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- the scientific study of ancient or historic physical remains of human activity, both above and below ground. This is related to but different from history, the study of documentary evidence of the human past, and palaeontology, the study of fossil plants and animals. Archaeology can include quite recent material, for example, early industrial monuments such as abandoned mines and iron works, or the largely undocumented world war II defences around Britain. For years plans and other documentation relating to these were not available to the public because of secrecy laws, but the information was available through the Luftwaffe. For an exellent acount of the relationship between archaeology and other disciplines involved in conservation work, see "Building on the Past" by Greg Mcgill.