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Old October 20th, 2016, 02:17 PM   #31
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This question goes to historians from a candidate historian. It seems that there is nothing/no field left worth too much to study in this field except for some tiny details. Pretty much everything has been studied and written by others. I can’t find a reason to pursue being historian.
Oh yes... I used to feel the same way as you (and that includes the field of 'alternative history'). It just seems like everything's been done.

But no, it hasn't, far from it, and the more you look into a field or aspect of history, the more you realise how much just about everything HASN'T been studied. In my case, this was to do with art and crafts.

Think of how history overwhelmingly comprises the narratives of named people or organisations that produced documents of any kind, while the vast majority of everyone who has lived and died left no trace of their name. This doesn't mean they left no traces, though, for many - if not almost all - of the most wonderful things bequeathed to archaeology are made by nameless people of amazing skill. How much discussion do you see on this or any forum about, for example, craft skills and art, and how important this was for many millennia? Take weaving, which is highly perishable, and yet is known to have been developed tens of millennia ago. Not as cool as warriors bearing metal weapons, or monarchies with power and intrigue. But still, absolutely fundamental to the fabric of society for ages before such social systems fell into place.

Having realised this, and seriously researching this and related fields is what restored my belief in how so much history has yet to be told. There are, for eg., still a lot of tacit assumptions about the origins of, and what truly defines, a 'civilization'. There are other fertile areas that most historians baulk at seriously getting to grips with by relating them to the material disciplines, eg. mythology.

No really, there's a lot still left to find out, and it won't come from the 'alternative' field either, still churning the same subjects it did half a century ago. Just remember, most of the serious papers are now published online.
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Old October 21st, 2016, 10:46 AM   #32
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Don't forget there could be things written about a topic in only one language, and scattered across several sources. Prospective historians could always spend useful time compiling and translating foreign histories in to an easily readible source in their own language (a random example, an English historian writing an English book on previously untranslated Kazakh history).

Language barriers still mean there are some historical things for us to discover and make more accessible to a world audience.

Last edited by Wodz Mikolaj; October 21st, 2016 at 10:48 AM.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 12:55 PM   #33
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I didn't exactly say "everything" and pointed out those "tiny details" as you prefer to mention them "white spots". I'll give you an example of one of those "white spots": For instance, some historians in my country newly discovered that there are also some non Turkish soldiers used by the early Turcoman Beyliks in Balkan raids, as they were all assumed to be Turcomans. I'm not saying it's unimportant, of course it is matter but that's the all you can get by "identifying white spots" most of the times.
Is history any different from other academic disciplines in that respect? I can't think of any sphere of human activity where a single human being can 'discover' anything really important by themselves, not since the end of the 20th century. If you were to become a scientist, would you be annoyed if you didn't discover a new subatomic particle every week? 99.9% of academics never achieve any kind of breakthrough in human knowledge at all in their career, and the other 0.1% only do so as part of massive teams of people. That's as true for Sumerologists as it is for physicists. Actually, if you want to really discover something new, become a Sumerologist. They are discovering new tracts of the Epic of Gilgamesh quite regularly, which is rather like biologists regularly discovering new organs of the human body.

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History is not a new field and lots of people have been worked and still working on this field. All of us have started to this field hoping to make some difference in the future... I don't know about you but this reality actually kills my motivation. It's like digging up a whole mountain to find a piece of gold.
I'd argue that modern history is the newest field there is, since more history is made every day. We will never run out of modern history to study, not unless time comes to a halt.

And also, have you ever seen a diamond mine? Digging a hole as deep as a mountain to find a few small rocks is exactly what diamond mining entails.


