Epigraphy is a primary tool of archaeology when dealing with literate cultures.

An epigraph is any sort of text, from a single grapheme, such as a pot mark signifying the name of the merchant who shipped supplies in the pot, to a longer document such as an inventory list, a treaty or a work of literature. Epigraphy overlaps other competences such as numismatics and palaeography. The media and the forms of the graphemes can consist of engravings on stone or metal, scratches on rock, impressions in wax, decoration on cast metal or paintings on ceramics.