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Archaeology

is the study of past human cultures. Like cultural anthropologists, archaeologists are interested in all aspects of culture. Unlike cultural anthropologists, however, they do not always have the benefit of living peoples who can teach them about their cultures. For this reason, archaeologists must rely on material culture, since artifacts and other forms of material vestiges are often all that remains of past cultures. Through systematic methods of excavation and examination of these objects from the past, archaeologists are able to determine how a society utilized resources in the physical environment for food, tools, clothing, shelter and transportation. Often, archaeologists can also trace the paths of trade and commerce, the type of social organization, the religious beliefs and rituals, as well as the political structure of the society in question. Whereas cultural and linguistic anthropology offer the discipline comparative breadth among contemporary and historic peoples, archaeology provides a comparative view by documenting the grand scale of human existence from the emergence of stone tools through the origins of agriculture to the rise and fall of cities and states.

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