Artifacts: Definition, Types, and Examples

Artifacts are – Since ancient times, civilizations have continued to develop by renewing old civilizations passed on from ancestors. Humans who lived hundreds of years ago preserved their experiences through various things, one of which is artifacts.

Artifacts, as cultural heritage objects, play an important role in the preservation of native Indonesian traditions, science and philosophy. Through cultural heritage such as artifacts, we can see the development of Indonesian culture.

In this article, we will discuss more about the meaning of artifacts, their advantages and disadvantages, examples of artifacts, and their benefits. Listen to the end, OK!

Meaning of Artifact

Artifacts are basically cultural relics in the form of past man-made equipment. Artifacts can be made of wood, stone, metal, bronze, animal bones, or something else.

The shape can also vary, ranging from magnificent temples, fortresses, inscriptions, clothes, tombs, household utensils, currency, or other objects.

Indonesia has a long history, therefore the artifacts found come from various cultures. There are artifacts from the kingdoms of Majapahit, Kutai, Sriwijaya, or Tarumanegara.

All of these cultural heritages are used by historians to find out how the form of life, culture, where it was made, as well as the conditions of the Indonesian people in the past in certain periods.

How did it happen? Because artifacts, as historical sources, can indirectly tell us about something in the past. In addition, artifacts can also be considered as the result of human activities that provide information about human life in the past. As explained by Herimanto and Eko Targiyanti in the book SMA/MA Kl.X History of Indonesia Jl.1 K/13 Hots Obligatory.

In conclusion, with the presence of artifacts, historians will know what historical reality was like in Indonesia. Without artifacts, we will never know how Gajah Mada once swore to conquer the entire archipelago. This is because history emerges because of constructions made by historians of artifacts and other historical sources.

Artifact advantages and disadvantages

From the explanation above, it is very clear that artifacts can support historical writing, strengthen arguments in historiography, or open opportunities to seek new interpretations of historical events that occurred in the past.

However, most of the artifacts found were very old and in incomplete condition, so the historical research process was hampered or the research results were not necessarily accurate even though they were built using scientific methodology.

But that doesn’t mean that historians haven’t succeeded in correcting the facts and reality of the artifacts they found. For example Agus Aris Munandar in his book entitled Siliwangi, History and Culture of Old Sundanese can explain the history and culture of ancient Sundanese people based on the information he got from several artifacts found in Sundanese lands.

Artifact Examples

One day, hundreds of years from now, today’s human culture will become an artefact. Such as writings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, batik, to wedding traditions. Because things like that have a concrete form. This means that it can be seen and also touched directly by the five senses.

This is what historians do to study Indonesian history in the past. They examined various artifacts that are widespread throughout the territory of the Republic of Indonesia. Here are some examples of artifacts that have been found in Indonesia:

Inscription Temple Statue Statue
Sojomerto inscription Borobudur temple Buddha statue in South Sulawesi Kertanegara Statue
Ligor Inscription Mount Wukir Temple Buddha Statues in the City

Wake up (Kutai)

Joko Dolog statue
Pasemah Inscription Sambisari Temple Ganesha statue in Sarawak
Karang Brahi inscription Dieng Temple Statue of Vishnu Cibuaya I
Stone Lake Inscription Gedong Songo Temple Statue of Vishnu Cibuaya II
The Talang Tuo Inscription Pringapus Temple
The Kedukan Bukit Inscription. Selegriya Temple
Lebak Inscription Prambanan temple
Muara Cianten inscription Mount Kawi Temple
Pasir Awi inscription Gangsir Mountain Temple
Monument Inscription Songgoriti Temple
Guava Inscription Hemisphere Temple
Coffee plantation inscription Kidal Temple
Ciaruteun inscription Jago Temple
Kutai Inscription Simping Temple

Apart from the examples above, there are also other artefacts related to the daily life of ancient humans, such as stone tools, bones, pottery, metal weapons, and so on. Some of those found in Indonesia are:

Hand ax

A hand ax is a weapon used for hunting and daily food needs by humans who lived in prehistoric times. Hand-held ax artifacts found in several areas in Indonesia. There are found in Bali, Lampung, and other areas.

See also  Abstraction is the Structure of an Anecdote Text, Check Out More!

Bone knife

This animal bone knife is a relic of humans who lived in the Paleolithic era and is the result of the ngandong culture.


There are also arrow artifacts made of limestone. These artifacts were found in caves in Tuban, East Java and the Lawa Sampung Caves.

Artifact Types

Theoretically, artifacts can actually be divided into two kinds, namely:

Movable artifacts

Movable artifacts are objects of historical heritage that can be moved easily, such as being lifted by hand, transported by vehicle, or other means. Movable artifacts are usually only referred to as artifacts.

The artifact doesn’t move

The second is an immovable artifact. Even if you want to move it, you have to destroy the structure and matrix. Some objects included in immovable artifacts include monuments, temples, statues, or statues from various periods of human cultural development.

There are also those who classify artifacts based on the time they were created, for example like:

Artifacts from the Paleolithic Period

This is an artifact made in the Paleolithic era. Most of them were tools that could protect humans at that time, such as hand axes or chopping axes found in Ngandong, East Java.

Artifacts from the Mesolithic Period

Artifacts from the Mesolithic period are mostly objects used in dwellings, such as hand axes, grinders, and also bones. From the shape of these artifacts, it can be concluded that humans in the Mesolithic era had started to build permanent residences because their way of life no longer moved from one place to another.

