Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity in the past, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts (also known as eco-facts) and cultural landscapes (the archaeological record). Because archaeology employs a wide range of different procedures, it can be considered to be both a science and a humanity, and in the United States it is thought of as a branch of anthropology, although in Europe it is viewed as a separate discipline.
Archaeology studies human prehistory and history from the development of the first stone tools in eastern Africa 4 million years ago up until recent decades. (Archaeology does not include the discipline of paleontology.) It is of most importance for learning about prehistoric societies, when there are no written records for historians to study, making up over 99% of total human history, from the Paleolithic until the advent of literacy in any given society. Archaeology has various goals, which range from studying human evolution to cultural evolution and understanding culture history.