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Although the past is something we often take for granted, in fact the past is understood differently in different cultures. Anthropologists studying history, typically analyse the way a culture generally makes sense of the past. In the Western Desert of Australia, for example, the past is composed of a Dreaming period, when superhuman ancestors created the world and set out the rules which humans must live up to. The heroic past establishes a spiritual imperative for those living in the present. In 1800s England, by contrast, the vision of history was one of progress of savage to barbaric to civilised life. Anthropologists understand such different visions of history in a cultural and social context.
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