Artifacts from the Megalithic Period

The Megalithic period is also known as the great stone age where humans started making large buildings out of stone. Because of this, the artifacts made during this era were mostly menhirs, dolmens, coffins, sarcophagi and statues.

Artifacts from the Metal Age

Historical Sources Other Than Artifacts

As previously mentioned, artifacts are one of the historical sources used by historians to find out the facts and events that occurred in the past. So, apart from artifacts, there are other historical sources that you should know about.

Primary source

Primary historical sources are sources that directly witness a historical event. Therefore Nugroho Notosusanto in Marwan (2009) refers to it as a source whose information is obtained directly from those who witnessed an event with their own eyes or other five senses or mechanical devices.

Primary sources are more useful for historians because they have the ability to understand and interpret the testimony directly from the source. Primary sources are further divided into several sections, namely:

Written Source

Written sources are sources that are often used in historical research. You can see the various written sources in the table below:

Types of Written Sources The explanation
Reports Reports can mean reports made by government or non-government institutions which are often made annually.

Government reports can be in the form of annual reports which contain various information regarding government affairs.

Meanwhile, non-government reports can be in the form of company reports which can provide information about company developments during a certain period.

Letters Letters that can be historical sources can be private letters or official letters made by the government directly.

Through this letter, we can get information about what happened when the letter was written. Such as the date, who the recipient is, who wrote it, and the contents of the letter itself.

Newspaper News published in newspapers records and records various daily events that occur in society.

The topics also vary, there are economic, social, cultural, to political news.

For historical researchers, news like this can be research material – depending on what theme is being studied.

Usually the news from one newspaper is different from other newspapers, therefore the more news that is collected, the more complete the information will be.

Because basically, every newspaper has its own mission and interests in shaping public opinion.

As a result, there must be differences in the assessment of an event. For example, government and private newspapers, of course, will have different views.

Moreover, newspapers from political parties will definitely focus more on spreading the program or mission of that party.

Personal note Some people used to record important events that he experienced in personal notebooks.

When needed, personal notes such as these can provide other information that may not be recorded in official reports or newsletters.

For example, the notebook of someone who lived in 1965 and witnessed or experienced the G30S/PKI tragedy first hand can provide information about the state of society that is not available in the news.

Even though such information can make us know what the actual conditions were when the tragedy occurred.

Minutes of meeting Meeting minutes are notes that contain information about important matters discussed at the meeting.

This record is made by a secretary or assigned directly. Notes like this can also be useful to provide information about an event that occurred.

See also  difference between financial lease and operating lease

Oral Source

Oral sources are historical sources that rely on the memories of actors or direct witnesses of historical events. The memories are then expressed verbally, therefore the speaker or source is fully responsible for the accuracy of the information he conveys so that it can be used as a source for historical writing.

In addition, oral sources can also be used to supplement information obtained from written sources if needed. However, oral sources have some limitations or weaknesses, namely:

The age factor of the speaker

The point is this, oral sources rely heavily on human memory which is prone to being lost, either because the owner of the memory dies, because of age (senility, for example), or because of a disease that attacks the brain.

Thus, historians or parties who need information from the owner of the memory must hunt with age.

Limited memory

Humans have very limited memory, generally the farther the distance between the event and the time the memory is used, the more likely the owner of the memory is to forget the details of the event.

For example, suppose that 60 years from now you are still living with your beloved children and grandchildren. Then someone asks you about the condition of society when Covid-19 first appeared in Indonesia.

So, because between the emergence of Covid-19 and the interview you did (60 years old), you most likely forgot a lot of information. As a result, the information you provide may not be accurate.

Secondary source

Secondary sources or second sources are sources written by historians after studying primary sources. That is, this is not a direct testimony from a person who experienced a historical event.

Secondary sources can also be obtained from people who are not eyewitnesses or who were not directly present at the scene of an incident. Therefore, secondary sources usually have to be preceded by primary sources. Without primary sources, information obtained from secondary sources will not be useful at all.

Historical Facts: Results Obtained From Research on Historical Sources

This means, historical facts are the same as conclusions obtained after studying historical sources or documents, such as artifacts and others.

However, historical facts are different from the reality or reality that occurs every day when an event occurs. Because, reality or reality is certain, it cannot change at all.

As for facts, their nature can change at any time if more credible data and sources are found. Marwan then divides historical facts into several types, namely:

Types of Facts The explanation
Soft facts This is a fact that must be proven using the support of other facts. Therefore, the facts are not simply available.

Historians spend a lot of time researching primary historical sources and processing them so that they are understandable to many people.

But that doesn’t mean that what they find can’t change, because a debate about the truth can always happen at any time. This means that there is a possibility that there will be parties who disagree with the research results of historians.

Hard facts Hard facts are facts that have been accepted as true events and are not disputed any further. Usually this fact is free of our will, because of that there are also those who call it an established fact and impossible to falsify.
Inference Inferences are ideas that become a common thread and a bridge between one fact and another. In general, inferences are subjective, but the existing ideas or ideas are still included in the category of facts, although they are quite weak.

Especially because inference is only in the form of logical considerations that can explain the relationship between other facts that have been discovered earlier.

Opinion Almost the same as inference, but opinions are more personal and not based on general considerations. Meanwhile, if it is seen as a form of historical information, it is the same as personal judgment or suspicion or interpretation.

Thus the discussion of artifacts, ranging from understanding, examples, to historical sources other than artifacts. From all the discussion above it can be said that artifacts are cultural relics from past humans in the form of tools.

If you want to find various kinds of books about history, then you can get them at .


Marwan, History for Class X High School (2009)

Author: Gilang Oktaviana Putra