The Concept of Time in History: Definition and 4 Concepts

The Concept of Time in History – In history, the concept of time is of course important because it seems to imply when the historical event took place. Not only that, the existence of this concept of time can also be used by historians and the general public to find out how the development of historical events related to the present day. Remembering that historical events that occurred in the past cannot be simply forgotten, but must be used as a lesson for humans in the future.

The definition of history will indeed always be about things that happened in society in the past that were even able to change the living conditions of some humans in the future. Then actually, what are the concepts of time in history? What is the concept of time? Is there a connection between time and events in history? What is the scope in history? So, so that Sinaumed’s understands these things, let’s look at the following review!

Understanding the Concept of Time in History

Actually, the concept of time (temporal dimension) has two meanings, namely in the form of denotative meaning (true meaning) and connotative meaning (unreal meaning or figurative meaning). If traced from the denotative meaning, the term “time” has a definition in the form of ‘ a single unit of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, windu, centuries, and so on ‘. Meanwhile, if traced from the connotative meaning, the term “time” can be defined as a concept.

The concept of time will definitely not always be related to the concept of space. The concept of space (spatial dimension) is the place or location of an event, be it a natural event, social event, or historical event which is the main part of the process of time travel. Well, human existence in this case is as an actor or subject in social events and historical events that occur. On that basis, the three concepts namely time, space, and human being, become an important unity that cannot be separated, especially in an event and its changes for the future.

So, it can be concluded that the concept of time in history can be in the form of when (day, month, year, century) the occurrence of an event which is carried out by humans as the subject. 

An event can be observed based on the dimensions of space, time, and human dimensions. If based on the spatial dimension, any event must have certain boundaries as the place where the event takes place. Then if it is based on the human dimension, any human being becomes the object as well as the subject in the occurrence of an event. In fact, not infrequently, an event that occurs turns out to be able to give effect to changes in humans themselves. It is definitely hoped that this change is a change for the better so that it requires human awareness in an effort to make sense of the events that occur. More or less like parental advice about ” learning from experience “.

Meanwhile, based on the dimension of time, every event that occurs is a process. That is, these events change over time and time will also continue (continuity). The existence of this time will be used by humans who are fully aware that time will indeed continue to run, so that they can learn to experience changes for the better.

Does Sinaumed’s realize that the concept of time can be divided into three, namely past, present, and future. In the past, historical events became an eternal fact that could never be changed. In the present, it is hoped that the next generation will be able to understand every historical event so that it does not repeat itself, especially if the impact is detrimental to many parties. Then in the future, historical events can be used as a guide for life, especially for the general public so that they are more careful when making decisions and acting. Well, in this history, the most dominant concept of time leans on the past. However, there is no doubt that history can influence events that will occur in the future.

4 Concepts of Time in History

Basically, the concept of time in any historical event will indeed be related to the development of human life, especially since humans indeed play the role of both subject and object in history. In this case, the existence of the concept of time in a history has the following points:

  • The past is a time that has happened or passed. But not infrequently, the past can also continue and have not even stopped.
  • The past has an open nature and is connected to each other between times. Therefore, whatever has happened in the past can be used as a lesson for the future.
  • History can be used as a guide for humans in their efforts to plan something both in the present and in the future.
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The existence of history is proven to be able to lead people to understand what happened in the past to serve as a guide for the present and the future. In other words, history is a science of events that occurred in human society in the past, with causality and the process of its development is useful as experience to guide human life in the present and in the future.

The existence of the concept of time in history also includes two things, namely:

  • The process of continuity of an event within a certain time limit.
  • The unity of time continuity, namely in the past, present, and future.

So, since the concept of time and the concept of man are interrelated, there are four essential concepts of time in a historical event, namely development, continuity, repetition and change (Kuntowijoyo). These four concepts are of course related, because history is not only limited to the study of the development of people’s lives in the past, but also to the continuity, repetition, and change of events in the past. Here is the description.

1. Development

This concept of development can occur if society, which also acts as the subject and object of history, moves from one form to another. That is, people tend to make changes from simple to more complex forms. An example is the development of the democratic system in Indonesia. The development of society from the past to the present is also the result of learning through history. Updates that occur in each generation are evidence of successful developments from time to time. Therefore, the existence of sociology and anthropology also plays a role in expressing history according to its time dimension.

2. Continuity

This concept of continuity can occur if a new society only adopts old institutions. That is, even though people have taken lessons from the past, they still develop them and apply them to the present. For example, in the past there was a patrimonial system (a form of government in which all power flowed directly to the ruler) which was then continued into a colonialism system.

