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Archaeology, archeology, or archæology (from Greek: αρχαίος, archaios, combining form in Latin archae-, "ancient"; and λόγος, logos, "knowledge") is the study of human cultures through the recovery, documentation and analysis of material remains and environmental data, including architecture, [[Artifact Looting of archaeological sites by people in search of hoards of buried treasure is an ancient problem. For instance, many of the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs were looted in antiquity. The advent of archaeology has made ancient sites objects of great scientific and public interest, but it has also attracted unwelcome attention to the works of past peoples. A brisk commercial demand for artifacts encourages looting and the illicit antiquities trade, which smuggles items abroad to private collectors. Looters damage the integrity of a historic site, deny archaeologists valuable information that would be learnt from excavation, and are often deemed to be robbing local people of their heritage.

The popular consciousness often associates looting with poor Third World countries. Many are former homes to many well-known ancient civilizations but lack the financial resources or political will to protect even the most significant sites. Certainly, the high prices that intact objects can command relative to a poor farmer's income make looting a tempting financial proposition for some local people. However, looting has taken its toll in places as rich and populous as the United States and Western Europe as well. Abandoned towns of the ancient Sinagua people of Arizona, clearly visible in the desert landscape, have been destroyed in large numbers by treasure hunters. Sites in more densely populated areas farther east have also been looted. Where looting is proscribed by law it takes place under cover of night, with the metal detector a common instrument used to identify profitable places to dig.