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People have been digging around, looking for treasure for centuries, but, archaeology as a science is pretty new. Many people, modern and ancient, have performed archeology. Ancient people, like Plato, have written down information about artifacts they found, and discoveries they have heard about, such as The Lost City of Atlantis.
In the 1700s, most people found artifacts by just plowing up their fields in the spring for crops. Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, was very scientific when he was digging around Indian mounds, trying to find out what was in them.
In the 19th century, the "science" of archaeology began, but in a heavy-handed manner. People like Belzoni (who was really just a tomb robber), who hauled out the huge head of Ramseses II for the British Museum, or Heinrich Schliemann, who employed workers who had been working on the Suez Canal, ruined many artifacts with their reckless digging. It is more fun to think of yourself as a treasure hunter or digger than it is to use a strainer to find grains of pollen which is what we do now, but that is the more effective way to do things.
Until the 1920s, archaeologists received minimal training. Archaeologists like Leonard Woolley used teams of unskilled workers to do digging. Today, archaeologists receive a lot of training and they have to go to college. They work under close supervision and learn how to dig properly before going on their own. We are moving from an era of constant excavation into one where we use nonintrusive investigation (not even disturbing the site, just taking x-rays). A digger from a hundred years ago would have dug recklessly, removing finds as soon as possible and maybe destroying priceless objects. Today, we dig carefully, take x-rays of the ground and record carefully what we find.
Find out about the adventures of famous archaeologists through the ages as they developed the science of archaeology: