Historical Facts?

Doing a history PhD is pointless – according to (both of) my city-banker-friends. All I’m doing is accumulating knowledge with no real world application, they say, as they use their iPhone 5 and somebody else’s money to trade imaginary bits of paper with randomly assigned values. I take their ‘banter’ in good faith, but, after a while, I snap: “Yeah? Well knowing that Arthur Balfour was the second British Prime Minister of the 20th Century once won me £200 in a Pub Quiz.”

And with that, the cat’s out of the bag. The best way to make our knowledge seem relevant is by using it to show off in the 6 Bells or the Queen’s Head on a Monday night. The whole discipline of history is relegated to a series of ‘facts’ – to 1066 and all that – and nothing more. But with ancient history, actually defining a fact can sometimes be tricky, meaning that answering apparently simple questions can be a difficult business. Read more…>

Image: “Cyrus Cylinder front” by Prioryman - Own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cyrus_Cylinder_front.jpg#/media/F…