Starting in the late 15th or early 16th century, people began the now-centuries-old obsession with collecting things from the past. The first archaeologists hailed from Europe, fueled by the Humanism movement and a newfound interest of knowing about past civilizations. Since then, collectors have gone to the depths of the ocean and unearthed ancient tombs. But why? The answer is part psychological, part fascination, and every bit part of being human.
So Why Do People Collect Anything?
From a psychological perspective, humans collect just about anything for two main reasons: learning about the past and attaching some sort of value to that particular item. In the case of artifacts and antiquities, this could also include an obsession with history, as well as the value of a particular item both personally and monetarily. People might also collect these items for a number of other reasons, such as:
Appreciation of art and beauty
Fascination with ancient civilizations
Discovering the roots of humanity through art and invention
Owning a part of history
In some rarer instances, psychological trauma may also cause people to impulsively collect, although these persons rarely deal in artifacts or antiquities.
Where Do People Collect the Most Artifacts From?
Collectors of rare antiquities and artifacts typically have a particular geographic location or historic era that interests them the most. They may find the Roman Empire particularly interesting, or they may discover that Inuit culture speaks to them. But what are the most popular types of artifacts that are highly collectible? These pieces are generally from:
Ancient Rome or Greece
The Middle East and Persia
Medieval and Middle Ages Europe with a particular interest in Spain and France
Ancient American cultures (Pre-Colombian North America, Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans)
Why Do Certain Cultures Have Highly Collectible Artifacts and Antiquities?
The reasons that these particular cultures have the most popular items among collectors, traders, and museums have a wide variety of reasoning. But a vast majority of these either had a major technological advancement or they’re shrouded in mystery. For example, some coins from Mesopotamia are priceless—not because they’re made from rare metals, but simply because the civilization was the first to use currency (coins).
From a historical perspective, many pieces of art and artifacts continue to defy explanation. The idea that the Egyptians could build giant pyramids or undiscovered tombs intrigues many collectors. This fuel the collectability of statues, pottery, and other artifacts from that time. Regardless of the civilization, humanity reaching a milestone with or without explanation increases overall demand.
What Types of Artifacts and Antiquities Are Most Collectible?
Collectible artifacts span a wide array of items. However, the importance of the piece in ancient culture is often the greatest determinant in collectability, as well as any materials that maintain monetary importance today. This list includes:
However, this isn’t an exhaustive list. At some level, there’s a collector for just about anything.
While the durability and quality of goods have faded over time, these ancient pieces remain highly prized as both a collectible and an integral piece of history. Whether the items used today will ever be as sought-after remains a mystery. But maybe that’s the type of mystery that will make us so intriguing hundreds of years from now.
Our Gallery in Newport Beach is known for so much more than just coins and precious metals. We have a wide range of collectibles, artifacts and antiquities from all over the world. Book an appointment today to view our collection