Explain the methods used by historians and archaeologists to examine the past
To learn about ancient civilisations, historians rely on the finds of archaeologists to propose theories about past events, and the lives of people from previous civilisations. For this to happen, archaeologists must find artefacts, which they do by two different types of excavation, the grid system and open area.
Once a site is found, (usually by means of aerial surveying, satellite photography, field walking or a variety of geophysical methods) archaeologists use one of the two types of excavation systems to carefully uncover what lay beneath the surface.
The grid system divides the site into boxes marked out on the ground which are numbered, the boxes are dug out, and separated by baulks, which are walls of soil between each box. This system allows archaeologists to examine the site vertically, and is based upon the Law of Superposition. Superposition is the principle that the oldest layers and finds are lower down, and more recent layers and finds are closer to the top.
When an artefact is discovered, the location it is found in is recorded on a map, this makes the process very organised.
Open area excavation is almost the complete opposite of the grid system. As the name suggests, archaeologists dig the site without restrictions, at the same time, this method focuses on uncovering the site layer by layer (or stratum), and emphasises on understanding the relationships between each object found in each stratum. A progressing stratum is not uncovered until the one before it has been fully excavated, examined and recorded.
When a historian receives an archaeological find, an expert is brought in to give more information about it. For example, if a human skeleton is found, then a forensic pathologist is called in to inspect the remains, and determine the cause of death, or any deformations of the body, similar if any type of currency, such as coins, are found a...