© Charles Chandler
The study of history is a dubious enterprise. With a few facts and a lot of speculation, we develop theories about what happened long ago, and when new facts are introduced, we come to dramatically different conclusions. Somewhere in there, our speculations become incredulous. We try not to speculate, but then we have only archaeological facts, and the richest lessons of history are lost to us. Because of the value, it is definitely an enterprise, but because of the poverty of factual data upon which to draw conclusions, it is a dubious one.
So let the reader beware — archaeology is science, but history is art, and the more history departs from archaeology, the more it behaves like art, in the subjectivity of its interpretations, and in the inconsistency of its trends. There's no guarantee that it will be as beautiful tomorrow. If you don't like the idea of the past changing from day to day, stay away from speculative history. Stick to archaeology, and to that history which has a solid archaeological foundation. And acknowledge that sketchy data are all that you will ever have. But if you want history to come alive, you have to flesh out the facts, and this takes a lot of speculation. Just remember that such is art, not science. If it inspires you, that's great. If it turns out to be foundationless, oh well.
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