Where Did You Find It?

Part of the Petra exhibition.

Time required: 1 period

Age level: grades 1-4

Looking at an artifact in context and in association with other artifacts can shed light on its original purpose. For example, a ruler found next to a school notebook suggests that it's an artifact of learning. If it's found with a blueprint, it might be an architect's tool. Next to a trowel, it could be assisting an archaeologist.

With your class, brainstorm about what kinds of artifacts are associated with different places (e.g. a kitchen, a garage, a grocery store).

How does finding artifacts with other artifacts help you make inferences about their use?

It may be helpful to think about all the tools you need to complete a certain task. For instance to make an omelet you need a pan, a whisk or fork to beat it, a spatula to turn it, and a plate and silverware with which to eat it. By thinking about an assemblage of artifacts, it may be easier to figure out the use of each artifact. If you were to find any of the artifacts by itself it might be much more difficult to figure out what it's original use.

What types of artifacts might be found in more than one setting? What does this tell you about who used them and how?