The 23 auxiliary sciences of History (explained and classified)
These are the auxiliary sciences of history, fields of research that complement each other.
History is the discipline that deals with the study of past events. It studies not only the human being but also how living beings lived in the past, the formation of the Earth, writing and other topics.
This discipline is very extensive, touching practically every aspect that makes up the Universe, since everything is subject to change and is part of a historical event.
For all these reasons, we can find many auxiliary sciences of Historydisciplines that expand the knowledge of this great science and that, in turn, depend on it as we will discover below.
History's auxiliary sciences: characteristics and areas of study
We can define as auxiliary sciences or auxiliary disciplines those branches of knowledge that, without going completely into the area of study they accompany, are linked in one way or another with it, and contribute to the expansion of its knowledge.. In the case of History, most of its sciences and auxiliary disciplines have to do with specific fields that touch in one way or another the passage of time and the study of historical events.
There are many disciplines whose object of study contributes to that of history, which is nothing more than the study of events and facts pertaining to the past. Linguistics, archaeology, geography, numismatics and economics are disciplines that, when they cross the path of history, give rise to branches such as the history of linguistics, the history of archaeology, the history of economics....
Let us look at some of the most important auxiliary sciences of history.
Officially, Archaeology is the study of the ancient remains of human societies that have already disappeared, with the aim of reconstructing the life of these ancestral peoples..
Closely associated with paleontology, this discipline interprets how people lived in the past, which is why it is a science whose existence would be impossible without history and which, in turn, provides support in the form of archaeological evidence for the theoretical formulations made by historians about how people lived in the past.
Archaeologists use many things to extract information from the past: books, art forms, ruins, tools, tombs, human bones and even literature are elements that reveal to us how people lived in ancient times, what their customs were and how their political, cultural and religious civilization was organized.What were their customs and how their civilization was organized politically, culturally and religiously.
Historical events take place in places, countries, regions and cities, and in order to understand them in greater depth we cannot separate them from the geographical context in which they are situated. That is why Geography is a fundamental auxiliary science for History, considered in fact its more direct sister. The development of History, both human and natural, is conditioned to the place where it is established..
Cartography can be considered as a branch of Geography. She is interested in methods of spatial representation of the planetthat is, the elaboration of maps and atlases.
It collaborates with History giving rise to the History of Cartography, a mixed discipline that tries to understand the historical evolution of the human being from the way in which he represented the world throughout the centuries, using ingenuity, imagination and perception to establish how the territorial and geographic limits of the Earth were.
Stratigraphy is a discipline related to Geology whose knowledge is of great importance for History. It is the science whose object of study is focused on how sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks form layers in the earth's crust, making it possible to establish when certain important events in Natural History occurred. important events in Natural History occurred. Based on archaeology, stratigraphy allows us to recreate geographical conditions, climatic and geological events millions of years ago.
Considered by some to be the oldest auxiliary science of history, Numismatics is in charge of analyzing the medals, coins and banknotes of a certain historical period.It is also applied to the study of what type of monetary system was used by extinct cultures or civilizations.
Epigraphy is an auxiliary discipline of history whose purpose is to to know and interpret the ancient inscriptions made on materials such as clay, granite, stones or the walls of caves and temples..
Its main function is to identify and transmit the knowledge that these texts contain, written in languages and writing systems that today no longer have natural speakers. Epigraphy studies images, symbols, hieroglyphs and is linked to other sciences such as paleography, archeology or numismatics.
History and Law produce the branch of historical study of the laws and legal systems by which societies have been governed. Since ancient times, human beings have tried to bring order to societies by imparting justice in one form or another, laws that are a reflection of how a given society conceptualizes what it interprets as a crime and how it should be punished..
A classic example is Roman Law, considered of vital importance when it comes to understanding how we impart justice in today's Western world.
History is considered to have begun when the first written texts appeared. Thanks to the appearance of writing, it was possible to leave a written record of the worldview and thought of the people of past times, people who previously could only transmit knowledge, legends and myths through orality.
Throughout history, languages have been changing not only in the way they were written, but also in how they were pronounced and even in their unity.. Although it often happens that the records are incomplete, the recovery of the way in which the people of the past spoke also allows us to reconstruct the circumstances in which they lived and the thinking of the time.
Chronology focuses on establish the facts chronologically, i.e., placing them in order in time..
This auxiliary science of history is essential to accurately determine historical periods, the dates of relevant events, the dating of sources, the context in which the documents were written and other aspects related to the documentation of time.
Demography, closely related to Geography and Sociology, is in charge of determining the growth and development of populations in a statistical way..
