Dating of archaeological sites

Laetoli even reveals footprints of humans from 3.6 million years ago.

Some sites also contain evidence of the earliest use of simple tools.

The earliest archaeological sites include those at Hadar, Ethiopia; Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli, Tanzania; East Turkana, Kenya; and elsewhere in East Africa.

These sites contain evidence of the first appearance of bipedal (upright walking), apelike early humans.

Today, archaeologists study the great cultural diversity of humanity in every corner of the world.

Archaeological study covers an extremely long span of time and a great variety of subjects.

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.Archaeology plays a major role in the study of early civilizations, such as those of the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, who built the city of Ur, and the ancient Egyptians, who are famous for the pyramids near the city of Giza and the royal sepulchers (tombs) of the Valley of the Kings at Thebes.Other sites that represent great human achievement are as varied as the cliff dwellings of the ancient Anasazi (a group of early Native Americans) at Mesa Verde, Colorado (see Mesa Verde National Park); the Inca city of Machu Picchu high in the Andes Mountains of Peru; and the mysterious, massive stone portrait heads of remote Easter Island in the Pacific.The earliest subjects of archaeological study date from the origins of humanity.

These include fossil remains believed to be of human ancestors who lived 3.5 million to 4.5 million years ago.

With its focus on the ancient past, archaeology somewhat resembles paleontologythe study of fossils of long-extinct animals, such as dinosaurs.

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