Difference Between Historians and Archaeologists

By K Balaji|Updated : November 28th, 2022

The main difference between historians and archaeologists is that historians may help decide who has a genuine claim to a piece of property or why a building should be maintained. While archaeologists frequently seek out and identify the historic locations and artifacts that historians examine. Let us discuss the differences between historians and archaeologists in the upcoming sections.

Difference between Historians and Archaeologists PDF

Historians and Archaeologists are subject experts separated by scholarly boundaries that place the two professions into different subject departments, namely History and Archeology. The difference between Historians and Archaeologists lies in the fact that Historians study a chronological record of events through written records; Archeologists study past human life and activities through physical remains.

Difference Between Historians and Archaeologists

The difference between historians and archaeologists is that historians do a great amount of research and documentation of written records, etc., whereas archaeologists use excavations or new-age virtual archaeology to study.

Let us take a look at some major difference between Historians and Archaeologists mentioned in the table below.

Historians vs Archaeologists

Difference Between Historians and Archaeologists



Historians are usually subject experts on past events and their causes. They specialize in a specific geographical region, a particular historical era, or even a social phenomenon, for instance, political history, medieval history, economic history, etc.

Archaeologists carry out a scientific study of the physical remains of past human life and activities. These include artifacts, stone tools, machines, tombs, etc. Their job is to describe, analyze, and classify such material remains and place them in historical contexts.

Historians study History—analyzing past events and explaining their causes based on a critical examination of source materials.

Archaeologists study Archaeology which examines human activities during prehistory through excavation, recovery, and analysis of material artifacts, environment, etc.

History originates from the Greek word ‘Historia,’ which means knowledge or inquiry obtained by investigation.

The word Archaeology originates from the Greek word ‘Archaia,’ which means ancient things, and ‘Logos,’ meaning theory or science.

Historians perform a great deal of research for which they may also need to travel or visit archives, libraries and artifacts to confirm the authenticity of the historical data. Furthermore, they need to analyze, interpret, write and preserve historical data with other historical documents to record the historical development of empires, countries, cities, or tribes.

Archaeologists study past human activities by dating, excavating, and interpreting sites of historical interest. Furthermore, after recovering objects from sites, they analyze singular artifacts by washing, sorting, cataloging, storing, and placing them into groups to analyze patterns and historical contexts.

Information sources include Archives, Libraries, Artifacts, Written records like diaries, letters, interviews, Oral histories, Photographs, Newspaper articles, Government documents, and Literature like poems, novels, plays, music, etc.

Information sources include Cave paintings, old coins, fossils, clay and metal utensils, pottery, jewelry, furniture, and anything from simple tools to complex machines, buried houses, temples, tombs, palaces, cathedrals, pyramids, underground cities, etc.

Sub-fields include  Social History, Economic History, Environmental History, Art History, Cultural History, Military History, History of Religion, History of Geographical locations, etc.

Sub-fields include  Zooarchaeology, Paleobotany, and Archaeopedology. Archaeometry. Geoarchaeology, Ethnoarchaeology, Historical Archaeology, Underwater Archaeology, Prehistoric Archaeology, Forensic Archaeology, Experimental Archaeology, etc.

The Indian Council of Historical Research is attached to the Ministry of Education and provides financial assistance to historians and scholars through fellowships, grants, etc.

The Archaeological Survey of India is attached to the Ministry of Culture and carries out archaeological research and conserves, and preserves cultural-historical monuments of the country.

Historians and Archaeologists

Both historians and archaeologists gather evidence of past human existence to analyze human activities and social culture patterns and place them into historical contexts. Both professions reveal the past but through different study methods. Here, we have provided the difference between historians and archaeologists along with details about them.

What is a Historian?

A historian is a person who uses past occurrences, episodes, and happenings to study history. Historians conceal all of the achievements, occasions, and relationships between individuals and their surroundings and climate throughout the span of human history. An authority and subject-matter expert in history is a historian.

Historians gather their data from written accounts of historical occurrences and episodes. The study covers old or uncommon writings that were discovered on papers, stones, dried animal leaves, and leaves of leaves. They can also use printed materials like newspapers, paintings, etc., to gather knowledge. These written and recorded materials help them gather a lot of data. The role of historians includes:

  • Examining historical records.
  • Locating additional pertinent records or data.
  • Ensuring the accuracy of the information.
  • Identifying a building's historic importance.
  • Providing information about historical data.
  • Educating the public about historical sites or organizations.

What is an Archaeologist?

An archaeologist investigates the past using physical evidence from earlier times. The discipline of archaeology involves the recovery and discovery of various artifacts. The word archaeology is derived from a Greek word that refers to the study of historical events. They use data from the societies of our ancestors to learn about their way of life through the tangible remnants of their culture.

An archaeologist investigates societies, areas, ecosystems, and specific historical periods to understand more. He obtained a lot of data by examining physical remains such as human bone fragments, monuments, building ruins, and artifact remnants like jewelry, pots, weapons, coins, and ceramics. The role of archaeologists includes:

  • Carrying out research.
  • Visiting possible historical sites.
  • Establishing excavations to look for signs of historic items.
  • Cataloging discovered artifacts.
  • Giving historical site information.

Key Difference Between Historians and Archaeologists

The key difference between historians and archaeologists are given below.

  • A historian studies objects, situations, and things that have to do with humanity. The study of the past through physical events, such as artifacts and other materials, is known as archaeology.
  • The historian gathers knowledge using a variety of time-dependent sources, including print media, handwritten notes, on leaves and stones. Archaeologists use the remains of tangible objects, the designs of their homes, the destruction of buildings, and samples of items like weapons, coins, jewelry, and pots, among other things, to study historical events.
  • The duties and responsibilities of the historian include investigating, evaluating, and providing logical knowledge to state historical facts and statistics. An archaeologist's responsibility is to work in certain locations where he can gather physical evidence of the past and the artifacts that our ancestors used.
  • An archaeologist conducts fieldwork and works as a research assistant or technician, whereas historians typically find employment in universities, colleges, museums, etc.
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FAQs on Difference Between Historians and Archaeologists

  • The difference between Historians and Archaeologists is that Archeologists study history through physical remains, while historians analyze written records of past events. Both contribute to the past study of human existence, culture, and activities.

  • The difference between Historians and Archaeologists in terms of work is that Archeologists engage in fieldwork and study physical evidence, whereas historians do not engage in fieldwork and study documental evidence

  • The difference between Historians and Archaeologists is that Historians rely upon historical documents like autobiographies, history books, archives, video or audio recordings, etc., while archaeologists use fossils such as bone footprints and artifacts like coins, pottery, etc.

  • Historians study history, whereas archaeologists study archaeology. Historians look at historical events through written evidence, whereas archaeologists look at historical events through substantial proof.

  • The difference between Historians and Archaeologists in terms of types of study is that Historians need to read records, and hence they engage in indoor study, while archaeologists carry out excavations and need outdoor surveying

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