The sources of history can be broadly classified into primary and secondary sources. The primary sources of history are those that were, firstly, created or produced during the time period that is being studied, and secondly, have been recorded for the purpose of recording history, and hence come with a certain level of authenticity. These sources are noted down and recorded by the most notable of historians or literary artists or other noblemen of the courts of kings or leaders of groups like capsules of time for referencing in later times.
Examples of such sources include handwritten manuscripts, literary works such as books, poetry, epics and accounts of history written by noted historians like Abul Fazl or noted works by travellers like Hiuen Tsang and Megasthenes and so on. Primary sources also include paintings created in the royal courts, for example, along with cave paintings, engravings, rock edicts, portraits of emperors and kingdoms and so on.
Next, they also include maps of explorers and travellers or even historians who tried to map the extent of kingdoms, or even handwritten or engraved evidences of the same. Letters can act as excellent primary sources of history, along with photographs, diaries, journals, speeches and interviews, and for later times, videos, public opinion polls and public records and so on.
On the other hand, secondary sources of history are those that require some extent of interpretation by historians or some degree of research with assistance from primary sources of history. Such sources are not directly recorded for the purpose of serving as historical information, but generally include artefacts which have been discovered by archaeologists and that serve as additional information for providing deeper insights.
Examples of secondary sources include bibliographies of notable emperors, like the Baburnama and the Akbarnama. Besides, they also include commentaries and criticisms by people on empires, governments, rulers and notable personalities down the pages of history. Coins and coinage, seals, pieces of art and culture work extracted as artefacts, and textbooks are all sources of secondary nature, and are to be interpreted with help from primary sources in order to understand the history of the bygone times.
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