Basic Archaeology: What's a Dig?

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One of the main things archaeologists do in their line of work is the dig. This is a project designed to find out more about a specific area and what it was like many, many years ago. Archaeologists might be looking for animal skeletons or plant remains. They might be looking for weather patterns or fire damage.

Whatever they're looking for, it usually involves digging. Why? Well, first of all, the wind is constantly blowing fresh dirt and trash all over the world. This airborne debris lands on the ground in tiny layers. After years of these tiny layers building up, what was once on the surface is buried underground. It's not that the ground has really sunk; it's more that more layers have been added on top.

So, archaeologists use their pickaxes and their drills and their brushes to find and piece together clues to what happened in an area's past. And the more they find, the more they understand.

For instance, by discovering seeds, archaeologists can also discover what kinds of crops the people who lived there grew or, if people didn't live there at all, what kind of wild plants or fruits or vegetables grew there.

Also, a dig might turn up fragments of clothing or shoes, giving archaeologists clues to what kind of clothing the people who lived there wore.

The basic idea behind the dig is to discover the past.

Click here to see the different kinds of tools archaeologists use.

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David White