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- One simple principle of classification is in terms of material, such as stone, clay, metal, bone, ivory, etc.
- The second and more complicated, is in terms of function: archaeologists have to decide whether for instance an artefact is a tool or an ornament or both or something meant for ritual use.
- Archaeologists also try to identify the function of an artefact by investigating the context in which it was found: was it found in a house, in a drain, in a grave, in a kiln?
- Sometimes, archaeologists have to take recourse to indirect evidence. For instance, though there are traces of cotton at some Harappan sites, to find out about clothing we have to depend on indirect evidence including depictions in sculpture.