To understand the choices that people make and the actions that precede those choices we have to understand the world in which they made those decisions. In fact, the last two million years of time is extremely relevant to archaeology because it is the world in which the people of the past lived, and it is not like what we may see today. For instance, the different layers of soil can be very telling regarding environment changes through time and how we begin to think about people’s doings over different points of time. For example, different colors regarding the soil’s layers can be because there are more organic and mineralogical materials, but in other times these noticeable changes are present because there are other things added in subjection to old constructions.
To begin with, to understand Archaeology or archaeology, it is deemed as a necessity to provide some reciprocal definitions to the term itself. Initially, Archaeology is the study of humans and their material culture; it is the study of historic and prehistoric people through their tools, artwork, other artifacts, and the places that were made or modified by any human activity. Furthermore, Archaeology is the study of both ancient and recent human went through material remains. Moreover, Archaeology is a sub field of anthropology, as it also examines the human culture and its interaction with the environment. Also, Archaeology examines the human went by studying the material remains that our ancestors left behind. Furthermore, Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America, archaeology is considered a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe archaeology is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines since it is presented as the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture and of course the archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, bio-facts, Eco facts, and cultural landscapes.
It is worth mentioning that Archaeologists study human prehistory and history, from the progress of the first stone tools at Lomekwi in East Africa 3.3 million years ago up until current times. In fact, it is true that Archaeology is different from the discipline of paleontology that is the study of fossil remains. However, it is more important when we want to learn about prehistoric societies, for whom there may be no written records to study. In a matter of fact, it is known that Prehistory comprises over 99% of the human past, ranging from the Paleolithic until the arrival of literacy in societies across the world. Therefore, Archaeology targets various goals, which range from understanding cultural history to recreate past life ways that stand to explain changes that happen in human societies through time.
The discipline involves surveying, excavation and eventually analysis of data collection to learn more about the past. In broad scope, archaeology relies on cross-disciplinary research. It draws upon anthropology, history, art history, classics, ethnology, geography, geology, linguistics, semiology, physics, information sciences, chemistry, statistics, paleoecology, paleontology, paleozoology, paleoethnobotany, and paleobotany. It is the study of the ways of life of the people of the past by trying to find tools they made, bones they left behind to help us find the story. The study of human culture through the material they made from those items we try to understand past behavior’s adaptations. Archaeology is about everything in a sense because you can approach it from the angle of Geochemistry, Biochemistry, Isotope Chemistry, Biology, Paleontology everything has a voice in the Archaeological path, therefore, it gets difficult to know where the boundaries are. However, beyond these deviations, the main purpose of archaeology is to learn more about past societies and the growth of the human race. In fact, Over 99% of the maturity of humanity has occurred within prehistoric cultures, which did not make use of inscription, thus departing without leaving written records that can be studied today.
Archaeology has begun with the study of history and by the people who were interested in the past and its mysteries. In fact, in the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the king was interested in the past; therefore he led revival movements as he rebuilt olden holy places. On the other hand, and from a scholarly level, Herodotus (c. 484-c. 425) was the first Western researcher to scientifically collect artifacts as he wanted to test their precision. Furthermore, there are claims that say that Herodotus was the first to make an undeniable narrative of the past. His collection of books is very much known to the world of Archaeology and history in general. For example, the book that is entitled as the histories is largely famous because this book has represented the ground for researchers. Moreover, Herodotus wrote of everything and anything related to archaeology. For example, in a section of his book the later discussed the causes and consequences of the Greco-Persian Wars. He also discovered the Nile and Delphi. However, scholars have claimed his book as unreliable as there were errors in his records; therefore, they came to the conclusion that he did not go as far south down the Nile as he claimed he did.
