Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Article Link: Science in History

This article in the Huffington Post about a colonial-era ship discovered during excavations for the new World Trade Center buildings illustrates a contention I've long made with my introductory survey students: the study of history is the study of everything about our past, all the innumerable elements that contribute to our existence today.  Here, remarkable tools of science -- dendrochronology, in particular -- have been put in service of understanding when this ship was constructed, where it was built, how it was used and even what might have led to its discovery almost two and a half centuries later, buried deep under lower Manhattan.  History is about curiosity and a search for understanding.  The names and the dates of our common perceptions of "history class" are mere data points in the context of something far deeper and broader -- and essential to our understanding of who we are.  Our self-perceptions may not turn upon the identification of one ship, but the story is a great illustration of how many approaches we can take toward exploration of our past.  Science, too, is a historical discipline!

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