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(also artefact), n. ~ 1. A man-made, physical object. - 2. An anomaly in data that results from the methodology used to capture or analyze the data, or that was introduced or produced during a procedure.


Artifact1 is often used to distinguish man-made items from natural specimens. Even though documents and other two-dimensional materials are artifacts because of their physical nature, 'artifact' is often used to distinguish three-dimensional materials from two-dimensional materials. Artifacts may be preserved as records, documenting a design or function. For example, throughout the 19th century the United States Patent Office required models of inventions as part of the patent record. In addition, many archival record groups and manuscript collections contain artifacts among other more traditional visual and textual material, such as a campaign button filed with the flyer documenting the political rally at which it was acquired. - Examples of artifact2 include specks in a digital image not in the original, but resulting from noise in the scanning process.