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Home > Archaeology > Artifacts


Archaeological artifacts are physical objects created by people that survive in the ground in archaeological “sites.” Artifacts from prehistoric, or pre-European sites include stone tools, chips from making stone tools, pottery, and fire-burned rock, and bone tools where they are preserved by special soil conditions (low pH). 

Both the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor and the Maine State Museum in Augusta have excellent exhibits of prehistoric artifacts, and some of this information is available on the web, including images of Maine artifacts.  For example, go to the Layers of Time portion of the Abbe web site  

Artifacts from historic sites range from structural items such as nails and bricks, through military items including gunflints and musketballs, to personal items like clay tobacco pipes and buttons.  In between are broad categories of everyday artifacts such as iron, ceramics, and glass.  Many classes of artifacts have been thoroughly researched and individual pieces can often be dated to within a few years of manufacture.   There are numerous web sites that deal with the identification of historic artifacts.  However, a good place to start is with a book, A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America by Ivor Noël Hume (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia: 2001).

For identified photographs of 17th century southern Maine (English) colonial sites, see the Material Culture section of the Virtual Norumbega web site developed by Dr. Emerson W. Baker.

This section is designed to display archaeological artifact images that might be used by professional archaeologists to aid in identification, or might be used by the public for educational purposes.  We expect to develop this page over time.