Difference Between Anthropology & History


Although often referred to in the same breath, there are distinct and marked differences between anthropology and history. Specifically, anthropology is the study of human beings and their behavior. History has a broader definition and focuses on the study of the human past. In essence, while anthropology focuses more specifically on human behavior, history is the study of human civilizations.

The Study of Anthropology

  • While the primary objective of history is to know and understand the past, anthropology is focused on discovering the true nature of human beings. Anthropology is studied by documenting human behavior over a period of time. These studies are planned and executed by examining current cultures and people while considering their activities. Anthropologists also study human behavior by looking closely at the remains of past civilizations.

Physical and Cultural Anthropology

  • Physical anthropology is the study of how humans have evolved over time and how environmental and cultural influences affected this evolution. Cultural anthropology is focused on studying the ways different groups keep their society under control, delegate responsibilities, and dictate social norms and other similar learned behaviors and actions.

Fields of Anthropology: Linguistics and Archaeology

  • Archaeology is the study of human behavior using the artifacts and remnants created by humans in the past. Linguistics studies how language formed, evolved and has both influenced and interacted with human behavior.

The Study of History

  • At its core, studying history is focused on learning about the past of human civilizations. Unlike anthropology, in its study of the past, history seeks to answer questions associated with cause and effect. Compared to anthropology, history has a much broader focus. In fact, anthropology is actually part of the broader scope of history because the study of human behavior is an important part of understanding the past.

Historical Research

  • A historian is a scholar or individual who studies and writes about history. The study of history takes a look at narratives or stories that have been recounted and recorded in a range of media including writing, oral storytelling, speech, photos, video or a direct account known as a primary source. These primary sources include newspaper articles, journal entries or recorded interviews from the time period in which that individual was alive.


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