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In prehistory the archaeologist is paramount, for here the only sources are material and environmental.The scope of this article is to describe briefly how archaeology came into existence as a learned discipline; how the archaeologist works in the field, museum, laboratory, and study; and how he assesses and interprets his evidence and transmutes it into history.

Writing began 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Egypt; its beginnings were somewhat later in India and China, and later still in Europe.The aspect of archaeology that deals with the past of man before he learned to write has, since the middle of the 19th century, been referred to as prehistoric archaeology, or prehistory.Practitioners of archaeology find themselves allied (often…No doubt there have always been people who were interested in the material remains of the past, but archaeology as a discipline has its earliest origins in 15th- and 16th-century Europe, when the Renaissance Humanists looked back upon the glories of Greece and Rome.Greeks and Romans and first developed in 18th-century Italy with the excavations of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Classical archaeology was established on a more scientific basis by the work of Alexander Conze at Samothrace in 18.A new era in systematic and controlled archaeological research began with the Frenchman Flinders Petrie, who began work in Egypt in 1880, made great discoveries there and in Palestine during his long lifetime.Petrie developed a systematic method of excavation, the principles of which he summarized in Mesopotamian archaeology also began with hectic digging into mounds in the hopes of finding treasure and works of art, but gradually these gave way in the 1840s to planned digs such as those of the Frenchman Henry Creswicke Rawlinson became the first man to decipher the Mesopotamian cuneiform writing.All this activity, however, was still not archaeology in the strict sense.It was more like what would be called art collecting today.Also, it may bring to light and interpret previously unknown written documents, providing even more certain evidence about the past.