An artifact or artefact is something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, especially an object of archaeological interest.

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In archaeology, however, 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.

Cultural artifact or artefact is a term used in the social sciences, particularly anthropology, ethnology, and sociology for anything created by humans which gives information about the culture of its creator and users.

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture.

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However, modern archaeologists take care to distinguish material culture from ethnicity, which is often more complex, as expressed by Carol Kramer in the dictum "pots are not people".

An ethnic group or ethnicity is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestral, language, social, cultural or national experiences.

Material culture is the physical aspect of a culture in the objects and architecture that surround people.


Examples include stone tools, pottery vessels, metal objects such as weapons, and items of personal adornment such as buttons, jewelry and clothing.

In modern clothing and fashion design, a button is a small fastener, now most commonly made of plastic, but also frequently made of metal, wood or seashell, which secures two pieces of fabric together.

A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of stone.

Pottery is the craft of making ceramic material into pots or potterywares using mud.


Bones that show signs of human modification are also examples.

A bone is a rigid organ that constitutes part of the vertebrate skeleton.


Natural objects, such as fire cracked rocks from a hearth or plant material used for food, are classified by archeologists as ecofacts rather than as artifacts.

In historic and modern usage, a hearth is a brick- or stone-lined fireplace, with or without an oven, used for heating and originally also used for cooking food.

In archaeology, a biofact is organic material found at an archaeological site that carries archaeological significance.

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