Chapter 1 – Origins
What is History and Why?
The term “history” comes from the Greek word historie, coined by Herodotus in the fifth century B.C.
■ For him it meant the record of his investigations and inquiries into the past, which he published for future generations.
History remains the effort to reconstruct the past to discover what people thought, what they did, and how their beliefs and actions continue to influence human life.
Primary sources – first hand accounts of people who lived through the events, people in the best position to know what happened, who are responsible for it, why it happened, and wht it meant (ex: narratives, other literary documents recording their experiences, chronicles in which people noted events in their lives in chronological order, papyrology which is the study of documents written on manuscripts made from papyrus).
In the medieval period scribes produced thousands of documents giving detailed accounts of agricultural life on manors—how they were run, what the local customs were, and how society actually functioned. These scribes also left a record of religious thinking and political affairs. => primary sources upon which history is built
Inscriptions are another literary source of information about the past – anything written on imperishable material such as stone. The also served as public records (ex: treaties, religious proclamations, Vietnam memorial).
Historians also receive help from non-literary sources such as archaeology.
With all this evidence, historians try to distinguish the accurate from the false and biased by focusing on the earliest information they find.
Once they decide which sources are reliable, they use this information to establish facts or to explain the meaning of their findings. => secondary sources (scholarly interpretations of what they and others discovered).
From Caves to Towns
Paleolithic Period – (lasted till about 7000 B.C.)
■ During this period...