Primary sources such as myths, written scripts, songs, and other forms of literature are essential for understanding the civilization of humankind. Such sources present a window, through which the present generation can look into the past. They provide unfiltered access to the past artistic, political and social accomplishments in a particular period, produced by the individuals that lived during that time. Therefore, primary sources are valid firsthand accounts that provide better explanations of the main historical events and assist the current generation in comprehending history as a series of human refinements. Poems, prayers, and myths are useful historical sources because they provide accurate accounts of past occurrences.
Ancient poems are essential primary sources because of their ability to delineate events by integrating artful compositions to assist the reader in understanding the past events. As primary sources, poems are limited to the context of war. The main reason for this is that the latter described hostilities among men and tribes during certain historical epochs. It is critical to note that societies grew because of their ability to fight off their enemies. According to Rees, ancient wars were critical in creating empires and the current states while at the same time destroying others (46). The development of science and engineering can be attributed to the necessity during historical wars. Therefore, historical poems are critical in giving firsthand accounts of the evolution of war, as well as engineering science and technology, which are the basis of human civilization. For instance, war poems by Walt Whitman describe the American civil wars and the major inventions during the warfare. Civil wars necessitated the secession of the slave states of America in order to gang up and fight against their oppressors. The poems highlight that although the war left many of them dead, the outcome was the abolishment of slavery, which was a milestone to American civilization. In addition, the wars necessitated the use of better weaponry, such as semi- or fully-automatic rifles. Notable historians objected to the use of poetry as a historical source on the ground that some poems foster evil habits in children (Rees 57). However, they are essential historical sources because they give stepwise accounts of civilization development.
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Myths are narratives that have significance to society. They are important primary sources of explaining civilization transformations because they address fundamental and challenging questions that people ask. As part of the past literature, myhs give an insight into the past themes such as the relationship between man and man, man and gods, man and nature, man and the family, and the coming of age quest (Lehman 26). These themes were well developed by ancestors and instilled in society by elders. Therefore, myths are critical primary sources of historical events because they provide firsthand accounts of the values of society and history. For instance, Japanese creation mythologies consider Japan as an island, and the sea and fish are of significant relevance in the present Japanese society. Therefore, the sea and fish were critical for the development of Japanese civilization. According to myths about the Native Americans, the first representatives of this culture were hunters and gatherers, but their lifestyle changed due to various inventions made during that time. Therefore, a historian can trace some of the Native American characteristics from their past economic activities. Myths are crucial in identifying what a particular culture considers significant, ethical, and central to its ideology. However, a common objection to their use is that these sources obscure historical events using layers of legendary stories. For instance, critics argue that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a myth but not history (Lehman 43). Nevertheless, myths impart massive information from the time of formation to the readers of today. Conclusively, to a great extent, they are useful primary historical sources of information.
Prayers are significant historical sources, which have been fundamental pillars of every culture for a long time. Most religions believe in the existence of a supernatural being that controls the universe. In most traditional societies, people believe in several gods, whereby each has its purpose. For instance, there is the god of rain, harvest, and health. The adoption of Christianity and other religions has eroded the original ideas of society because in the modern context, it leans towards modernization depleting the rich history of many communities in the process. Therefore, traditional prayers used a careful choice of words that indicated the most important gifts in life. For instance, Native Americans’ religious practices, such as rituals, ceremonies and beliefs, were influenced by techniques of food acquisition. Therefore, from prayers, historians can deduce the major economic activities of particular people, if there is no other evidence indicating the ones carried out by the group. In addition, prayers and rituals executed by a given community can report events important for people, such as initiation, marriage, and death. However, a conventional objection to prayers as historical sources is that they are mostly exaggerated and may be influenced by emotions or an urge to achieve something. Therefore, on the one hand they cannot be used as valid historical sources. On the other hand, prayers are important sources of information to historians because they provide original accounts of people before the arrival of European missionaries and the subsequent conversion to Christianity.
From the discussion above, it is apparent that primary sources, such as poems, myths and prayers, provide fundamental original information. Most traditional poems are based on war and depict the coming of age of many societies. Ancient wars were instrumental in the development of science, engineering, and technology as fundamental facets of civilization. Ancient people gained experience from every encounter, which contributed to the development of the present states and societies. Similarly, myths are essential sources of the original information. In many cultures, they show the relationship between man and the surrounding nature, as well as human beings and their counterparts from other communities, which assisted in social development. Prayers and religious beliefs are important sources of information about any traditional society. The study of the three sources is critical and important for historians.