Why are archaeological sites often found underground?


What caused them to go “underground”?

In: 3

Dirt and debris slowly gets pushed over the site. (look at any abandoned property)

The weather and elements remove material from higher places (mountains, hills) and deposit them in lower places (e.g. river valleys). Over time the material (sediments) accumulate and cover whatever was there before them.

In case of ancient cities there is also another process – humans tend to build new stuff over older foundations and whatever rubbish that has accumulated under their feet. So over centuries cities rise up, with all the old stuff piling up underneath. So many ancient cities can now be seen as mounds which archeologists can dig in.

There’s natural causes and human causes.

For natural causes, wind carries debris like dirt and dust and leaves which can gradually bury whatever is there. Last o remember the rule of thumb is you can get about an inch of soil every like hundred years. This process varies from place to place, some places stuff builds up quicker, some places it’s slower.

But then there’s also human factors.

Most of the time, humans didn’t just up and abandon a place suddenly, and for really old cities, those cities actually got build Up over time.

Heard why, say you had a bunch of old houses you wanted to build a new bigger building on. Taking down and carrying away all the debris from those old houses is hard, really hard without modern construction equipment.

So instead they would just knock the roof/walls down, and the stomp that whole area flat with the debris, and build on top of it. This is why would hear stories or ancient basements/cellars/floors being discovered. Because they were literally just built on top of.

Soil moves a lot from wind and rain.

In some places the dirt naturally accumulates because wind is broken down there (buildings are good at that) while in others it gets moved away.

Archaeological sites that do get buried by this have a much higher chance of surviving the ages. People can’t steal the stones to build houses from it.

Just note that a lot interesting structures and items would have been high in the air, but those are not there for obvious reasons. That would be too exposed to weather and people to stay in place. The only things remaining is things that have been protected by being underground. That is the only things we are able to still see and make archeological studies of.