First Year, Section 2

Junior Cert History > First Year > Archaeology

Archaeologists study history by looking for and examining artifacts, which are objects from the past which might be found underground. A lot of artifacts from prehistoric times are found this way, including dinosaur fossils (though the people who work on them are called palaeontologists, pay-lee-on-tologists) or tools, weapons and jewellery used by people who lived in ancient times.

The first people to live in Ireland arrived during the Mesolithic Period. Archaeologists have found artifacts belonging to them and to every group of people to live in Ireland since then. Most artifacts that are found end up in museums - have a look in your local museum to find out what's been found near you!

Next Stop: Mesolithic and Neolithic Ireland

Here's a checklist to help you revise for this section.
  • What the archaeologist does:
    • What makes an archaeologist different from a historian? What does he look for?
  • How archaeological sites are found: 
    • There are many different ways archaeologists can figure out a good place to look for artifacts. You must be able to name and describe some of them.
  • The steps of an excavation:
    • From planning the dig to sending the findings off to a lab!
  • How to date an artifact:
    • How do archaeologists know how old an artifact is? There are different ways to measure this, how many can you name?

Tips and Advice

Ordinary Level:
1. Give one method used by archaeologists to locate sites for excavation. (2011 OL)

2. State one way that archaeologists decide where to dig. (2011 OL)

3. Name one thing archaeologists have to be careful about when working on a dig. (2010 OL)

Higher Level:
1. Name two instruments which an archaeologist would use to excavate a site. (2013 HL)  

Archaeologists find the remains of a Roman horse.
2. Name two methods of dating which an archaeologist would use to date objects found on a site. (2009 HL)

3. What term do archaeologists use to describe objects made by people in the past? (2008 HL)


An archaeologist at work.

      The websites below have a lot of information about what archaeologists do and what they found, in Ireland and elsewhere.

      Irish Archaeology Blog
      This blog was set up by an Irish archaeologist and it shows examples of many different things found by archaeologists in Ireland and throughout the world. It has a timeline describing what archaeologists have found about early life in Ireland, and hundreds of pictures of different artefacts, along with many interesting facts.

      Archaeology for Kids
      This is a good site for revision and for finding out a few extra things about archaeologists that aren't in your History book. There's information about famous archaeologists from around the world, and games and puzzles to play as well.

      National Geographic: Ten Cool Archaeological Sites
      NG have a list of ten interesting sites from around the world. Their History site has a lot of information on a lot of other topics too.