Archaeology is the study of human culture through material goods. These goods can include structures, artifacts, and organic material. The specific type of artifact to be examined determines which branch of archeology is best for that situation. There are seven major branches of archaeology; prehistoric, historic, biblical, Zooarchaeology, Bioarchaeology, Ethnoarchaeology, and Paleopathology.
Prehistoric and historic archaeology are distinguished by the age of the artifact found. Prehistoric includes the study of anything from before written language. The introduction of written language was around 500 years ago; anything newer than that is considered to be historic archaeology.
Biblical archaeology is the study of any artifact related to the bible. This also includes artifacts relating to saints and the Catholic Church. This can be either prehistoric or historic depending on the age.
Zooarchaeology is the study of animal remains from archaeological sites. The remains they study are most often the hard points of the body such as teeth, bone and shells. The study of these remains help archaeologists determine the lifestyle and food preferences of a society.
Bioarchaeology is the study of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites. They determine the age, sex and stature of human remains. They look for both skeletal and dental signs of malnutrition and can often determine the health of the person before they died. They also check for mechanical stress and activity indicators which can help identify the typical jobs of a society.
Paleopathology is the study of ancient diseases; specifically they look for signs of disease or trauma present on bones. Many serious diseases, such as syphilis and tuberculosis, leave distinguishable signs on the bones of those infected. Studying human remains helps understand past disease trends and can be applied to prevent future trends in the future.
Ethnoarchaeology is the archaeological study of living cultures. This branch focuses mainly on living hunting and gathering societies. They study these living societies to better understand how the people of the past live. This study focuses more on materials and non-material traditions than on the culture of a society. They apply the way modern hunting and gathering societies live to better understand how people of the past survived.
There are many specific types of archeology and each has its own place. They must all work together to correctly figure out the way an ancient society lived and what happened to it. These are just the major groups of archaeology; there are many more disciplines available and each branch has its own specialties.