Myths

Common myths and misconceptions about archaeology.

Archaeologists dig up dinosaurs.

Archaeology has nothing to do with dinosaurs (paleontologists study them, among other things). Dinosaurs lived millions of years before humans appeared. So forget about what you saw in cartoons: prehistoric people didn't hunt dinosaurs or had them as their pets!

Archaeology is a gold hunt.

It's not about finding pretty and valuable objects. It's not about objects at all, but about the humans that made and use them. Objects should be used as sources for understanding past societies, and not a purpose of archaeological research.

This also means that archaeologist are not grave robbers and they don't keep objects they find (nor are they allowed to sell them)!

Archaeology is all about excavations.

In fact, objects are often not excavated, and it's impossible to excavate them all anyway. Filed work is just a beginning of archaeological work that leads to interpretation, or explanation of the past. So the ultimate goal is to interpret the past through material remains and to understand past societies, and not just digging up objects.

Field work is a risky adventure on an exotic place.

Excavations can be exciting, but it's hardly in a way of fighting Nazis or evil organizations while trying to get that precious diamond hidden in a cave full of ancient traps.

Archaeology studies only ancient, distant past.

Archaeology does study the past, but it doesn't have to be distant past. For example, industrial archaeology often deals with remains from 18th onwards.

People in prehistory (often called „cavemen“) lived in caves exclusively.

There are many open sites found, and these people often lived in houses or huts. The sole reason first humans are associated with caves is because remains are better preserved in caves so there are many paleolithic cave sites we know of.