Glossary of history  

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 This page Glossary of history is part of the Ancient Greece series.   Photo: western face of the Parthenon
This page Glossary of history is part of the Ancient Greece series.
Photo: western face of the Parthenon
This page Glossary of history is part of the Ancient Rome series.  Illustration: Antichita Romanae (1748) by Piranesi
This page Glossary of history is part of the Ancient Rome series.
Illustration: Antichita Romanae (1748) by Piranesi

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

This glossary of history is a list of topics relating to history.


  • Absolute Monarchy - A system of government headed by a monarch as the only source of power controlling all functions of the state
  • Abstract – A summary of the resource
  • Access Rights – Information about who can access the resource or an indication of its security status
  • Accrual Method – The method by which items are added to a collection
  • Accrual Periodicity – The frequency with which items are added to a collection
  • Accrual Policy – The policy governing the addition of items to a collection
  • Alternative Title – An alternative name for the resource
  • Anthropology - The study of humanity, culturally and physically, in all times and places. Forensic anthropology is the application of anthropological knowledge and techniques in a legal context, to detect crime and identify criminals. This involves detailed knowledge of osteology
  • Archaeology - The study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of physical remains
  • Archive - A collection of documents and records
  • Artifact - A material object of a culture such as a tool, an article of clothing or a prepared food
  • Audience – A class of entity for whom the resource is intended or useful
  • Autobiography - An individual's account of their life
  • Available – Date (often a range) that the resource became or will become available
  • Avalonia - A separate plate in the Early Paleozoic consisting of much of Northern Europe, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and some coastal parts of New England


  • Baltica - A separate continental plate of the Early Paleozoic composed of the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, European Russia and Central Europe; named for the Baltic Sea
  • Barbarian - A Greek word adopted by the Romans to refer to any people who did not adopt the Roman way of life. It is said to have come originally from the sound bar-bar, which, according to the Greeks, was supposed to be the noise that people made when speaking foreign languages
  • Bering Land Bridge - The vast tundra plain that was exposed between Asia and North America during the Last Glacial Maximum, about 21,000 years ago; it served as a migration route for people, animals, and plants. Also known as Beringia
  • Bibliography - A list of works, including books, journals and essays, on a particular subject
  • Bibliographic Citation – A bibliographic reference for the resource
  • Biography - An account of an individual's life, written by another person
  • Blitzkrieg - German for 'lightning war'. A military strategy used by the Germans at the beginning of World War II to achieve victory through a series of quick offensives, especially in Belgium, Holland and France. After an initial bombardment, armour and motorised infantry were mobilised rapidly to break the weakest parts of the enemy line
  • Bolsheviks - Having split from the Russian Socialist movement in 1903, the Bolsheviks ('Majority') developed into a small, tightly organised, revolutionary Marxist group led by Lenin, for whom violence was a legitimate instrument of power. In November 1917, they took control of a chaotic Russia, becoming the de facto rulers after the subsequent civil war. They then renamed themselves the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU)
  • Book Review - A critical examination of a text, usually including a summary of the work and opposing views
  • Bourgeoisie - The capitalist class (see capitalism below) that came to be known as the middle class, between the aristocracy and the working class. A new middle class of merchants and businessmen prospered throughout Europe from the 16th century, and especially in Britain, which Napoleon described as a 'nation of shopkeepers'. The term 'bourgeois' is used derogatorily to describe anything considered humdrum, unimaginative and/or selfishly materialistic
  • Bronze Age - In Britain, this was the period – from about 2300 to 700 BC – when metal first began to be widely used, possibly as a result of the increase in contact with Europe. However, various types of stone, particularly flint, remained very important for long after metal became available. The Bronze Age saw the introduction of cremation of the dead and burials in round barrows. The later (and best known) phases of construction at Stonehenge also date from this period


  • Caesar - Contrary to popular opinion, the term 'Caesar' did not originally mean 'emperor', although in modern times, it has come to be defined as a synonym for autocrat. When the Roman leader Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, his nephew and successor Augustus had himself formally adopted by the dead man and so also adopted the family name Caesar. Tiberius and Caligula inherited it by adoption as well. Later Roman emperors acquired the name upon their succession or when they were formally adopted as heirs
  • Cathaysian Terranes - A set of small landmasses that developed in tropical to subtropical latitudes on the eastern side of Pangea during the Permian and Triassic, includes modern North China (Sino-Korea), South China (Yangtze), Eastern Qiangtang, Tarim, and Indochina.
  • Cimmerian Terranes - An archipelago of small landmasses that developed in tropical and subtropical latitudes on the eastern side of Pangea during the Triassic, blocks that comprised it include modern Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet, and Malaysia; also called Cimmeria
  • Congo Craton - A separate continental plate that rifted from the supercontinent Rodinia in the Late Precambrian; contained a large part of north-central Africa
  • Context - The background and specific circumstances of a subject, such as an author's lifestyle, or the weather during a train crash
  • Contributor – An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource
  • Coverage – Information about who can access the resource or an indication of its security status
  • Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway - The epicontinental sea that formed as marine waters from the north spread over North America from around 130 to 70 million years ago (Ma), at its peak in the Middle Cretaceous (~ 90 Ma) it extended from present-day Utah to the Appalachians and from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico; also referred to as the Western Interior Seaway


