We know that these three sciences have a lot in common. And more than that, we know that the first has strong interdependent relationships with the other two. But, after all, does Archeology have more to do with History or with Anthropology?
When archeology came up in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was more like history, as the point was to reconstruct the past using a chronological sequence. At that time there were no precise datings as they exist today. However, there were already some methodologies, such as analysis of the piece’s typology, with verification of whether it was simpler or more sophisticated (among many other things). Nowadays, this method is criticized because, in fact, scientists are not able to know exactly whether the people of the referred time actually made a simple piece before an elaborate piece.
In later days, with the expansion of archeology in the United States, it became very close to anthropology and became more technical. This means that there’s now a need to quantify things. For example, if a certain community used shells, how many shells did we find? From that, were we able to find out how many individuals lived in that community? This technical attribution made archeology more of a science. However, with so much concern with numbers, archeology ended up losing a little closer to everyday life to really understand that context.
Nowadays, archeology encompasses aspects of both history and anthropology. Both are concerned with understanding the context while aiming to build a chronology, especially now that we have more effective and accurate dating methods.
Furthermore, archeology is currently also closely related to ethnography, a science that seeks to understand the way of life of societies in the present and how they relate to their places.
Returning to the initial question. Rather than asking “Does Archeology have more to do with History or with Anthropology“, perhaps a good question is, “How are archeology, history and anthropology related?”
Text by: Cris Amarante & Débora Blair
Translation: Débora Blair
Image on the top: Acropolis, Greece. Photographer: Christo Anestev. Source: Pixabay