In this first lesson, we will try to understand: first, what is archaeology, which are its aims and its methods, Second, which was, in the past centuries, the relation with the past, and third, which is nowadays our attitude about the cultural heritage discovered through archaeological research. What is the meaning of the word “Archaeology”? What do we mean when we use the term “Archaeology”? What do we understand when we hear about “Archaeology”? In a very general sense and in the universal perception, “Archaeology” is “The Study of the Past”. The study of the past has as its aim a documented, convincing and complete reconstruction of the past of humankind since the most remote times. So, “Archaeology” deals with the sound, accurate, and articulated knowledge of humankind of the ancient times. As its subject matter is humankind and not nature, and humankind of the past, and not of the present, it's evident that Archaeology is a humanistic discipline, and a historical discipline. And it's not by chance that one of the most ancient evidences for the use of the term Archaeology, Archaiologia, was the title given to the preliminary considerations that Thucydides, the great Greek historian of the 5th century BC, presented at the beginning of the first book of his famous narration of the long and merciless war that opposed Athens to Sparta for hegemony over Greece. In this critical introduction to the historical work, Thucydides maintains that the history of the events of the past is not a matter of certainty, as it's built on “hints”, while, on the contrary, the history of the present is the only one that is really possible to tell, for the reason that there is sure evidence. In this extraordinary, albeit peculiar thoughts by the man who is believed to be the greatest historian of Classical Antiquity, one may however clearly perceive the greatest problem for Archeology as a humanistic and historical discipline: its bases in any place or time one wishes to reconstruct are inevitably “hints”, namely “fragments” of ancient reality. In the specific instance of “Archaeology”, among the other historical disciplines, which are the main foundations for this pretended accuracy and articulation of the research? The bases for archaeological research, in the larger frame of Humanities, are material remains, the remains of the so-called material culture, considered, in some way, as opposite to written remains, the remains of the so-called literate culture. Why such an opposition between the material remains and written remains of the ancient world as sources for the reconstruction of the past? The opposition is in the fact that written sources, the historical records, always include statements, judgements, evaluations: they are not neutral, they imply an ancient interpretation that needs a modern critical analysis. On the contrary, material remains, the archaeological records, never contain statements, judgments, evaluations: they are neutral, they are lacking any ancient interpretation. The first speak directly their individual language, they tell directly something: a story of themselves. The second, have no voice, they are mute, they don't tell directly anything about themselves. For the peculiar nature of the archaeological record, it has been stated by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn, that the research procedures of archeologists are similar to those of scientists more than to those of historians. In fact, scientists, as well as archaeologists, collect the data from evidences, make experiments in order to have new evidence, formulate hypothesis that have to interpret the data in order to lead to an explanation, test the hypothesis several times, comparing more data, create models that are interpretive descriptions as final explications of the observed data. It is understandable in this perspective, that Archaeology is considered a humanistic discipline, as concerns its subject, and a scientific discipline as concerns its procedure: anyhow, Archaeology is the most experimental between the humanistic disciplines. Now, however, albeit always in very general terms, on the base of those considerations, we can specify our definition of Archaeology as “The Study of the Past”. This can be done asking three, still quite general, questions. First, which past? Second, with which tools? Third, how? To the first questions (which past?) we must answer: any past, even quite close in time, not only Antiquity. And even quite distance in space, not only in Europe. For this reason, we may, on the one hand, talk about Prehistoric Archeology, for the knowledge of the remote times, since the origin of humankind, and of Medieval Archaeology, for the knowledge of the times after the end of Antiquity; these disciplines deal with very different contexts, and yet employ very similar methods, and procedures. If we think in term of space, the Archaeology more familiar for the Western World is the so-called Classic Archaeology, the Archaeology of the Greek and Roman worlds, where the closest roots of the Western World are to be found. Yet, particularly in the most recent decades, Near Eastern Archaeology, Islamic Archaeology, Meso-American Archaeology, or the Archaeology of China, just to mention a few major examples, developed and were established as autonomous disciplines, with specific problems descending from the different civilizations that they deal with, and yet united by the same methodological principles. As regards to the second question (with which tools?), one may answer with the collection, choice, analysis, interpretation of data that are the remains of material culture of the past world, compared with elements inferred from the study of written sources of the ancient world (philological studies), and with the elements inferred from the observation of the traditional cultures of the modern world (ethnographic studies). It is for this reason that when we talk about Archaeology, and is offered to us an interpretation of material remains of the disappeared world, we know that, that interpretation or explanation is based on ancient evidences - the ancient authors - and on modern experiences - ethnoarchaeological evidences. This procedures of archeological research, of course, can be used for any past at any time or space of our planet. For the third question (how?), the answer is that in our minds the word Archaeology immediately calls forth the recovery of evidences of the past by means of what we call archaeological excavation. When we hear about Archaeology, undoubtedly, our minds recall the discovery, namely, the recovery of evidences of the past and not their interpretation, or explanation. The immediate connection can be easily explained, because in the large majority of cases, the knowledge of the past, achieved by means of archeological research, has its first, basic, and irreplaceable step in archeological excavation. In fact, the archeological excavation is, as it is quite patent, the mean through which every evidence of the past, in whichever state of preservation it is, hidden from sight by its same ruin, and lost in the oblivion of time, comes to light again. In the large majority of the cases, new evidence of the past only through archaeological excavations offers itself to the research procedures, in order to come back to life and to become the object of a complete understanding. So, Archaeology is, at the same time, in any time and in any place, research about the past, rediscovery of the past, study of the past, interpretation of the past, and nowadays it also has to be protection and preservation of the recovered past, which is the cultural heritage of humankind.