Each and every ancient civilization had their own history which were not recorded in those days. With the passage of time, evidences has been uncovered now and again through archeological studies. Archeology is the main method available for learning about the history of such civilizations. It can unveil a rich store of information about the beliefs, social structure, economic organization and environmental effects of past societies. The word archeology is derived from two Greek words 'archaios' which means ancient things and 'logos' which means theory of science. Archaeology was first put to use by the Romans in the eighteenth century but it was given more accuracy by Heinrich Schliemann who brought to light the origins of Greek civilization.
Archaeology is a rewarding and challenging career opportunity for those who have an analytical bend of mind and a keen desire to know about the past. It can give awareness about the heritage and tradition of a country or a culture. It is the scientific and systematic study of past and human cultures through the recovery, analysis and documentation of material remains and environmental data, like architecture, artifacts, features, landscapes and biofacts. It is the field of conservation and protection of architectural relics, old monuments, inscriptions etc. In fact, Archaeology is the science that helps to build up a picture of the past.
In India, the importance of preserving the rich and cultural heritage was initiated by General Alexander Cunningham. It was he who established the Archaeological Survey of India in 1862 for the maintenance, conservation and preservation of centrally protected monuments and archaeological sites in the country. Due to his contribution in Indian history and Archaeology, Cunningham is considered as the father of Indian history and Archaeology.
Archaeology is a multidisciplinary science which draws help from geography, history, anthropology, chemistry, geology, art and literature. It is also regarded as one of the four branches of Anthropology, which is the study of the physical and social characteristics of humanity. The cultural and social events of the past have been relived through archeological studies. Archaeological studies or inputs are considered important in issues such as environmental conservation, urban societies, town planning etc. These discoveries involve a variety of field techniques and laboratory procedures.
Those who are involved with the studies of archaeological discoveries is termed as Archaeologists. The main activities of an Archaeologist include preliminary fieldwork, excavation of sites and periodical classification of them as well as dating and interpretation of materials so excavated. They probe into the past and define earlier civilizations. Their researches and findings are preserved and maintained for present and future learning. Modern archaeologists have enhanced the accuracy of their work with scientific techniques of carbon dating of artifacts and the use of DNA analysis.
Archaeology is a career for those who have an acute interest and training in culture and history. It is preferable for candidates to have a background of ancient history and culture. The basic eligibility criteria for Bachelor course in History/ Archaeology (i.e B.A level) of three-year duration, is 10+2 or equivalent. After graduation one can opt for a Post graduate Diploma or Degree course in Archaeology. Graduates in History in any stream with an aggregate of 55% marks can apply for Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma or Post graduation (MA/ M.Sc.) in different fields of Archaeology. Duration of these courses may vary from 1 year to 2 years. Admission to the two year Post Graduate Diploma course at the Institute of Archaeology, the academic wing of the Archeological Survey of India in New Delhi, is on the basis of a written exam and an interview. At a higher level, those interested in conducting research on the various branches of Archaeology can do Ph. D. But before applying for research fellowship, they must have completed their post graduation.
Personal skills : The essential attributes needed for an Archaeologist is a perceptive and probing mind, keen observation, analytical and logical thinking. They must also possess creativity, accuracy and should be able to recognize and appreciate arts. They should be adaptable to physical stress and strain since they may have to work outdoors sometimes in uncomfortable conditions. Besides dedication, a lot of patience is required since researches in this field can take years on one project. In order to conduct archaeological research, archaeologists need to be conversant with the Geo-physical conditions.
Course Areas : Numismatics, epigraphy, archives and museology are the important branches of Archaeology. Applied Sciences, Theory and Methods in Archaeology, Protohistory, Art, Museology, Chemical Preservation, Antiquarian Laws etc. are some of the subjects covered in Archaeology. The course also consists of a detailed study of illustrated manuscripts, fossils, inscriptions and coins. Archaeology has a large number of sub- disciplines and specialisations. Historical Archaeology, Ethno archaeology, Experimental archaeology , Archaeometry, Computational Archaeology, Isotope analysis, Geoarchaeology, Bioarchaeology are some of the specialisations. After doing the basics of the Archaeological course, one can specialize in any of these fields.
In order to become an Archaeologist, the aspirant need to spend several years training, taking tests and examinations, writing term papers and thesis and doing continuous research. Apart from these, there will be field work where one should observe the excavation of sites, analyzing the relics and monuments, intern with a senior Archaeologist, learn new techniques of excavation and practice using GPS tools and digging and also drawing and photography.