  • Date – A point or period of time associated with an event in the life cycle of the resource
  • Description – An account of the resource
  • Discipline - The study, or practice, of a subject using a specific set of methods, terms and approaches. History is a discipline, as is Archaeology, Chemistry or Biology


  • Encyclopedia - A written reference work, composed of informative articles arranged alphabetically. These can either focus on a particular subject or, in the case of the Encyclopædia Britannica, on everything
  • Euramerica - A supercontinent that existed in the Late Silurian through Devonian, formed by the collision of Baltica, Laurentia, and Avalonia; included modern North America, Greenland, Scandinavia, and Europe; also called the “Old Red Continent” for the red color of its oxidized deposits


  • Gondwana - A supercontinent that existed from Cambrian to Jurassic time, mainly composed of South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, Antarctica, and Australia


  • History - Although commonly used to refer to events which happened earlier in time, 'history' in academic study is either the study of the past or the product of our attempts to understand the past, rather than the past itself
  • Historian - An individual who studies the past
  • Historiography - Either the methods and principles used in the study of history, or the written result


  • Iapetus Ocean - A relatively small ocean that existed between the continents of Laurentia, Baltica, and Avalonia from the Late Precambrian to the Devonian
  • Interdisciplinary - The study, or practice, of a subject which applies the methods and approaches of several disciplines. For instance, while History, Literature and Archaeology are separate disciplines, they can be combined


  • Journal - A periodical which normally deals with a specific issue, for instance, National Geographic


  • Laurasia - A supercontinent that existed from the Jurassic to Early Tertiary after splitting from Pangea; composed of Laurentia, Baltica, Avalonia, (modern North America, Scandinavia, Greenland, Western and Central Europe); eventually fragmented into Eurasia and North America in the Tertiary with the opening of the North Atlantic Ocean
  • Laurentia - A separate continental plate that existed from the Late Precambrian to Silurian, consisting of the major part of North America, northwest Ireland, Scotland, Greenland, and pieces of Norway and Russia


  • Paleo-Tethys Ocean - A large ocean that originated between eastern Gondwana, Siberia, Kazakhstan, and Baltica in the Ordovician and finally closed in the Jurassic; replaced by the Tethys Ocean as eastern Pangea was assembled
  • Pangea - A supercontinent that existed from the end of the Permian to the Jurassic, assembled from large continents like Euramerica, Gondwana, and Siberia, as well as smaller landmasses like the Cathaysian and Cimmerian terranes; Greek for “all lands.”
  • Pannotia - A supercontinent that existed in the Late Precambrian and gave rise to the continents of Gondwana, Laurentia, Siberia, and Baltica in the Cambrian
  • Panthalassic Ocean - A vast ocean that existed from the Late Precambrian to the Jurassic, circling the globe and connecting to smaller oceans that developed throughout the Phanerozoic; also known as the Panthalassa
  • Past - Events which happened previously in time
  • Primary Sources - Material from, or directly related to, the past. In History, primary sources are usually letters, records or other documents created during the period that is being studied, such as diaries, legal notices or accounts. However, primary sources can include photographs, jewelry and other items


  • Rodinia - A supercontinent that existed during the Late Precambrian before the supercontinent Pannotia; the oldest supercontinent for which we have a good record; Russian for "homeland"
  • Reference Work - A text, usually in the form of a dictionary or encyclopedia which contains facts and information, but not normally discussions


  • Secondary Sources - Material created by somebody removed from the event being studied - who was either not at the event, or was working later. For instance, all historical textbooks are secondary sources
  • Siberia - A separate continental plate that existed from the Latest Precambrian to the Carboniferous, composed of a large part of central Russia, namely Siberia


  • Tethys Ocean - A small ocean that existed from the Triassic to the Jurassic; as Pangea was split into Gondwana and Laurasia in the Jurassic, an arm developed westward called the Tethys Seaway or Tethys Sea

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Glossary of history" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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