Famous find in archaeology


The science of archaeology began about five hundred years ago when many people found it profitable to dig up old marble statues and ornaments that had been made by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and sell them to rich noblemen. Most of these were found in Greece, Italy, and islands in the Mediterranean Sea, which had been the centers of civilization for more than two thousand years. Men began to study these artistic relics, and found that they could learn from them about the ways of life of other men who had lived long ago. Because this is such an interesting study, scientists became interested in man-made things from prehistoric times, even if they were not beautiful pieces of art. Then, by accident, some farmers in Italy discovered that they were living on top of an ancient Roman city that had been buried for more than sixteen hun-1 dred years. The name of this city was Herculaneum. It and another city of ancient Rome, named Pompeii, were built beside a great volcano named Vesuvius. In the year 79, an eruption of Vesuvius poured out so much lava and dust that both Herculaneum and Pompeii were buried. In the year 1719, archaeologists began to dig to uncover them. After more than fifty years, they had uncovered two complete cities with fine houses, theaters, streets, temples, and everything else that showed exactly how people had lived in ancient Rome. At the end of that century, one of the greatest of all archaeological discoveries was made in Egypt. This was the finding of the Rosetta Stone, about which there is a separate article. The Rosetta Stone was a sort of “billboard,” used in the years before paper was made and when men had to carve their writings on stones or on tablets of clay. The Rosetta Stone had the same words in two different languages. One language was Greek, which the scientists already knew well. The other was ancient Egyptian, which they did not know. From the Rosetta Stone they learned to read ancient Egyptian. Ever since, archaeologists have been able to read whatever ancient Egyptian writing they have dug up, and this has helped them to learn much about the history of Egypt and the people who lived there thousands of years ago. The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799. Many other discoveries were made during the next hundred years, but perhaps the most interesting was the Altamira caves, in the mountains of northern Spain. On the walls of these caves are paintings of bulls and other animals that were hunted by prehistoric men. These paintings were made by men who lived as much as twenty thousand years ago, maybe even more, but they are so well done that many modern artists can admire them as much for their beauty as for their age. From paintings like these, archaeologists find out how men lived by hunting, and other things about the culture of that age so long ago. Archaeology goes on constantly. On every continent, and on islands separated from the continents, such as Great Britain and Ireland, archaeologists have found traces of the men who came many ages before us, our ancestors

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Rosetta Stone, Ancient Egyptian

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