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Archaeology is an important field of anthropology, which is the broad study of human culture and biology.Archaeologists concentrate their studies on past societies and changes in those societies over extremely long periods of time.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.Archaeologists have documented that the development of agriculture took place about 10,000 years ago.
Archaeological studies have also provided much information about the people who first arrived in the Americas over 12,000 years ago.
For the most part, the only things that survive are durable items such as potsherds (small fragments of pottery), tools or buildings of stone, bones, and teeth (which survive because they are covered with hard enamel).
Because many items disintegrate over time, archaeologists get an incomplete view of the past that they must fill in with other kinds of information and educated reasoning.
Archaeologists have also recorded how primitive forms of humans spread out of Africa into Asia about 1.8 million years ago, then into Europe about 900,000 years ago.
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.