Historiography in ancient cultures

 ancient culturesWith the emergence and development of the science of history, humanity overcame early mythical and religious ideas about its development in a long and complicated process. In their place came more and more secure knowledge. This process of knowledge will continue as long as humanity exists.

The transition to actual historical science took place only at the beginning of the 19th century. That did not happen unprepared. More or less significant progress in the direction of a scientific study of history has existed since ancient times at every stage of historical development. There were remarkable approaches to a source-critical approach, to the emergence of individual historical auxiliary sciences as well as to the expression of genres in the depiction of history.

These approaches were specifically developed and extended by historians, chroniclers, monks, historians, and philosophers, writers in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, as well as the modern and modern times.

Like history as a process, history and historiography are subject to constant change. They have their own history, which is the expression of a progressive awareness of humanity about its development and thus also of the process of self-knowledge, self-understanding and identity of the people.

Historiography in ancient cultures

Modern historical research emerged only in modern times, at the beginning of the 19th century. However, records with the aim of informing the world about important events or transmitting knowledge of the historical events to subsequent generations are already to be found in all ancient cultures . Historiography, which began well into the past, is today a discipline of historical science, which in turn seeks to review and classify the presentation of history through critical analysis of the available sources. At the same time, it was – and is more than today – part of the literature.

Many of the portrayals of historical circumstances, events, and personalities inherited from a distant past are still valuable sources of understanding of ancient times. In them, more or less pronounced, some tendencies of historiography still present can be discerned. Their contents range from the glorification of rulers and power relations to the critical examination of political and social conditions of the time described.

In the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians and other ancient civilized peoples especially the deeds of the rulers were praised in inscriptions. An example of this is the building inscription K├ľNIG SCHAMSCHI-ADADS I (1808-1776 BC), which was deciphered on an alabaster table from Assur:

Shamshi-adad, king of the universe, builder of the temple of Assur [Assyrian imperial god, equated with the Sumerian-Babylonian god Enlil], who pacified the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates at the behest of Assur who loves him …

I built the temple of Enlil, my lord, the awe-inspiring sanctuary, the great cella, the abode of Enlil, my lord, skillfully crafted by the work of wise mastership, in the midst of my city of Assyria. I covered the temple with cedar wood. On the rooms, I set up doors of cedar wood with silver and gold stars. I plastered the walls of the temple with silver, gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian, cedar oil, fine oil, honey and butter as plaster. I executed the temple of Enlil, my lord, in the midst of my city Assur.

But also in annals records of historical events and time circumstances have been laid down.

Approaches to a historical critique and the question of historical truth can be found among the Hittites. The same applies to the Israelites, who understood their own history as a history of salvation.

From the early cultures of East Asia, especially China, ancient India and the later, Islam -influenced cultures – especially the Arab – are historical records handed down. The sometimes critical preoccupation with history and the often artful way of presenting their results have a long tradition here.

Historiography in ancient times

The origins of modern history and historiography lie in ancient Greece. The specifications of the Greek historiographers have influenced Western historiography for centuries. To pass on experience, the Greeks were the first to go beyond merely conveying knowledge about facts. Focusing on true representation, they also revealed the reasons and connections of historical events.

In the 5th century BC The Greek historian HERODOT wrote (about 484 BC to 425 BC) his famous account of the Persian wars (summary term for the warlike clashes between the ancient Greeks and the Persian Empire 490-448 BC). , The Roman writer, politician and lawyer CICERO (106 BC to 43 BC) described HERODOT as the father of historiography. The reliability of HERODOT’s reports has been confirmed many times by recent research.

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