Explain the Difference Between the work of the Historian and the Archaeologist

Topics: History, Archaeology, Time Pages: 2 (532 words) Published: April 3, 2014
Explain the Difference Between the work of the Historian and the Archaeologist

It is easy to distinguish between the work of a historian and that of an archaeologist. Historians work and learn by investigating. In fact, the word ‘history’ is derived from the Latin term historia which means ‘study by inquiry’. Therefore, the work of the historian focusses on asking questions, making a thesis and using relevant sources to back up their statement. As evidence to back up their theses, historians often use both physical and written sources. However, the study of history often only requires the study of written –or literary - sources. Historians ask various questions with a range of different variables. However, these questions and usually influenced by key events and people in attempt to understand or match up the consequences of these events. Once a thesis statement or question has been made, historians collect, analyse and interpret the sources available to them to test the evidence against their thesis. After the evidence has been tested, they then try to reach a conclusion. Often, these conclusions are published, and if a historian finds that they disagree, they are able to publish their own conclusions to the statement. Because of this, the study of history can be considered to be an ongoing dialogue between the past and present. However, as historians usually use literary sources, their evidence can often be limited. Their sources are limited to the past 5500 years (to the invention of writing) and to literate communities and class groups. This makes it very difficult to understand a time period from the perspective of a slave, labourer or a woman who would have been illiterate. This has become a problem for studying social history (studying the details of ordinary life). Archaeology is a more recent method of uncovering the mysteries of the past. Whereas the study of literary sources written from or about specific time periods has been ongoing for many...
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