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Portal:History

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The History Portal

Herodotus (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 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.

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Though in ruins, the Flavian Amphitheatre, now known as the Colosseum, still stands today
The inaugural games of the Flavian Amphitheatre were held in AD 80, on the orders of the Roman Emperor Titus, to celebrate the completion of the Colosseum, then known as the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium). Vespasian began construction of the amphitheatre around AD 70, and it was completed by Titus soon after Vespasian's death in AD 79. After Titus' reign began with months of disasters – including the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, a fire in Rome, and an outbreak of plague – he inaugurated the building with lavish games which lasted for more than a hundred days, perhaps partially in an attempt to appease the Roman public and the gods.

Little documentary evidence of the nature of the games (ludi) remains. They appear to have followed the standard format of the Roman games: animal entertainments in the morning session, followed by the executions of criminals around midday, with the afternoon session reserved for gladiatorial combats and recreations of famous battles. The animal entertainments, which featured creatures from throughout the Roman Empire, included extravagant hunts and fights between different species. Animals also played a role in some executions which were staged as recreations of myths and historical events. Naval battles formed part of the spectacles but whether these took place in the amphitheatre or on a lake that had been specially constructed by Augustus is a topic of debate among historians.

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This 1820 painting by Chester Harding is the only portrait of Daniel Boone made from life.
Daniel Boone (November 2, 1734 [O.S. October 22] – September 26, 1820) was an American pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman whose frontier exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which was then beyond the western borders of the settled part of the Thirteen Colonies. This region legally belonged to both the Commonwealth of Virginia and to the American Indian Tribes at the time. Despite some resistance from American Indian tribes such as the Shawnee, in 1775 Boone blazed his Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains from North Carolina and Tennessee into Kentucky. There he founded the village of Boonesborough, Kentucky, one of the first English-speaking settlements west of the Appalachians. Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 European people migrated to Kentucky/Virginia by following the route marked by Boone.

Boone was a militia officer during the Revolutionary War (1775–82), which in Kentucky was fought primarily between the European settlers and the British-aided Native Americans. Boone was captured by Shawnee warriors in 1778, who after a while adopted him into their tribe. Later, he left the Indians and returned to Boonesborough to help defend the European settlements in Kentucky/Virginia.

Boone was elected to the first of his three terms in the Virginia General Assembly during the Revolutionary War, and fought in the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782. Blue Lick was one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War, coming after Lord Cornwallis surrendered to Washington in October of 1781.

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The Montgolfier brothers' balloon, 75 feet tall and 50 feet wide, was the first balloon to carry human passengers in 1783. This etching from 1786 depicts the historical flight with engineering properties and a description of its elaborate design.

On this day

December 10: Human Rights Day; Nobel Banquet

The original brown dog statue
The original brown dog statue

María Bibiana Benítez (b. 1783) · C. Rajagopalachari (b. 1878) · Ziad Abu Ein (d. 2014)

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What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?

— Winston Churchill, British statesman

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Ancient Greece

"The center of Western culture is Greece, and we have never lost our ties with the architectural concepts of that ancient civilization."
Stephen Gardiner

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History by region – Ancient Egypt • Ancient Greece • Ancient Rome • History of China • History of the Middle East • History of Mesoamerica • History of India

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List of time periods Prehistory • Protohistory • Ancient history • Modern history • Future history

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History of the natural sciencesAstronomy • Biology • Chemistry • Ecology • Geography • Physics • Geology
History of the social sciencesAnthropology • Economics • Education • Geography • Linguistics • Political science • Psychology • Sociology
History of science by era In early cultures • In Classical Antiquity • In the Middle Ages • In the Renaissance • Scientific Revolution
History of technology Agriculture & agricultural science • Architecture • Biotechnology • Chemical engineering • Communication • Computing (Computer science, Software engineering) • Electrical engineering • Invention • Materials science • Measurement • Medicine • Military technology • Transport

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