Educator Resources

Analyze an Artifact

Download the illustrated PDF version. (PDF)


Meet the artifact.

  • Material (check all that apply):
    Bone Pottery Metal Wood Stone
    Leather Glass Paper Cardboard Fabric
    Plastic Other

Observe its parts.

Describe it as if you were explaining it to someone who can’t see it.

  • Think about: shape, color, texture, size, weight, age, condition, movable parts, or anything written on it.

Try to make sense of it.

Answer as best you can.

  • Where is it from?
  • When is it from?
  • Who used it? List reasons you think so.
  • What was it used for? List reasons you think so.
  • What does this tell you about the people who made and used it?
  • What does it tell you about technology at the time it was made?
  • What is a similar item from today?

Use it as historical evidence.

  • What did you find out from this artifact that you might not learn anywhere else?
  • What other documents or historical evidence are you going to use to help you understand the event or time in which this artifact was used?

CC0 Materials created by the National Archives and Records Administration are in the public domain.