Difference Between Archaeology and Anthropology

Main Difference – Archaeology vs Anthropology

Archaeology and Anthropology are both disciplines of Social science and study of human societies. The main difference between archaeology and anthropology is that archaeology is the study of past civilizations while anthropology is the study of both contemporary cultures and their historical origins. In this article, we are going to look at this difference between Archaeology and Anthropology.      

What is  Archaeology

The term, archaeology is derived from the Greek word “arkhaiologia” meaning the study of old things. Archaeology explores the societies and lives of the people who lived in the past, mainly ancient civilizations, by excavating and discovering remains from particular periods, environments, and geographical areas. These remains include the ruins of buildings, burial grounds and monuments, human fossils and artifacts or items made by our human ancestors. They pay special interest to artifacts like weapons, jewelry, furniture, pottery, coins, etc. These artifacts reveal many important information about ancient civilizations like how they obtained and prepared food and who their enemies were.

In the United States, archaeology is considered a sub-branch of anthropology while, in Europe, it is considered as a discipline of its own. It is also divided into sub-disciplines like Historical Archaeology (study of societies with some of writing), Ethnoarchaeology (study of living people), Archaeometry ( a study that aims to systematize archaeological measurement).difference between archealogy and anthropology

What is Anthropology

Anthropology is the study of humans. The term anthropology is derived from the two Greek words ‘ánthrōpos’ (human) and lógos (study). Its main subdivisions are,

  • Social anthropology – focuses on topics like customs, law and conflict resolution, economic and political organization, kinship and family structure, patterns of consumption and exchange)
  • Cultural anthropology – the study of cultural variation among humans
  • Linguistic anthropology – the study of how language influences social life
  • Biological/Physical anthropology – scientific discipline concerned with the biological and behavioral aspects of human beings, their related non-human primates and their extinct hominin ancestorsarchealogy-vs-anthropology

Difference Between Archaeology and Anthropology


Archaeology is the study of past human civilization.

Anthropology is the study of humanity.


Archaeology has sub-disciplines like historical archeology, ethnoarchaeology, archaeometry.

Anthropology has many sub-disciplines like Social, cultural, linguistic, and geographical anthropology.

Thus, it can be said that anthropology is a broader study field than archaeology.

Other fields

Anthropology merges with many other fields such as biology, geology, law, etc.

Archaeology does not merge with that many fields.

Methods/Techniques Used

Archaeology: An archaeological investigation includes several phrases:  Remote sensing, Field survey, Excavation, and finally, Analysis.

Anthropology: It is difficult to define a single process for anthropology, as it is a vast study area.


Image Courtesy:

“Museum-anthropology-vancouver-2006-05-22” by Michel Teiten http://www.mablehome.com – Own work.         (CC BY 2.5 ) via Wikimedia Commons 

“Archaeological dig, Bekonscot” by MichaelMaggs – Own work. (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Wikimedia Commons

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