Derived from the Greek root arkhaios, meaning ancient; the term, archaeology, also spelled as archeology, refers to the study of human past through surveys, excavations, data collection and analysis of the obtained data. The earliest archeological finds include, the first man- made tools of stone and iron, terracotta, articles of bronze, human remains, sculptures, pottery and various artifacts. Study of the Egyptian archaeological sites, has extended means to look into the past of the human civilization. There are still many secrets, which remain unsolved. For example it is mysterious that the ancient people, without any cranes or heavy construction machinery at their disposal, managed to bring huge stones and building materials from long distances and placed them at elevated levels and arranged them with extreme scientific precision as in the Great Pyramids.Archaelogy is considered a cross disciplinary science and utilizes advanced techniques for analysis. Archaeology is the study of not only the study of the prehistoric human civilization but it is also the study of the evolution of the human beings.
Athens is one of the oldest cities of the world. It is the capital of Greece. Its recorded history is older than 3,400 years. The ancient city was a landlocked, powerful city state. It is considered the cradle of the western civilization and democracy. It is home to Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum. There are two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Athens, the medieval Daphni Monastery and the Acropolis of Athens. The city area is 39 square kilometers. Signs of ancient civilization can still be seen in Athens. Parthenon is a famous heritage of the classical era. Athens was the capital of an independent state in 1834. The world’s largest collection of the ancient Greek archaeological finds are on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. In 1896, Athens hosted the first Olympic Games and the tradition continues even after the lapse of more than 108 years, as Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Mehrgarh is on the tentative list for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Mehrgarh is located at about 30 kilometers from Sibi, in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan. It is the first urban settlement in the world and is considered one of the most important Neolithic archeological sites in the world. The Neolithic era lies between 7000BC and 2500 BC. The word Neolithic is derived from neo, meaning new and lithic meaning stone, and refers to the new stone age. It started just at the end of the Stone Age. The Mehrgarh finds provide the evidence of the changed relationships between human beings, animals and plants. Signs of the earliest cultivation of plants and domestication of animals are found at this site. Two French archaeologists Jean and Catherine Jarrige discovered the site in 1974.Electronic microscopy revealed that the Neolithic dentists of people used flint drills. The Mehrgarh excavations comprise of a complex of mud bricks structure having mostly four compartments.
3. The Ajanta Caves
The Ajanta Caves are famous archaeological site, located in Aurangabad, India. Since 1983, they are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage. They were built between second century BCE and 650 CE.The site consists of 30 Buddhist monuments, carved of the rocks. They include the sculptures of Buddha and paintings relating to the Jataka tales, which are stories telling the previous lives of Buddha in animal or human form. The site remained covered with forest, until a British office, discovered it accidentally in 1819, when he was there for hunting with his party.
4. The Abu Simbel temples
The Abu Simbel temples also known as the Nubian monuments are two huge rock temples. They are located on the west bank of Lake Nasser. The complex is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Originally the twin temples were sculpted in the thirteenth century BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II, to commemorate a victory and as an eternal monument for the Pharaoh Ramesses II, himself and his Queen Nefertari.In 1968, the complex was relocated on a purpose made hill on Aswan High Dam, to protect them from being submerged in water during the development of Lake Nasser.
5. The Kow Swamp archaeological site
The Kow Swamp archaeological site is a Pleistocene epoch, starting from 2,588,000 years ago and lasting to 11,700 years ago. The site is located in the Murray valley, in Northern Victoria. The name Kow, evolved from an aboriginal word, Ghow, meaning white gypsum found on the site. It is a permanent water body with 15 kilometers circumference and an average depth of three meters. The site was discovered by Alan Thorne between 1968n and 1972. More than 22 remains were found here, suggesting, the exploration of Australia by different waves of immigrants prior to the European discovery.
Bagram was originally named as Alexandria on the Caucasus and was known as Kapisa during medieval times. It is an archeological site and is currently a small town, located, in Parwan province of Afghanistan, at about 60 kilometers from Kabul. During a campaign against the Saka nomads, Cyrus the Great destroyed the city, which was later rebuilt by his successor Darius I. In 320 BC Alexander the Great captured it and developed it in accordance with the Greek city planning. The city was fortified with brick walls, having towers at the angles. The central street was lined with shops. Many Hellenistic, Roman and Chinese works of arts have been recovered from Bagram.
7. Beit She’an
Beit She’an is a city located in the North District of Israel. The city is strategically important on account of its location at the junction of the Jezreel Valley and Jordan River Valley. Bet She’an National park, now protects the ancient city ruins. The archeological finds from the site are preserved in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem and in the University of Pennsylvania Museum, in Philadelphia. The site was explored and excavated by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1983. It is an impressive Byzantine and Roman site of archeological importance and attracts 300,000 tourists annually, at an average.
8. The Edgewater Park Site
The Edgewater Park Site is a famous 3,800 archaeological site, in Coralville, Iowa, U.S. Two hearths and specified areas of stone tool production were discovered at the site. The findings suggested that the occupants had traveled from the center of the State, along the Iowa River. Archeologists form that the occupants used little cultivated barley. A discard area was also found at the site and it indicated the occupants were involved in tool manufacturing, maintenance and worked in an orderly fashion with planning for everything, including the waste disposal.
9. Monte Alban
Monte Alban is an archaeological site, located in the mountainous range in the center of the Valley of Oaxaca City in Santa Cruz. The archaeological ruins found on the El Gallo and Atzompa hills are also considered an integral part of the Monte Alban site. Oaxaca City is currently the State capital and is located at about 9 kilometers from Monte Alban. The excavated part of the Monte Alban is situated at an elevation of 1,940m. .Monte Alban was founded in or around 500 BC and remained politically dominant in the area. The City lost its dominance between AD 500 and 750. It was abandoned, but it was, intermittently and opportunistically reoccupied several times.
10. The Atapuerca Mountains
The Atapuerca Mountains are ancient geological formations, characterized by the dissolution of soluble layers of rocks like, bedrock, carbonate rock, limestone, dolomite or gypsum. It is located near Atapuerca in the Burgos province of Spain. There are many caves, from which some valuable archaeological neo lithic finds including the earliest stone tools and fossils had been recovered. The Archeological Site of Atapuerca is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage. Francisco Jorda Cerda started the excavation in 1964 and found human remains from different ages, particularly from Bronze Age to the modern age. In 1972, intact rock paintings were discovered at the site. Remains of Homo heidelbergensis, belonging to a period, 600,000 to 400,000 years ago, were also recovered from its caves. Gran Dolina is a multilevel cave, which was excavated in 1981 and yielded valuable evidences and objects.
Famous archeological sites in the world have been preserved as world heritage. Many of them are great attractions, not only for the archeologists but also for public, interested in knowing about the past history and evolution. Multimedia advancements have played a role in the enhanced interest of public in archeology. Famous magazines like Time and television channels like Discovery have rendered invaluable service in imparting great scientific knowledge to common people. Archaeology reveals what our predecessors had left behind, and they achieved some remarkable objectives.