This prompt has the unique quality of having been chosen by my wife! Before I can dig up (heh) my thoughts on archaeology, we need to define it.
Archaeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. It can involve examining human remains, ancient architecture, historical weapons, old writings, and much more. There are various different mechanisms through which archaeological artifacts might be uncovered and examined.
The past is all around us, and archaeology attempts to discover and decode that past. As a result of some lengthy, thorough efforts, we know so much about the ancient Roman, Greek, and Egyptian civilisations, among others. Windows to history have been opened, thanks to a level of patient endeavour that I know I would personally not possess!
It makes you wonder what might be under our very noses, and it also makes me think about the footprint of modern societies. What might we leave behind for future archaeologists to dig up? Given the increasingly digital nature of our world, will future archaeologists turn to digital means of discovery? Indeed, would they have to?
One conceivable difference between historical archaeology and any future practice of the field is that preservation of our society might be somewhat easier than it was in the past. For starters, historically we know a lot more about the lives of the wealthy, ruling classes of say, the Romans, than we do of ordinary Romans. The rulers had the means to produce statues and temples, which were considered of cultural significance. Thus, a great deal of care went into maintaining them, hence why they survive today. These days, we are all putting a great deal of ourselves out there, in more ways than one. Via the Wayback Machine, Meerkat Musings may well exist to be found in a thousand years time, whereupon new generations can be baffled by my writings 🙂
The same goes for all of us. Information about who we are as a society is now being produced in such huge quantities, in ways more easily saved, and in theory, more easily found in the future. What might our legacy be?