- For a simple, alphabetic list of artifacts, see the Category:Artifacts.
- For a descriptive list of specific artifacts, see List of artifacts.
|“||Every artifact in this Warehouse is an extension of a person.||”|
Artifacts are mysterious relics, fantastical objects, and supernatural souvenirs that are packed with enough energy to somehow move and affect other objects. Some artifacts in the Warehouse 13 series are supernatural relics that rationalize beliefs held in ancient and medieval times about the relics themselves. Usually these items are collected and stored in Warehouse 13, but some are used as tools by Warehouse personnel, or simply can't be moved from their current location.
|“||When something has no explanation, then the explanation is there's an artifact involved.||”|
|“||The creation of an artifact is simply the meeting of an object, a person... and a moment.||”|
In No Pain, No Gain, Claudia accompanied Mrs. Frederic to witness something that the caretaker explained could better prepare Claudia for her destiny. They witnessed a woman selflessly throw her self in front of a baby to protect it during a robbery. When Claudia checked the woman over she noticed her charm bracelet was softly glowing before it returned to normal. Claudia realized as the pair left she had just witnessed an artifact being born. Mrs Fredrick explained that artifacts are born through the meeting of a person, extraordinary event and an object at the right moment and time. She also explained they would leave the newborn artifact with its creator until it poses a problem for the world.
Each artifact presents an inherent danger unique to its existence or it would not require retrieval and storage in the Warehouse. With very few exceptions, the inherent dangers of artifacts can be mitigated with a purple substance (usually, but not always in liquid form) known as neutralizer that calms down active artifacts. Exactly how neutralizer works is unknown.
Most artifacts channel tangential energy to some degree, allowing them to move other matter, including people, often into trouble. Artifacts express significantly more tangential energy when exposed to strong negative energy (e.g., an argument). Electric energy, specifically electrical storms, can magnify the powers of artifact tenfold.
Artifacts in general either require a human to activate them or they don't. Some artifacts like James Braid's Chair would remain passive and not operate at all without the presence of a human sitting in it and a descendant of James Braid with the proper voice patterns speaking nearby. Likewise, the Farnsworth and the Tesla serve merely as otherwise passive tools until used by agents. Even Lucrezia Borgia's Comb, which causes terrible jealousy and aggression in humans, remains passive until a required phrase is spoken to activate it.
Some artifacts are capable of going dormant for several years at a time, making it difficult for them to be tracked and identified by Warehouse agents. As such artifacts can travel far and wide without being noticed by the Warehouse until they reactivate again and cause mischief. The precise timeframe of dormancy and reactivation can vary but once an artifact has found a suitable location or individual to influence it will reactivate.
Not all artifacts, however, require active human manipulation in order to start seeing the effects for which they're known, and at that point sentience or the perception of it comes into question. Loosely defined, sentience is the ability to feel or perceive subjectively. Warehouse personnel Arthur Nielsen and Mrs. Frederic believe that most artifacts exist as an extension of someone's personality, thus supporting the notion of sentience being possible.
Artie once mentioned to Leena in Duped that half the time they aren't even sure where some of the artifacts come from and how they came about, which might suggest that some artifacts "found" their original owners rather than the owners finding them or creating them.
For example, Artie's Computer System and the warehouse AutoVac could be argued to display a certain amount of non-violent sentience because of their apparent response to voice commands (such as Artie yelling or threatening the computer), though they may be programmed to behave thusly. Other artifacts, like the Studio 54 Disco Ball, appear to be more playful and mischievous instead of aggressive, as evidenced by the music that played when the disco ball fell. But certain artifact effects make it possible to believe in actual menacing behavior, such as that displayed by the Spine of the Saracen with its apparent search for the nearest human host on which to attach itself.
Some artifacts are bifurcated like Edgar Allan Poe's Quill Pen and Notebook, and two or more parts of a single artifact. Separating the two parts of the artifact from one another creates an almost human panicked response where the separated pieces will do everything in their power to rejoin with their companion parts. The objects appear to calm down on their own without the aid of neutralizer as long has the component parts are kept together.
Because of the inconvenient and wholly unpredictable timing of artifact effects, Artie has requested on numerous occasions that wire mesh screens be installed on all warehouse shelves to stop the artifacts from moving and especially moving in such a way as to allow them to inadvertently leave the warehouse, such as when Harry Houdini's Wallet fell off the shelf and into Myka's handbag. However, whether or not any artifact's effects indicate a behavior or even human-like dissatisfaction with containment in the warehouse remains to be seen. Artifacts simply could be responding as they were created to react, whether that creation was by accident or design.
