Explain how radiocarbon dating works
For the most part, the only things that survive are durable items such as potsherds (small fragments of pottery), tools or buildings of stone, bones, and teeth (which survive because they are covered with hard enamel).Because many items disintegrate over time, archaeologists get an incomplete view of the past that they must fill in with other kinds of information and educated reasoning.With its focus on the ancient past, archaeology somewhat resembles paleontologythe study of fossils of long-extinct animals, such as dinosaurs.However, archaeology is distinct from paleontology and studies only past human life.The archeological record encompasses every area of the world that has ever been occupied by humans, as well as all of the material remains contained in those areas.
Some sites also contain evidence of the earliest use of simple tools.Archaeology plays a major role in the study of early civilizations, such as those of the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, who built the city of Ur, and the ancient Egyptians, who are famous for the pyramids near the city of Giza and the royal sepulchers (tombs) of the Valley of the Kings at Thebes.Other sites that represent great human achievement are as varied as the cliff dwellings of the ancient Anasazi (a group of early Native Americans) at Mesa Verde, Colorado (see Mesa Verde National Park); the Inca city of Machu Picchu high in the Andes Mountains of Peru; and the mysterious, massive stone portrait heads of remote Easter Island in the Pacific.Today, archaeologists study the great cultural diversity of humanity in every corner of the world.
Archaeological study covers an extremely long span of time and a great variety of subjects.
Archaeology also examines many of the same topics explored by historians.