Cultural Artifact Assignment

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Cultural Artifact Assignment

Due: 10/27

What is the importance of cultural artifacts?

Cultural artifacts are any things (such as objects, writings, artwork) which give information about the people and the culture by whom the artifact was used. For example, if archaeologists discover a cooking utensil from a lost or ancient group of people, they are able to determine many things about the culture which used it, such as what they ate, how advanced their tools were, and how they prepared their food. This information, in turn, can provide insight about the hunting habits, food practices, and social customs (often connected to food and eating) of the people. And the ripples of information continue. 

Of course cultural artifacts are essential to learning more about the cultures and people who are now extinct; however, in modern cultures they are just as important in recording the lifestyles and practices of more recent time periods for the next generations. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, for example, is replete with cultural artifacts of the 1950s and '60s. By looking at the campaign material used in Kennedy's presidential bid, one can see how elections were once conducted; the displays which include rotary telephones and manual typewriters certainly represent the technological artifacts of an earlier culture.

Thinking about what cultural artifacts future generations might discover about the early twenty-first century is an interesting exercise. Perhaps they will find the plethora of empty water bottles and determine that we are a culture of waste and environmental responsibility. On the other hand, they might discover artifacts which provide evidence of a culture committed to eradicating deadly diseases. In any case, these artifacts, when taken as a whole, provide valuable information about people and cultures of the past. 


The main goal for this assignment is to understand culture and the relationship it has with artifacts. The stuff in our lives can tell a lot about us. It can tell how spend our time, how we prioritize our lives, how we communicate with others, what we value – in short, who we are. In this assignment I am asking you to find an object and explain its cultural significance. Research in this context is used to help you understand the culture and cultural uses of the object. Remember, this is analysis where you make thoughtful observations assumptions about how an object is used by a certain group.

In groups of three you and your partners will select a subculture or counterculture to explore. Your goal will be to present at least 5 artifacts from this culture.

The best cultural artifact presentations will:

1) teach us about the artifact that is the focus

2) teach us about the culture from which the artifact comes

3) make a connection between culture and the theories we have discussed in class

The assignment will be broken up into three sections as follows:

Section 1:

Describe each of the cultural artifacts. Provide details and description of the artifact (bring in the object, picture of the object, audio recording, etc.). Be able to provide a short history of the artifact (i.e. when it was created, by whom, for what reason, etc.) and include any key relevant events surrounding this artifact.

You need to have at least FIVE(5) artifacts and they should represent at least three(3) different types of objects(i.e. 2 songs, a poster, 2 musical instruments OR a magazine, a song, 3 types of food). Use a variety of resources to help you learn more. Make sure to include a list of resources (Works cited --

**NOTE: You cannot bring in anything that violates school rules. If you bring in something that it prohibited by the school or district you will be referred to the office and receive a zero for the assignment.

Section 2:

Explain the relevance of the cultural artifact to the culture it represents. A successful presentation will clearly explain each of the objects and the culture and will then explain how the two are connected. You may consider using some of the following questions to guide your presentation:
What are the values of the culture and how does the object reflect those values?

How does the object reflect the values of the cultures day-to-day life?

How is this object used by other cultures differently? What does this then say about the culture I am presenting?
Section 3:

Connect the artifact to one(or more) of the theories presented in class. What elements of the theory does the artifact in question represent? Make a direct connection! For example: The song “Dr. Feelgood” by Motley Crue highlights the drug culture of the 1980s through conflict. It details the way a poor person lacks power within the current economic system and must use illegal means to obtain wealth and influence. We can see through this artifact that an individual who lacks power and wants power is forced outside of ‘acceptable’ means to obtain status.

You must make a theoretical connection with each of the cultural artifacts you select.


  1. Five Artifacts _____/ 10

  2. Description of Artifacts _____/ 20

  3. Relevance of Artifacts _____/ 30

  4. Connection to Theory _____/ 30

  5. Works Cited _____/ 10

Total _____/ 100

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