Tracing Changes Through A Thousand Years

How we are tracing changes through 1000 years?

We all have heard the saying. The only thing constant is change. Nothing expresses this phenomena better than our history. While we study history, what we're actually doing is tracing changes through ages and understanding how we got there.

While the philosophical  aspect of these questions remain unanswered, thankfully the geographical one has been explained to quite an extent.

The Indian map was introduced by a  French cartographer.

The maps by Arab geographer Al Idris  ( 1154 ) and French cartographer (1720) gave a large sketch of the Indian subcontinent in earlier times.The art and science of graphically representing a geographical area, usually on a flat surface such as a map or chart, is known as cartography. It is a part of geography.Someone who makes maps is called a cartographer.When historians read documents, maps and texts from the past, they have to be sensitive to the documents.

Subcontinents from early 18th century

New old Terminologies

Different historical backgrounds

As you have seen meanings of words change overtime.Term Hindustan is known as India, the modern nation state today.The term Hindustan was first used by Min-haj-i-sirrah in 13th century, a Persian chronicler. The word Foreigner today means a person who is not an Indian.

In the medieval period, the word foreigner meant any stranger who appeared in the village not belonging to their society or culture. In Hindi, the term pardesi was used to describe an alien. In Persian  it was called Ajnabee

Hindustan in 13th century

Historians and their sources

Types of sources to learn about the past based on their period of study and the nature of the investigation.Coins, inscription, architecture and textual records will provide information. Gradually paper became cheaper and more widely available and hence people use paper to write holy text, chronicles of rulers, letters, and teaching of Saints, petitions and judicial records, and for register of accounts and taxes which were called manuscripts.

Scripts were collected by wealthy people, bowlers, monasteries and temples. They were placed in libraries and archives.These manuscripts and documents provide a lot of detailed information to historians, but they are also difficult to use.Place where documents and manuscripts are stored are called archives.

There were no printing press in those days, so scribes copied manuscripts by hands. As scribes copied manuscript, they also introduce small changes- a word,a sentence . These small differences grew over centuries of copying until manuscripts of the same text became substantially different from one another. So the record that have to come to us are quite different from the original, but no evidence is found as the original writing is not found. Miniature paintings work sometimes used to illustrate the text of manuscripts.


They are so beautiful that later collectors often took the manuscript apart and sold just the miniatures.Authors device these as chronicles. The 14th century Chronicler Ziauddin Barani wrote his chronicle first in 1356.

Second version in 1358. The two differ from each other, but historians did not know about the existence of the first version until the 1960s.It remained last in large library collections.

              Miniature painting