From Artifact to History

How do archaeologists transform artifacts into evidence about the past? We address that question through an examination of a range of quotidian material remains recovered at various ancient sites – some large and famous, such as Troy and Jerusalem, others small and anonymous. At all sites, whether urban or rural, rich or poor, excavation produces an astonishing number and array of mundane items: dishes and cooking pots, tools and furniture fittings, lamps, figurines, and jewelry, wall and floor decorations, and on and on. Using archaeological reports, catalogues, and ancient sources, we learn how to identify and classify such remains, explore what they reveal about the behavior and values of their ancient users, and develop methodological guidelines for turning artifacts into historical evidence. 3 credits. Satisfies the pre-1800 requirement.