Archaeology is the study of man through the things he has left behind and the soil of the land can tell us much about our past.

The archaeological method of excavation, dating of artefacts, habitation remains, the role of the museum, and the discovery in the 19th century of the three archaeological ages.

The soil of Ireland has determined to a considerable extent the way of life and the outlook of the Irish people. The soil has supported generation after generation of people who built their homes where land offered them a way of life and where the natural features offered protection from the enemy.

The soil of Ireland is a primary part of our heritage.

The soil provides a record of the past by burying and retaining the ornaments and instruments of the time. The soil has become a history book of the past.

Historians use written or printed documents to discover more about the past since people were able to write. The extent of recorded history varies from region to region. Archaeology provides a record of pre-literary times. Archaeologists make their assessments of the past based on what they find.

Archaeology is the study of man based upon the things he has left behind him.

Surviving structures, like the chamber burial ground of New Grange, provide a story of how people lived long ago.

People have lived in Ireland for 8,000 years or more and traces of life can be found all over the land. Archaeologists can tell this story by examining artefacts and the remains of habitation and burial places. Artefacts can be found by chance or in scientific excavations and are of prime importance as historical documents.

Relics of the past which only a trained archaeologist can assess.

The National Monuments Act (1930) requires that every archaeological object found in Ireland must be reported to the Director of the National Museum of Ireland. Every single object made in pre-industrial times was made by hand and as such tell a story of how people lived.

It is important for archaeologists to establish when objects were made and used and in order to do this effectively, an elaborate time scale has been devised. The time scale is based on the layers or strata in the ground where the object was discovered. Objects found higher in the ground come from a later period than those found at lower levels. This method of chronological identification gave rise to the Three Ages System - The Stone Age, The Bronze Age and The Iron Age. This system of identification was devised by Danish archaeologist Christian Jürgensen Thomsen who had been assigned the task of organising the great collections of antiquities at the Danish National Museum. He segregated the materials into these three groups.

This episode of 'Heritage' titled 'The Tools of the Trade' was broadcast on 17 May 1967. The presenter is Andy O'Mahony.

The programme 'Heritage' was a seven part survey of Irish archaeology from early times to the Cistercian Reform and the Norman Invasion. It was written by Dr Joseph Raftery, President of the Royal Irish Academy.