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As the previous section has demonstrated, there are many branches of history today, each with different kinds of evidence, particular canons of interpretation, and distinctive conventions of writing.This diversity has led some to wonder whether the term still designates an integral body of or approach to knowledge.
Oral epic poetry is still being performed today, in Nigeria, Serbia, and elsewhere, and studying it not only has revealed a great deal about classical epics such as the but also has shown how remarkable feats of memory could be performed by trained singers of tales, preserving the memory of historical events with much less distortion than was once suspected and recovering at least some of the early history of Africa and America.
The historian confronting written documents can also draw on a long history of criticism.
A more formidable challenge is simply to read well.
This sometimes starts with learning to read at all.
Roman historiography and its form originated from the Greeks during the time of invasion, however, historians depicting Roman history has modified it and changed it into something unique to Roman culture and lifestyle.
Specific characteristics are its allegiance to the Roman state and its moral ideals; the historians’ factions as revealed to how each “story” begins, flows and ends; its evolution into different forms of presentation – the annalistic and monographic traditions; and the practice of rewriting history to suit the author’s intentions.
Modern advances in deciphering codes (stimulated by World War II) enabled classicists to translate Linear B, yielding evidence about the Mycenaean language used on Crete in the 2nd millennium A much more usual problem calls for paleography—the study of ancient or medieval handwriting.
Once the handwriting styles of past epochs become familiar, anything written by a professional scribe should be legible, but one can expect the wildest variations of spelling and handwriting in personal documents.
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This concluding section surveys contemporary historical practice and theory.