When the Winner in the Marathon at Ikea Wins the Bronze; ANALYSIS
Byline: CHRIS UPTON
Historians have always - for almost as long as they have been operating - divided their subject in bite-size chunks.
Periodisation is the only way to deal with the sheer mass of "one damn thing after another".
Without periods of time and labels to identify them the whole thing would become completely unmanageable, and our Tuesday afternoon classes at Newman would be called "A really old bit" (Roman Britain), followed by "a bit much closer to now" (Victorians).
This is a practice with a long pedigree.
Why do we refer to the Middle Ages?
Is it because most medieval historians are middle-aged?
No, it's because it was seen as the time between the classical world of Greece and Rome and the modern.
Quite when the latter is thought to begin is a bone of contention, but in England we tend to plump for 1485, when the last Yorkist king gave way (not without a fight) to a Tudor.
The much older periods - what we tend to call the prehistoric - are even trickier to divide up.
What we do is categorise them by the predominant and evolving material they used.
One day archaeologists might well do this with us. We lived in the Silicon Age, they will say, which followed the Age of Plastic in the 1970s.
In their way the discovery and application of a new material was just as revolutionary - maybe more so - than the deposition of a king or a world war. But how well were the people of the time prepared for such a change ? Let me take you back to March 6, 2,500 BC, and small hut on the Midland plateau. …