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Activity: Who Knows What?

Purpose

In this activity, you’ll start to explore how examining the same event from different perspectives can result in drawing varied conclusions surrounding that event. There is another activity at the end of this lesson that is an extension of this activity. Both of these activities should help you better understand what it means to use interdisciplinary perspectives and how you can use a variety of disciplines to help you understand the Big History story.

Process

Think about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. Vesuvius is known for this eruption, which led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities Pompeii and Hurculaneum.
"Joseph Wright of Derby - Vesuvius from Portici" by Joseph Wright of Derby - Art collection of the Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA. Licensed under Public domain via [Wikimedia Commons]
"Joseph Wright of Derby - Vesuvius from Portici" by Joseph Wright of Derby - Art collection of the Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Think about answers to the following questions:
1. What are the questions a historian would ask about what happened?
2. What kind of questions would a biologist (or another discipline of your choosing) ask about what happened?

For Further Discussion

Now, share one of your historian/biologist/other discipline questions in the Questions Area below. Then, look at someone’s question from a different discipline. What happens to the story if you put your question and the other person’s question together? Comment, in response to someone else’s disciplinary question, what you think happens to stories that are told from more than one perspective.

Want to join the conversation?

  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Izzy
    A biologist might ask, "What creatures were living in this area before the disaster?" They could answer those questions with data from paleontologists studying the fossilized remains of the creatures who once lived there.
    (14 votes)
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  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user nolshansky
    A historian might ask how long did it take to rebuild the city?
    (5 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Mildred Mobus
    I think a historian would ask what happened to the people impacted by the eruption, how their society changed, and what would come next. I think an archaeologist would ask who was buried there and what the fossils and other buried artifacts were.
    (6 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user judy.hawaii.5.0
    Did the eruption affect the soil and arability of the land in the succeeding generations ? If so, when were people able to return to the area ?
    (4 votes)
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  • leaf grey style avatar for user intisardu017
    A biologist would ask " What was the impact of this eruption on the nature?"
    A historian would ask " Where did the survivors go and how they survived?"
    A sociologist would ask " What sorts of events would cause the survivors to start a new life?"
    A psychologist would ask "Were the survivors ever been able to have any peace out of this trauma?"
    A geologist would ask "Why did that the eruption occurred and is there any specific time period?"
    (5 votes)
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  • old spice man green style avatar for user Jack
    An anthropoligist might ask about the impact of the eruption on different classes of society - i.e. freemen vs. slaves?
    (3 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user The Babbler
    Why isn't the burying of Hurculaneum as well known as the burying of Pompeii?
    (3 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Katie W.
    For the question, ¨what would a biologist ask¨, I said how did this affect the ecosystem around the volcano?
    (2 votes)
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  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Ala
    A historian would ask when it happened and what the outcome was, like if a certain tribe of people were wiped out or, when, say in 79 CE.

    A biologist would probably ask what it did that changed the environment or which habitats for animals, or humans, were destroyed.
    (2 votes)
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  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Nick Cernera
    An artist may question what kinds of sculptures, paintings, and various works of art were lost forever in the explosion. It's always sad when a people's culture and creative minds are wasted away, whether it's due to natural causes (earthquakes, fires, hurricanes) or other people (the burning of libraries, Hitler during WWII). I find it very troubling that these things will never be recovered.
    (2 votes)
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