The primary importance of archaeology is that artifacts from earlier civilizations are seen as a type of non-renewable or finite resource. Before the advent of archaeology as a science, and also when proper archeological procedures are not followed, many unique artifacts related to a vast array of different customs and lifestyles, were lost, broken, or looted. The importance of archaeology continues to grow because of environmental changes that render archaeological sites irrecoverable.
Archaeologists can only speculate as to the amount of cultural evidence that has been lost in this manner. In most cases, the Earth is toiled by a layperson who cannot discern between dirt and archaeological material. For example, in the United States, many known Native American encampments have been handled carelessly and not according to archaeology protocols, leading to holes in the timeline of the Native American people.
The importance of archaeology science is blatantly realized in light of the fact that over 99% of humanity lived in primitive cultures, most of which did not write or record events in the traditional sense. Without the use of archaeology, discovered cultures that did not keep records would be considered mostly irrelevant, in a scientific sense, due to the lack of evidence to examine and compare them with other known cultures of the time. Some researchers highlight the importance of archaeology when they articulate the evolutionary process from the first humanoids to modern day man. The opinion of many archaeologists is that understanding the past related to how humans, as a species, began to use complex tools and sustain agriculture.
The tangible importance of archaeology has been tested many times during the last few decades. Urban sprawl and the need for building materials and other resources obtained from the ground is sometimes argued to be more pertinent than procuring artifacts. In the specific case of Native American culture, which often settled in the fertile river valleys throughout the US, it clashed with the developing mineral mining business because river valleys were found to have a significant abundance of equitable minerals and other compounds that could be sold and used in manufacturing. Measures have been implemented in the past few decades that, perhaps most importantly, require the consultation of archeological investigators before any work within the Earth commences. The importance of archaeology is stressed in communication with developers and other contractors working around the world so that archaeological items may be preserved in as many instances as possible.