This interactive will guide you through the process of analyzing historical artifacts. You can apply the same methods that historians use to evaluate everyday items—from dishes, to clothing, to weapons. This process allows you to examine an artifact, recognize significant information, and consider what that data can tell you about the past.

Historians assess five key aspects of an artifact when studying the past.

  • CREATOR: Who wrote the document or made the artifact?
  • CONTEXT: Where and when was it created?
  • AUDIENCE: For whom was it made?
  • PURPOSE: What was the intended use of the document or object?
  • HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: How does this object affect our understanding of history?

Studying historical artifacts can help make history seem more real and relevant to students, and creates a connection with the past that is sometimes difficult to get from books alone.