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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.
Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities.
while in Europe archaeology is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.
John Aubrey (1626-1697) was a pioneer archaeologist who recorded numerous megalithic and other field monuments in southern England.
He was also ahead of his time in the analysis of his findings.
Antiquarians studied history with particular attention to ancient artifacts and manuscripts, as well as historical sites.
This style of arrangement, designed to highlight the evolutionary trends in human artifacts, was of enormous significance for the accurate dating of the objects.
His most important methodological innovation was his insistence that all artifacts, not just beautiful or unique ones, be collected and catalogued.
His approach was highly methodical by the standards of the time, and he is widely regarded as the first scientific archaeologist.
He arranged his artifacts by type or "typologically, and within types by date or "chronologically".
In Europe, philosophical interest in the remains of Greco-Roman civilization and the rediscovery of classical culture began in the late Middle Age.