaeologists study human prehistory and history, from the development of the first stone tools at Lomekwi in East Africa 3.3 million years ago up until recent decades.

Antiquarianism focused on the empirical evidence that existed for the understanding of the past, encapsulated in the motto of the 18th-century antiquary, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, "We speak from facts not theory".

Tentative steps towards the systematization of archaeology as a science took place during the Enlightenment era in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

It draws upon anthropology, history, art history, classics, ethnology, geography, geology, literary history, linguistics, semiology, textual criticism, physics, information sciences, chemistry, statistics, paleoecology, paleography, paleontology, paleozoology, and paleobotany.

Archaeology developed out of antiquarianism in Europe during the 19th century, and has since become a discipline practiced across the world.

is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture.

The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, and cultural landscapes.

Archaeology is particularly important for learning about prehistoric societies, for whom there may be no written records to study.

Prehistory includes over 99% of the human past, from the Paleolithic until the advent of literacy in societies across the world.

Nonetheless, today, archaeologists face many problems, such as dealing with pseudoarchaeology, the looting of artifacts, grew out of the older multi-disciplinary study known as antiquarianism.

Antiquarians studied history with particular attention to ancient artifacts and manuscripts, as well as historical sites.

His approach was highly methodical by the standards of the time, and he is widely regarded as the first scientific archaeologist.