History of radiocarbon dating
Today, archaeologists study the great cultural diversity of humanity in every corner of the world.
Archaeological study covers an extremely long span of time and a great variety of subjects.
The earliest subjects of archaeological study date from the origins of humanity.
These include fossil remains believed to be of human ancestors who lived 3.5 million to 4.5 million years ago.
Archaeology became established as a formal discipline in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The first physically modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, appeared in tropical Africa between 200,000 and 150,000 years agodates determined by molecular biologists and archaeologists working together.
These remains include the fossils (preserved bones) of humans, food remains, the ruins of buildings, and human artifactsitems such as tools, pottery, and jewelry.
From their studies, archaeologists attempt to reconstruct past ways of life.
With its focus on the ancient past, archaeology somewhat resembles paleontologythe study of fossils of long-extinct animals, such as dinosaurs.
However, archaeology is distinct from paleontology and studies only past human life.