Archaeology is usually better at providing information regarding the “small scale” aspects of an event rather than “large scale” aspects.
An archeological search may for example enable the identification of the exact hole a soldier was buried in, or the exact position of a front line; but to find out why the battle was occurring in the first place, or what the great leaders of the time were thinking, one is better off consulting period written documents.
It is difficult to pass judgment on those who loot sites of significant importance in poorer areas of the world as they are usually involved in such activities out of economical obligation, not for pleasure.
The main difference between archeology and simple digging therefore lies in the intensions and methodologies of the digger.
-all information on the artifacts recovered and the conclusions that can be drawn from the excavation must be made available to other researchers, historians and the public.
However, the following are some of the more typical and basic questions that can be answered or partially answered by battlefield archaeology: Typically, if an otherwise well known battle is investigated with archaeological methods for the first time, it can be expected that various “surprises” that will change our perception and knowledge of the battle will be uncovered.
Archeology also often sheds light on the fate of otherwise obscure individual soldiers whose bodies are recovered during excavation work, thus bringing a touch of humanity to an otherwise impersonal and distant event.
Ideally, a comprehensive report should be written and published or stored in a recognized institution or archive.
A typical local "digger", digging out of a mixture of historical interest and the need to have extra cash at the end of the month, recovering a German belt buckle with the infamous inscription "Gott mit Uns" (God with us), as well as a German tank crewman's skull insignia.
I can make presentations related to the topics covered in this page and can be contacted at the above email address.
Below I propose some thoughts and case reports related to my personal experiences in battlefield archaeology.
From an archaeological perspective, it is rather curious to find an artifact decorated with archaeological structures of a completely unrelated civilisation dating from thousands of years earlier.
The tag is named to a Gunner Thomas Leonard Hough, 1083477, of the Royal Artillery, who can unfortunately not be researched due to the strict privacy regulations of the British military archives.
Archeology is therefore only one piece of a larger puzzle of historical data.