The historian must put him or herself in Julius Caesar’s mind “envisioning … the situation in which Caesar stood and thinking for himself what Caesar thought about the situation and the possible ways of dealing with it”
We can “know Caesar” because human ways of thought transcend time and space
[…]. He must destroy our false sense of proximity to people of the past because they come from societies very different from our own. The more we discover about these people’s mental universes, the more we should be shocked by the cultural distance that separates us from them.
“unicorns, which are scarcely smaller than elephants. They have the hair of a buffalo and a single large, black horn in the middle of the forehead. … They are very ugly brutes to look at … not at all as we describe them when they let themselves be captured by virgins.”
Marco Polo’s Unicorn The Indian Rhinoceros – only one horn
Marco Polo used what he knew to understand what he didn’t know
As historians, we can’t put our ideas of the present onto people of the past (presentism)
Historians must try to avoid presentism and see the past on its own terms
How? USE THE EVIDENCE!
The Concept Map of History (Bain, 2000) Unseen Seen Evidence The Historian Selects, analyzes, organizes Constructs or creates H (ac) History as Account The Public Reads, learns, retells Acts to create H(ev) History as Event Evidence H (ev) History as past event To be known in present, H(ev) must leave Evidence