It is study of archaeology with humanistic perspective. The archaeological anthropology use scientific methods to recover and construct human beings’ past through deductive and inductive processes covering prehistoric, proto-historic and later periods. The methods like excavation, absolute and relative chronological dating to unearth differences, origin for biological and social evolution is the central theme. Archaeological anthropology seeks to gather knowledge about the origin and development of human beings and their culture in its own distinctive way.
It is the study of mankind from the time of their creation, their processes of development and the different cultural achievements they made in it.
The way to study it is reconstruction of history with the help of material remains and matter like skulls, bone remains, fossils, pollen remains, artifacts, burial grounds, etc.
It uses various kinds of method for its investigation. It deals with study of the history of cultures, demographic conditions and environmental order, subsistence patterns, economy, and its processes through studies like new-archaeology, processual archaeology, the post-processual archaeology, palaeoanthropology, ethnoarchaeology, environmental archaeology, settlement archaeology, etc.
Archaeological anthropology aims to explain the origin, growth and development of cultures in the past. It tries to understand evolution of culture, people, ideology, power and anything and everything that has effected in the changes that societies go through. This synthesis of humanism and science in the reconstruction of humans is subject matter of Archaeological anthropology. Archaeological anthropology studies the way of life in the past through use of scientific methods in its understanding of human behavior.
History and Development
Prehistoric archaeology- stage before history where no material or knowledge was documented in any form specially writing. The term was used by Paul Torunal and Daniel Wilson. Prehistoric stages are studied with the help of substances like stone, wood, bone, metals, earthen ware, tools, ornaments, outfits, etc. Human prehistory was divided into tool making stages – Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. The Stone Age was further sub-divided into lower palaeolithic, middle palaeolithic and upper palaeolithic, mesolithic and neolithic stages on the basis of the kind of tools used (i.e. from hand axes to microliths to mazes and harpoons).
Protohistory starts when writing was found in some cultures . It can be called the period
between prehistory and history. eg. From the pre-Harappan days to the time of Maury a rule in India i .e. from 3500 to 300 B.C.
Civilization is a point in history or time where there are large complex societies, settled existences, domestication of animals, plants, specialist occupations, division of labour, trading, etc. Egypt, China, the Indus valley and Mesopotamia.
- Palaeoanthropology – study of Palaeolithic people using the historical, comparative and survivals methods.
- Environmental archaeology – study of relationship of human beings with nature with the help of fossilized remains of plants, animals, pollen cores, land site, change in course of rivers, etc using s geological and biological methods
- Ethno-archaeology – study of material remains of a particular society specifically than on culture as a whole
- New-archaeology or processual archaeology – studying the processes by which humans lived, processes which created artifacts, natural or cultural .
- Settlement archaeology– study of settlements in landscape, principles of building, relationships between urban and rural spaces, impact of work done by humans on the environment, etc. Also called non-site archaeology.
- Post- processual archaeology ie interpretative archaeology- the critical subjective study of the past lives of humans as shaped by neo-marxism, post-modernism, feminist archaeology, critical theory, structuralism, etc.
Text-Aided Archaeological Anthropology: It is also called as Classical archeology. It deals with the reconstruction of ancient civilizations that have developed the art of writing, it utilizes written accounts and textual descriptions as source material and guide to to reconstruct ancient civilizations.
Text-Free Archaeological Anthropology: This includes Old world archaeology and new world archaeology. It is concerned with non-literate people. For text free archaeology no texts or written materials will be available to guide their excavations and what was really obtained through actual digging.