The History Portal
(c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC), often considered the "father of history"
History (from Greek ἱστορία, historia, meaning 'inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation') is the study of the past as it is described in written documents. Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory. It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.
History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.
Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived.
Ancient influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.
The Mormon handcart pioneers
were participants in the westward migration of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
who used handcarts
to transport their supplies and belongings while walking from Iowa
. The Mormon handcart movement began in 1856 and lasted until 1860.
Motivated to join their fellow Church members in avoiding persecution but lacking funds for full ox or horse teams, nearly 3,000 Mormon pioneers from England, Wales, and Scandinavia made the journey to Utah in 10 handcart companies. For two of them, the Willie and Martin handcart companies, the trek led to disaster after they started their journey dangerously late and were caught by heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures in the Rocky Mountains of central Wyoming. Despite a dramatic rescue effort, more than 210 of the 980 pioneers in the two companies died along the way.
Although fewer than ten percent of the 1847–68 Latter-day Saint emigrants made the journey west using handcarts, the handcart pioneers have become an important symbol in LDS culture, representing the faithfulness, courage, determination, and sacrifice of the pioneer generation. The handcart treks were a familiar theme in 19th century Mormon folk music and handcart pioneers continue to be recognized and honored in events such as Pioneer Day, Church pageants, and similar commemorations.
: Shěn Kuò
: Shen K'uo
) (1031–1095), style name Cunzhong
(存中) and pseudonym Mengqi
(now usually given as Mengxi
(夢溪翁), was a polymathic Chinese scientist
and statesman of the Song Dynasty
(960–1279). Excelling in many fields of study and statecraft, he was a mathematician
, hydraulic engineer
, academy chancellor
, finance minister
, governmental state inspector, poet
, and musician
. He was the head official for the Bureau of Astronomy
in the Song court, as well as an Assistant Minister of Imperial Hospitality. At court his political allegiance was to the Reformist faction known as the New Policies Group
, headed by Chancellor Wang Anshi
In his Dream Pool Essays (夢溪筆談; Mengxi Bitan) of 1088, Shen was the first to describe the magnetic needle compass, which would be used for navigation (first described in Europe by Alexander Neckam in 1187). Shen discovered the concept of true north in terms of magnetic declination towards the north pole, with experimentation of suspended magnetic needles and "the improved meridian determined by Shen's [astronomical] measurement of the distance between the polestar and true north". This was the decisive step in human history to make compasses more useful for navigation, and may have been a concept unknown in Europe for another four hundred years (evidence of German sundials made circa 1450 show markings similar to Chinese geomancer compasses in regards to declination).
Did you know...
The Trinity nuclear test was the first nuclear detonation in the world. Conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945, the successful test would set the stage for the coming Atomic Age. This image, captured by Berlyn Brixner, shows the fireball that developed 0.016 seconds after ignition; the explosive had a yield of 20 kilotons of dynamite.
On this day
Earthquake damage in Valdivia
- 1629 – Albrecht von Wallenstein and King Christian IV of Denmark signed the Treaty of Lübeck to end Danish intervention in the Thirty Years' War.
- 1816 – A riot broke out in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, England, over high unemployment and rising grain costs, spreading to Ely the next day.
- 1960 – An earthquake measuring ~9.5 MW – the strongest ever recorded – devastated Valdivia, Chile (damage pictured), and generated destructive tsunamis that reached Hawaii and Japan.
- 1980 – Pac-Man, an arcade game that became an icon of 1980s popular culture, made its debut in Japan.
- 2002 – Washington, D.C., police announced that the skeletal remains of Federal Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy, who had been missing for a year, were found in Rock Creek Park.
John Forest (d. 1538) · Rita Cetina Gutiérrez (b. 1846) · Laurence Olivier (b. 1907)
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
— Sun Tzu, Ancient Chinese military strategist
History of science
"Fortunately science, like that nature to which it belongs, is neither limited by time nor by space. It belongs to the world, and is of no country and of no age."
— Sir Humphry Davy
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