It provides data on how the population of a country, region or particular locality increases, maintains or decreases, data obtained from birth rates, mortality, morbidity, migration and immigration, among other variables that may have great historical value.
Ethnology is strongly linked to anthropology. It is in charge of classifying, describing and finding out the ethnic groups, how they have been constituted and what customs they possess..
This discipline is fundamental for History, since through it one can learn about the entire history or biography of ethnic groups, clans or families that have had a notable influence on their environment and the legacy they have left for the community with which they were related.
Genealogy studies the lines of descent of families, especially the most important lineages in a society or country, such as royal houses or illustrious characters, although it can also be applied to know where we come from by finding out who our ancestors were, regardless of whether or not we are members of an important family.
Genealogy is of great importance for history, since it is through this discipline that we can study the dynasties, bloodlines, kings and queens, clans and families of high lineage..
Paleography is the critical and systematic study of ancient writings. Part of its objective is to preserve, decipher, interpret and date texts written on any medium and coming from past cultures..
Given its nature, Paleography is associated with linguistics, papyrology, library science and archeology, among others. This auxiliary science of history is fundamental for the study of literature, thought and ideas transmitted in past cultures.
Sigillography studies the meaning of ancient seals used in documents, letters and official documents throughout history..
This branch has the added objective of verifying its legitimacy, taking into account the historical circumstances, the linguistic conditions and the importance of the events of the time.
The references of books and any other text are essential in any field of knowledge, which is why it could be said that Bibliography is the auxiliary discipline of practically all sciences. is the auxiliary discipline of practically all sciences, being especially valued when it comes to recreating history..
It studies the process of publishing and storing books, both in physical and digital form, in addition to studying how to make the process of consultation and retrieval of a particular source as agile and easy as possible.
Ecology studies the relationships between organisms and their environment. When This science is approached as the interaction of man with his environment, its Biological relationship also acquires a historical nuance, evidenced by the importance and impact of human activity on the environment.This fact is evidenced by the importance and repercussion that human activity has had on the environment.
Although as an auxiliary science of history it is relatively recent, the reality is that the interactions between living beings in their ecosystems is something that dates back to the appearance of life on the face of the Earth. Since life has existed on Earth, living beings have interacted with it, leaving traces in the form of different remains (fossils, strata, organic molecules...).
Thanks to this discipline, we can locate in time the existence of a species or even of an ethnic group from its biological footprint.
The study of art is a completely autonomous field of knowledge, focusing its interest on the various forms of manifestation that artistic representations have in human society and that seeks to answer the everlasting question: What is art?
However, when united with History, it gives rise to a new branch: Art History.. This is responsible for studying how art has evolved throughout history and how it reflected its time, exposing the worldview shared by both artists and the average citizen of the time.
Paleontology is the science that studies the skeletal and fossil remains of all forms of life that inhabited the Earth in times past, with the purpose of understanding how they lived in the past.Its purpose is to understand how they lived and to give an answer to the eternal enigma of where life on the planet came from.
This discipline is very close to history, since it investigates what times were like before the appearance of human beings, giving historians the opportunity to think about history before history.
Economics is the social science that studies the ways in which human beings transform nature for their own benefit, i.e., how they convert raw materials into raw materials.It is the study of how humans convert raw materials from the environment into goods or offer services to satisfy their needs.
Its connection with history opens a whole branch of study, the History of Economics, which delves into the changes that society has undergone in economic terms since the emergence of the first settlements to the present.
Heraldry systematically analyzes and describes the figures and artistic representations the figures and artistic representations that appear on coats of arms, frequent in aristocratic families in the past.. These same coats of arms are also used as identifiers of cities, regions and nations, having their own meaning and representing the defense of certain values.
Diplomatics (not to be confused with Diplomacy) is the discipline that studies the documents that have been produced throughout history, concentrating on the internal and external qualities of the text in order to achieve an interpretation and estimate its value. to obtain an interpretation and estimate its authenticity, without taking too much account of who the author was. Diplomacy takes into account factors such as language, writing, the way in which it has been written, the format in which it is presented and other aspects.
Called the mother of all sciences, Philosophy has a great weight in the study of History. The reason for this is because deals with thought itself, how it has been the ideological formation of civilizations and what has been considered ethical and moral over the centuries..
Also this discipline has dealt with aspects such as deduction, induction, logic and dialectics, being the foundation for the development of the modern scientific method, fundamental for any discipline that calls itself science.
Historiography is the meta-history, i.e., the history of history.. It is a discipline that investigates the way in which the official (written) history of the winning nations and sides is constructed, in addition to observing the way in which it was preserved in documents or in any written text of any nature.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)