Experimental archaeology

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Experimental archaeology employs a number of different methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches in order to generate and test hypotheses, based upon archaeological source material, like ancient structures or artifacts.[1] It should not be confused with primitive technology which is not concerned with any archaeological or historical evidence, living history or historical reenactment, which is generally undertaken as a hobby, for entertainment or to demonstrate a romantic atmosphere of a specific (pre)historic era.

One of the main forms of experimental archaeology is the creation of copies of historical structures using only historically accurate technologies. This is sometimes known as reconstruction archaeology. However, the product of experimental archaeology is data, not the constructed item itself.

In recent years, experimental archeology has been featured in several television productions, such as BBC's "Building the Impossible" and the Discovery Channel's "Secrets of Lost Empires". On television shows, the serious scientific benefits of the techniques are somewhat lessened by imposing strict deadlines on the team.



A good example is Butser Ancient Farm in the English county of Hampshire which is a working replica of an Iron Age farmstead where long-term experiments in prehistoric agriculture, animal husbandry and manufacturing are held to test ideas posited by archaeologists. In Denmark, the Lejre Experimental Centre carries out even more ambitious work on such diverse topics as artificial Bronze Age and Iron Age burials, prehistoric science and stone tool manufacture in the absence of flint.

Other examples include:

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