Information on History and Government is in three forms namely:
These are sources which are are not recorded. Such as:
This is the information acquired by word of mouth as communicated from generation to generation. In traditional societies this information was passed on by village elders, court workers, jesters and griots, who also acted as custodians of the history of their people.
Oral tradition is most useful in societies where the art of writing is not fully developed. Lack of written records of events had convinced most Europeans that Africa had no history. It was believed that history could only be preserved in written form and since African societies had not developed the art of writing, it was assumed that they had no history. This led many African historians in the middle of the 20th century to become actively interested in finding out the past lives of the indigenous peoples of Africa.
Forms of Oral Traditions
They are methods through which information is conveyed in oral traditions.
Advantages OF ORAL TRADITIONS
Disadvantages OF ORAL TRADITIONS
This is the scientific study of language. Language itself is part of culture. It can be studied in an attempt to discover what its form, content, grammar and vocabulary can tell us about the historical experience of the people who use the language.
Distribution of languages is of great importance to the historian as are relationships between languages. People who speak languages of the same family may be assumed to be themselves connected or have been in close contact at some time in the past. Variations between languages of the same family can show how long ago the break in contact occurred.
The greater the difference. the longer the time since ancestors of those speaking these languages separated. Careful comparisons can indicate migratory patterns and the spread and influence of a language as a whole or of certain concepts held by the society which spoke it. The study of "loan words" from other languages can show how a neighbouring influence has affected one aspect of culture, or how a certain feature has itself borrowed or been imposed on others.
ADVANTAGES OF LINGUISTICS
DISADVANTAGES OF LINGUISTICS
Archaeology is the study of material remains from past human life and culture. Examples of such material remains are stone tools, pottery, wooden implements, metal objects, graves and features like buildings, as well as remains of plants and animals exploited for subsistence by pre-historic people. An archaeologist, just like the oral historian, attempts to provide information about the ancient past on which there are no written records.
In his or her work, an archaeologist starts by locating archaeological sites where people lived. Then he or she excavates the remains of the people. settlements, sites, caves and cemeteries. An archaeologist studies and classifies the artifacts from the archaeological sites. The classification may show the levels of human occupation on a settlement site and survival of the material possessions of a particular people.
The general principle is that, cultures identified by an assemblage of material possessions, will be found in layers of succession; the oldest at the bottom. This is only applicable to the extent that there has been no disturbance (e.g., by burrowing animals or volcanic activity at the site under study)
Methods used by archaeologists to locate archeological sites
Dating Methods in Archaeology
Archaeologists use the following methods to date fossils and artifacts:
(i) Radio-carbon dating (carbon 14 dating)
It is a measure of the amount of carbon remaining in a fossil or artifact.
(ii) Potassium Argon
It is a measure of the amount of potassium remaining in a fossil or artifact due to volcanic eruption.
It studies the fossils and artifacts found in succession layers of the earth's surface.
It studies the layers of successive deposits of rocks.
Fission track dating
Studies the age of artifacts from the amount of uranium remaining in the track of rock.
The age of objects is determined through association of events with names.
ADVANTAGES OF DATING METHODS
DISADVANTAGES OF DATING METHODS
This is the study of a people's origins, development, customs and beliefs. Anthropology concerns itself with present day social organisations in relation to customs, cultural values, institutions, forms of government, systems of marriage, inheritance, descent and religious practices. In addition, an anthropologist is interested in such material aspects of life as farming, cattle keeping, fishing and technology.
The anthropologist's description and explanation of the beliefs and customs of today help visualise what the culture being described looked like in the past. The historian needs to understand how a society functions today and what its key concepts are, and how it functioned at an earlier date. The present is therefore used to explain the past.
ADVANTAGES OF ANTHROPOLOGY
DISADVANTAGES OF ANTHROPOLOGY
This is the recorded information collected from cave wall paintings, stone tablets, oral tradition, books, diaries, newspapers, magazines, journals and other written records. Writing has an important part in the preservation of history. Important events or occurrences are recorded for purpose of being communicated to others. In this form, the historical events are stored in a relatively permanent way.
Once written, the recorded materials can be read over the years. Though written history is very old in countries like Japan, Egypt, Iraq and China, it is only recent in East Africa where the oldest known writing on history of Africa was written between A.D. 50-100 by Arab travellers and explorers.
ADVANTAGES OF WRITTEN SOURCES
DISADVANTAGES OF WRITTEN SOURCES
This is the scientific study of the ways in which characteristics are passed from parents (or, in plants, from parent stock) to their offspring. Genetic studies are useful from a historical point of view when they relate to plants.
The historian is interested in plants from the time of their domestication, after which he assumes their movements and the appearance of new cultivated varieties may be identified with the people of whose economy they form apart.
Botanists can suggest where the first centre of domestication was. This would be the region where the largest numbers of varieties of the plant can be found today.
ADVANTAGES OF GENETICS
DISADVANTAGES OF GENETICS
These are audio-visual media which are operated by electronic power. They include pictures, radio, television, videos and computers.
ADVANTAGES OF ELECTRONIC SOURCES
DISADVANTAGES OF ELECTRONIC SOURCES
Can only be used in areas with electricity.
They are expensive to obtain and use. They require experts.
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