It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
By labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
Where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
That crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
That first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
Which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
Match me such marvel, save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as time.
-- "Petra," by Dean John William Burgon
The magnificent carved facade of "the
Treasury," in the city of Petra.
The "rose-red city" of Petra in the Jordanian desert is just one of thousands of sites all over the world that record human history in all its facets, both humble and glorious. Archaeology is the study of these sites, of prehistoric and early-historic human cultures and societies. Archaeology ranges over the whole of human history, from the first development of writing over five thousand years ago up to today.
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