Artefact Analysis

Humans are one of the few animal species to use artefacts, and these culturally-invested objects are one of our main sources of archaeological information. For example, artefact styles can be used to identify analytically useful cultural groupings in the absence of other kinds of evidence, as well as networks of cultural learning and patterns of cultural inheritance. Artefact distributions can indicate trade routes, particular kinds of consumer or producer, the spatial extent of human activity areas such as settlements and cemeteries, or in some cases the influence of political boundaries. Artefacts can also be analysed for their physical properties in ways that may indicate where they have come from and how they were made. Further traces of wear can suggest how an artefact was later used or how it might have been transformed and transported after deposition in the ground. To some extent, we can therefore build up a whole 'biography' behind a particular artefact from the moment that it was created to the point at which it was recovered from the archaeological record.

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