It remains wise to control human emotions when inside Warehouse storage. Strong emotions tend to increase artifact activity. For example, when Myka and Pete were having a very heated argument among the Warehouse shelves after capturing the Marie Antoinette's Guillotine Blade, artifacts began to spark and glow with energy around them, a fact the two failed to notice. Fortunately, Artie sprayed them with neutralizer before anything happened.
Positive emotions such as love and compassion have the opposite effect of calming certain artifacts.
Over a period of time in contact with their original owners, some artifacts appear to have absorbed or been imprinted with certain characteristics and personality traits of their former owners. For example, Sylvia Plath's typewriter developed the morbid ability to suck the life out of others because of the author's suicidal tendencies. Edgar Allan Poe's Quill Pen and Notebook appear to be calmed by hearing good stories and seem to be attracted to people with a strong creative spirit. Some artifacts appear to be able to channel the spirits of their original owners, such as Lucrezia Borgia's Comb. Other artifacts, like the Studio 54 Disco Ball, appear to have been imprinted with the concepts and attitudes of the time and space where they were originally used.
Other artifacts like the Christmas truce ornament can even develop a sort of fondness for certain individuals, such as when the artifact became attached to Kallie Newman as a result of her wish to bring her family together. The artifact even avoided harming her when she ran through defenses it had created to stop the agents.
Discovery and retrieval
Artie appears to use his computer system to monitor the textual, visual, and aural data posted to the World Wide Web via major news outlets, various crime-related reporting networks, and social networking sites. In theory, Artie is looking for patterns that indicate an artifact is active. He combines the information he discovers with other tools in his office, such as a map of the world, to pinpoint the location of the activity.
Storage and labeling
Most artifacts housed in Warehouse 13 are stored on long metal and wood shelving units. Some are housed hung from the ceiling. How items are housed varies widely, with some stored inside wooden crates and others merely placed openly on shelves. In all cases, artifacts are clearly labeled; however, it appears these labels are in a perpetual state of upgrade. Some labels still exist as paper tags, while newer digital display tags have also been employed.
Artifacts do not appear to be placed within the Warehouse with any certain grouping method, though they are organized using a grid location system. Some areas of the Warehouse are named, such as the "Vetruvius" section,
though there appears to be no pattern to those names. In addition, location is not the same thing as categorization or even organization. It is possible that artifacts are placed on Warehouse shelves in such a way as to balance the energy throughout the Warehouse. For example, Leena helps Myka and Pete place the Honjo Masamune sword on the shelves of the Warehouse after slowly wandering down a row of shelves then stopping with the comment "This feels right." As she has a stated ability to sense the balance of someone's personal aura, it may be that she can sense the energy levels of artifacts as well.
Although no proven organization method appears to guide placement of artifacts, some artifacts have been segregated based on method of effect or danger level: the Quarantine Area houses timed-exposure artifacts, the Dark Vault has been set aside for sensory-activated items, the Bronze Sector holds the bronzed cryogenically frozen bodies of dangerous criminals and the "Noel sector" holds Christmas themed artifacts.
In practice, the vast majority of artifacts are retrieved and stored unharmed in the Warehouse regardless of their inherent danger. In some instances, however, artifacts have been damaged beyond repair before being retrieved. For example, the Spine of the Saracen was smashed into pieces to prevent it from destroying Agent Lattimer. Likewise, James Braid's Chair was smashed into pieces to end its control of Sheriff Mackenna who would have otherwise blown up himself and other innocent people, Agent Bering included. For Doña Fausta's Brooch, the main artifact of Savage Seduction, there wasn't even another way as to destroy it since nothing inanimated could get into or out of the tv show. Destruction of an artifact permanently in the Warehouse can be done by tossing it into the Lehmann Fornax, the earth core-powered furnace in the Warehouse.
- When combined with Lewis Carroll's Looking Glass, the effects of the disco ball released a crazed soul of a murderer trapped in the mirror, but it wasn't a targeted effect, merely a byproduct of the mirror's reflectivity overloading.
- Which is not entirely true since Artie and Pete managed to bring Harvey Korman's Cufflinks with them. Though this could be explained by the effects of this artifact.