History refers to the events that happened in the past as well as the collection, discovery, presentation, and organization of information about these events. It is an act of both investigation and imagination and seeks to explain how people have changed over a period of time. The scholars who write about history are called historians. They use all forms of evidence to examine, interpret, revisit, and reinterpret various things in the past. The forms arent just written documents. Oral communication and objects such as, photographs, artifacts, buildings and paintings also come under it. Historyincludes geologic, cosmic and organic history. It can also be referred to as the academic discipline which uses a description to study and scrutinize a sequence of past events, and determine the patterns of the cause and effect. At times, historians dispute about the nature of history and its worth by discussing the study of the parameter as an end in itself.
Herodotus, a 5th-century B.C. Greek historian is considered to be the"father of history", in western tradition and, along with Thucydides, helped form the basis for the modern study of human history. Their work is still read to this day and in the Eastern tradition, a state chronicle called the spring and Autumn Annals known to be compiled from as early as 722 BCE. Unfortunately though, only 2nd century BCE texts survived.Historians write in the context of their own time, and sometimes write to provide lessons for their own society.As Benedetto Croce said, "All history is contemporary history".
History is extremely important for endless reasons. Some include:
- Studying history helps us investigate and interpret why society developed and evolved like it has and helps determine what influences have affected the past and present allowing us to shape the future in a better way.
- History also provides a sense of identity allowing us to understand the collective past and History also provides a sense of identity to understand the collective past and how it has made us who we are today.
- History also happens to be a bridge to other disciplines.
- To understand the world that we live in, we need certain historical knowledge.
- History provides us with the understanding of the human condition therefore causing us to live more humanely in the present and meet the challenges of the future in a more effective way.
- History also acts as a means of disseminating and understanding the wisdom of our forbears
- It provides us with the desire to know and understand ourselves as well as our ancestors.
Areas of study
There are a number of fields of study in history. Few of them are:
- Periods: Historical study often shows light on events and developments that happened in particular blocks of time. Historians give these periods of time to allow "organising ideas and classificatory generalisations" to be used by them. The names given to a certain time period can differ with the geographical location. Most of the periods are constructed in retrospect and therefore reflect value judgments made about the past.
- Geographical Locations: Specific geographical locations can form the foundation of historical study. For example, cities, continents and countries do a good job of this. Understanding why historic events took place is vital.In order to do this, historians often turn to geography. Water supply, weather patterns,and landscape of an area all affect the lives of the people who live there. For example, to understand and explain why the ancient Egyptians had such a successful civilization, studying the geography of Egypt is crucial. TheEgyptian civilization was built on the banks of the Nile River, which had flooded every year and had deposited soil on its banks. The farmers of the cities could grow crops because of the rich soil that was deposited and could hence help feed the people of the cities. That meant everyone need not have to perform farming. This lead to development of other civilizations and people performed other jobs.
- World: World history is referredas the study of major civilizations over the last 3000 years or so. It has resulted in highly controversial interpretations by various individuals such as Oswald Spengler, Arnold J. Toynbee, etc. It is especially imperative as a teaching field. It has increasingly joined the college or university curriculum in a number of areas, and has in many cases replaced courses in Western Civilization. It had a great proclivity on Europe and the U.S.
- Regions:The history of Africa began with its first emergence of moderns humans on the continent and continued into its modern day present developing nation states.
- The history of the Americas includes the history of North and South America with Central America and the Caribbean as well.
- The history of North America includes the study of the past which passes down from generation to generation in the northern as well as western hemisphere.
- The history of Central America involves the study of the past which has been passed down for many generations on the continent in the western hemisphere.
- The history of the Caribbean begins with the oldest facts where 7,000 year old remains were found.
- The history of South America also includes the study from the past which passed down from generation the generation in the southern and western hemisphere.
- The history of Antarctica emerged from the western theories of the continent and is also known as Terra Australis. It is said to exist in the far south of planet earth.
- The history of Australia starts with the certification of the Makassar trading with Australians on its north coast.
- Thehistory of New Zealand starts goes back to roughly 700 years to when the Polynesians had discovered and settled. They also developed a Maori culture.
- The history of the Pacific Islands covers the entire history of the different islands in the Pacific Ocean
- The history of Eurasia is the collection of histories of the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Europe.
- The history of Europe describesthe way humans inhabited the continent from the past to the present day
- The history of Asia is the collective history of East Asia, Middle East and South Asia. History of East Asia includes the study of the past which has been passed down for many generations in East Asia.
- The history of the Middle East starts with the earliest of civilizations in the region that were established around 3000 BC, in Mesopotamia.
- The history of South Asia is the study of the past which has been passed down from generation to generation in the Sub-Himalayan region.
- The history of Southeast Asia has been considered as an interaction between regional and foreign powers.
- Military History: Military History includes strategies, battles, warfare,weapons and the psychology of combat. Since the 1970s the "new military history" was concerned with the soldiers more than the generals, psychology more than different tactics and the impact of the warfare on society and culture.
- History of Religion: History of religion has been a main theme for secular and religious historians for many centuries now and is still continuing to be taught in different universities. Church History, History of Religions and Catholic Historical Review are some of the leading journals. The topics are widely ranged from artistic dimensions to political and cultural aspects. All smaller as well as major countries are covered.
- Social History: Social History also known as the new social history includes history of people and their different institutions for coping with life.
There are a number of historians out there who have impacted society immensely. A few of them are:
- Classical historians: Some of the classical historians include :
- Julius Caesar
- Medieval: Prominent medieval historians include :
- Anna Comnena
- Jean Froissart
- Geoffrey of Monmouth
- Pre 20th century: The pre 20th century saw historians such as :
- Thomas Carlyle
- Marquis de Sade
- 20th century: A few historians of the 20th century are :
- Sir Charles Oman
- C.H. Firth
- Lady Antonia Fraser
- Simon Scharma
- Niall Ferguson
It can definitely be said that history is one such thing that evokes curiosity among everyone out there. It is one such field where we are in direct relation to who we are and how we have evolved over time. It helps us understand the consequences to certain actions. Further ensuring that every individual makes smarter decisions and contributes to society in a positive way from here on out. It is no doubt that our future depends on how well we have learned from our past.