Thomas, David Hurst American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:March 2018
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The scientific study of past material culture. The initial objective of archeology (often spelled archaeology) is to construct cultural chronologies that order past material culture into meaningful temporal segments. The intermediate objective is to breathe life into these chronologies by reconstructing past ways of life (Fig. 1). The ultimate objective of contemporary archeology is to determine the cultural processes that underlie human behavior, both past and present. Thus, archeology is both scientific and humanistic. Throughout many parts of the world, archeology is considered a subdiscipline of anthropology, focusing on the anthropology of past cultures. In other parts of the world, archeology is regarded as an extension of history, attempting to write a prehistory of people who may lack a written history of their own. See also: Anthropology; Archeological chronology; Physical anthropology; Prehistoric technology
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