What Use is Prehistory to the Historian?

History is built with words. How have historians filled the silence that came before?

A prehistoric man defends his family from an attacking bear, c. 1840-1900. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain.

‘The distinction between history and prehistory has been dissolving for some time’

Jim Secord is Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge

In Christian Europe, until the beginning of the 19th century, the key marker in the early history of the world was the Biblical Flood. ‘Antediluvian’ usually referred to a period before the universal deluge, although scholars increasingly debated whether this was sudden (and universal).

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