What is Ancient History?

What is the point of studying ancient history? This article will help to clear up what it is exactly, and why it is so important to keep it alive and continue learning.

History is what has happened in the past. Ancient history, then, is what has happened often before the capabilities of humans to make written records. Within the articles of this topic, we will examine the many people, places, and events that have led us to where we are today, politically, philosophically, artistically, and scientifically. For if we do not know from where we came, we have no map to take us where we should go next.

Ancient history, for our purposes, will begin sometime during the Bronze Age in Europe, around 3000 B.C. It was at this approximate time that record keeping began in earnest, and cultures began leaving their stamp in the realms of art, architecture, even science. Some of the most exciting archaeological discoveries have come from Bronze Age sites in Europe. We will continue through the ages, looking at the influential Greek and Roman cultures, ending with the onset of the Byzantine Empire, sometime around AD 300.

In order to study Ancient History, there needs to be a vast quantity of reliable resources that we can examine. It would be very convenient for scholars to have that bounty at their fingertips. However, only a small part of ancient history was documented, and a great deal of what was written down was lost or damaged during times of war or natural disasters. That is why scholars of ancient history rely on the efforts of Classical Archaeologists who unearth and piece together the stories of civilizations from long ago. There have been many significant discoveries along the way, such as the unearthing of the Roman city of Pompeii, which was buried under the ash of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. There have also been countless smaller discoveries that have aided scholars and scientists to put together facts and make educated inferences about the ways of the Greeks and the Romans. The study of ancient history is truly a treasure hunt.

Scholars also rely on first-hand accounts from sources that have survived the millennia to provide them with intimate descriptions of life and society during the often-turbulent times. Many of the ancient minds, such as Herodotus, Plato, Livy, Pausanius, and Tacitus have literally left road maps of the Classical World, providing great insight for scholars trying to figure out how our society has come to the place that it has.

The point of studying ancient history is to learn about our foundations as a culture. The innovations of the ancient societies include so many things that we use and practice today. Democracy, architecture, philosophy, building and construction innovations, art, literature, city planning, language, medicine, military configurations, and astronomy are but a few of the areas where we see a direct influence from the Greek and Roman worlds. Ancient history is a vital topic to be learned and explored, not to mention highly interesting!

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