However, it is worth mentioning that such written sources has introduced itself as the only way to learn about some ancient histories and some famous historic societies. In fact, since archaeology is the study of past human activity, it is extended back to about 2.5 million years ago which means that the stone area is very much the base. Various significant developments in human history took place during prehistory, as the evolution of humanity during the Paleolithic period, when the hominids expanded from the Australopithecus in Africa and ultimately into modern Homo sapiens. Archaeology also focuses the light on many of humanity’s technological advances, for instance, the capability to use fire, the progress of stone tools, the invention of metallurgy, the early development of religion and the conception of agriculture. However, it is not only prehistoric, preliterate cultures that can be studied using archaeology, but historic, literate cultures as well, through the sub-discipline of historical archaeology. Taking Morocco as an example, we cannot judge the Moroccans just by their artifacts, but with the left-over of their many literate cultures, such as Ancient Greece and the Romans. However, their surviving records are often incomplete and biased to some extent because, in a lot of societies, literacy was restricted to the elite classes, such as the clergy or the bureaucracy of court or temple.
The literacy even of aristocrats has occasionally been limited to deeds and contracts. The interests and world-view of elites are often quite different from the lives and benefits of the public. Writings that were created by people more representative of the general population were improbable to locate their way into libraries and be conserved there for posterity. Thus, written reports lean to reveal the biases, assumptions, cultural values and possibly deceptions of a limited range of individuals, usually a small portion of the larger population. Hence, written records are not confidential as they cannot be trusted as a solitary source. However, the material documentation may be nearer to a reasonable depiction of society, though it was the matter to its biases, such as sampling bias and the disparity in conservation. Archaeology always seems to invoke up images of the exotic. When we turn the TV to History Channel, we are introduced to early Egypt or China and perhaps Mesa Verde. Furthermore, the images of pyramids, cliff dwellings, early calves and impressive relics of gold or turquoise come to mind. While all of those astonishing places and wonderful objects are familiar to most of us; they’re so undeniable that they occasionally disguise a more significant and inadequately understood fact: every place has a past, and every past is important. That is especially true here in Morocco.
Archaeological Site of Volubilis, founded in the 3rd century B.C., then becomes a remarkable outpost of the Roman Empire and was ornamented with many buildings. Extensive remains of these survive in the archaeological site, taking place in a rich agricultural place Volubilis was later briefly toshosen to be the capital of Idris I, establisher of the Idrisid dynasty, who is buried at nearby Moulay Idris. Outstanding Universal Value Brief synthesis Volubilis holds Roman remains, of a reinforced municipal established on a commanding site at the foot of the Jebel Zerhoun. On an area of 42 hectares, it is of exceptional importance indicating urban growth and Romanization at the frontiers of the Roman Empire and the explicit illustration of the border between the Roman and native cultures. Because of its seclusion and the fact that it had not been occupied for almost a thousand years, it symbolizes a significant rank of genuineness. It is one of the richest sites of this period in North Africa, not only for its remains but also for the great prosperity of its epigraphic evidence. The archaeological remainders of this site stand eyewitness to numerous civilizations. All the phases of its ten centuries of occupation, from prehistory to the Islamic period are represented. The site has created a considerable total of artistic material, such as mosaics, marble and bronze statuary, and hundreds of inscriptions. This citation and that which remains to be revealed is the delegate of a creative spirit of the human beings who lived there over the ages. The frontier of the site is represented by the Roman rampart constructed in 168-169 AD. The features of the site expose two topographic forms: a relatively flat sloping area in the North-Eastern part, the monumental sector and a part of the sector of the triumphal arch, where the Romans engaged an urban hypodamian system, and a rougher hilly area topping the South and Western parts where a terraced plan was taken into consideration.
The Archeological Site of Volubilis was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in Morocco in 1997. Even though this superb site has been robbed for stonework and sandstone to build structures in the closer towns of Moulay Idris and Meknes, the lasting structures and medleys tell the tale of a city that once blossomed. The ruins that have been secured are beautifully conserved remnants of the Roman era, and it is for its historical value that the Archeological Site of Volubilis was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Morocco.
