Learning Goals

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the words observe, deduce, and infer.
  2. Answer in the complete sentences questions about a historical object.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to analyze an historical object by evaluating it visually.


What can you learn from an object by looking at it?

Please look up the words "observe," "deduce," and "infer" in a dictionary before proceeding. These are three ways you will learn from "reading" an object.


Chose one of the following objects:

  1. Relief fragment showing fishing scene, Met Museum, accessed 2024-02-7.
  2. Cuneiform tablet case impressed with three cylinder seals, for cuneiform tablet 66.246.18a: quittance for a loan in copper
  3. Helmet with divine figures beneath a bird with outstretched wings

Answer the following questions in complete sentences, drawn from the National park Service Teaching Museum Collections


  1. What is it?
  2. What is it called?
  3. What is or was it used for?
  4. Does it have more than one function?
  5. How has its use changed over time?

Physical Features

  1. What does it look and feel like?
  2. How big is it?
  3. What’s its shape, smell, and sound?
  4. What color is it?
  5. Is it complete?
  6. Has it been altered, adapted, or mended?
  7. Is it worn?
  8. What’s the surface like?
  9. Does it have identifying numbers?
  10. Are there markings or writing on it?


  1. What’s it made of?
  2. How many kinds of materials is it made of?

Construction/Technique of Manufacture

  1. How was it made?

  2. Who made it?

  3. Is it hand or machine made?

  4. Does it have parts?

  5. What does it tell you about the maker’s technical skill?

  6. How does your background reading (Chapters 5 and 6) help you understand this object (two to three sentences).