We found lost cultures, and learned how to understand the past.
Advances in geology showed the antiquity of the Earth, and of man upon it. Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species
(1859) helped us to understand how to deduce the chronological relationship of artefacts, and inspired a search for origins. We learnt how cultures interacted with each other, and began to appreciate non-classical achievements and aesthetics. Petra instantly took a grip on the imagination, which it would never surrender.
What archaeologists found did not always agree with what they had expected from classical and/or biblical sources. What did this mean for how each was to be understood? Archaeology even brought to light cultures long forgotten: the Minoans on Crete, the Nabataeans in Jordan. Fabled Troy would be located.
Excavators at sites in the Arab and Ottoman world found new interpretative tools. British archaeologist Flinders Petrie was one such pioneer. He established the principles by which the objects produced by a culture could be arranged chronologically by comparing the changes in styles.