FAQ Finding and Identifying

I found an artifact that I would like more information about --how can I get it identified?

Object identification services are available from The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Office of Public Outreach in the Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Anthropology. [The Society for American Archaeology does not offer object identification services.]

Can you tell me how much my artifact or collection is worth?

Museums and professional archaeology societies do not offer monetary evaluations of objects. There are, however, a number of professional appraisal societies that perform this service.

Archaeologists value artifacts for the information they contain about life in the past.

Test your ‘valuation’ skills as an archaeologist:

Question 1:
A gold cross is discovered during an excavation at a Spanish mission site in Florida. The mission dates to 1732. The part of the mission that the cross was found in is labeled on historical maps as ‘the Indian Barracks’. Why is this cross valuable evidence for the archaeologist?

Answer:
The cross might indicate that the Native Americans living at the mission station had adopted Christianity as a religious practice.

Question 2.
A metal toy train engine is found while digging in the garden of an old house. The number ‘1924’ is found on the bottom of the train. Why is this toy train valuable to the archaeologist?

Answer.
This artifact might indicate that a child – probably a boy – lived in this house 80 years ago.

Information Courtesy of Maureen Malloy, SAA Public Education Manager.

Posted by Patrice L. Jeppson 02/18/05  updated 02/03/10