What is an artifact?
An artifact is anything made and/or used by humans. Archeologists usually only use the term “artifact” to describe portable items like tools, containers, and clothing. But buildings are technically artifacts too. So our Artifact Gallery includes all types of things made or used by the Ancestral Pueblo people of Mesa Verde.
What do artifacts tell us?
The artifacts on this page tell us a part of the story—the history—of today's 26 Southwestern tribes, including the Hopi and the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. Their oral histories link them to the Ancestral Pueblo people who once inhabiting the mesa tops and cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and the entire Four Corners Region. Archeologists support this connection by noting the similarities between artifacts discovered at these ancient sites, and the traditions, structures, and cultural objects used by today’s tribes.
As you explore this artifact gallery, study each photograph and read how each may have been used to see if you can begin to piece together a story. Can these items made and used by Ancestral Pueblo men and women over 700 years ago help you imagine the life they must have led? You may want to ask yourselves some of these questions.
- What do they tell us about the people who made and used these items?
- Are there questions—or answers—that are raised by a study of these artifacts?
- How would you use or make these items today?
- What can we learn of value for today by studying the past?