Many of the objects left behind by past human societies are not present in the archaeological record because they have disintegrated over time.
The material remains that still exist after hundreds, thousands, or millions of years have survived because of favorable preservation conditions in the soil or atmosphere.
The earliest subjects of archaeological study date from the origins of humanity.
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.
Archaeology also examines many of the same topics explored by historians.
But unlike historythe study of written records such as government archives, personal correspondence, and business documentsmost of the information gathered in archaeology comes from the study of objects lying on or under the ground Archaeologists refer to the vast store of information about the human past as the archaeological record.
Archaeological research spans the entire development of phenomena that are unique to humans.