History in the making


History is everywhere

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History is more than just events and heroic tales. History sneaks its way in everywhere, and it is created every day in even the most humble of places. It is a part of buildings, natural landscapes, it is in our words and our habits. But the understanding of what is history, and what isn’t, has changed over time.

In the summer of 1805, Rasmus Nyrup (1759-1829) walked his way around Funen to see the island’s historic sites. The trip turned out to be a disappointing reunion with the countryside and monuments he remembered from his childhood. Runic stones had been demolished and gravestones toppled. Indignant, he returned to Copenhagen and began to speak about the need to protect “disappearing antiquities” and to establish a national museum. The idea won the support of the historical societies of the day, and was bolstered by the dawning national romantic sentiment. Two years later, a commission for the preservation of antiquities was established, and the cornerstone of the National Museum had been laid.

The key to the present
Prior to the 19th century, people reckoned history in terms of Biblical timelines. Based on its chronology, scholars believed that the Earth, and thus all of history, was about 6,000 years old. Moreover, it was assumed that…

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