The difficulty often encountered by those who may wish to separate real history from myth is the belief by the concerned community or group that their pet myth is as factual as any historical narration. Even myths featuring supernatural beings, or animals playing the role of human beings, are deemed true by such groups. How should a scholar deal with this kind of confusion?
Generally speaking, and as I had observed in my book, A History of Biu, the above situation is inevitable whenever those conducting research find themselves in the domain of oral tradition. While the mythologist may be comfortable here, the historian, who must verify and date facts, is likely to raise questions.
Unfortunately, when dealing with “the origin of nationalities, clans, domains, and longstanding traditional institutions …especially when dealing with the genesis of homogenous groups, dynasties and old civilisations”, the historian, anthropologist, and literary analyst cannot avoid the “twilight zone between folklore and history”. Myths thrive within this twilight zone; yet, it cannot be ignored because of the important roles, some of which were mentioned above, it plays in enriching art and stabilising society.
The historian appears to be the one more concerned about the need to separate fact from fantasy: the need for this is brought out in my book, A History of Biu, where I tried to resolve the problem, to a large extent, by crosschecking oral tradition against written history and ethnological data which shed light on the issues under consideration.
As for students of myth, their emphasis could be on the use and significance of the myth within the context of the relevant culture. What this means is that their concern with history may not go beyond “those facts of the culture or history which throw into special relief certain customary usages emphasised in the narratives, or clarify the meaning of certain historical allusions.”