These remains include the fossils (preserved bones) of humans, food remains, the ruins of buildings, and human artifactsitems such as tools, pottery, and jewelry.
The archeological record encompasses every area of the world that has ever been occupied by humans, as well as all of the material remains contained in those areas.
Archaeologists study the archaeological record through field surveys and excavations and through the laboratory study of collected materials.
Archaeology is an important field of anthropology, which is the broad study of human culture and biology.
Archaeologists concentrate their studies on past societies and changes in those societies over extremely long periods of time.
Archaeology also examines many of the same topics explored by historians.
But unlike historythe study of written records such as government archives, personal correspondence, and business documentsmost of the information gathered in archaeology comes from the study of objects lying on or under the ground Archaeologists refer to the vast store of information about the human past as the archaeological record.With its focus on the ancient past, archaeology somewhat resembles paleontologythe study of fossils of long-extinct animals, such as dinosaurs.However, archaeology is distinct from paleontology and studies only past human life.Dozens of archaeological sites throughout Asia and Europe show how people migrated from Africa and settled these two continents during the last Ice Age (100,000 to 15,000 years ago).Archaeological studies have also provided much information about the people who first arrived in the Americas over 12,000 years ago.Archaeology plays a major role in the study of early civilizations, such as those of the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, who built the city of Ur, and the ancient Egyptians, who are famous for the pyramids near the city of Giza and the royal sepulchers (tombs) of the Valley of the Kings at Thebes.