Theoretical and scientific approach of the EHW


In the creation of the EHW the most modern ideas regarding the theory of knowledge have been taken under consideration. These ideas introduce the notion of entity as a self-contained cognitive element to the field of the humanities, particularly history. Each entity has a name, description, characteristics and qualities and forms hierarchical, relational and/or dependential relationships with other entities. The EHW entities are mostly understood as wider thematic units of geographical, temporal and/ or cultural nature, appropriate to depict and include data, events and phenomena, their causal relationships and their (usually) divergent interpretations. Under a different perspective, separate entries would also be considered as entities. A very strict ontological approach based on an object-oriented knowledge database (OODB-OOKB) was not selected, mostly due to lack of a properly processed model. However, many of the analytical properties of such an ontology were preserved, such as structuring the information using superclasses, subclasses, and/or related classes, recognizing the subjects and objects in the relationships formed and distinguishing between abstract, specific or collective. Moreover, the characteristics’ zones were also maintained as much as possible (with non structured qualitative characteristics, while the quantitative are standardized) while the examined depth of chained causality was also limited. The EHW, although close to the traditional encyclopedic projects regarding information morphology, is open to modern knowledge theories and ontologies and can potentially adapt, wherever it is necessary, thanks to its flexible electronic character.


In the EHW, the history of the events and their consequences is not limited to a classical political approach. The scale of the phenomena under examination corresponds to the scale of the totality of the time span under analysis or even exceeds it. The work of a scholar or a sculptor, the technique of olive oil production in a village, the action of a charity club, the travels of a family, are only some examples from the EHW catalogue. These elements allow the narration of “multiple” historical discourses, more past events are implicated, more forms of event sequences are recorded, while at the same time, different definition networks become visible, as well as different importance hierarchies and multiple fields of validity.


The EHW, without ignoring the great mobility of political history, also follows the slow rhythm that characterizes material culture and the world of ideas. Behind micro-history, such as the history of governments, wars and famines, there is macro-history (longue duree), almost still, such as the history of sea and commerce, the development of metallurgy, the land ownership, the fragile balance between hunger and the need for land, or between population growth and spatial expansion, only to mention a few random examples. The EHW aspires to answer questions beyond the traditional «who? when? why? what?», such as which are the forms of cultural continuity and discontinuity, what are the components that constitute an event, what sort of serial situations can be traced, what criteria of periodicity should be adopted, what sort of relational systems should be emphasized (hierarchy, dominance, escalation, strict determinism, circular causality). For the purposes of such an analysis, the traditional tools of history are not enough and one should turn to methodological standards processed from the totality of humanities or even natural sciences. For the EHW –without this being its main concern- the need to redefine and restructure historical knowledge is constant.


During such a process, it is anticipated that the question of sources will be posed. From the very beginning of history as a science, the sources were used, questioned and were the object of many discussions – not only on whether they are honest or deceiving, informed or ignorant, original or altered, but also for the role they can play regarding the reconstruction of reality, the organization and origin of the various versions and finally, the interpretation. The EHW relies on them, expressing critical concern for scientific discourse while integrating them in the body of historical narration, both as documentation (footnotes and references) as well as the object of the historical process (unedited long quotes). For the EHW, the sources are not a “dead museum exhibit” but the object that the encyclopedia is called to structure and process in order to make it “history”.