Archaeological artifacts and historical texts can both provide important information about life in the ancient world. Pick one of each—one artifact (or monument) and one historical text—and describe what we can learn from each. Then discuss how artifacts differ from texts in terms of the information they can provide about the past.

While artifacts and texts provide different kinds of information and insights, there are also many different kinds of artifacts and texts which each provide radically different kinds of information. Epic poetry will not reveal the same truths as administrative records. Likewise, ancient weapons will not provide the same insights as ancient temples or monumental structures.

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Your answer to this question will depend on the kind of text and artifact you select. Ultimately, what you need to keep in mind is that there is a myriad of different historical texts and archaeological artifacts which, depending on the ones selected, will reveal different insights (and moreover, different kinds of insight) into the past.

For example, when your question addresses the subject of textual evidence, the question must be asked: What kind of textual evidence are you using? Are you talking about administrative or tax records? Are you talking about epic poetry? Are you talking about formal histories (such as the Herodotus or Thucydides)? Depending on the text you choose, you will receive different kinds of information.

Furthermore, however, the questions that you ask a text are just as important as the text itself. For example, depending on the lens through which you read it, the Iliad can be used to draw insight into a variety of different subjects: You can view it thematically, as an artifact of Greek culture, revealing the values that the Ancient Greeks prized, or the ways in which they might have understood the relationship between humanity and gods. However, you can also use it as one of the most detailed sources describing the rituals of ancient sacrifice, or the realities of battle in the pre-Classical past.

The same challenge can be applied to non-textual evidence as well, which likewise is comprised of a variety of different sources. You might be talking about weapons, or you might be discussing household implements. You might be studying ancient temples, palaces or monumental structures. As with texts, these sources would not reveal the same truths. In this sense, the key to answering this kind of question actually starts with the specific textual and non-textual artifacts you select and should move forward from there.

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