It is believed that this stunning city was constructed around 40 AD and that it was built on an old decision which old-fashioned third century. It became the administrative assets of the area and was known as Mauritania. The enormously fertile lands that bounded the city shaped olive oils and grains that were exported to Rome. Archaeobotanical projects at the site have proved that two types of wheat were produced here. Scientists have found evidence of Emmer (Hulled Wheat) and free-threshing wheat. It is optional that most of the wheat was stored, while the excess was used as silage for stock and animals. Over and above the evidence of wheat being present, studies have recognized linseed, melon seeds, grapes, and figs. Continuing projects are investigative wood charcoal pieces to examine the species of vegetation that existed during this time. It is also known that after the Romans removal from Morocco – which happened around the end of the third century – the city was not left unoccupied. A trembling in the fourth century is believed to have caused widespread damage to Volubilis, but documents have discovered the arrival of Idris I in the year 788. Idris created the Idrisid dynasty and on his death in 791 he was laid to rest in Moulay Idris. Another earthquake rocked the site in 1755, probably causing its final abandonment. In the eighteenth century builders started to loot the ruins for construction materials.
French archaeologists started excavating the site in 1915, and more than 2 000 excavations by numerous institutions have followed. Today visitors will be able to view the Thermae, the Orpheus Mosaic, the Temple of Jupiter, oil presses, the Capitol, the third century Triumphal Arch and the Cesilica. Most of the structures are still in remarkable condition, and the mosaics are as beautiful as the day they were created. This magnificently conserved place should be visited by everyone who comes to Morocco as it provides uncommon sight into the past. Volubilis contains fundamentally Roman remnants of a fortified municipal built on a superior site at the foot of the Jebel Zerhoun. Covering an area of 42 hectares, it is of outstanding significance representative urban expansion and Romanisation at the frontiers of the Roman Empire and the graphic illustration of the border between the Roman and indigenous cultures. Because of its isolation and the fact that it had not been occupied for nearly a thousand years, it presents a major level of legitimacy. It is one of the richest sites of this era in North Africa, not only for its ruins but also for the great possessions of its epigraphic confirmation.
The archaeological remnants of this location bear witness to several civilizations. All the phases of its ten centuries of a profession, from prehistory to the Islamic period are represented. The site has produced a considerable amount of creative material, counting mosaics, marble and bronze statuary, and hundreds of inscriptions. This certification and that which remains to be exposed, is the delegate of a creative spirit of the human beings who lived there over the ages. The boundary of the site is represented by the Roman fortification created in 168-169 AD. The features of the site expose two topographic forms: a comparatively level inclined area in the North-Eastern part, the monumental sector and a part of the sector of the triumphal arch, where the Romans employed an urban hypodamic system and rougher undulating area wrappers the South and western parts where a terraced plan was assumed. The vestiges bear proves to diverse periods, from Mauritanian times when it was part of an independent kingdom, to the Roman period when it was a metropolis of the Roman province of Mauritania Tingitana, a period called the « dark ages » with towards the end a Christian era, and finally an Islamic period characterized by the founding of the dynasty of the Idrissi.
In fact, the archaeological site of Volubilis is an exceptional instance of a town bearing observer to a swap of authority since High relic until Islamic times. These transactions took place in a town environment equivalent to the boundary of the location, and in a rural region extending between the ridges from Zerhoun and the Gharb Plain. These authorities testify to Mediterranean, Libyan and Moor, Punic, Roman and Arab-Islamic cultures as well as African and Christian cultures. They are evident in the urban evolution of the town, the building styles and architectural garland and scenery formation. Furthermore, this site is an exceptional example of an archaeological and architectural intricate and of a cultural scenery bearing witness too many cultures (Libya-Berber and Mauritanian, Roman, Christian, and Arab-Islamic) of which numerous have vanished. Also, the archaeological site of Volubilis is a terrific example of the center for the different kinds of immigration, cultural traditions and lost cultures since High archaeological find until the Islamic period. Moreover, the archaeological site of Volubilis is wealthy in history, events, ideas, beliefs and artistic works of universal connotation, notably as a place that, for a brief period, became the capital of the Muslim dynasty of the Idrissids. The town of Moulay Idriss Zerhoun adjoining to the site houses the tomb of this founder and is the subject of a yearly pilgrimage.