This proves that history is still continuous with things in the past, even though a lot of time has passed.

3. Repetition

In the concept of repetition, this can occur if an event that occurred in the past occurs again in the future. A simple example is the events of the world war which were repeated twice and had an equally detrimental impact, especially on civil society. An example of an event in the past that experienced the concept of this repetition of time was when Sukarno’s power fell. At that time, President Soekarno’s power fell because of the actions carried out by the students. However, it turned out that these events recurred repeatedly during Suharto’s reign, which were both caused by student actions. Therefore, it is not impossible if a historical event can be repeated, both with different and the same human dimensions.

4. Change

The concept of this change can occur if a society succeeds in experiencing a shift or change. Usually, this concept of change occurs on a large scale and in a relatively short time. In addition, the concept of this change can also occur due to outside influences. For example, there was a historical event in the form of the Paderi Movement in West Sumatra against indigenous peoples. This event is considered as the result of the influence of the Wahhabi Movement in Arabia which was “transmitted” through the pilgrims returning from Makkah.

The Connection Between Time and History

The perspective of time becomes a very important dimension in history. Although basically, history will be related to the past, it turns out that the concept is very continuous with the present and the future. The process which is in a history, shows the existence of changes, transitions, and replacements. In that case, history will be given shape in the form of depictions of historical events which are carried out through three categories, namely the spatial category, the time category, and the category of life themes.

Historical events that occurred in the past will never be disconnected from the series of events in the present and the future. Therefore, the concept of time in history is one of continuity. So, to make it easier for humans to remember and study historical events in the past, time limits in the form of time classifications are needed. The classification of time in history will later produce time divisions in the form of periods, epochs, or chapters of time. While the “period of time” is in the form of a single unit of time whose content, form, and time are also certain.

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Since history is not limited in its occurrence, time will be divided according to the events that occurred in the form of periods, aka periodization. The purpose of this periodization is so that each timeline or sequence of historical events is easy to understand. Real proof that the concept of time is related to historical setting is in the history of the Archipelago. As far as we have studied, the history of the archipelago has specific timelines of prehistoric times, the era of Hindu-Buddhist influence, the Islamic era, the colonial period, the National Awakening period, and the era of independence. So, through this periodization we can see that each era has different characteristics from other periods of time.

Get to Know 4 Scopes in History

Before discussing the concept of history as an event, Sinaumed’s must first understand the scope of history, because within this scope there will be a limit to the number of subjects included in history. According to KBBI (Big Indonesian Dictionary), history is 1) events and events that really happened in the past; 2) knowledge or description of events and incidents that actually happened in the past. So, from this definition it can be concluded that history is events, events, or knowledge about events that really happened in the past. To find out whether the incident or event really happened or was just a fiction is through the existence of physical evidence as a historical source.

The following are 4 historical scopes, namely:

1. History as a Science

The scope of history is that history is seen as a science which is of course related to events (events) and stories that really happened in society in the past. Within this scope, history is used as a clear object to study, because it has well-validated data and sources. The application of history as a science is in the form of studying history in schools and making history a major in college.

2. History as an Event

The second scope of history is history as an event. In this case, it means that history will be closely related to something that has happened in the past that is real. Usually, these historical events involve important events that can change the lives of many people.

Examples are the events of the proclamation of Indonesian independence, the Rengasdengklok incident, the Linggarjati Agreement, and others.

3. History as Story

It should be noted that events and stories are different , right? According to KBBI (Big Indonesian Dictionary), stories are stories about events in a person’s life or can also be referred to as a person’s life history.

Within the scope of history as this story, it can refer to the writing of historical facts of certain people. These particular people have the expertise to obtain and gather ideas for writing stories from existing historical materials. In short, the story or stories written by certain people are in the form of a series of stories in the form of narrative memories about past history. For example, stories from the G30S-PKI events are written or told from the point of view of survivors.

4. History as Art

The existence of history can turn out to be an art, you know, especially when it relates to the scope of history as a story. Sinaumed’s is certainly no stranger to historical events which are then developed into literary works, be it prose or drama. Well, in this case it means that history can become an art, in the form of literary works. An example is a drama or film with the theme of the struggle of the Indonesian nation during the colonial period.

So, that’s an overview of what the concept of time is and the four essential concepts of time in a historical event. Therefore, history that occurred in the past will indeed continue to be continuous with the present and the future, as long as human civilization is still running.

Book Recommendations & Related Articles


Ningrum, Epon. Module 5: Concepts of Time, Change and Culture. 

Masruroh, Lulu. (2020). Class X History Module: Human Life in Time and Space . Ministry of Education and Culture.

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