Archaeology

What is an Artifact in Archaeology



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"What is an Artifact in Archaeology"
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The object I chose to analyze is an Etruscan general's cuirass and helmet that I looked at during our trip to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology . Of course, this is a set of armor that was owned by a high-ranked Etruscan soldier, not any commoner. This armor was crafted from bronze, the strongest metal available to the Etruscans at the time. The armor dates back to before 600 B.C, as it was used before the Roman Republic. It was used by generals in the part of the world that the Greeks would occupy after the defeat of the Etruscans, or what is now Greece. This armor happens to incorporate design techniques from Greek, Gaul, and barbaric influences.

In Etruscan society, men were primarily farmers and warriors. Most men would not own a general's set of armor, but would maybe be able to purchase a shield or a thin-layered cuirass. The Etruscans were expecting fights, they were expecting to be attacked by other, usually smaller, nations. Though it would be correct to call them a warlike people, the Etruscans' were by no means a savage people. Their generals' helmets are outfitted with indentations designed to repel enemy blades, where as other nations would send their men into battle with barely a scrap of cloth on their backs. Great care was put into the creation of the armor; the cuirass is thick and held onto the body by linked chains. The back of the cuirass I looked at happened to be detached, but upon further research I discovered that it was built thickly enough to stop arrows from killing it's wearer.

This armor was obviously used by the Etruscans in battle. Because the general was considered to be the master strategist and leader of an army, it was of paramount importance to keep him alive for as long as possible. As I mentioned before, not every soldier was outfitted like this. The Etruscans needed to make sure that their soldiers were able to move quickly, which is why they were not weighed down with as much armor as their generals. They also knew that resources are limited (a concept that many people seem to forget today) and decided to parcel out the bulk of the bronze to the most important people their generals. This set of armor is missing its back, which is not very surprising. The back was not molded with the front of the cuirass, but linked together by an early form of chain mail upon completing the set of armor. Thus, the armor was easily assembled; a soldier would need to just link their pieces together and put a helmet on their head.

The general's helmet has what looks like an early horsehair plume mounted on top of it, except it is made of bronze, not horsehair or feather. This "plume" was added to indicate to allied soldiers who the general was. "War is hell," said our tour guide at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology, "and even scarier when you can't tell who you're supposed to kill and who you're supposed to protect." This proves that the Etruscans were not only intelligent, but generous to their armies. Instead of just letting their soldiers enter a killing frenzy, they made sure that they could tell who was who. Most nations and states did not think like that they encouraged their soldiers into killing frenzies. It is likely that a man wearing this armor would have been very proud, for he would have been of high rank in Etruscan society. This means that the Etruscans had the opportunity to work hard for their roles in life, for their identities. Though women did not enter the battlefield, it should be noted that they were considered equal to men in Etruscan society.

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