Using Artifacts to Analyze Ancient Civilizations

This activity helps students to think critically about historical interpretation

Developed by
Lori Beza
Social Studies Teacher
Schenectady High School, Schenectady New York

Directions | Descriptions of Ancient Civilizations | Artifacts | Resources | Credits | Email |

Don't just memorize the theories of other historians, question them!

1. Choose an ancient civilization
2. Read about the economic, social and political life of that society and complete chart. Click here to print the chart.
3. Look at three artifacts from that civilization and analyze whether the artifacts agree with your previous research. Complete a chart describing and analyzing your artifact. Click here to print Artifact Analysis chart.
4. Write a paper describing the economic, social and political life of the civilization and evaluating whether or not the artifact supports the interpretation you have read. Click here for a graphic organizer to help you write your paper. Your project will be evaluated using a rubric. Click here to see a copy of the rubric.
Ancient Civilizations - Choose one, use the links and/or any other resource to read about the civilization. Then look at three artifacts from the civilization you chose. Use the Artifact Analysis Chart to evaluate. 
Greece Religion

Rome Religion
General overview
Gupta Empire Brief overview
Indus River Valley Civilization history
Han Dynasty history Artifacts
Mesopotamia History
more Politics
Egypt Economy
Artifacts of Ancient Greece


2.Statuette of man and centaur

3. Plaque with two women

4. Two helmets

5. Statue of a kouros (youth)

6. Lekythos (oil flask)

7. Neck-amphora (jar) with lid

8. Grave stele of a youth and a little girl with finial in the form of a sphinx

9. Statuette of Herakles

10.Psykter (vase for colling wine)

11. Calyx-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water)

12. Scaraboid with an archer testing an arrow

13. Amphora (jar)

14. Plaque with the return of Odyssseus

15. The Ganymede Jewelry

16. Statuette of a veiled and masked dancer


Artifacts of Rome

1.Tarantine grave relief

2.Torso of Ptolemaic King

3. Tivoli Hoard

4. Sword

5. Cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor


Artifacts of the Gupta Empire

1.Model of a stupa (Buddhist shrine)

2. Standing Buddha

3. Krishna battling the horse demon Keshi


Artifacts of the Indus River Valley Civilization

1.Stamp seal and modern impression: unicorn or bull and inscription

2. Bowl with painted decoration

3. Recumbent mouflon

4. Anthropomorph


Artifacts of the Han Dynasty

1.Model of a stupa (Buddhist shrine)

2. Standing Buddha

3. Krishna battling the horse demon Keshi


Artifacts of Mesopotamia

1.Administrative tablet with cylinder seal impression of a male figure, hunting

2.Standing male worshipper

3.Headdress with leaf-shaped ornaments

4. Cylinder seal and modern impression: hunting scene

5. Seated statue of Gudea

6. Head of a male

7. Molded plaque with a king or god carrying a mace

8. Necklace pendants and beads

9. Sickle sword

10. Relief: king and eunuch attendant

11. Human-headed winged lion (lamassu)

12. Nubian with oryx, monkey, and leopard skins

13. Cylinder seal and modern impression: Ishtar image and worshipper below a canopy

14. Panel:striding lion

15. Standing Woman

16. Earring in the form of a three-lobed wineskin

17. Figure of a reclining woman

18. Door lintel with lion-griffins and vase with lotus leaf

19. Woven Tapestry Fragment

20. Bowl


Artifacts of ancient Egypt

1. Granary

2. Ritual Figure 

3. Pectoral of Princess Sit-Hathor-yunet  

4. Hatshepsut

5. Prancing Horse

6. Canopic Jar Lid

7. Section from “Book of the Dead” of Nany

8. Statuette of Amun

9. Lotiform Cup

10. Kushite Pharaoh

11. Reliefs from the Tomb of Nes-peka-shuty

12. Statuette of a Woman

13. The God Horus Protecting King Nectanebo II

"" Online Clipart. 21 August 2003. Discovery Channel. 22 August 2003 <>.

"Kids Domain." Clip Art. 21 August 2003. Kaboose Incorporated. 21 August 2003 <