Why is archaeology important in Kentucky?

Within the state of Kentucky archaeological sites date back to 13,000 BC a period referred to as the Pre-Paleoindian. Residents of Kentucky can look at a timeline of culture through ancient American Indian occupation within the area. So why is this important you may ask? The simple answer is archaeology provides a link to the past and a guide to the future. By understanding Kentucky’s past, archaeologists can gain knowledge of how our culture evolved and will continue to evolve through everyday life.

By studying historic and pre-historic sites across the state of Kentucky archaeologists, historians, and preservation specialists seek to broaden knowledge though the examination of the remains of early human settlements. The process of excavation and classification begins by conducting a detailed study of the area in the form of a survey commenced within the site to find evidence of human activity. Once the survey has been completed the site is then excavated further to recover material remains, which are then classified and analyzed to reconstruct the site according to the evidence.

Archaeology is important in the reconstruction of the past, as some sites within Kentucky have an absence of written records, by studying the material remains recovered from a site archaeologist can hypothesis how ancient American Indians of the pre-Paleoindian period used pottery to store food, weapons to hunt animals, and dwellings to provide shelter during the time spent within the site being excavated. This technique can also be used for not only the prehistoric, but the historic sites found within Kentucky. The chronological timeline of Kentucky wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of archaeologists who excavate and categorize sites and the material remains found within each of the prehistoric and historic sites. The following hyperlink, http://www.heritage.ky.gov/kas/Kentucky+Archaeology+Overview.htm outlines the prehistoric and historic timeline of Kentucky.

Through the study of the past archaeologists can provide information on why our ancestors committed certain acts, we can gain an understanding of life in a time which is unfamiliar to our own. This allows us to teach our youth as well as ourselves the importance of heritage, by looking at the actions and everyday life of those who walked these paths before us. Through these steps we draw links to the past to provide a sense of knowledge to the public, so individuals can look towards a site and its findings to gain information of the life and environment in which their predecessors lived.

So why is archaeology important in the state of Kentucky? Archaeology is important because everyone has a sense of curiosity about unknown aspects of the world in which they live. A sense of knowledge and an ability to reflect on said knowledge allows humans to satisfy the basic need to comprehend where we come from and human nature. Asking why archaeology is important is like asking why art, history or literature is important. No two people interpret a painting or work of fiction the same way, I can explain why I believe archaeology is important either through cultural self-reflection or providing a grasp of our past. The real answer to the question “why is archaeology important in the state of Kentucky?” is complicated, there are many different answers because everyone has their own interpretation of events. The main takeaway is centered around the information gathered from archaeological sites and studies, this information can then be interpreted and utilized for individuals within different groups from an academic standpoint or a recreational heritage standpoint. In the end archaeology is important to me because it allows individuals to look at facts gathered and gain a greater knowledge of Kentucky’s prehistoric and historic residents.

By: Amanda Lilly



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