Portal:History

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History (from Ancient Greek ἱστορία (historía) 'inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation') is the study and the documentation of the past. Events before the invention of writing systems are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of these events. Historians seek knowledge of the past using historical sources such as written documents, oral accounts, art and material artifacts, and ecological markers.

History is also an academic discipline which uses narrative to describe, examine, question, and analyze past events, and investigate their patterns of cause and effect. Historians often debate which narrative best explains an event, as well as the significance of different causes and effects. Historians also debate the nature of history as an end in itself, as well as its usefulness to give perspective on the problems of the present.

Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur), are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends. History differs from myth in that it is supported by verifiable evidence. However, ancient cultural influences have helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematic elements of historical investigation. History is often taught as a part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.

Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian, is often considered the "father of history" in the Western tradition, although he has also been criticized as the "father of lies". Along with his contemporary Thucydides, he helped form the foundations for the modern study of past events and societies. Their works continue to be read today, and the gap between the culture-focused Herodotus and the military-focused Thucydides remains a point of contention or approach in modern historical writing. In East Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, was reputed to date from as early as 722 BC, although only 2nd-century BC texts have survived. (Full article...)

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Jean-François Marie de Surville (18 January 1717 – 8 April 1770) was a merchant captain with the French East India Company. He commanded a voyage of exploration to the Pacific in 1769–70.

Born in Brittany, France, Surville joined the French East India Company in 1727 at the age of 10. For the next several years he sailed on voyages in Indian and Chinese waters. In 1740 he joined the French Navy; he fought in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War, twice becoming a prisoner of war. After his military career he rejoined the French East India Company. In 1769, in command of Saint Jean-Baptiste, he sailed from India on an expedition to the Pacific looking for trading opportunities. He explored the seas around the Solomon Islands and New Zealand before proceeding eastward across the South Pacific towards South America. Part of his route around New Zealand overlapped that of James Cook in Endeavour, which had preceded him by only a few days. De Surville drowned off the coast of Peru on 8 April 1770 while seeking help for his scurvy-afflicted crew. (Full article...)
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