This is the "in progress" version of Artefacts©, Online Encyclopedia of Archaeological Small Finds.

This database, in free access on the internet, reflects part of a working base to which many researchers have contributed. It allows simple, or more advanced searches.

Simple search : in the search field, one or several words, separated by spaces.

For a more elaborate search, use the Advanced search window.

Artefacts compte à ce jour 20 686 fiches pour 176 220 objets inventoriés (accessibles aux auteurs).

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Small finds : a definition

What is an artefact ? Specialists still discuss the matter. After numismatics, of which the field (coinage) is well defined, ceramology was the first to reach the status of a speciality. But does ceramology deal with a material (terracotta) of with what is done with it ? Several artefacts are actually made of terracotta, and using the material is probably not the best way to sort data between what regards 'ceramology' and what could be given to a new speciality, 'artefacts stydy'. During the last years, 'functional sorting' imposed itself as the most useful criterium : creamology can study all the vessels, either for preparing, serving or storing goods, while 'artefacts study' deals with the rest.

A vast category, therefore, and various, touching nearly any domain of human activity. To attempt ordering this huge chaos, Artefacts makes use of a 3-level hierarchy, on which chronology is added. Every objectr is attributed to a function, and any functrion enters a domain. For ex., a dice (code DEJ) belongs to the 'game & counting' function, which is part of the 'socio-cultural' domain. The aim of this system is to identify the primary function of artefacts, for which they were produced, not their eventual re-use in a secondary context (such as religious, or funerary).

The main ambition of Artefacts is typological, but some types exist under (nearly) the same form under variuous epochs. A cubic solid bone dice, for example, will be found under DEJ-3, DEJ-4 or DEJ-9 according to its date, Etruscan, Roman or Medieval.When the code of a certain object type is available (DEJ-, in the above example), it is therefore interesting to serach it under othet periods, to evaluate the evolution of this form through the course of time.

Nature and aims of Artefacts

Artefacts is not a finished product, but a evolving programme reflecting the work of a group of researchers : the database can therefore be improved, and a careful user will find some mistakes which can be corrected as soon as we are informed. The aim of the project is to offer a survey, as complete as possible, of all forms of artefacts, arranged in wide periods. A corpus of finds is out of the question, Artefacts only aims to produce an inventory of forms (types) for which will be provided, as far as possible, a detailed description, a selected bibliography and a chronology. The objects mentioned and the illustrations are only here as examples.

NB : all the material of Artefacts comes from legal archaeological research and scientific literature.

State of progress for each period

The maps beside indicate the state of progress of Artefacts on each period.

Of course, the proportion of registered items for each period strictly depends on the investment of the teams working on each of them. Here you can see that, in the present state, more work has been done on the second Iron Age and the Roman period.

To become an Artefacts author, please send your scientific project to: artefacts[at]

Publications about Artefacts

Feugère 2010 : M. Feugère, The Artefacts Project : An Encyclopaedia of Archaeological Small Finds. Lucerna (The Roman Finds Group Newletter) n°39, Sept. 2010, 4-6. Lien

Feugère 2011 : M. Feugère, Artefacts : encyclopédie en projet, outil d'aujourd'hui. Instrumentum n°33, juin 2011, 24-27. Lien

Feugère 2015 : M. Feugère, Bases de données en archéologie : de la révolution informatique au changement de paradigme. Cahiers Philosophiques n°141, 2015, 139-147. Lien

Feugère 2016 : M. Feugère, Artefacts en 2015-2016. Instrumentum 43, juin 2016, 54-57. Lien

Feugère, Bultinck 2015 : M. Feugère, P. Bultinck, Artefacts, dé bron voor alles wat u wou weten over kleine archeologische objecten, wil Vlaanderen op de kaart zetten., 30 mar 2015. Lien Lien

Feugère, Gilles, Vigier à paraître : M. Feugère, A. Gilles, E. Vigier, L’archéologie face aux objets (à paraître, ArAr, revue électronique en ligne).

... and more specifically on version 2, in course :

Feugère et al. 2017 : M. Feugère, E. Vigier, L. Eyango, A. Giraudo, Artefacts v2 : les enjeux d'une migration. HAL-SHS, 18/06/2017. Lien

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