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However, sophisticated study of oral traditions, combined with advances in archaeology, has made it possible to discover a good deal about the civilizations and empires that flourished in these regions before European contact. The earliest histories were mostly stories of disasters—floods, famines, and plagues—or of wars, including the statesmen and generals who figured in them.

In the 20th century, however, historians shifted their focus from statesmen and generals to ordinary workers and soldiers.

The challenge of seeing through that filter has been met by historians in various ways.

One way is to make use of nontraditional sources—for example, personal documents, such as wills or marriage contracts.

Modern historians have determined the age of the Shroud of Turin, which purportedly bears the image of Jesus, through carbon-14 dating and have discredited the claim of Anna Anderson to be the grand duchess Anastasia, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, through DNA testing Just as the methods at the disposal of historians have expanded, so have the subjects in they have become interested.

History, which may be defined as an account that purports to be true of events and ways of thinking and feeling in some part of the human past, stems from this archetypal human narrative activity. They still believe in the fairy tale and that dreams do come true, no matter how old they are. You know the saying: It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight. None of this is to say that history writing has assumed a perfect or completed form.It will never do so: examination of its past reveals remarkable changes in historical consciousness rather than steady progress toward the standards of research and writing that represent the best that historians can do today.

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