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HIST 1F90 Lecture 1: What is History?

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Andrew Mc Donald

HIST 1F90 – September 6 , 2012 th What is History?  Greek historia = inquiries  Herodotus ‘the father of history’ (d. ca. 425 BC.) o ca. or c. = circa = Latin; around; used when we do not know a precise date  History is a process of asking questions from historical evidence (sources; documents) o Critical Analysis o Historian as detective Historical Evidence  The job of the Historian begins with sources – documents from past times  Where there is no writing there is no ‘history’ o The ‘horizons’ of history  Historical evidence – principally written o Many, many forms o Material culture = archaeology What are Sources?  “A source… can in fact be anything that has left us a trace of the past.” – John Arnold  Modern historians treat many different types of material as sources. Non-documentary sources and associated disciplines  Archaeology  Paleography (handwriting) o Coins (numismatics) o Inscriptions (epigraphy) o Seals (sigillography) o Place-names o Linguistics Primary Sources  Not all sources are created equal  Historically pieces that come from the time frame we are investigating  Contemporary with events being examined  Proximity in time and space o E.g. ‘fall’ of Roman Empire in the 5 -6 centuries – Cassiodorus (490- 585); Zosimus (fl. 490s-510s)  fl. = floruit = flourished; used to provide a
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