The key difference between historian and archaeologist is that a historian studies the past through written records, whereas an archaeologist studies the past through excavation.
Both historians and archaeologists study the past but in different ways. Both occupations require at least a bachelor’s degree, and there are skills and responsibilities that they should master to succeed in these careers.
Who is a Historian?
A historian is a person who specializes in the study of history. Historians research, study, interpret and analyze all historical sources and events, especially those that are related to the human race. Their study sources can be categorized into two sections, namely primary and secondary sources. Primary sources give first-hand information, and secondary sources give second-hand information. These sources include printed and written documents, manuscripts, paintings, pictures, interviews, recordings, stone carvings, artifacts, and engravings. This has been a professional occupation since the 19th century.
Historians usually work for a country’s government, and they work in museums, universities, colleges and other government organizations and agencies. However, some historians work as a freelance and independent consultants as well. A good historian should possess skills in problem-solving, research, writing, communication, and analysis.
Responsibilities of a Historian
- Determining if a building has historical significance
- Locating relevant documents and data
- Reading historic documents
- Ensuring information is authentic
- Providing data about historical figures
- Educating people about historic locations or groups
Key Persons and Events in the Study of History
- Herodotus of Halicarnassus (484 – c. 425 BCE) – father of history
- Sima Qian – father of Chinese historiography
- Cato – wrote the history of Rome in Latin
- Clergies – wrote the history of Jesus Christ and church history
- Leopold von Ranke – introduced the modern academic study of history and methods of historiography
Who is an Archaeologist?
An archaeologist studies the creation, development, and behaviour of human beings and society through the analysis of material and artefacts. They study archaeological remains, cultures, behaviours, and languages. They use scientific sampling techniques to find the correct places to dig. Then they record, observe, interpret and categorize what they find. They mainly examine prehistoric societies, cultures, customs, values, and social patterns. They use various types of technology and tools for their work. Some of them are geographic information systems, excavating tools, laboratory equipment, statistical and database software.
Skills of an Archaeologist
- Historical knowledge
- Attention to detail
- Physical fitness
- Technological skills
- Inquisitive nature
- Time management
- Good recording skills such as writing, drawing and photography skills
Responsibilities of an Archaeologist
- Plan research projects
- Develop data collection methods
- Collect information from observations, interviews, and documents
- Record and manage records of observations taken in the field
- Analyze data, laboratory samples, and other sources
- Write reports and give presentations on research findings
- Advise organizations on the cultural impact of proposed plans, policies, and programs
What is the Difference Between Historian and Archaeologist?
A historian is a person who specialized in the study of history, whereas an archaeologist studies the creation, development and behaviour of human beings and society through analysis of material and artefacts. The key difference between historian and archaeologist is that a historian studies the past through written records while an archaeologist studies the past through excavation.
The following table summarizes the difference between a historian and an archaeologist.
Summary – Historian vs Archaeologist
Historians are people specialized in the study of history. Their studies are based on primary and secondary information sources, which include written work, recordings, and other visual sources. Archaeologists study the creation, development, and behaviour of human beings and society through the analysis of material and artefacts. Their work and studies are mainly based on artefacts and physical evidence; therefore they engage in excavations and fieldwork almost all the time. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between historian and archeologist.