Archaeology: The Essence of Its Study in Understanding the Cultures of a People

Archaeology is a very relevant field of study under anthropology that seeks to understand human behaviour of human societies by tracing patterns in their evolution. It involves a thorough inquiry into human activities via a rigorous analysis of their carefully excavated and discovered material culture, such as artefacts, building structures, cultural landscapes as well as other ecological and/or biological items. Archaeology, as a field of study, is very relevant in our quest to develop global communities through a diligent study and comprehension of the stages of their evolution. This article discusses the relevance of archaeology as a field of study to understand human cultures in the perspective of cultural anthropology.

The study of archaeology offers a comprehension of the historical and cultural information about ancient civilizations. The understanding of all the facets of the culture of a group of people or ethnic society is enhanced through the study of archaeology. This includes their agricultural practices such as their crop and animal productions, medicine, religion, arts and crafts, industry, science and technology, trade, tourism and water management approaches. This knowledge base often serves as a platform for the development of modern civilizations. These indigenous knowledge systems that embrace the ways of life of ethnic societies could be improved and utilized in present conditions. Interestingly, this indigenous knowledge could be studied and formulated into policies aimed at domesticating development within the boundaries of the global system. The strategies that were used in times past are not only sustainable but also socially engineered because they have been tried and tested over considerable periods of time and are feasible in their modern applications.

The language of a people is often identified as the first step in understanding the culture of a people. Archaeological discoveries of lost languages have led to the reconstruction of the phonetics of their modern languages and led to a general reconstruction of their cultural image. For instance, the Hittite cuneiform texts discovered in the ancient Hattite capital of the North Central Anatolia in Turkey have helped in deciphering various ancient Hattite languages of the non-Indo-European speaking people. Likewise, the Egyptian writing texts in hieroglyphics, demotic and hieratic have enhanced the understanding of the way of life of the ancient Egyptians while the historical information of the Babylonians has been deepened by the archaeological discoveries of Babylonian cuneiform inscriptions.

Archaeology discoveries of natural sites of remarkable cultural and historical significance have been developed into eco-tourism sites and cultural-historic sites that generate huge revenue for countries as well as offering job avenues for the rural poor living in the forest fringed communities. Aside the interesting landscapes and natural resources of awe discovered at these sites, various marvelous artefacts and buildings discovered show the great craftsmanship skills of the early forebears of the people, which can be studied, imitated and adapted to enrich modern craftsmanship in the fields of Art, Engineering and Architecture.

The recent field of Agricultural Anthropology that relies on archaeological information of the agricultural production procedures such as the irrigation canals of the ancient people of various countries has furnished agriculturists with traditionally efficient and less costly cultivation, harvesting, water, land and postharvest managerial practices that could be synergized with the recent scientific agricultural approaches to enhance modern agricultural production procedures. Agricultural geologists gain thorough understanding of the vegetation and climate conditions of a people through their eco-facts such as preserved pollen provided by archaeologists. Likewise, food scientists are furnished with information on the eating habits of a group of people.

Social scientists, economists and developmental planners who study the pattern of the population of a people, their social caste systems, economic systems and their settlement patterns are assisted by archaeologists, who diligently study the sizes of their building structures, how their houses are situated and their business transactions.

In a nutshell, the study of archaeology impacts positively in all the other fields of study. It offers a rich foundational understanding of the various human societies that serve as the basis for modern development in global societies. The field offers various employment avenues for many people who pursue its study. This article recommends that scholarships and grants must be provided to students who pursue the study of archaeology to increase the interest in the field of study.