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Primary historical documents that archaeologists may consult before beginning their field research include: maps and/or photographs of the area, newspapers, land and tax records, and diaries and letters.Open this History Toolkit to learn more about investigating the past with primary sources.Archaeologists also rely upon methods from other fields such as history, botany, geology, and soil science.In this section of Methods of Gathering Data you will learn how archaeologists gather and analyze information by utilizing historical research techniques, field methods for data recovery, and laboratory analyses.It includes any kind of information passed down by word of mouth, like stories you have been told about your family history, as well as traditions that your family observes.Archaeologists today collaborate with descendants of Native American peoples, and with African American communities who are only a few generations removed from the lives of their enslaved or free ancestors, to better understand the cultural traditions of their pasts.
The methods used by archaeologists to gather data can be applied to any time period, including the very recent past. This “garbology” project proved that even recent artifacts can reveal a lot about the people who used and discarded them.
Others, like tape measurers, toothbrushes, brooms and dustpans, are household objects!