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 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.
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.
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.
Many of the objects left behind by past human societies are not present in the archaeological record because they have disintegrated over time.