Historical method

Techniques used by historians / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Historical method is the collection of techniques and guidelines that historians use to research and write histories of the past. Secondary sources, primary sources and material evidence such as that derived from archaeology may all be drawn on, and the historian's skill lies in identifying these sources, evaluating their relative authority, and combining their testimony appropriately in order to construct an accurate and reliable picture of past events and environments.

A sculpted bust depicting Thucydides (c. 460-c. 400 BC) dubbed the "father of scientific history" (a copy of a copy of 4th Century BCE Greek work)

In the philosophy of history, the question of the nature, and the possibility, of a sound historical method is raised within the sub-field of epistemology. The study of historical method and of different ways of writing history is known as historiography.

Though historians agree in very general and basic principles, in practice "specific canons of historical proof are neither widely observed nor generally agreed upon" among professional historians.[1] Some scholars of history have observed that there are no particular standards for historical fields such as religion, art, science, democracy, and social justice as these are by their nature 'essentially contested' fields, such that they require diverse tools particular to each field beforehand in order to interpret topics from those fields.[2]

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