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The importance of archaeology to the study of African history


The archaeological field involves the study of excavated objects from particular areas to be able to have an insight into how that particular society may have lived in the past. With the study of the objects excavated from the area, the historian is able to reconstruct the past of that community.

Used as a confirmation tool
One of the reasons why archaeology is important to the study of African history is that, it helps to confirm the things have been said about the history of the people in earlier times. For example, if there was a story about a linkage between an Africa tribe and Europe, the discovery of an ancient coin in the vicinity, can confirm that belief. This is especially so if a Carbon-14 test is conducted and the date of the coin can be confirmed. The converse is also true, where archaeology can disprove an earlier held belief.

It confirms the pre-existence of Africa
Archaeology is also important to the study of African history because it helps to confirm that the African had a history before the first contact with Europe. Archaeologists have been able to prove that the Early Stone Age has links with the African continent.

Useful in the absence of other proofs
In the absence of any other evidence for the reconstruction of African history, archaeology becomes useful as a tool to write the history of Africa. In that sense, it is important to the study of African history.

Helps to discover ancient African civilizations
It is important to note that archaeology has, over the years, been used to prove that man originated from Africa. Archaeologists have been able to show evidence that the oldest man on planet earth is traceable to the African continent. For this reason, the use of archaeology in the study of African history is very crucial.

Exposes the rich culture of Africa
It is a fact that much of the information available about the rich culture of Africa emanated from the evidenced pieced together by the work of archaeologists. Some of the rich cultural practices of the continent of Africa can now be traced to the rich culture of past African communities.

Adaptable to changes in lifestyles and environment
Archaeology is important because it shows how the African has adapted to his or her environment over the millennia. In other words, the various changes in life, climate and other conditions documented and how the African has adapted to those changes over the years.

Fear of unreliability
There is no exact way of preserving the knowledge acquired from the findings of archaeology. This, therefore, raises the issue of the reliability of facts assembled from archaeological findings. Since archaeology is just a non-documentary source, the facts about archaeological sources may be distorted.

Accuracy of information
The materials that are excavated by archaeologists have been buried for several years to the point where they have suffered from wear and tear. The disfiguring of the archaeological excavations may not allow for accurate conclusions to be made.

 Allows room for conjecture
One other problem about the use of archaeology as a source of African history is that archaeological findings are not conclusive enough to arrive at accurate reconstruction of the history of a people. This, therefore, leaves room for much conjecture by the historians which may affect the accuracy of facts.

1. Discuss how archeology and oral traditions help in the writing of African history.

2. Show six ways in which archeologists help the writing of African history.

3. Explain six ways archeologists help in the writing of African history.

4. Outline the importance of archeology as a source of African history.

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