Big History: What is it? Why do we study Big History?
Big History, Begins with the Big Bang
Big History: David Christian
Historians have long struggled with the concept of what history actually is. Is it the story of individuals? Is it the story of nations? Is it a long list of dates to be memorized and repeated ad nauseum? Is history an Art or Science?
All have their own argument over these and many other questions.
Several years ago, historian David Christian came up with a revolutionary concept.
History is a multidisciplinary study. It can involve cosmology, astronomy, physics, geology, metereology, biology and Politics, anthropology and linguistics.
Basically history is everything, and everything is history.
David Christian and Big History
Where does Big History begin?
For David Christian, the creator of "Big History." History begins where everything is thought to have begun, in the "Big Bang."
Christian has gone back to the origins of the universe in order to show how the universe and the world we know today is the culmination of all events since the "Big Bang."
As such it can be seen that history is a long narrative of events, no event even your own existance can have happened without all other events in the history of the universe happening in their own turn. You and the world we know are the result of all previous time. Whether by creation or by chance, is not argued, science can trace all physical events back for billions of years. In linking history to the physical and natural sciences historians can open new doors to their understanding of human history.
So How does geology affect history?
One might ask how sciences might answer questions about human history?
For instance can Geology affect history?
Yes it can. Geology affects factors such as the flowing of rivers, whether a region is warm and fertile or a barren desert. Geology affects the mineral resources of a place or lack therof.
Imagine if our ancient predecessors had not had the great rivers of the middle and far east to plant agricultural crops beside, the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus valley and China may never have developed. Without those civilizations the world would be a different place today.
What Big History Isn't
Big History isn't the study of the minutiae of history.
One will not find details of great leaders or even much about nation states in the field.
It is about broad pictures, how large movements have changed the development of the human race and have affected us in our world.
Of course covering such a vast period of time, about twenty billion years. There are vast periods where nothing much happens. Human history only begins between four or five million years ago. Recorded time about 10,000 years ago and before about five hundred years ago most of human history outside Eurasia and Africa is unknown.
Why Even Bother?
Big History is important to historians because it allows us to understand the links of human societies and the world around us.
Traditional national histories have led historians down an ever more focused path of detail. Doing this has often led to the view that human and national actions do not affect outside groups. If we look at the facts, few human events occur within a vauum. Human actions spread out like ripples on a pond. With every new idea, a new problem, a new solution, they quickly spread across the world, sometimes they have major effects sometimes little visible effect.
Big History allows us to see how those ideas and effects of our pasts have created the world today.
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