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Archaeologists have also recorded how primitive forms of humans spread out of Africa into Asia about 1.8 million years ago, then into Europe about 900,000 years ago.
Some sites also contain evidence of the earliest use of simple tools.
Archaeology became established as a formal discipline in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
At that time, most archaeological work was confined to Europe, to the so-called cradle of civilization in southwestern Asia, and to a few areas of the Americas.
These remains include the fossils (preserved bones) of humans, food remains, the ruins of buildings, and human artifactsitems such as tools, pottery, and jewelry.
From their studies, archaeologists attempt to reconstruct past ways of life.
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.Archaeological research spans the entire development of phenomena that are unique to humans.For instance, archaeology tells the story of when people learned to bury their dead and developed beliefs in an afterlife.With its focus on the ancient past, archaeology somewhat resembles paleontologythe study of fossils of long-extinct animals, such as dinosaurs.However, archaeology is distinct from paleontology and studies only past human life.Archaeology also examines many of the same topics explored by historians.