History and Government: How is Archaeology a source of history?

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1b v). Explain Archaeology as a source of history


The term “archaeology” comes from a Greek word “archaios” meaning beginning or ancient. As a discipline, it means the study of wry ancient times and antiquities. This study provides silent witnesses and clues to civilization. Some of the clues left behind include foodstuffs, weapons, skeletons of people and animals, and artifacts, or objects made of stone, iron, copper, gold, glass or pottery,  Other-areas of interest are cities, caves, and tombs.  These are studied and the history of people is written from them. This includes social activities, such as education, religion, clothing, eating habits, marriage, and building, etc, economic activities, e.g. farming, iron working and pastoralism, and political activities such as palaces and weaponry,

An archaeologist begins by locating historical sites where people lived and follows this by digging up or excavating the site in search of remains of human existence. • After discovering an artifact, the archaeologist starts studying it by recording the stratum in which it was found, deciphering the text it bears, describing its shape, ascertaining its dimensions, and so on, The data collected are studied from the stratigraphic, philological and typological stand points, Through this, the date and origin of the artifact is discovered using carbon dating, This is the process in which the amount of carbon in an object is measured, The more carbon there is in an object, the younger it is. In case the archaeologist is not able to determine the date, the findings are submitted to other disciplines for scientific investigation,

Archaeology has enabled the historian to come up with useful information on early people. A classroom teacher can benefit from these findings by organizing a class to make trips to some of the historical sites where evidence of early humans and their way of life was discovered. Some of these sites are scattered all around East Africa such as Aksum. Fasil Ghebbi, Harar, Konso, Awash, Omo, Lalibela in Ethiopia; Olorgessailie, Lukenya, Kariandusi, Hyrax Hill, Gamble’s Cave, Muringa, Koobi Fora in Kenya and Kilwa Kisiwani, Mbozi Meteorite. Zanzibar Island, Mikindani Town, Bagamoyo Town, Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.Apart from visiting such places, the teacher can also take students to museums to study some of the artifacts kept there.

Archaeology as a source of history exposes the learners to reality when they interact with real objects. It also gives information which otherwise is not available in other sources. At the same time, it makes the teaching and learning of history interesting.


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