Human Artifacts | Darwin and Wallace: A Nature & Fossil Store

Human Artifacts


      Artifacts are objects that have been altered or created by humans. The word “fossil” is often confused with the word “artifact,” however a fossil can only become an artifact after it has been manipulated by a human. Artifacts can represent something old, such as ancient pottery, weapons, stone tools, etc., or something cultural or modern, such as an iPod, roller skates, or a television. Cultural information concerning past civilizations can be gleaned from the study of artifacts. To date, the oldest known artifacts are that of knapped rocks (having been shaped and chipped to form a specific object) discovered in Kenya, dating back to the Pliocene Epoch approximately 3.3 million years ago. It was previously thought that the manipulation of stones into tools was the defining mark of our ancestry evolving from Australopithecus into Homo, but the discovery of these tools predate the earliest know members of our genus (which evolved approximately 2.8 million years ago). Exactly what human species made the tools is unclear. Artifacts, such as stone tools, were born out of the necessity of survival (tools needed for hunting, cutting flesh and plants, etc.), but as we banded together and developed more complex cultures, artifacts were then being created to reflect art, religion, and defense. The oldest known figurative art is that of the “Lion Man” ivory sculpture, discovered in Germany and dating back to approximately 40,000 years ago. The use of bows and arrows came just after the end of the Ice Age close to 10,000 years ago, and appears to have been used by humans globally (except for Australia). From the ancient past up to today, humans have been consistently manipulating objects into artifacts; some practical and universal, while others can sometimes only be relevant to a specific culture alone.

Click on the images below to see the incredible specimens we offer in our artifacts selection: