What is a historical source?

History is a serious, complex science that studies the past of different countries and cities, the life of great people of different centuries. To distinguish legends from real historical facts, historians use special sources. What is a historical source, they know all the students who teach history. This is one of the main concepts in science, because the study of one or another historical fact begins with the study of historical sources.

A historical source is a subject or document that belongs to a specific era. This item serves as a kind of witness to some event. It is from these testimonies that an analysis of one or another historical event begins, and ideas about the cause of the actions of one or another historical figure are drawn up.

Historical sources. Kinds

There are different types of historical sources. They may be:

  • real,
  • written
  • figurative
  • oral.

For example, in the cave, which was a haven of ancient people, rock paintings were discovered.The cavemen depicted a hunting scene on the wall, where several men try to shoot a bull with the bow, and the rest of the inhabitants throw spears at the animals. Such a picture immediately gives historians some realistic conclusions. First, even in those years, the inhabitants of the cave were hunting, and secondly, they were interested in large prey, and since they killed the animal together, it means that their mental development was already at a high level. In addition, they already knew how to make primitive weapons.

Of course, such a source cannot be an unequivocal proof, because such a picture could not be painted on the wall according to real events, but simply to depict your fantasies. That is why it is impossible to base facts only on visual sources. For this, looking for stronger evidence. Considering the same example, historians begin excavations, and material evidence is sought in the same cave. For example, if a spear, arrows or remains of a large animal are found in a cave, this will be a real confirmation of the historical hypothesis. And another kind of source.

What historical sources are valuable

The most valuable are written sources.These include legislation, records, notarial and judicial documents, correspondence and journalistic literature. This material contains a huge amount of facts that are of interest to researchers. But in the study of written sources it is necessary to remember that all documents are prepared by living people who have their own disadvantages and merits. The compiler of documents studied by historians could have been mistaken somewhere, could use unverified information, or even deliberately think out something, change the real facts consciously. Therefore, no document is perceived by historians as an axiom. To confirm one or another historical fact, several sources are compared, they are analyzed by historians, and discrepancies and repetitions of facts from different sources are identified.

How to determine the type of source

In addition, historical sources are intentional and unintentional. Intentional sources were created with the expectation that the descendants would read or consider the source, and from there they would gather information about the events of the past centuries.Non-intentional sources are not created specifically for future research, and therefore contain many inaccuracies. An example of a deliberate source is a chronicle, and an unintentional source is the keeping of a personal diary of some outstanding figure of the past.

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