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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Discovery of Archives in the Nineteenth Century. The Interrelated Sciences

The great upheavals effected by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars led many young people in the early nineteenth century to redefine their relation to the past, without, however, to part from the vested values of the Enlightenment. The return to the past and the study of the history of mankind became identical. This redefinition led to the institution of special schools for the education of those able to understand the records of the past.

The integration of various archival services, the accumulation of records confiscated from the Napoleon’s army, as well as the archival methods applied, led to the revision of many rules and to reevaluation of modes of managing the archival material existing in various European countries before the French Revolution. Thus, in combination with the specialized schools, the science of Archives was gradually created, as a separate sector dealing exclusively with the management of archives.

The reevaluation of the past went hand in hand with the romantic ideas concerning the notion of a nation and its history. The historical sciences that were developed throughout the nineteenth century were so organized as to promote the national history and the European nations. The classical philology, a field in which Germany prevailed in the beginning of the nineteenth century, supported the studies relevant to the medieval records, as well as the publishing practices, a route that France also followed, after having completed its own independent course. Other countries then succeed, like Britain, Italy and Greece.