Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

2: Early Archaeology (Before the 1960s)

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Learning Objectives

    • Explain the Three Age System of classification of the prehistoric past.
    • Explain the approach of Unilineal Cultural Evolution and what led to the rejection of this paradigm.
    • Explain the approach of the classificatory-historical paradigm.
    • Compare and contrast the two approaches of Unilineal Cultural Evolution and the classificatory-historical paradigm.

    • 2.1: Archaeology in Europe
      The roots of archaeology can be found in the gradual exploration of the prehistoric era in both Europe and North America. Although eventually, American archaeology would take a different direction, the early works of European antiquarians, historians, and archaeologists laid the foundation for archaeology as a whole. In Europe, the work of 18th and 19th-century  antiquarians and early archaeologists laid the groundwork for the three-age system that is still used in Europe today.
    • 2.2: Archaeology in North America
      The three-age system worked well in places in which early peoples used all three materials over time to make various tools. However, in other parts of the world, such as Africa and the Americas, people did not use those tool technologies in the same sequence, and some didn’t use one or more of the technologies at all. Many historians and researchers at the time chose simply to ignore this problem and even forced the data to fit the theory.
    • 2.3: Chapter Two Review
      Review important concepts and definitions of key terms.

    Image: Stonehenge. (1645). By Blaeu, J. under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

    2: Early Archaeology (Before the 1960s) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?