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To understand the furthest past of the human kind can be considered to be a significant step towards the realization of one’s destination and a consequent successful, meaningful life in the near future; however, not many people recognize it. Bearing the burden of daily chores, chasing unrealistic dreams, which, instead, should be turned into goals and gradually reached, and not only dreamt about, hoping for the better coming days without doing a single step to make them better frequently can be used to describe the larger part of the population. Only individuals stand against the flow and make changes. Usually, these individuals constitute no more than 1-2% of all inhabitants of the Earth. It means that everyone else can be called a mere observer of the life of the chosen ones. They are chosen because they choose life and action, determinate goals, as well as have no limits and unfathomable belief in the power of their mind. These people use the power known to the whole generations for ages – since the beginning of the educated times which Ancient Greece is frequently considered to lead.

Ancient Greece was recognized to be the cradle of all modern philosophy of life for thousands of years. However, only recently, the doubts have been shed on how truthful and valid the position of this civilization really is. The first field of science which undermines the initial importance of Ancient Greece is archaeology. Scientists started publishing quite controversial works which have risen up multiple debates over the archaeological vitality of the ancient concepts.

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Archaeology, the main connection with a far-lost past which can never be turned back with one-hundred-percent accuracy anymore, has become the main corner stone which signifies the numerous erroneous beliefs, possible misinterpretations, and most importantly, the invalid foundations for so many notions, studies, and teachings worldwide. Still, one cannot be sure of the mistakes, as well as one cannot stress on the correctness – archaeologists together with all proponents of this vague science choose the path of uncertainty that becomes a belief, a persuasion for the majority of them. Only the strongest ones can recognize how mistaken they can be in the course of time, still remaining sure that they may be right. The level of insecurity of one’s knowledge is so high in the archaeological field that by accepting the role of the ‘earth-digger’, one should also accept the constant ambiguity which never seems to evaporate fully from the archaeological research, even when the artefacts indicate to be valid, a century later someone can dispute it all and easily prove the opposite.

On the other hand, not the whole science can be labelled with lack of proof as modern technologies marked with a progressive scientific development give rise to the more specialized branch of forensic archaeology which, in my opinion, cannot be even put at the same level of disbelief as the ancient archaeology – similar aims to find out the truth obtained by different methods. It can provide a great deal of certainty thanks to the innovative approaches and discoveries of the modern specialists of the field. Thus, despite the strong wave of negative pieces of evidence, archaeology will always remain a science, quite subjective in some cases as everything generated by humans is, however, still objective in all others which allows keeping it a proud title of the historical science.

Forensic Archaeology

To understand properly whether forensic archaeology is in danger of being as much criticised nowadays as ancient science, the main methods, principles and concepts should be taken into close consideration. Forensic archaeologists are usually hired by the police, though the investigation can be conducted by other agencies, too, to assist in establishing evidence at the scene of a crime. Forensic archaeologists apply the same or similar skills that are commonly used in any archaeological location. Their main aim is to disclose hidden facts of the past. Excavating a burial site in the archaeological situation may provide valid proof on the circumstances and time of the disaster, the mode of murder, and the tools used.

 Of course, many may think that since the specialists mainly work in similar ways to their peers in the ancient archaeological sites, the evidence they produce is of a better quality and can be considered less controversial, due to less subjective look at the problem. The major areas of investigation (which will be regarded more in details below) always contain remnants of the human body which cannot be compared to the pieces of wood or mere coins as on the ancient site.

First of all, modern technologies allow professionals to determine those significant characteristics which can never be easily found at the ancient archaeological locale, namely, DNA, fingerprints, hairs, etc. These pieces of evidence may provide more valuable data than any other possible proof which never was a part of a human being. Secondly, various kinds of medical expertise with highly-accurate innovative equipment may allow forensic archaeologists to obtain the information which can only be guessed or vaguely researched by the ancient archaeologists. Therefore, forensic archaeology cannot be placed under so much doubt as ancient archaeology.

