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Artifact (archaeology)

Something made by humans and of archaeological interest / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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An artifact[lower-alpha 1] or artefact (British English) is a general term for an item made or given shape by humans, such as a tool or a work of art, especially an object of archaeological interest.[1] In archaeology, the word has become a term of particular nuance and is defined as an object recovered by archaeological endeavor, which may be a cultural artifact having cultural interest.

Mycenaean stirrup jar from Ras Shamra (Ugarit) Syria, 1400–1300 BC

Artifact is the general term used in archaeology, while in museums the equivalent general term is normally "object", and in art history perhaps artwork or a more specific term such as "carving". The same item may be called all or any of these in different contexts, and more specific terms will be used when talking about individual objects, or groups of similar ones.

Artifacts exist in many different forms and can sometimes be confused with ecofacts and features; all three of these can sometimes be found together at archaeological sites. They can also exist in different types of context depending on the processes that have acted on them over time. A wide variety of analyses take place to analyze artifacts and provide information on them. However, the process of analyzing artifacts through scientific archaeology can be hindered by the looting and collecting of artifacts, which sparks ethical debate.

A 2nd century AD Sarmatian-Parthian gold necklace and amulet from the Black Sea region.