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Quick Guide to Indian Artifacts


November is Native History Month

A brief picture guide to eight basic artifact types left by prehistoric Native Americans in New England. Learn the basic items and tools left by ancient New England residents.




We have much to learn about the Native Americans who lived here for at least 10,000 years before the arrival of European colonists. One way to do so is through a study of the tools and weapons they used. When you visit museums with prehistoric Indian collections, look for some of these items.

Don't TouchREMEMBER: if you discover any human remains or artifacts -- DO NOT touch or move them. Archeologists get a great deal of information from where an object is located and how it is positioned. Moving the object, even slightly, can destroy valuable clues that may solve an intriguing mystery. Native American groups are interested in repatriating some artifacts and all human remains, so treat all items with respect.

When you find items, be sure to contact your local historical society or your state or university archeologist. Professionals will know what steps to take. Consider donating items for study. Feel free to send a digital photo of items and we will try to get them to professionals. We do not offer information on the sale of such items and cannot offer recommendations on commercial value. Our interest is strictly in gathering historic information. 

Gouge, axe, spearhead (row 1)
Arrow point, projectile point, plummet (row 2)
Pipe and pottery (row 3)

Indian Artifact Guide

Illustrations by William Fowler courtesy of the Massachusetts Archeological Society, Inc. Artifact guide by

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Indian Artifact Quick Guide

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