Finally, history is a rapidly enlarging field. We have technology now that was not available to previous historians, and so we have sources which were denied to them. New archaeological methods such as geoscanning are rewriting the history of the Viking expeditions to North America, and discovering Roman cities and Medieval battlegrounds that have been lost for 1000 years. Population genetics has allowed us for the first time in history to actually track human migrations and ancestral lines rather than simply relying on hopelessly inefficient methods such as linguistics and ancient sources: it was population genetics which put the nail in the coffin of the Anglo-Saxon invasion theory, proving that the Anglo-Saxons did not wipe out the indigenous peoples of England. There is a huge amount more work to be done in this regard: we are close to getting some major breakthroughs on the settlement of the Americas - we already have good reason to believe that the traditional historical doctrine on this subject is wrong.

And that's just two of the new methods, there are many others, and others still as yet untried. The history books of today will in 100 years time be seen as about as reliable as Victorian histories seem to us now.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 01:54 PM   #34

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I don't quite understand. Do you want to be talked into or talked out of...?
We could talk him into, thus he'll be talked out of

I've heard once at a conference an history professor that in the last decades, more than 90% of history academic work was done whitout consulting the primary sources. Interpretation of interpretations Ö

There's a lot out there for historians. It's "enough" to master a couple of languages then You can start on aspects not many studied. Learn Greek, Turkish, Arab, Farsi and Hindi, and You can start to make some breakthrough studies on Byzantinum. For example.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 03:28 PM   #35
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Plenty of aspects in history have been completely ignored or sabotaged, particularly the history of oppressed groups. There are millions of things to discover, but very little interest in the history of certain groups.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 05:07 PM   #36
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This question goes to historians from a candidate historian. It seems that there is nothing/no field left worth too much to study in this field except for some tiny details. Pretty much everything has been studied and written by others. I canít find a reason to pursue being historian.
Maybe you are right. If that is what you think then you should stick to your guns here.

There are some things I'd like to know if you don't mind:

1. I'm interested in knowing your methodology (what steps in your research) led you to this conclusion ?

2. How much time you have invested in this research ?

3. Out of all the different "areas" of history, what were the top five areas that you liked the least ? And why ?

I have a nephew who may be interested in history and I would like to spare him from it if I need to.

Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 08:46 AM   #37

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This question goes to historians from a candidate historian. It seems that there is nothing/no field left worth too much to study in this field except for some tiny details. Pretty much everything has been studied and written by others. I canít find a reason to pursue being historian.
Central Asian history is rich with events and not studied in depth. You can't get one narrative on the campaigns of Shah Ismail or Timur... they're all over the place. Did Timur invade Tokhtamysh from the Caucusus or Kazakhstan? Nobody knows.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 02:52 PM   #38
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This question goes to historians from a candidate historian. It seems that there is nothing/no field left worth too much to study in this field except for some tiny details. Pretty much everything has been studied and written by others. I canít find a reason to pursue being historian.
What is left to study is the real stories and not the tripe we were fed in school. Especially us Americans. I have read much revisionist history as an adult from the likes of geniuses like Howard Zinn and noam Chomsky. So I know we've been sold a bill of goods. My country's government has much to answer for.....mass murder of innocents, installations of despotic regimes, overthrows of legally elected popular leaders, as well as the needless massacre of Japanese civilians with two nuclear devices. How many of you know we bombed and killed thousands more AFTER Nagasaki? See what I mean? History books are written by the winners. At least most are.

We need to read and study more that were not. Read Chomsky's Who Rules The World? And tell me we don't have a great deal of misinformation thrust down our throats in the USA school system.
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Old January 14th, 2017, 07:09 AM   #39
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Pick a country any country in this world. There is at least some bit of its history that has not been studied to death. You just have to find it.
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Old February 1st, 2017, 03:02 PM   #40
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Interpretations, obviously, lend themselves to diversity and variety.

As for "new ground," find the new angle.

Cultural History was probably a discipline after FACT History, for example.

Ask weird questions:

- How does popular music change during war times?

- Was Rome a "benevolent" dictator in its better years?

- Do populations thrive more when people feel FREE or when they are CERTAIN of their future?

Etc. You get what I mean.
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