We explain what history is, the branches into which it is divided and its complementary sciences. In addition, its characteristics, divisions and ending.
What is History?
History is a branch of Social Sciences whose object of study is the past of humanity , both recent and remote, and which is based on books, references and documentary material of various kinds.
Although History can address any period of the past of human civilization , its area of interest is usually limited to those that took place after the invention of writing , since from then on there is some kind of record of what happened . The notion of history and that of registration are intimately involved.
Traditionally, History has been thought of as one of the humanities , despite the fact that its methods are typical of the Social Sciences. The latter has often led to it being considered a “bridge” between humanistic and social-scientific disciplines.
Etymology of History
The word “history” comes from ancient Greek, a language in which it meant “investigation” or “information”, derived in turn from jistor , which meant “wise man”, “witness” or “judge”.
In ordinary language history is synonymous with narration.
The term “history” has numerous meanings, not all of which refer to the science that studies the past, although all of them have in one way or another to do with it and its interests. For example, the period between the invention of writing and modern times is called “history,” just as, in ordinary language , “history” is used more or less synonymously with narrative , whether real or imagined. or for a count of specific events, as in the case of the “clinical history” of Medicine.
Branches of History
The history of art studies the different forms of human expression.
According to the specific period of your interest, we can talk about different branches of History, for example:
- Prehistory. It deals with the remote history of man, that is, that prior to the invention of writing itself and, therefore, to the actual invention of the historical record.
- Natural History. The study of the periods of formation of the earth and of the different plant and animal biological communities , prior to the appearance of man.
- Geohistory. Study of specific societies of the past and the geographical structures on which they were based and which influenced them.
- History of ideas. It studies the different transitions of human thought , considered in a very broad sense, as well as the different areas in which they have occurred and the possible interpretations of their origin and meaning.
- Universal history. This is the name given to the study of the past of human societies, from remote times to the most recent events.
- History of art. It studies the different forms of artistic expression that human beings have developed over time, and the relationships that may exist between them.
- History of Religion. It is dedicated to the study of the forms of religious and mystical manifestation that have occurred throughout the human past, putting them in relation and studying their influences and characteristics.
Scholars of human history, above all, use references, clues, clues and stories contained in different types of support and discourse , such as history books, scientific articles , literary works, religious stories, period chronicles , etc. private diaries, plastic arts, archaeological remains, correspondence, etc. Practically everything has a usable documentary value.
Complementary Sciences of History
Archaeological discoveries have helped to understand much more of history.
History often uses techniques, knowledge and content from other disciplines such as anthropology , archaeology , architecture , literature , library science, heraldry, linguistics, numismatics, politics and even philosophy , not only as source of historical documents, but of interpretive theories to better explain the human past.
Variants of the Story
History as a science essentially involves two different aspects that should be distinguished:
- The historiography. It is the set of techniques and methods of review, analysis and production of content available to historians, often subject to formal requirements of the historical method and the method of social sciences.
- historiology. Also called “Theory of History”, it covers the set of explanations and comprehensive methods to deduce why and how certain historical phenomena occur.
Division of time in history
The Ancient Age comprises the first stages of human civilization.
Although there is no single way to organize the events of the past, common historians (especially Westerners) tend to classify them as follows:
- Prehistory . The history prior to the invention of writing. It comprises the stone age ( Paleolithic , Mesolithic and Neolithic ) and the metal age (Copper Age, Bronze Age , Iron Age ).
- Protohistory. A more or less defined period that serves as a bridge between prehistory and history proper.
- ancient age . It includes the first stages of human civilization: classical and late antiquity.
- Middle Ages . History of the times in which the West replaced its heritage of classical cultures with theocentric culture (Christian or Islamic) and that lasted until the advent of the modern age.
- modern age . End of the Middle Ages andreligious obscurantism , characterized by the rebirth of Western European cultures and their expansion throughout the world.
- contemporary age . The most recent events of the last three centuries of history, in which man built a world society and embarked on the technological and industrial revolution.
Origin of the story
The Greek Herodotus of Halicarnassus is said to have been the first historian.
History as such does not have a defined origin , since it is difficult to establish when man decided to record past events as something to tell to future generations. The truth is that it is said that the Greek Herodotus of Halicarnassus (484-425 BC) was the first proper historian and geographer.
Much debate exists around the “official” History, that is, the one supported by the educational and central organisms of political power, often accused of sinning in their view of ethnocentrism (especially European) and of privileging the history of certain sectors social above others. It is often said that “history is written by the victors”.
The “End of History”
One theory affirms the end of history with the victory of capitalism over communism.
The “end of History” is a theory by the Japanese Francis Fukuyama from 1992, in which he proposes that History, understood as a long recount of ideological struggles, that is, of attempts to impose one model of humanity on another, has ended with the victory of capitalism over communism and liberal democracy that followed the Cold War of the 20th century. It is a debated and controversial theory today.
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