It is increasingly difficult for prehistorians working in the twenty-first century to conceptualise the problems experienced by their predecessors, and approaches to interpretation before the 1960s are consistently criticised.
Culture history and diffusionism may - with hindsight - seem excessively preoccupied with classification and social evolution, and to have applied unsophisticated historical interpretations instead of asking fundamental questions about human behaviour.
Archaeology also examines many of the same topics explored by historians.
But unlike historythe study of written records such as government archives, personal correspondence, and business documentsmost of the information gathered in archaeology comes from the study of objects lying on or under the ground Archaeologists refer to the vast store of information about the human past as the archaeological record.
The extent of documentation varied considerably in 'historical' cultures and the information that survives is determined by a variety of factors.
History, anthropology, and archaeology are three distinct but closely related bodies of knowledge that tell man of his present by virtue of his past.
These techniques both place assemblages of artefacts into relative order.
Petrie used sequence dating to work back from the earliest historical phases of Egypt into pre-dynastic Neolithic times, using groups of contemporary artefacts deposited together at a single time in graves.
This sort of information helps archaeologists to put objects into an age sequence.
Relative dating does not give archaeology absolute dates that can be tied into a calendar.