The abandonment of the town for many centuries ensured that its ruins remained in an excellent state of conservation. The ruins should be the subject of long-term conservation programs to preserve their authenticity. Volubilis is remarkable for its urban conception (hypodermic plan and terraced plan), its execution according to well-defined architectural and defensive standards, its construction materials representing various geological aspects, its components reflecting a wealth of town facilities; all these features are still visible today. It is also characterized by its incorporation into a intact natural landscape and an original cultural environment.
Protection measures principally concern the different laws for listing historic monuments and sites, in particular, Law 22-80 (1981) regarding the conservation of Moroccan heritage. The management of the site is based on an Action Plan, which refers to a national and international legal statute as well as to the strategy of the Ministry of Culture and decisions of the World Heritage Committee. The management concerns conservation, preventive conservation, excavations, maintenance, security, restoration, presentation of the site and preservation of its protection area. The management plans are under preparation by the Conservation Department of Volubilis, the body responsible for the management of the site. Adoption of the protection zone, the establishment of land ownership of the property, the preparation of the cad astral plan and the development project being established by the Ministry of Culture, all constitute the basic elements of this document. The management plans should treat all new interventions at the site.
The barren Western Sahara is certainly not barren when it comes to its heritage and impressive landmarks. In fact, the sites of prehistoric rock art. Cabo Blanco Peninsula. The only colony of monk seals in the world. Here in caves lives a group of extremely rare Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus), where there could be living some 200 seals. Among these sites are some famous ones of which the Sahara Spirit Foundation would like to highlight their importance and get them recognized on both an international and national level. To begin with, The Devil’s Mountain – Southern part. Is a giant natural monolith – rounded, the very unusual mountain with a smooth surface, rising hundreds of meters above the desert. Prehistoric rock art (4 000 – 1 000 BC), the sacred and even mystical place to Sahrawi people.
Oum Dbaa dry cascade – northern part. Seasonal waterfall with interesting tufa formation. Formed by spring water which contains lime and salt.
Prehistoric rock art
- Bou Dheir – very diverse prehistoric paintings in numerous rock shelters, often in a very good state of preservation. Many drawings are very large; paintings show wild animals, humans. On the plateau above the shelters is also found large crescent-shaped structure – stone setting.
- Cueva del Diablo – prehistoric shelter – cave with some of the most impressive engraved images in this part of the world.
- Erqueiz rock art – northern part. A site with the rich collection of prehistoric rock art – paintings of wild animals and cattle, also humans. Endangered by looting. Here are also found megalithic stelae – upright stones.
- Irghayra rock art – site with the rich collection of prehistoric rock art – paintings of wild animals and cattle, also humans.
- Lejuad – Tiris (south). Impressive granitic monoliths with rich collections of neolithic rock art, funerary monuments and settlements.
- Rekeiz Lemgasem – valuable rock art site, megaliths. More than 80 prehistoric rock-shelters with paintings in them have been found here. Impressive megaliths and funerary monuments.
- Sluguilla Lawash – very rich rock art site along the wadi Laauach el Tel·li, with Tazina style engravings. Most drawings show wild animals – giraffes, rhinoceros, elephants. The site contains numerous prehistoric tumulus in the conical form. Often legs of animals in drawings are unnaturally elongated.
Other man-made landmarks
- Bou Kraa conveyor belt – approximately 100 km long conveyor belt from Bou Kraa phosphate mines through desert to El Marsa port. The longest conveyor belt in the world, partly destroyed in warfare.
