The word 'history' comes from the Greek word, historia, meaning inquiry. Herodotus, generally acknowledged as the first European historian, first used this term in the mid-fifth century BC. Before him, in Homer, a history was someone who passed judgment based on the facts as the result of an investigation. Immediately, by thinking of history as inquiry we move from simply thinking about it as the past, to asking questions of the past and therefore seeking answers. As soon as we move towards this understanding of history we are starting to think both about analysis, and how the different kinds of questions we might ask will shape the answers we can construct. Added to this, the audience for any history is important – who is this history being written for? who will read it? why will they read it? All these issues feed into not only the questions we ask of our evidence, but how we shape and present our writing of history.
Online encyclopaedias are great for short, concise and correct information. It is best to access these articles by opening the Online encyclopaedias page on the portal and then searching for the article you are interested in.
Suggested articles include:
It is important to provide evidence of using a variety of reliable resources. Use the online Reference Generator available through the Portal to create your citations. Make sure you alphabetically sort them afterwards.
A sample bibliography for 3 resources suggested on these pages would look like:
History 2018. Britannica School. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from https://school.eb.com.au/levels/middle/article/history/274883
Littlejohn, A 2017, What is History? Introducing History to Kids, Owlcation, accessed 16 March 2018, <https://owlcation.com/humanities/What-is-History-Introducing-History-For-Kids>.
Weber, P 2013, How do historians study history?, online video, 7 August, accessed 16 March 2018, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCLs9bpQd8w>.
The Role of Historians and Archaeologists
This clip outlines how archaeologists and historians investigate the ancient past and conduct historical inquiries. First, an archaeologist demonstrates what happens at an excavation site, including the tools and processes used to uncover and record artefacts and the evidence of their use in the past. Next, a historian explains how he interprets clues provided by artefacts and additional archival material to develop an informed historical narrative. Important historical concepts of chronology, pre-historical time periods, change and continuity are included.
Sources of Historical Evidence
This clip explores the range of sources that can be used in an historical investigation, including archaeological and written sources. We begin by looking at how artefacts are classified both by their materials and uses. Next, the role of archival material from the event, such as diaries or letters, as well as from other historical investigations or periods, such as journal articles and newspaper reports, is described. These sources are categorised as primary or secondary sources, and the benefits and limitations of each are considered. Featuring direct examples from an archaeologist and an historian, this resource will help viewers to understand how we study and interpret the past.