Difference between Archaeology and Genealogy

Key Difference: Archaeology deals with the studies of ancient art, customs and science through the process of recovery and analysis of things left behind. Genealogy is the study of family and is a continuous tracing of ancestors.

Archaeology and Genealogy are generally rather indistinct and confusing. Both the terms deal with history, but what is the meaning of both the words?

Archaeology ends where history begins. It means archaeology is a study of human past and present, through the materials, which humans left behind. The materials that humans used, made, or modified are studied by archaeologists. Archaeology is a part of anthropology because it studies individuals and their different cultures, even if limited to the past. They analyze skeletal remains and artifacts, such as tools, pottery, cave paintings, and ruins of buildings. The term is derived from the Greek word archaiologia, where archaio means “ancient” and logos means “science” and “study”. 

Archaeology is a humanistic discipline in its purposes, but it uses the methods of science and for this reason is also a science. It provides an insight of the ancient times by analyzing the remained materials belonging to that time. It aims to preserve the history for present and future learning. Archaeology is not only both a humanistic discipline and a science, it is also a passion. Its main purpose is to understand humanity better, but achieving this many other "minor" purposes, even if initially unforeseen, can be reached.

Genealogy is the study of history of families, and is also known as a 'family history'. The term is derived from the Greek word genealogos, where genea means “generation” and logos means “knowledge”. Genealogists deal with the study about a family by using historical records, oral traditions, and other records to gather necessary information.

The results are often displayed in charts or written narratives. The motive of a genealogist is to preserve the past of a family, so that the future generation will have the historical background about their ancestors. In simple terms, genealogy is the study of families in genetic and historical context. It is the study of family structures, and the changing roles of men, women, and children in diverse cultures. It is the story of who we are and how we came to be, as individuals and societies.

Below are some of the main practical triggers as to why people search for their ancestors:

  • Validate family stories – to determine if family stories about their ancestors are true.
  • Famous people – find out if they are related to someone famous.
  • Historical event – gain an improved understanding of an ancestor’s participation in a famous historical event.
  • Trace a family inheritance – to determine genealogical proof of a family connection for potential heirs.
  • Find birth parents – determine the birth parents of an adopted child.
  • Community history – document a community history by considering the families that founded and inclined the community.

Comparison between Archaeology and Genealogy:





Archaeology is the study of human past and present, through the materials, which humans left behind.

Genealogy is the study of family and is a continuous tracing of ancestors.


Greek archaiologia – "ancient" and logia "word" or "study."

Greek genealogos –

Genea means “generation” and logos means “knowledge”.





  • Archaeometry - Artifact analysis, remote sensing, and radiocarbon dating like techniques are used in this field.
  • Underwater Archeology - underwater evidence are associated with it.
  • Classical – study of more civilized societies.
  • Environmental – the principles of the subject are applied to the study of environment.
  • Pseudo – a non-scientific approach is used.
  • Ethno – focuses on creating connection between the past and the present.
  • Historical – pertaining to the ancient historical sites.

There are different types of records that are included in genealogy. They are:


  • Vital records –

Birth record

Death record

Marriage and divorce record

  • Adoption records
  • Church records
  • Marriage records
  • Court records
  • Funeral or death records
  • Occupational records
  • Obituaries records
  • Etc.



Famous personalities

  • Sir Arthur Evans – Archaeologist who discovered and excavated the Palace of Minos on the island of Crete.
  • Jacques Cousteau - inventor of the aqualung which led underwater divers to new depths of exploration.
  • Leslie Alcock- His major excavations include Dinas Powys hill fort in Wales and Cadbury Castle in Somerset.
  • Cyndi Howells – author of one of the foremost genealogy advice websites.
  • Christian Peter – the genealogists Internet
  • McClure, Rhonda – the complete idiot’s guide to online genealogy.

Image Courtesy: forensicoutreach.com, blog.findmyancestor.com

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