History is the study of the past as it is described in written documents.
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Events occurring before written record are considered prehistory.
Prehistory is the period of human activity between the use of the first stone tools ~3.3 million years ago and the invention of writing systems, the earliest of which appeared ~5300 years ago.
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It is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events.
Scholars who write about history are called historians.
A historian is a person who researches, studies, and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it.
History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them.
A narrative or story is a report of connected events, real or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written or spoken words, or still or moving images, or both.
Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present.
Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources, are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not show the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history.
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and demonstrating human values, and which possesses certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude.
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.
Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts, expressing the author's imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.
Herodotus, a 5th-century BC Greek historian is considered within the Western tradition to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history.
Herodotus was a Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire and lived in the fifth century BC, a contemporary of Thucydides, Socrates, and Euripides.
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 Asia, a state chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals was known to be compiled from as early as 722 BC although only 2nd-century BC texts survived.
The Spring and Autumn Annals or Chunqiu is an ancient Chinese chronicle that has been one of the core Chinese classics since ancient times.
A chronicle is a historical account of facts and events ranged in chronological order, as in a time line.
Ancient 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 thematical elements of historical investigation.
Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in university studies.