What Can We Learn from Artifacts?

What Can We Learn from Artifacts?


What do we know about how our ancestors lived and how do we know it? Use the resources on this sheet to help you learn about archaeologists and their study of artifacts.


Begin your exploration of archaeology by viewing these videos from National Geographic:

As you watch the videos, answer these questions on your What Can We Learn from Artifacts? student sheet:

  • Name some of the artifacts that were found by the archaeologists.
  • How were the artifacts found?
  • What are some of the processes that the archaeologists use to uncover the artifacts?
  • What are some of the tools that they use?
  • In the "Archaeology with Kate" video, what did Kate think the artifact was? Do you agree? Do you have your own ideas for what it could be?

Go to If Trash Could Talk to see the directions for how to do the hands-on activity. Follow the directions and answer the questions on Think About It: What Does Your Trash Say? sheet. Then answer these questions on your student sheet:

  • What items in someone's trash could tell us what the person might look like (physical characteristics)?
  • What items in the trash could tell us something about the person's behavior?

Now visit the Dirt Detective game on the Colonial Williamsburg website. Included with the questions is an online journal where you can write notes. Once you've finished the game, you can print out the journal.

Answer these questions on your student sheet:

  • Where are the oldest layers of soil and where are the youngest?
  • What are post holes? What can they tell us about an archaeological site?
  • What types of artifacts do you see in the different layers?
  • Why do we see different artifacts in different layers?
  • What might happen to some of the artifacts in the newer layers over time?
  • Which ones might hold up over time?

This esheet is a part of the Artifacts 1: What Can We Learn From Artifacts? lesson.

Did you find this resource helpful?

Esheet Details