It should be differentiated and understood that that experience, awareness and proficiency which forensic archaeologists apply are of the highest level. This science does not allow amateurs or under-skilled workers as ancient archaeology does. Those technological methods that are used demand a high degree of a skill, namely, satellite imagery, geophysical prospecting, surveying, aerial photography, and excavation.

Forensic archaeology closely deals with other disciplines that help to provide a more accurate investigation. In such a way, the United Kingdom adopted the United States’ practice of forensic anthropology. This helps, for example, to determine sex, height, age, cause of death, etc. of a person by means of the human skeletal remains which can be also examined through the principles of osteoarchaeology[1]. The palaeopathological methods have enabled the assessment of those injuries which occur before, about, and post-mortem the death of an examined body. Moreover, these methods are used to assist in establishing the identity of those individuals by means of the obtained medical records.

The careful analysis of the natural settings is also very important: ash, pollen, and the state of plants give a good idea how to restructure the initial environment before the catastrophe occurred and the individual or a group of people were buried. In a similar way, insects or other animals can be analyzed to find out the exact time of year or even day when people underwent burying.

Forensic archaeology gave a completely new look on the investigation of the dead bodies. The police officers often had to dig out a grave in order to excavate the body before this science was established: Archaeological settings were not even taken into consideration. In addition, the confusion of the proof often came as a result of the application of 1-m grids which lead to the misunderstanding of the real item record from the grave soil because of a couple of grid number. The right way, of course, is to tag the body and grave soil (a so-called context number), as well as appropriate items from that grave (proof) with that tag.

As soon as the significance of the forensic archaeology is recognized, the international organizations (for example, the United Nations) start hiring many highly-skilled forensic archaeologists to solve the criminal cases, in particular the excavation of the genocide graves, to figure out the war crimes throughout Iraq, Yugoslavia, African Rwanda, and Ukraine or Poland and Germany(James 2010). Forensic archaeologists play a significant role in the growing locale of Disaster Victim Identification, where archaeological techniques assist in the provision of accurate identification of dead bodies or their parts, as well as set out any future plans for investigation by the police. The United Kingdom is very strict about the quality of the forensic archaeology; therefore, the professional body of archaeologists regulates it. The Institute for Archaeologists is mainly ruled by a recommendation of Andrew Rennison.

Forensic archaeologists contribute to the identification of a possible position as well as digging out of buried remnants, recovering individual effects, human remnants, armaments, stolen items, or any other would-be proof of the crime or accident. Forensic archaeology has evolved together with such disciplines as archaeological object conservation which constitutes a vital part of choosing the methods of examination. The forensic archaeologist who can accurately examine and predict the continued existence of goods buried deep under the ground in combination with the good knowledge of the responsibilities of the archaeological conservator who knows how to hinder properly any further decay of the artefacts is invaluable, even if all science of archaeology is shaded with doubts of existence and labelled in the lack of objectivity. So many people, so many opinions. If some scientists consider archaeology to be one big lie, it is their right to express their well-reasoned arguments; however, it definitely does not mean that they are correct in their claims.

The forensic archaeologists deal with the following objects:

- Buried things of comparatively small size and individual effects of the victim that help to confirm a report or enclose other proof value. The buried pieces of evidence, which the criminal has used, are also included into this group (for instance, tools, money, electronic devices, etc.);

- Surface remnants of the victim’s body as well as the surrounding settings: Trees, fallen walls, garbage, etc. The greatest evidential value in such a situation has the possibility to use archaeological stratigraphic recording in order to remove the upper materials, which conceal the potential bodies. In case, the forensic archaeologist possesses the skills of a forensic botanist and entomologist, the opportunity to obtain very informative data that would contain the exact time of the burial is possible. Moreover, such an examination proves whether the death is a really committed crime or is caused accidentally;

- Civil cases which engage buried proof (for instance, finding out the exact position of the stream course in case of boundary disagreement);

- Possible burial areas which may allow the archaeologists to figure out the location, as well as recover potential human remnants simultaneously preserving all proof according to the remnants, so later on, they can restructure events that occurred before the burial of the victims. The burial site can be looked for as part of a pre-established investigation of a crime or can be rarely found out the facts provided by already convicted person even without the knowledge of the grave’s location;

- Massive burial sites are frequently internationally investigated (for instance, organized by the United Nations). The remnants often serve as proof that is often used for the following proceedings in court (for instance, the indictments for the crimes of war in the International Criminal Court). The recognition of victims is crucial for relatives not only to help the overcome the tragedy morally, but also to stop the possible recurrence of the vengeful actions.

