1. Artefact shown - Murals of Karnataka
Murals are primary sources of history. Murals are fragments of artwork painted or applied directly onto a wall, ceiling or any other permanent surface. They help in citing of creative thoughts of the time period under study, along with other relevant data that can be dated back to the source.
Murals usually provide several types of insights into the world of history. Firstly, they talk about the technique prevalent in the olden times when it came to art and science and even architecture. As of now, seven methods or techniques have been discovered for mural painting used down the ages. Besides, one can also assess the materials used, again an indicator of advancement in science and engineering.
Murals bring forth the idea of art into the public sphere, and talk about cities and their wealth, because the greatest of murals would come at a great price, and must be commissioned by wealthy sponsors, generally kings. Murals can give an insight into the social fragmentation of the times, the political opinions and standing, the laws, or whether people went against them, social issues, religious beliefs and overall an artistic value.
The murals of Karnataka have a distinct style and talk about Karnataka’s history, art and culture of the state. The murals have played a significant role in the heritage of the state from Southern India and seem to narrate the happenings in the royal courts as well as the life of the citizens and subjects.
2. Artefact shown - Diary of Anne Frank (Diary of a Young Girl)
The diary of Anne Frank, which is a famous bestseller worldwide, must be considered as a secondary source of history. Anne Frank, a German-born Jew, was one of the sufferers of the Nazi regime in Germany, prior to the Second World War.
The Diary in question is the actual diary of Anne Frank, written by her, where she has noted her day-to-day incidents and events, much like any other young girl writes a diary. Her accounts of the implications and sorrow during the Nazi regime and the condition of the Jews, including her family, present a stark view of the times and hardships. However, they are to be considered a secondary source because Anne Frank was not a historian and did not write for the purpose of accounting the times to be read in years later. Instead, the diary was accidentally discovered by the relative, who went on to have it published.
The Diary of a Young Girl provides an insight into the period of hiding of the Jew family from the Nazis, who were out there to kill and make them suffer. She has candidly described her daily life, highlighting some important and painful incidents, and has mentioned many a time that she did not want the diary to be read. It is in fact, in the words of famous historians, one of the wisest and most moving commentaries on war.
3. Rock Edict of Ashoka
Ashoka was a much-noted Indian emperor, of the Mauryan empire. His rock edicts are primary sources of history because they were, firstly, erected with the intention of preserving the incident or information as a memory and a publicly available infographic, to be also referenced in later times.
The Ashokan rock edicts are a collection of about thirty or more inscriptions on rock pillars and boulders during the emperor’s reign from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. Rock edicts of Emperor Ashoka bore inscriptions and engravings in the local language, Prakrit, which was easily comprehensible by the common man, instead of Sanskrit, which was difficult for them to understand.
The edicts were not limited to just one place, and were spread across several states of present-day India and Bangladesh as well as Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan, showing clearly the extent of the empire.
It provided an insight into the first tangible records of Buddhism, and its spread in the Indian context. It talks about the extent of the religion, reaching up to the Mediterranean in those times. It also talks about the birth of ‘dharma’ and what it meant in those days. They proclaim the emperor’s adherence to Buddhist philosophies and his attempts at spreading the same far and wide.
4. Mughal coins
Coins and coinage are considered secondary sources of history by historians around the world. Coins of a kingdom portray evidence about the economic conditions, reforms and treasury of the kingdom, but they are not direct references to their history either.
The coinage of the Mughal era helps derive an insight into the different periods and rulers it went through, in an interesting way. The picture in question tells us about the presiding or official dialect of the era, which was Persian. Information such as these are of utmost importance to historians, but as they are not direct records, and indeed have to be deciphered in order to extract information, they are categorised as secondary sources of history. The currency was metallic, gold in particular, which suggests that theirs was a flourishing empire, along with some idea from the shape of the coins produced (circular, polygonal etc), meaning that they must have had different categories of coins for different purposes or values.
Archaeologists and historians have used coins to make several interpretations about the past. Unlike most other ancient artefacts, coins are stamped and usually marked with important information – be it an image of the ruler, other relevant images suggesting something about the empire, and even words that can hold similar relevance.
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