March 5, 2008

1. What are the main types of sources?

The main types of sources are archaeological and written sources. Archaeological sources are the physical remains of past cultures. Written sources include any materials or objects that have been written on.


2. What kinds of questions need to be asked of archaeological sources?

The types of questions that need to be asked of archaeological sources are:

– What is it?

– In what matter was it found?

– Can it be accurately dated?

– How does its condition affect its interpretation?

– Is it reliable and / or useful in providing evidence about the past?

– What evidence does this source provide about the past?


3. Do these questions differ from the questions asked of written sources? Why?

Yes, these questions differ from the questions asked of written sources because archaeological sources are not subject to bias. Analysing written sources can reveal the writer’s perspective whereas archaeological sources reveal descriptions of an artifact when being asked questions on the sources.


4. What is meant by the saying that ‘historical writings reveal more about the author than the events or personalities being related’?

‘Historical writings reveal more about the author than the events or personalities being related/ ,eans that historical writings are mainlt based on the author’s perspective, so their analysis may eother be true or false towards the content of reconstructing the past. It’s more about the historian being bias on one side, than the actual source.


5. Go online and find one example of an ancient written source and one ancient archaeological source. Analyse each one (hint: ask those questions!)


Ancient Written Source – The Rosetta Stone is an Ancient Egyptian artifact, instrumental in advancing modern understanding of hieroglyphic writing. The Stone is a Ptolemaic era stele with carved text. The text is made up of three scripts, hieroglyphic (an ancient Egyptian script using symbols), demotic (a simplified Egyptian script used for everyday writing), and Greek (the langauge introduced after the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great). It was created in 196 BC, discovered by the French in 1799 at Rosetta, a harbor on the Mediterranean coast in Egypt, and contributed greatly to the decipherment of principles of hieroglyphic writing in 1822 by the French scholar Jean-Francois Champollion. The text of the Rosetta Stone is a decree from Ptolemy V, describing the repealing of various taxes and instructions to erect statues in temples.


Ancient Archaeological Source – The 2000 Year old bronze Iron Age Chain is an artifact discovered during work in Scatness. The chain, with 20 double links and the reemains of possibly the clasp, was recovered from a roundhouse wall by the Shetland Amenity Trust. The chain is described as extremely well preserved and adds to the jewelry and other metal artifacts found at the site. Shetland Archaeologist Wal Turner said: “This discovery is quite rare”. (BBC)


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