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Thinking, Recording, and Writing History in the Ancient World

ISBN: 978-1-118-41250-3
440 pages
January 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Thinking, Recording, and Writing History in the Ancient World (1118412508) cover image


Thinking, Recording, and Writing History in the Ancient World presents a cross-cultural comparison of the ways in which ancient civilizations thought about the past and recorded their own histories.

  • Written by an international group of scholars working in many disciplines
  • Truly cross-cultural, covering historical thinking and writing in ancient or early cultures across in East, South, and West Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Americas
  • Includes historiography shaped by religious perspectives, including Judaism, early Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism
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Table of Contents

Series Editor’s Preface vii

Notes on Contributors ix

Introduction 1
Kurt A. Raaflaub

1 On Being Historical 6
David Carr

2 The Task and Ritual of Historical Writing in Early China 19
Stephen W. Durrant

3 History and Primordium in Ancient Indian Historical Writing: Itihāsa and Purānòa in the Mahābhārata and Beyond 41
James L. Fitzgerald

4 Historical Consciousness and Historical Traditions in Early North India 61
Romila Thapar

5 Thinking, Recording, and Writing History in Ancient Japan: The Nihon shoki as a Text of Transition 79
Christian Oberländer

6 As the Dharmacakra Turns: Buddhist and Jain Macrohistorical Narratives of the Past, Present, and Future 97
Jason Neelis

7 History as Festival? A Reassessment of the Use of the Past and the Place of Historiography in Ancient Egyptian Thought 117
Thomas Schneider

8 The Presence of the Past in Early Mesopotamian Writings 144
Piotr Michalowski

9 “Two Old Tablets”: Thinking, Recording, and Writing History in Hittite Society 169
Theo van den Hout

10 Thinking and Writing about History in Teispid and Achaemenid Persia 187
Robert Rollinger

11 Historical Texts in the Hebrew Bible? 213
Marc Zvi Brettler

12 The Many Faces of the Past in Archaic and Classical Greece 234
Jonas Grethlein

13 How the Romans Remembered, Recorded, Thought About, and Used Their Past 256
Andreas Mehl

14 Patterns of Early Christian Thinking and Writing of History: Paul – Mark – Acts 276
Eve-Marie Becker

15 Byzantine historia 297
Stratis Papaioannou

16 The Past in the Early and Medieval Islamic Middle East (circa 750–circa 1250) 314
Andrew Marsham

17 Sources and Scales of Classic Maya History 340
Nicholas P. Carter

18 The Poetics and Politics of Aztec History 372
Lori Boornazian Diel

19 Corn and Her Story Traveled: Reading North American Graphic Texts in Relation to Oral Traditions 391
Lisa Brooks

Index 417

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Author Information

Kurt A. Raaflaub is David Herlihy University Professor, and Professor of Classics and History, emeritus at Brown University. His publications include The Discovery of Freedom (2004), Origins of Democracy in Ancient Greece (with Josiah Ober and Robert Wallace, 2007), The Roman Empire in Context: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (ed., with Johann P. Arnason, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), Geography and Ethnography: Perceptions of the World in Pre-Modern Societies (with Richard J. A. Talbert, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and The Greek Polis and the Invention of Democracy: A Politico-Cultural Transformation and Its Interpretations (ed., with Johann P. Arnason and Peter Wager, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).

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“This book meets three demands of the humanities today: transcending the Western perspective into a universal one; addressing the broad variety of cultures; and reflecting this new approach conceptually. Thus it gives new answers to the old question: what is history?”
--Jörn Rüsen, Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen

“In this excellent anthology, internationally renowned experts of historical thinking and writing embed their predecessors’ ideas in their respective contexts. Furthermore, they convincingly explain the differences between pre-modern forms of historical thinking and the conceptual categories we use today.”
--Josef Wiesehöfer, The University of Kiel

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