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Archaeologys Past


Nabonidus (538 B.C.) the 'first archaeologist' Petrarch- early Renaissance ... Is considered by most historians to be the 'first archaeologist. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Archaeologys Past

Archaeologys Past
  • A Brief History of Archaeology

The Western World Discovers Its Past
  • Nabonidus (538 B.C.) the first archaeologist
  • Petrarch- early Renaissance
  • The British antiquarian spirit (16th century)
  • Importance of 1859

  • Nabonidus- last king of the neo-Babylonian Empire
    died in 538 B.C.
  • Is considered by most historians to be the
    first archaeologist.
  • he remains an important figure for one simple
  • He looked to the physical residues of antiquity
    to answer questions about the past.

Nabonidus stele
Nabonidus cuneiform
Francesco Petrarch
  • Italian poet and humanist, b. at Arezzo, 20 July,
    1304 d. at Arquá, 19 July, 1374
  • Defined an important intellectual tradition which
    continues to be important for archaeological
  • In order to understand the present, one must
    first understand the past.
  • Petrarchs approach lead to a rediscovery of the

The British Antiquarian Spirit (16th century)
  • British Antiquarian Society 1572
  • The emphasis of this and later societies was to
    record and preserve the national treasures,
    rather than indiscriminately to acquire curios
    and objects dart
  • Archaeological research to this point proceeded
    mostly within the tradition of Petarch, concerned
    primarily with clarifying the picture of
    classical civilizations.
  • Major Problems Jacques Boucher de Perthes
    discovers ancient axeheads (1836).
  • Acheulian Tradition associated with Homo erectus
    1.8 mya-200,000
  • Finding disputed by Usher October 23 4004 B.C.

Acheulian Hand Axes
Jacques Boucher de Perthes
The Importance of 1859
  • Hugh Falconer visits Abbeville and St. Acheul to
    examine the evidence
  • A paper is presented to the influential Royal
    Society of London supporting the claims of
    Boucher de Perthes
  • Darwin On the Origin of Species

No Antiquity in the Americas?
Founders of Americanist Archaeology
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) A man ahead of his
  • One of the first people on the continent to
  • First to examine stratigraphy.
  • The layering of deposits at an archaeological
    site. Cultural elements and natural sediments
    become buried over time.  The layer on the bottom
    is the oldest and the top layer is the youngest.
  • According to the Law of Supposition, the lowest
    stratum is the oldest, and the highest stratum is
    the more recent deposit.
  • First to use the scientific method.

View of the Mississippi Valley, painted by John
Egan, 1850. This painting shows an early
excavation of a conical mound that is often
erroneously associated with Thomas Jefferson.
Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama
Clarence Bloomfield Moore
  • C. B. Moore was a wealthy man born in
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and educated at
    Harvard University.
  • At the age of 40, Moore purchased a flat bottomed
    steamship, named the Gopher, and navigated the
    Florida rivers during the summer.
  • Concentrating on the shell middens and sand
    burial mounds along the rivers of Florida, year
    after year, C.B. Moore carefully excavated sites
    along the waterways.
  • While Moore reserved the warmer months for
    traveling along the southeastern waterways and
    excavating sites, the winter months were spent
    analyzing his findings and writing reports that
    were published by the Journal of the Academy of
    Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

C.B. Moore (1852-1936)
C.B. Moore and his steamship the Gopher.
Reproduced from Certain Aboriginal Remains of the
Black Warrior River.
Nels Nelson (1875-1964)
  • Born into a hardworking farm family in Denmark
  • Emigrated in 1892 at the age of 17 to the U.S. At
    this time he began his schooling by entering the
    first grade.
  • Graduated high school in 1901 at 26.
  • B.A. Stanford philosophy 1907
  • M.A. Berkeley archaeology 1908
  • M.A. thesis was on shellmounds in the San
    Francisco area
  • Nelson is best remembered for his contribution to
    stratigraphic techniques.

Emeryville mound, 1907.
Steam shovel destruction of shellmound in 1924
Southerly wall of areas 34 and 40, looking north
1924 demolition of the mound.
Cross-section of the western foot of the shell
Alfred Vincent Kidder (1886-1963) The Founder of
Anthropological Archaeology
  • Spent most of his years growing up in New
  • Entered Harvard in 1904 as a pre-med major.
  • 1907 decided on archaeology as a profession after
    spending the summer in Arizona and Utah
    performing his first field work.
  • 1914 receives PhD. He was awarded the 6th
    American PhD specializing in archaeology and the
    first to focus on North America

  • Thesis entitled Southern Ceramics (Kidder, 1914,
  • Kidder continued his southwest expeditions under
    the Peabody Museum of Harvard University until he
    was appointed director of excavations at  the
    Pecos ruins for the Phillips Academy at Andover,
    Mass. in 1915, a position he held until 1929. 
  • This was the first large-scale systematic
    stratigraphic archaeological excavation in North
    America as well as the largest undertaking of its

  • It was here that Kidder made use of the
    stratigraphic method on a large scale and
    extended it into a regional strategy of cultural
    chronological steps (Willey, 1974).  The method
    consisted of 5 steps
  • (1) reconnaissance
  • (2) selection of criteria for ranking the remains
    of sites  chronologically
  • (3) seriation into a probable sequence
  • (4) stratigraphic excavation to elucidate
    specific problems followed by
  • (5) more detailed regional survey and dating
    (Bahn, 1996). 

  • It was this introduction to a field previously
    unsystemized that led Kidder to write An
    Introduction to the Study of Southwestern
    Archaeology (Kidder, 1924), now a classic in
    American archaeology. 
  • This book also provided the basis for the Pecos
    Classification that was derived during the first
    Pecos Conference held in 1927. 
  • The classification served as a chronology of the
    cultures in the southwest, starting with the
    early Basketmakers and extending to the Pueblo
    cultures of later historical times.  One such
    culture is the Anasazi of Mesa Verde, Colorado,
    thought to be modern ancestors of the Pueblo