Artifact and Site Preservation
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Artifacts are items left behind by ancient people. Some were discarded and others, like those in graves, were deliberately placed. An artifact will only preserve in the ground if certain conditions exist.

Because artifacts only survive under specific conditions, it is impossible for an entire collection to be preserved. The artifacts archaeologists find only represent a sample of what was left behind.

Water-logged basket, Fraser Valley, BC
Book in acidic peat bog in Ireland
 ©2012 SFU Archaeology &
Tla'amin First Nation
Knife & Pouch preserved in a Glacier in BC
Child sized Yucca sandal from a dry cave in Texas
Organic Materials come from plants and animals and include berries, wood, bones, teeth, and fur. These don’t generally preserve because micro organisms – which thrive in the moist conditions in most archaeological sites – break them down. Organic materials can survive at sites with limited air or water.
  • Teeth, sea shells, seeds, and large bones often survive long after other organic materials have decomposed.


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