Sunday, July 10, 2011

Does Anyone Study History Anymore? - Or, Why Studying History is Important ...

Well, the question is supposed to be rhetorical, but sometimes I just want to shake my head when I read articles on supposed shocking finds in history. Within the past couple of weeks, I just read an article online about an archaeological finding. (I realize the article is a couple of weeks old now, but I'm only commenting on it now since I finally have some time to write about it now.) I'm apologizing now, in advance, because my thoughts about this article will probably turn into a rant.

The blog posted a link to an article about DNA testing on the ancestry of the British peoples. (Well, to be more accurate, the findings really only pertain to those who have English ancestry.) The article, through the examination of DNA, concludes that about 50 percent of English people have Germanic (The article says German, but Germanic would be more correct as I'll explain in a moment.) ancestry, and that the finding was a surprise to the researchers. Shocking? Well, not quite, if one examines a history book on the United Kingdom, he or she would learn about invasions of the British Isles that occurred in the past. In the early Middle Ages, England was invaded by the Germanic tribes of the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, and these tribes pushed the native Britons into what are now present-day Wales and Cornwall. A couple of centuries after the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons, as the Germanic tribes have become called in textbooks, the Vikings (who also came from Germanic tribes) raided and eventually settled in England and other places in the United Kingdom.

The information I presented in the above paragraph shows that the article's purported findings are not new. Any general history of the United Kingdom would mention the invasions of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings and describe effects of the invasions. The only thing that is remotely new in the article would be the use of DNA testing, and the testing only confirms what is already known. For someone to suggest or claim otherwise would be false.

So, why am I frustrated? Well, if someone is going to claim in an article that a historical discovery has been made, he or she should examine the historical literature first. The author of the article implies that this is a new discovery which is false. An examination of a general history of England or the United Kingdom would have noted the invasions. Sometimes I just wonder in frustration: Does anyone study or care about history?

So, what do you think? As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.


--- said...

These people write these articles befor they think. Even the first sentence doesn't make sense. I thought geneticists dealt with genetic evidence and archeologists handled the archeological evidence. I'll bet at least half the Irishmen are Irish too.

Susi's Quarter said...

Wow. right down my alley. I recently did a twist to a talk on migration. Starting in Africa and ending in the America's.
Reason was YDNA results of a family member. Yes, Germanic is better since Germany did not exist then. another peeve of mine is the miss use of that term.

Maybe it was new to them.

Thanks for posting.