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Cultural artifact

Cultural artifact

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Encyclopedia
A cultural artifact is a term used in the social sciences, particularly anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, ethnology
Ethnology
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

, and sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

for anything created by humans which gives information about the culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 of its creator and users. Usage of this term encompasses the type of archaeological artifact
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

 which is recovered at archaeological site
Archaeological site
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved , and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record.Beyond this, the definition and geographical extent of a 'site' can vary widely,...

s; however, current objects of modern or near-modern society are also cultural artifacts. For example, in an anthropological context, a 17th-century lathe
Lathe
A lathe is a machine tool which rotates the workpiece on its axis to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.Lathes are used in woodturning,...

, a piece of faience
Faience
Faience or faïence is the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body, originally associated with Faenza in northern Italy. The invention of a white pottery glaze suitable for painted decoration, by the addition of an oxide of tin to the slip...

, or a television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 each provide a wealth of information about the time in which they were manufactured and used. Cultural artifacts can provide knowledge about technological processes, economy and social makeup, and a host of other subjects.

See also

  • Social artifact
    Social artifact
    Social artifact is any product of individuals or groups or of their social behavior.Artifacts are the objects or products designed and used by people to meet re-occurring needs or to solve problems....

  • Biofact
    Biofact (archaeology)
    In archaeology, a biofact is an object, found at an archaeological site and carrying archaeological significance, but previously unhanded by humans. A common type of biofact is a plant seed...

  • Mentifact
    Mentifact
    Mentifact is a term coined by Sir Julian Sorell Huxley, used together with the related terms "sociofact" and "artifact" to describe how cultural traits, such as "beliefs, values, ideas," take on a life of their own spanning over generations, and are conceivable as objects in themselves...

  • Art object