If a people group does not have a written language that modern scholars know of, it is often quote difficult to find out about that society. If there are no transaction records how does one learn of the cultures economics? If there are no book, scrolls or tables, how does one understand their view of education. If a people’s history was passed down orally will we ever know their beginnings? Rather, if one part of the world tells the story of a civilization a certain way, can they always be trusted? Although it is difficult to find out these specifics, the History of a people can be gleaned in a variety of other ways, and discovering these other ways improves our study of history as a whole.
Much can be learned from studying the remains of civilizations and many historical mysterious have been uncovered by the study of archaeology. Knowledge of ancient societies is sometimes limited to these archaeological finds, yet they can tell a Historian a great deal. What kind of weapons, cooking utensils, bones, tools, buildings, and artwork demonstrate how advanced a society is.
One can learn a great amount of information from the architecture of a society. One such example is the Primary Source Image of Ziggurats. The way the ziggurats are formed demonstrated different aspects of the society. Things such as, what material the Ziggurat is made of, how long it took to make, writing and artwork found on the walls and treasures found within tell the Historian key facts about the society.
Learning the full extend of the atrocities committed to the Africans in the slave trade might be difficult as most Africans did not have a way to communicate their History in a way that scholars now could find. They sang many oral traditions about Africa, America, Slavery and their History. In the case of these silent victims, some Africans did grown up to be literate and well learned. One such case is demonstrated in Primary Source The Interesting Narrative of a slave, who relays the events that transpired over his horrific trip across the Atlantic. Through narratives like this, historians are able to gain a fuller picture than simply that presented by the European traders.
In the study of History, one is often forced to study the remains of civilizations, their architecture and the few first hand accounts that can be found. But not only do these methods of archaeological and historical discovery make it possible to conduct the study of “silent peoples”, they aid in the study of all civilizations and all history.