The ancient archaeologists have to solve exactly the same problems, in quite the same locations, just the methods differ sometimes. Ancient archaeology, as a real science, entails the classification of a research problem, as well as a set of theoretic methods, which would accomplish the research. Science, first of all, is a specific method that allows people to interrogate reality. By promoting one’s ideas and hypotheses that are considered true, a person invite others to test their points of views, forming in such a way a set of principles, which the science will possess and which will constitute its theoretical basis later on. However, as it has already been mentioned – so many people in the world, so many opinions– people are always free to assume the world in that way they prefer it to be – they make sense of ‘their’ world. People still call it objectivity if it is logical enough, yet, it will always be subjective as it appears that everything generated by the human mind is subjective.

Archaeologists will always be able to propose their ideas on how humans managed their daily chores before and the reasons for the majority of the things they did. It is just like another story from the forever-lost past told to us. A great story resides on how effective the supportive ideas are reasoned and interpreted which, in their turn, come from all those scientific methods that can be involved to conduct the needed investigation. Unluckily for archaeologists, they cannot get rid of the possible bias that they may face. As anthropologists, archaeologists should attempt to comprehend any culture they are studying in correspondence with the perception of people, who support the values of that culture, of the whole world around them. A so-called "cultural relevatism" comes into action – we must never regard any culture basing on our own standards, but only from the point of view of the people who live in that culture.

Recently, a lot of scientists started paying a great deal of attention to the Western culture and its impact on the critical assessments of archaeologists. It becomes evident that archaeologists are not just gathering totally objective information from the past because their own cultural values exert that slight influence on all their opinions and deeds. People can be positive that not much time will pass and they will look in the complete disbelief at some of the theories of any scientists and not just ancient archaeologists – everything changes, and nothing is unchanging in the world.


Forensic archaeology and ancient archaeology are so similar at the first sight, however, the deeper you dig, the more realization comes that there is a great deal of differences between the two of them. Ancient archaeology is like a shaky platform, which hovers over the abyss, whilst the forensic archaeology would be its strong foundation, though first appeared the former. The evidence, which can be provided by the forensic archaeologists, can rarely, almost never, be discarded, whereas even the century-lasting facts of the ancient world are greatly undermined in their validity.

In my opinion, Michael Shank as well as all other proponents of the ‘new’ way of regarding archaeology will see one day how archaeological science will stop being cast into doubt. The extremely fast pace of scientific and technological progress enables professionals to obtain more valid and accurate data with each coming year. If to have a look far back to the history, we would see a great number of examples when what has been considered once untrue, unreal, impossible, and doubtful has nowadays a logical and full of value interpretation or explanation, which either proves or discards one or another point of view.

Forensic archaeology is just new enough to be more accurate than ancient archaeology, which was mainly mastered during those historical times when people’s values, principles and life styles did not really facilitate much their full understanding of fine processes that our planet undergone in the far past. In addition, the unstable political times, which were marked by numerous, disastrous wars, turned archaeology into the means of getting more power by interpreting ancient philosophy and findings on their wrongful way which, still, could help to exert the necessary influence.

Despite the vivid differences between the two sciences, the ancient archaeology should not be labelled to have to be objectivity at all. It is more logical to take into consideration the epochs, people, and obstacles when the main archaeological discoveries took place and which bother minds of the contemporary scientists so much, but not to deprive the true science of its significance. Ancient archaeology, as any other science, has its major flaws. Furthermore, when the debate goes on any historical event, no one can be one hundred percent sure of his/her words and actions concerning what was in the past. History and all its possible components will always remain the most controversial science. However, it will never lose its proud name of ‘history’, ‘archaeology’ or anything else.

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