Objects As History Week 1
That’s the question our faculty asked us at the very beginning of our class.I don’t really know whether I like history,honestly.I think its because I like certain parts of it and not all of it.I loved it in school ( only cause I scored well) but I also had the best naps with those textbooks fallen on top of my face.The next question thrown at us was ,”What is History?”
In my opinion,history is a record of time,place and people.Its also like a really,really long story.Like its where fantasy show writers like Game of Thrones get their content from.(With all that reference,you’d think they would end the show properly.Joke’s on you.)But its also an unwritten rule book of sorts.It’s a DO’s and DONT’s list of social things.At least that’s how I percieve it.
Why is history studied? Its all about learning from our mistakes.(Or in some cases,repeating them.) My purpose of studying history is usually because I love to read about different lifestyles through the ages,and weird facts about civilisations.(Like how Victorian women ate pills with tapeworms in them to avoid gaining weight. Wish it were that easy!)
The topic we studied this class was way back in time, when the Big Bang led to the existence of everything. We talked about the unified landmass Pangea, the Paleolithic,Mesolithic and Neolithic ages, and the possible lifestyle of creatures living at that time.
Man at that time put survival as his number one priority,and thus learnt hunting/gathering,building fire, and finding water bodies. In fact, human evolution in the earlier stages is driven by survival instinct and food habits. The species Ramapithecous,Dryopithecous barely have proper knuckle joints or the ability to stand erect, but Homo erectus/ Homo neanderthalensis are evolved,having thumbs,used to build shelter,farm and eventually build cities.
We discussed the first city Ur,its Sumerian roots, and the possible structure of society at the time.The first proper civilisations were Sumer, Akkad and Babylon. I learnt that the biblical story about the Tower of Babel is actually based in Babylon,and the way Babylonian tombs were built. There was also a mention of Sumerian Ziggurats and Catal Huyuk, the first city ever. I also learnt about the first ever epic ever written, the Epic of Gilgamesh, based on a king in Uruk, Mesopotamia.
We learnt about the interesting living system,wherein the huts were all interconnected and the only entrance was through the ceiling. I find this pretty fascinating since in a mythological book I was reading based on The Ramayan(Amish’s Ramchandra trilogy) there was a mention of such honeycombed huts in Mithila,Sita’s hometown. It makes the novel feel realistic! New huts are built on top of the old,and over several millennia it causes stratification of land. This creates mounds in the soil,and thus archaeologists often look for irregularities in land at sites.
We also discussed the structure of society in these civilisations,and thus how it led to the more recent caste system.Society at earlier times was divided into the Haves,the Have Nots, and the ‘help the Haves’. This basically means that there was a common working class, a category for priests and ultimately the royals. The nobles conveniently managed to make a category for themselves. If we compare this to the caste system during the Vedic ages in India, it is slightly different. We divided society based on occupations, and thus had the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras.
Thus ended my first lecture of Objects as History. As clearly visible above, I learned several new facts and historical events! I understood the way archaeologists and historians perceive history, and how it’s different compared to the rest of us. Most importantly, I realised that history can be interesting. All that matters is perspective!