History: Why Study History? 5 Reasons Why

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

History is the science that is concerned with studying the chronological record of events that affected a nation, as it is based on a critical examination of various sources of information and provides an explanation of the reasons for these events. History of military affairs, economics, law, literature, science, arts, philosophy, religion, and other human fields are among the areas that the study of history usually covers.

This science can be defined as the study of the human past through written documents left by humans, where history is the firm foundation on which historians stand. In addition to studying the changes that affected the social or political status of the human race and there are many definitions made by historians, where the historical world John J. Anderson defined history as a narrative of events that occurred among humans in the past, including the emergence and collapse of Nations and civilizations.

History is the attempt to control the data in order to study the chronological record of events based on a critical study of the various sources with an attempt to find explanations for their causes, in which historical information is collected from various articles that contain the history of the peoples, countries and cultures to which they are related.

It is also defined as a narrative of the various events that occurred among humans, from the rise and fall of nations, and all the changes that affected the political and social status of humankind. In addition to some other important information such as economics, and military affairs, philosophy, law, religion, and many human fields.

It includes all things that have ever happened and were easily monitored, and through it the past can be studied, and only part of it revealed in an objective way, and it is not only related to events but also to the interpretations and ideas that people then carried about them.

In addition to being related to the values ​​of the era that occurred in it, and therefore the major problem for some historians when studying history is the perception and interpretation of events in many ways by different people and groups.

The Importance of History

There is no doubt that history has special significance in dating the history of the universe, the Earth, and humankind.

  • Clear and accurate perception of the world

In addition to visualizing the ancient events that man went through antiquity. Therefore the studies presented by the science of history are a way to avoid mistakes that man made in the past that led to destruction, such as wars and various conflicts.

  • Lessons for the future

This can be achieved through knowing the progress of ancient human civilizations and studying the factors of their rise, prosperity and progress over other civilizations, and the reasons that led to their demise, destruction and weakness over time.

It is one of the most prominent sciences that connect man to his past, as it is an extension of human origins, and the best example of that is Islamic history. It is only a means of linking the individual to their ancient origins and ancestors. A great means from which one can derive their strength and self-confidence.

  • Preservation of the ancient heritage of nations

It is a means and a science based on preserving those legacies of special concepts, proverbs, sayings and rulings. For example, when studying the life of a nation or people, we refer to its historical books, where we find everything related to it in terms of customs, traditions and matters that distinguish it from other nations.

  • Analysis of ancient historical documents

It is a tool to reach sound and correct results in order to help scientists and researchers to access ancient historical discoveries and inventions and benefit from them in the study of current cases and events.

Moreover, history is a means of studying the effects of ancient civilizations, such as inscriptions and historical writings and trying to decipher their mysteries and incantations to identify those nations in a scientifically reliable manner.

A person can benefit from the science of history in several aspects, and among these benefits are the following:

  1. Helps to understand people and societies and how to deal with different things in life.
  2. Helps to understand and assimilate the current composition of the society in which humankind lives.
  3. Contributes to understanding the ethics of societies.
  4. Allows people’s stories to be studied in the past with a view to benefiting from them.
  5. Provides the identity of the individual, as it includes historical data of how families, groups, institutions, and states were formed, and it also provides information on genealogy.
  6. Promotes good citizenship by studying loyalty through historical stories.

Why Study History

The study of history aims to learn the human sciences, as it focuses in its content on the historical perspective, so historians and scholars emphasize understanding the past on its own terms by understanding and absorbing any historical phenomenon, such as an event, idea, law, or Creed.

With the need to study and understand the context, and it is worth noting that history is part of a network of interrelated institutions, values, and beliefs that determine culture in an era, and it is the most disciplined science to understand change.

It is noteworthy that historians and historians seek to explain Historical causation, enabling an understanding of the causes and how of change within human societies and cultures, where the study of history enhances basic understanding.

There is also the aim of evaluating contemporary institutions, understanding policies, and different cultures, in addition to providing a logical view of human nature and human civilization, in addition to giving an objective view; To understand ancient moral problems and to provide insights into wisdom and virtue.

Branches of History

  1. Archaeology: the study of physical remains left by humans.
  2. Historiography: a systematic study of the development of the science of history.
  3. Art history: interest in man-made objects within visual forms for aesthetic purposes.
  4. Big History: History over a wide period of time, sometimes beginning with the Big Bang.
  5. Annals: historical books that record facts and events in precise chronological order according to years.
  6. Culture history: the study of a particular culture in the past.
  7. Diplomacy history: a study of international relations in the past.
  8. Economy history: the study of economics in the past.
  9. Science of the future: the science of the possible, the possible and the preferred of the future, as well as things with few possibilities but with great effects that can accompany their occurrence.
  10. Ideas history: a study of ideas in text cultures that evolve through time.
  11. Navigation history: the history of shipping and what is related to it.
  12. Military history: a study of wars and battles in history.
  13. Naval history: the study of naval history, a branch of military history.
  14. Calligraphy: the study of ancient manuscripts.
  15. Political history: the study of political history in the past.
  16. Psychological history: the study of psychological motives in historical events.
  17. Historical outline of science: a study of the structures and developments of science.
  18. Social history: the study that deals with the history of the development and formation of social formations in the society of the state, the geographical area covered by the study, and the people or the nation.
  19. World History: The history of man from the beginning of his appearance as Homo sapiens to the present time.
  20. Natural History: the study of the evolution of the universe, the Earth, and biology.

