Archaeology is literally the study of the old, ology meaning, loosely, the study of, and archaeo meaning old. Literally, then, archaeology is the study of old things, of the past. More than just reading about the past, though, archaeology represents the techniques, approaches, and ways of interpreting past events. The common theme to all of archaeology, though, is that at least part of our information comes from the material remains of the past, the actual things people made, used, and altered, then left behind. These remains are collectively called material culture. In effect, archaeology has become a discipline that seeks to identify and understand what happened in the past through the things people made and used. This book will help you understand how we go about doing this, from the actual events archaeologists study through the ways that archaeologists recover, analyze, and explain these events.

From Staeck, J.P., 2001, Back to the Earth: An Introduction to Archaeology. Mountain View: Mayfield.