We construct our understanding of the past. The narrative we create is called “History.” Empires and nations are some examples to use as basis for those narratives. What are some advantages and limitations of using them as the main way of engaging the past? What other options do we have?
History has showed that empires can come and go in almost any region of the world, especially where multiple cultures coexist with each other. With that being said, when an empire does rule over a vast territory that includes such inhabitants, there always is a story being told (which later becomes history) about the empire’s reign of the region via artifacts, primary sources, and secondary sources. From using these historical resources, one can engage the past using the empire as a basis for what came about as a narrative for history. And why not?
Historically, an empire is powerful and prosperous; emperors and empresses almost always have its empire redefine boundaries, often blending multiple peoples under one rule. With that, historical evidence via built structures, written documents and even currency survive the test of time and are ultimately the best way of looking at the past through inferring what the time period was like in conjunction with drawing upon the sources.
On the flipside, nations have a tendency of establishing long rules, especially if built upon a dynasty. The way I see it, there is one major drawback from looking at history from this perspective and that is regarding bias and depiction of events/people that would be otherwise labeled as untrue or unsupportable without archaeological evidence or proof. For example, the Chinese and Japanese have had dynasties dating back to antiquity. Because historically, a system of writing only has existed since Sumer, there isn’t an kind of written proof of the earlier rulers essentially making them legendary.