History of Archaeology

ArchaeologyArchaeology studies the human activity that took place in the past, by recovering and analyzing pieces of evidence and cultural material left behind, such as artifacts, architecture, cultural landscape etc. It started with the desire of certain kings that ruled in the past to show the glory of their ancestors. Herodotus was the first to study archaeology in an organised and systematic manner. The 16th and 17th century increased the desire of antiquarians to collect and sell artifacts. This model later moved into personal, national and museum collections. In the 19th century it already became widely spread as a research discipline, and in the 20th century the technological advancements make field investigations and explorations easier.

Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments in England were the first sites to undergo an archaeological excavation. Dr. William Harvey and Gilbert North conducted this process at the beginning of the 17th century. John Aubrey was the following name in the branch that mapped many field monuments and megaliths. Monumenta Brittanica is the publication that contains all his findings, including Roman towns, roads, castles, camps, archaeological remains, coins and urns.

In 1748 started the excavation in the ancient city of Pompei, and in 1738 in Herculanum. The ashes of the Vesuvius Volcano covered both cities in 79 AD. The research was carried under the demand of King Charles III of Naples. During the excavations, the Theatre, the Basilica and the Villa of the Papyri were discovered from under the ashes. The findings of human shapes, utensils, ancient frescos and entire towns had a big impact on the population of Europe.

The army of Napoleon Bonaparte led the Egyptian excavation in 1798-1801, considered the first overseas archaeological site. The leader made a team of 500 specialists in biology, chemistry and languages to study this ancient civilisation. The Rosetta stone was discovered around this time.