Artifacts are the tech devices left over from the civilizations of the past. These are devices of a more permanent nature (unless they run out of power) with more straightforward applications—weapons, armor, utility items, and so on. Still, they are rarely straightforward in actual use.
As with all forms of numenera, Ninth Worlders do not know what artifacts were originally intended to do. Instead, they modify what they find to suit their needs and limited technological understanding. Given the right tools and parts, some people have the ability to construct such items on their own.
Artifacts are incomprehensible devices, as likely as not powered by transdimensional siphons using nanotechnology to rewrite reality on an atomic or subatomic level. Even to someone who understands a great deal about technology, most artifacts appear to be more magic than machine.