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Difference between History and Archaeology

Difference between History and Archaeology is explained here in detail. History is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection and interpretation of past events. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. It is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. This topic is important from the perspective of getting a clear distinction between History vs Archaeology.

Aspirants would find this article very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

Difference between History and Archaeology – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Aspirants can check the following links to align their preparation for UPSC 2023 examination:

Difference between History and Archaeology

The major differences between History and Archaeology are:

History Archaeology
History is the scholarly study of the past by historians. Archaeology is a branch of study that tries to find information about the past by digging artifacts and trying to understand the sequence of events of the past.
History includes authentic information about the past as and when it happened (and also why). Information arising from Archaeology are inferences; they need not necessarily be accurate on all scenarios
History began when writing was invented, and people in the past started keeping historical records of the events that took place in the past. Archaeology began in the 19th century in Europe. It does not depend on historical writings, and rather, it even goes to uncover the events that took place even in the prehistory period, like the first stone tools discovered in East Africa. 
History does not help in studying prehistoric societies as there are no written records to study them.  Archaeology helps in studying prehistoric societies, for which there are no written records.
History does not require carrying out outdoor physical activities such as surveying and carrying out excavations. Archaeology involves activities such as surveying and carrying out excavations, using drones, computational and virtual archaeology.
History does not depend on cross disciplinary research, which is required in the case of Archaeology. Archaeology depends a lot on cross disciplinary research such as paleontology, chemistry, history, anthropology, geology, physics, linguistics, ethnology, and sociology. 
Some of the major divisions in the study of history are social history, history of religion, Cultural history, Economic history, Military history, Environmental history, and study of history based on different time periods and geographical locations. Some of the major subdivisions in the study of archaeology are historical archaeology, ethnoarchaeology, experimental archaeology, and archaeometry.
Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) is the autonomous body of the Ministry of Human Resources Development. ICHR provides financial assistance to researchers in the field of history through grants, fellowships etc. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the Government agency working under the Ministry of Culture. It was founded in 1861.Archaeological Survey of India administers more than 3650 ancient monuments, archaeological sites and remains of national importance.

These are the main differences between History and Archaeology. The differences given in the above table can help the UPSC Civil Service Exam aspirants to answer any questions easily on topics related to History Vs Archaeology.

After learning about the History and Archaeology difference, it is better to know the details of History of Ancient India, History of Modern India and also complete facts on the History of Medieval India thoroughly. As Archaeology is dependent on cross functional disciplines, also learn about syllabi, books and strategies for various optional subjects, like Sociology and Anthropology, for the UPSC Exams.

Visit the below-given links to learn about Ancient, Medieval and Modern Indian History in detail, History optional syllabus, along with other information on Optional subjects like Sociology and Anthropology.

Frequently Asked Questions about History and Archaeology


How does history contribute to Archaeology?

Historical archaeology examines past records, including diaries; court, census, tax records; deeds; maps; and photographs. By combining documentation and archaeological evidence, archaeologists gain a better understanding of the past and human behavior.

What are the 5 sources of history?

Primary sources may include diaries, letters, interviews, oral histories, photographs, newspaper articles, government documents, poems, novels, plays, and music. The collection and analysis of primary sources are central to historical research.

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