Difference between Archaeology and History

Key Difference: Archaeology is the field of study that tries to unearth (literally) information about the past by digging up artifacts and analyzing them to recollect sequence of events of that time. History basically is all about facts and information. It deals with the study of the past events which have already happened.

There are two intensely interrelated field studies about the past events known as archaeology and history. Archaeology deals with the studies of ancient art, customs and science through the process of recovery and analysis of things left behind. On the other hand, history deals with the subject of study of the past that are called as pre-historic events. Both of them come out the same but have different perspective.

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 many other "minor" purposes, even if initially unforeseen, can be reached. In simple terms, archaeology ends where history begins.

History basically is all about facts and information. It deals with the study of the past events which already happened. A historian uses sources of evidence to find out about the past. There are two types of sources: Primary source and Secondary source. Primary sources are sources of evidence that come from the time we are studying, i.e., they give us the first-hand information. Whereas, secondary sources are sources that came into existence after studying, i.e., they give us second-hand information. There are different types of sources that are hand written, printed, visual, oral, interviews and recordings. In simple terms, historians mainly deal with the study of history. They also do the research of past events of the human race.

Comparison between Archaeology and History:





Archeology is the field of study that tries to unearth (literally) information about the past by digging up artifacts and analyzing them to recollect sequence of events of that time.

History is the study of all things happened in the past, which is related to anything.

Origin of the word

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

The founders of "history" are Herodotus and Thucydides, which was derived from a Greek word that refers to “what is known by asking”.



his-tuh-ree or his-tree


  • Environmental archaeology – deals with the study of interrelationship between the ancient people and their natural environment.
  • Ethnoarchaeology – deals with the ethnographic investigation of living communities in order to acquire knowledge of the past.
  • Landscape archaeology – deals with the study of the various changes that take place in different landscapes, both naturally as well as due to human invention.
  • Household archaeology – recent development, deals with a small-scale excavation within a given area on an archaeological site.
  • Underwater archaeology – associated with the study of underwater evidence such as shipwrecks, water-buried cities, etc.
  • Aviation archaeology – deals with finding historical remains of aircraft; everything related to aviation.
  • Aerial archaeology – is the investigation of archaeological remains from the air.
  • Battlefield archaeology – deals with digging up battlefields of the past and recovering evidence relating to military activities.
  • Forensic archaeology – finding evidence on crime scenes.
  • Primary Source - come from the time being studied. It was written by the historians. The sources were newspapers, books, paintings, diaries, pictures, which are written, visual and oral sources.

It is also known as first-hand information.


  • Secondary Source - come from after the time being studied. Historians were able to write by referring to the primary source. The sources were interviews, recordings, etc.

It is also known as second-hand information.

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.
  • Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized European philosophy.
  • Barthold Georg Niebuhr – German historian.

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