Understanding Sources, Evidence and Historical Facts

Understanding Sources, Evidence and Historical Facts


1. Historical sources

History starts from folk stories or legends that are able to reveal events in the past, although it is full of various myths that must be studied further so that they can be used as historical sources.

The people in the past did provide historical information from generation to generation and they considered it true what they had received from their ancestors which emanated from the remains around their place of residence. Therefore, it is not possible to reveal it again without adequate sources, meaning supporting sources so as to be able to approach the truth of a historical event.

Historical sources are all that is the basis of history. According to Moh. Ali, what is meant by historical sources is everything tangible and intangible and useful for historical research from ancient times to the present. While Muh. Yamin said that historical sources are a collection of cultural objects to prove history

There are three kinds of historical sources.

a. Written sources

Written sources are historical sources obtained through written remains, records of events that occurred in the past, for example inscriptions, documents, manuscripts, charters, chronicles, newspapers, tambo (annual records from China), and recordings. Written sources are divided into two, namely primary sources (documents) and secondary sources (library books).

b. Oral sources

Oral sources are direct statements from actors or eyewitnesses of events that occurred in the past. For example, a member of the Veterans Legion of the Republic of Indonesia (LVRI) who had participated in the General Attack told other people what happened and what he saw and what he did was an oral narrative (oral source) that could be used as material for historical research. It can also be in the form of narratives from the people around the city of Yogyakarta on March 1, 1949 who witnessed the General Attack, their narratives can also be categorized as oral sources. If the oral source is in the form of folklore, then the truth needs to be scrutinized because it is full of various myths.

c. Source objects

Material sources are historical sources obtained from the remains of cultural objects, for example, tools or cultural objects, such as axes, pottery, jewelry, beads, temples and statues. These historical sources may not all be able to inform the truth with certainty. Therefore, these historical sources need to be scrutinized, studied, analyzed, and interpreted carefully by experts. To reveal the historical sources above, various auxiliary sciences are needed, such as:

1) epigraphy, namely the study of ancient writings or inscriptions;
2) archeology, namely the study of ancient objects/relics;
3) iconography, namely the study of sculpture;
4) nomismatics, namely the study of currency;
5) ceramology, namely the study of ceramics;
6) geology, namely the study of the layers of the earth;
7) anthropology, namely the study of the origins of events and the development of human beings and their culture;
8) paleontology, namely the study of petrified remains of living things;
9) paleoanthropology, which is the science that studies the simplest human form until now;
10) sociology, namely the study of the nature of the condition and growth of society;
11) philology, namely the study of language, culture, institutions and history of a nation as contained in written materials.

2. Evidence and historical facts

The history of a society and nation in the past can be known through the discovery of evidence or facts (the word fact comes from the Latin, factus or facerel, which means finished or done). Facts indicate the occurrence of an event in the past.

Evidence of historical heritage is a source of historical writing.

Facts are the result of the selection of selected data. There are historical facts in the form of concrete objects, for example, temples, statues, tools which are often called artifacts. Facts that have a social dimension are called sociofacts, namely in the form of a network of interactions between humans, while facts that are abstract in the form of beliefs and beliefs are called mentifacts. Evidence and historical facts can be known through primary sources and secondary sources.



a. Artifact

Artifacts are all objects either wholly or partly the work of human hands, for example, temples, statues and tools. The tools they produce can describe the level of community life at that time (already having a high enough mind and culture), and can even describe the natural atmosphere, thoughts, social status, and beliefs of the creators of a society. historians.

b. Social facts

Social facts are historical facts that have a social dimension, namely conditions that are able to describe social conditions, the atmosphere of the era and social systems, for example interactions (relationships) between humans, examples of traditional clothing, or kingly clothing. So social facts are related to the life of a society, community group or a country that fosters harmonious social relations and well-maintained social communication.

Social facts as social proof that appear in the community are able to bring up an event or event. The metal-making community gives rise to social characteristics that are advanced, have integrity, and know technique. Behind that they have a tradition of animism or dynamism through the objects they have worked on, even if we examine carefully these people are already familiar with rice fields and live with the characteristics of mutual cooperation.

c. Mental facts

Mental facts are conditions that can describe the mood, inner feelings, spirituality and attitudes that underlie a work of art. So mental facts are related to behavior, or human moral actions that are able to determine the pros and cons of human life, society and the state.

Events that occurred in the past can affect the mentality of life in the present and even into the future. Mental facts are closely related to events that occur with the human mind, because mental development in a society can trigger the emergence of an event (remember the atomic bombings in the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan which left changes in character and fear, that's why Japan pioneered the anti-bomb campaign). atom).

Mental facts are abstract facts or conditions that describe thoughts, beliefs or attitudes, for example beliefs and beliefs about objects symbolizing ancestors and ceremonial objects, for example bronze drums in Pejeng (Bali), to be worshiped.

But there are artifacts that also show social facts and mental fact characteristics, for example a bronze ax or a bronze vessel is an artifact which is a concrete fact, but when viewed from its decoration it can function as a social fact, and if you place a bronze ax and a bronze vessel as a belief system then it is called mental facts.

Determining the age of historical heritage can be done in the following three ways.

1. Typology is a way of determining the age of cultural heritage based on the type of the heritage. The simpler the form of the remains, the older the object is. However, in this way problems often arise because simple objects are not necessarily made earlier than finer and more perfectly made objects. For example, clay objects are currently used alongside metal and plastic objects.

2. Stratigraphy is a way of determining the age of an object based on the layer of soil where the object came from/was found. The lower the layer of soil where cultural relics were found, the older they are, so it can be concluded that the topmost layer is the youngest.

3. Chemical is a method of determining the age of a relic based on the chemical elements contained in that object, for example, C-14 (Carbon 14) or Argon.
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