Earliest Historical Records

In the ancient world, annals and prescriptions appeared in civilizations such as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The first known recorded history is the history book of Herodotus, the founder of Greek historiography in the 5th century BCE. Later Roman politician Cato the Elder wrote Roman historiography in the 2nd century BCE. Simultaneously with Cato, the two Chinese historians put together Chinese historiography by collecting the Shiji Book (Records of the Grand Historian).

During the Middle Ages, historiographical works included the archives of Europe at the time. During the Enlightenment in the 18th century, history got developed by several famous figures, such as Voltaire, David Hume, Edward Gibbon, and several others who laid the foundations of historiography in its new form.

In the early contemporary period, certain terms were used, as the term historiography meant «writing history», and the one working with historiography was called «historian». In this sense, some official historians have been given the title of «royal historian», like in Sweden (starting 1618), England (starting 1660), and Scotland (starting 1681), in which the position still exists today.

Recently, historiography has come to be defined as the study of the state of history, i.e. the history of historical writings. When you study historiography, you are not studying the events of the past directly, but you are studying the changing interpretations of those events through the perspective and perception of each individual historian.

Most Prominent Historians in History

1.     Herodotus

He is a Greek historian. His name consists of the word (Hera), a known idol of the Greeks, and the word (Dot), meaning gift, so the meaning became Hera’s gift. He was born between 480 and 490 BCE in a town called Halicarnassus and died around the year 484 BCE.

He grew up passionate about reading, learning and research, especially poetry, literature and epics, as is the case with his family and the Persians had invaded Greece during that era, so Herodotus experienced these events and lived them, so we find in him the spirit of revolution.

What distinguished this historian is that he was given a title that was never known to anyone, which is the title of «Father of History», as he is the greatest Greek historian and the first man to follow the prose-literary-artistic approach in Europe. Some considered him to be the first to set up the historian’s task.

Being a Greek, the first thing he started in his history was the conflict between Greece and the East, especially the famous great wars between his countrymen and the Persians. He was a broad-minded traveller; he visited Egypt, Libya, which was known as North Africa, as well as Mesopotamia, known today as Iraq, and reached the northern Black Sea, which is today’s Ukraine.

2.     Tacitus

He is a Roman historian, born in 55 CE and died in 120 CE. He was a chief judge. We do not have comprehensive and conscious details about him. Perhaps the most important reasons for this are that we have not received anything from his writings except two books, namely the Annals and the Histories.

His career in law and politics was rich, as some researchers describe. He worked as a legionnaire and was appointed to multiple civilian positions. This Roman historian studied the era of the emperors, and this was well explained in his Annals. Some critics have argued that this book is the best of his books.

This historian told us the events of the fall of the last Roman ruler of the Julio-Cladic dynasty, Nero. He chronicled the case of the ninth emperor of Rome, Vespasian. His unique style in Latin literature distinguished his style of narrating history.

3.     Fibrous

Roman historian, also called Livius, was born in 59 BCE and died in 17 CE. He was born in Italy to the north of Padua. We have not received anything significant about his personal life.

Fibrous was a contemporary of the Roman Emperor Augustus, and they had a good friendship. This did not affect the historical independence that Levi enjoyed. He composed a book called History since the founding of the city, in which he compiled a solid history describing what happened since the first stone of the state of Rome was established in 9 BCE.

4.     Ibn Khaldun

A Muslim Arab sociologist, philosopher, and historian, born in 1332 CE and died in 1406 CE, of Andalusian origins, born in Tunisia. Ibn Khaldun excelled in various sciences, and his knowledge was not limited to history. He excelled in grammar, Logic and jurisprudence. Ibn Khaldun is considered the founder of sociology.

Among his books and the most prominent of what he wrote in the science of history is his book The Book of Lessons and the Diwan Start to End in the Days of Arabs, Non-Arabs, and Berbers. This book is divided into three parts: the first is an introduction that contains deep reflections on human civilization, the second is concerned with the history of nations and kingdoms, and the third is Ibn Khaldun’s biography.

The introduction of this book has been translated into various languages ​​of the world several times. Among his books are The Healing of the Liquid to Refine Issues and his memoirs Introducing Ibn Khaldun and his Travels East and West. Ibn Khaldun died in Egypt at the age of 78.

5.     David Hume

A Scottish historian, born in 1711 in Scotland and died in 1776 CE. His father worked in the field of law. His father passed away when David was three years old, so his uncle ensured him.

He studied physics and philosophy, and perhaps the biggest reason that made him become a historian is that he was rejected from the University of Glasgow. He applied to the University of Edinburgh and was accepted where he dedicated his time to study books, registries and documents available at the library of the University.

This twist qualified him to write his historical book concerned with the history of England in particular, but he took an unknown approach, which is the reverse narration style; that is, it takes you from the later events to the early ones.

6.     Stefan Zweig

Austrian historian and writer of Jewish origin, born in 1881 in Vienna and died in 1942 in Brazil. He worked on collecting manuscripts and translation, which helped in qualifying him as a historian.

It is worth mentioning that he was an ardent activist who sought, with all his determination and will, the spiritual unification of Europe. Literature and poetry occupied a large place in his life.

He authored a poetry collection called Silver Chains. He wrote several biographies of Joseph Fouché (1929), Mary Stuart (1935) and Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman, 1932), among others. In addition to some historical studies of famous literary figures, such as novelist Charles Dickens.

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