- El Aaiún Cathedral – El Aaiún. Spanish built Christian cathedral in Art Deco style.
- Moroccan Wall – approximately 2,700 km long fortification wall, partly in the territory of Morocco. Divides Moroccan-controlled areas and Polisario-controlled territories. Mostly two – three meters tall wall with minefield around it. Built by Moroccans in 1981 – 1987.
- Tifariti stelae – the unique group of prehistoric stelae. Here are located some 65 rock stelae, up to 1.5 m high. Stelae are aligned in enclosures or lineaments.
To conclude, the goal of archaeology is to understand how and why human behavior has changed over time. Archaeologists search for patterns in the evolution of significant cultural events such as the development of farming, the emergence of cities, or the collapse of major civilizations for clues of why these events occurred. Ultimately, they are searching for ways to better predict how cultures will change, including our own, and how to plan better for the future.
Today, our culture seems to document everything through books, newspapers, television, and the Internet. However, there is frequently a difference between what is written and what people do? Modern media often puts a “spin” on a story that reflects an editorial bias on what has taken place. Although the written record may be tremendously useful, it is biased by the beliefs and mistakes of those who produced for. Archaeology frequently provides a more objective account of our past then the historic record alone.
Our past is our cultural heritage, and how we choose to use this information for future generations is an important role for archaeologists. Understanding patterns and changes in human behavior enhance our knowledge of the past. It aids us in planning, not only our future but for generations to come. Many people believe that public archaeology is critical to understanding, protecting, and celebrating our rich and diverse cultural heritage. Archaeologists recognize the importance of this role and are developing various mechanisms of media outreach, publications, Internet, and public programs, to publicize the contributions of archaeology.
Archaeological sites are evidence of human activity often associated with concentrations of artifacts. Excavation of archaeological sites is a destructive process requiring systematic removal of soils and artifacts. Archaeological sites are similar to research laboratories where data is collected, recorded, and analyzed. Controlled excavation and mapping of information about the soil layers and the artifacts associated with each layer allow archaeologists to search for patterns in past human behavior. They study these patterns and changes in human behavior over long periods of time, as evidenced in the artifacts. The combination of analysis of activities only present in the soil, such as the stains left by cooking, and the artifacts recovered, survive as the archaeological record of a site
Archaeological sites are non-renewable resources; once they’re destroyed or excavated by archaeologists, they’re gone forever and can’t be replaced. The loss is significant. In the end, archaeology isn’t about artifacts or excavations or exhibits; it’s about people! Our decisions about the future are based on the lessons we learn from those who came before us. The worlds of Native American hunters, Revolutionary War soldiers, 19th-century coal miners, pioneer farmers entire generations of our predecessors and ancestor scan be reconstructed from the things they left behind in archaeological sites. They can still teach us and we can still learn from them. The knowledge and accomplishments of all those past generations are part of our collective heritage as Pennsylvanians. It’s a legacy far too valuable to lose.
Archaeological sites and artifacts on private land in the Commonwealth are the property of the landowner. When they occur on public land or in the path of proposed projects like highways or developments, some state and federal laws provide for their study and their protection. The intentional excavation or removal of antiquities on public land is a criminal offense forbidden by law. When project construction threatens archaeological sites, archaeologists in the employ of public agencies, consulting firms, or universities work closely with project planners and designers. The archaeologists conduct fieldwork to locate the sites, and preservation of sites in their original location is always the best and first option. When that’s not possible, samples of the data and artifacts from the most important sites are carefully excavated before construction. The results of these excavations include technical reports, museum collections, public exhibits, films, Web sites, and lesson plans, ensuring that both researchers and taxpayers benefit from our efforts to manage the buried past. Without archaeology, we would know little or nothing about the use of material culture by humanity that predates writing and in Sahara Spirit Foundation our ultimate goal is too sensitive the people about the importance of these ruins.
Written By Mrs. Boutayna Elhammouchi