Unlike archaeologists, historians have a long tradition of justifying themselves by fi nding reasons for studying the past. In ancient Greece, the historian Thucydides (455-400 BC) studied the past to try and better understand why people behaved in certain ways. The past was more than simply a rollicking good story of past events. By modern times, a whole set of reasons had been created for the study of the past. A good summary of these comes from the English philosopher and scientist, Joseph Priestley:

History enabled students to understand change and cause and effect, to improve their judgement and understanding, to lose their prejudices, and to learn from the past how to improve affairs in the future and appreciate the wide variety of human nature.