Difference Wiki

History vs. Prehistory: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on November 15, 2023
History pertains to the period after written records began, while prehistory covers the time before written documentation.

Key Differences

History is the study and account of past events, especially those involving human beings, documented through written records. Prehistory, in contrast, examines human past before the advent of written records, relying mainly on archaeological and other physical evidence.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023
When scholars talk about history, they refer to timelines, events, and narratives that can be verified through documents, writings, or any form of recorded communication. Prehistory deals with the vast span of human existence that predates this recorded information, a time deciphered mainly through artifacts, fossils, and other tangible remnants.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023
History can provide specific dates, names, and details, as it leans on written materials. Prehistory, due to its nature, often offers a broader view, requiring experts to piece together a puzzle using physical clues, like tools or cave paintings, to understand early human life and culture.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023
Both history and prehistory are crucial in understanding human civilization. While history gives a more detailed and documented perspective, prehistory offers insights into human evolution, early societal structures, and the dawn of human innovation.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 14, 2023
It's essential to see both history and prehistory as complementary. History offers the script of our past, while prehistory sets the stage, providing context about our ancestors and the world they inhabited long before writing existed.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Basis of Study

Written records
Archaeological findings and artifacts
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Time Period

After the advent of written documentation
Before written records existed
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Specificity

Offers specific dates, names, and events
Provides a broader, often generalized view
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Documentation

Based on verifiable written materials
Relies on tangible evidence like tools, bones, and paintings
Janet White
Nov 14, 2023

Contribution to Knowledge

Detailed account of human civilizations, advancements, and events
Insights into human evolution, early societal structures, and innovations
Harlon Moss
Nov 14, 2023
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History and Prehistory Definitions

History

The study of past events, particularly in human affairs.
The history of ancient civilizations fascinates me.
Huma Saeed
Nov 01, 2023

Prehistory

The period of time before written records.
The artifacts date back to prehistory.
Huma Saeed
Nov 01, 2023

History

The whole series of past events connected with a particular person or thing.
The history of the automobile traces back to the late 19th century.
Janet White
Nov 01, 2023

Prehistory

The history of events or processes that occurred before the invention of writing.
The monument offers a glimpse into the mysteries of prehistory.
Janet White
Nov 01, 2023

History

Events that form the subject of a narrative, play, or the like.
The history of their rivalry was well-known in the industry.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 01, 2023
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Prehistory

The earliest era of human existence before the availability of written records.
Prehistory covers the span when early humans were hunter-gatherers.
Sara Rehman
Nov 01, 2023

History

A continuous, systematic narrative of past events.
She wrote a history of the American Civil War.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 01, 2023

Prehistory

Time before the development of written annals or chronicles.
This cave painting takes us back to a time deep in prehistory.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 01, 2023

History

The discipline that records and interprets past events.
He has a degree in history from Harvard.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 01, 2023

Prehistory

The background or circumstances of something's origin.
The prehistory of the organization is rooted in activism.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 01, 2023

History

A chronological record of events, as of the life or development of a people or institution, often including an explanation of or commentary on those events
A history of the Vikings.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 11, 2023

Prehistory

History of humankind in the period before recorded history.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 11, 2023

History

A formal written account of related natural phenomena
A history of volcanoes.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 11, 2023

Prehistory

The circumstances or developments leading up to or surrounding an event or situation; background
"[He] then told me the curious prehistory of his obsessive interest in the seduction theory" (Janet Malcolm).
Sumera Saeed
Oct 11, 2023

FAQs

How is prehistory studied?

Prehistory is studied mainly through archaeological findings, artifacts, and other physical evidence.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Can events from prehistory be dated precisely?

Events from prehistory often cannot be dated as precisely as historical events due to the lack of written records.
Harlon Moss
Nov 14, 2023

How do historians study history?

Historians study history through written records, documents, and other recorded communications.
Huma Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

How long does prehistory span?

Prehistory spans from the emergence of early humans to the advent of written records, which varies by region.
Janet White
Nov 14, 2023

Are history and prehistory interconnected?

Yes, prehistory sets the stage for history, providing a comprehensive understanding of human civilization.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 14, 2023

What primarily differentiates history from prehistory?

History pertains to periods with written records, while prehistory covers times before such documentation.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Why is history important?

History provides insights into past civilizations, events, and helps us understand our present and possibly predict the future.
Janet White
Nov 14, 2023

Why is prehistory significant?

Prehistory offers knowledge about human evolution, early societies, and the dawn of human innovations.
Janet White
Nov 14, 2023

How do archaeologists contribute to our understanding of prehistory?

Archaeologists uncover artifacts, tools, and remains that offer insights into life during prehistory.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Which came first, prehistory or history?

Prehistory came first, followed by history once written records began.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Is there still research ongoing in prehistory?

Yes, as new artifacts and evidence are discovered, our understanding of prehistory continues to evolve.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Do all regions have the same point dividing history and prehistory?

No, the division depends on when written records began in each region.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 14, 2023

Are oral traditions considered part of history or prehistory?

While oral traditions can predate written records, they are typically considered part of history once they're documented.
Sara Rehman
Nov 14, 2023

What is an example of a topic studied in history?

An example would be the Renaissance period in Europe or the American Revolution.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

What might be an example of a topic from prehistory?

An example would be the migration patterns of early humans or the development of stone tools.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

What's an essential skill for historians and archaeologists studying these periods?

Critical analysis is crucial – historians interpret written records, while archaeologists analyze physical evidence from prehistory.
Sara Rehman
Nov 14, 2023

Can prehistory offer specific names or leaders like history does?

Prehistory, lacking written records, often can't provide specific names or leaders, relying more on broader insights.
Harlon Moss
Nov 14, 2023

Can we know about cultures or religions from prehistory?

While specifics might be elusive, artifacts can give insights into the cultural or religious practices during prehistory.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

How do museums play a role in showcasing history and prehistory?

Museums preserve and display artifacts, documents, and other items from both periods, offering educational insights to the public.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 14, 2023

Are there any overlaps between history and prehistory in any region?

There might be overlaps, especially when early written records coexisted with societies that hadn't yet developed writing.
Janet White
Nov 14, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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