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Goals of Archaeology

There are four basic goals of archaeology. These are listed below, with brief descriptions of each.

1) Recovery, preservation, and description of remains

this includes but is not limited to sites, components of sites, features of sites, artifacts, types, varieties, attributes, geofacts, and ecofacts.

2) Reconstruction of past lifeways

3) Decypherment of culture history

there are multiple dimensions of archaeology. To properly understand culture history, at least two of the three major dimensions must be combined. The three dimensions, form, space, and time, can be related through diachronic studies (form over time) or synchronic studies (form over space). These are the most frequently, though not the only, methods used.

4) Reconstruction and study of cultural processes

this is the biggest goal of archaeology, and can not be completed without previously completeing some of the above goals. Often this is nearly impossible to do on a large scale; however that is still ideal.

Not every dig attempts to meet all four goals; rather archaeologists pick and choose which goals (and hence, which methods) can provide answers to their specific questions. The goals are listed in this order as that is the order in which archaeology developed throughout its history.

The information provided her is courtesy of/from the lectures of Dr. Dean Snow, Professor of Anthropology at Penn State University.

The goals of Science in General

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