How Do Archaeologists Determine the Purpose and Meaning of Ancient Monuments?

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We all know that archaeologists have a knack for discovering ancient monuments and structures that were built thousands of years ago — it’s their life’s purpose, after all. But have you ever wondered how they figure out exactly what they're looking at? How they can tell whether the remains of a 7,000-year-old structure were a temple of devotion to an animal god or a simple livestock corral?

The answer involves quite a bit of literal and figurative digging, which is why it’s time to unearth some of the ways archaeologists piece together hints from dig sites to reveal what happened — along with what people were like and what was important to them — in ancient times. By taking a look at real-life examples from actual excavation sites, it’s easier to see just how researchers arrived at various theories about different locations’ pasts.