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An Introduction to Archaeology for Kids

Updated on March 14, 2015

There was a time when there was no writing, so no history was written down. So, how do we know about people who lived long ago? Archaeologists are people who learn about the past by examining things early people left behind. These things are often found in Tell Mounds.

Most tell mounds are stratified, which means they have layers. The lower strata or layers are usually older than those above them. Basically, the further underground an object is, the older it is.

In ancient times, people often built houses with bricks made from clay. Mud structures wear away over time. Often people built new structures on top of the remains of older structures. The mounds built up over hundreds of years.

Tell mound excavated by Haarachalog Zertal and Shai Bar at Haifa University, Israel.
Tell mound excavated by Haarachalog Zertal and Shai Bar at Haifa University, Israel. | Source
Ebla Clay Tablet
Ebla Clay Tablet

Learning from Tell Mounds

When people live in an area, they throw away or lose things, like pottery, tools, toys and bones. These things build up over time. Archaeologists can learn a lot about how people lived by what they left behind.

They can learn about farming methods by examining tools early people used. They can learn about hunting and war by examining weapons. They can learn about domestic or household life by studying pottery and remains of furniture. They can learn about the kinds of food eaten by examining bones and seeds. Toys often look like real things, so archaeologists can even learn about real life from toys. They can also examine artwork, like cave paintings, to learn more about how people lived long ago.

One famous tell is Ebla in the Middle Eastern country of Syria. It was an important ancient city-state. It's famous for the Ebla tablets. These are thousands of tablets and tablet fragments written in cuneiform text. The tablets are more than 4000 years old. Archaeologists have been able to learn a lot about the lives of the people who lived there in the past by reading these tablets.


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