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Historical Consciousness and the Use of the Past in the Ancient World

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Paperback publishing January 2021

Historical Consciousness and the Use of the Past in the Ancient World offers linked essays on uses of the past in prominent and diverse cultures in ancient civilizations across the world. The contributors are leading experts in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Sinology, Biblical Studies, Classics, and Maya Studies.

This volume addresses crucial questions in current scholarship on historical consciousness and historiography. These questions include the formation of different traditions and the manifold uses of the past in particular socio-political contexts or circumstances; the ways in which these traditions and these types of cultural memory informed or contributed to the rise of more formal modes of historiography; interactions between formal modes of historiography and other traditions of historical consciousness during their transmission; and the implications of such interactions for cultural heritage, collective memory, and later understandings of history.

By taking an interdisciplinary approach, this volume situates the rise of formal modes of historiography within a larger context of developments in historical consciousness and a wider web of intercommunicating discourses. It also uncovers intellectual processes, literary mechanisms, and social institutions involved in the construction of history. During the construction of ancient historiographies, while many local traditions persisted, some ancients gradually went beyond the temporal and spatial limitations of their local traditions, arriving at a more extended and unified timespan, a wider geographical region, and a common origin.

Published: Jun 10, 2019

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
Preface John Baines, Henriette van der Blom, Yi Chen, Tim Rood
List of Figures John Baines, Henriette van der Blom, Yi Chen, Tim Rood
List of Tables and Classical Abbreviations John Baines, Henriette van der Blom, Yi Chen, Tim Rood
Historical Consciousness and the Use of the Past in a Material World John Baines, Henriette van der Blom, Yi Chen, Tim Rood
I: Ancient Near Eastern and Hittite Traditions
1. Ancient Near East and Hittite Traditions: Introduction Paul Collins
2. The Domestication of Stranger Kings: Making History by List in Ancient Mesopotamia Piotr Michalowski
3. 'He Who Saw the Deep': History as Ritual in the Material World of Mesopotamia Paul Collins
4. 'I Swear that these are no Lies, it is Indeed True!' On the Role of the Individual in Early Mesopotamian Historiography Gebhard Selz
5. The Hittites and their Past: Forms of Historical Consciousness in Hittite Anatolia Amir Gilan
II: Egyptian and Maya Traditions
6. Egyptian and Maya Traditions: Introduction John Baines
7. Meaningful Pasts: On Social Logics and Conceptions of the Past in Ancient Egypt Marcelo Campagno
8. History and Historiography in the Material World: Ancient Egyptian Perspectives John Baines
9. Telling Time: Historical Thinking and the Ancient Maya Simon Martin
III: Chinese Traditions
10. Chinese Traditions: Introduction Glen Dudbridge†
11. Reflections and Uses of the Distant Past in the Chinese Bronze Inscriptions from the 10th to 5th Centuries BC Maria Khayutina
12. The Scene of Inquiry in Early Chinese Historiography David Schaberg
13. Three Moments of Definition in Chinese Historiography Glen Dudbridge†
IV: Biblical Traditions
14. Biblical Traditions: Introduction Laura Feldt
15. Periodization in Biblical Historiography Peter Machinist
16. Using the Past in the Hebrew Bible: The Fantastic, Memory Techniques and 'History' in the Exodus Narrative Laura Feldt
V: Classical Traditions
17. Classical Traditions: Introduction Henriette van der Blom, Tim Rood
18. Waiting for Herodotus: The Mindsets of 425 BC Christopher Pelling
19. Historical Consciousness and the 'Aitiology' in Greece Rosalind Thomas
20. Myth and History Entwined: Female Influence and Male Usurpation in Herodotus' Histories Emily Baragwanath
21. 'Stories Embroidered Beyond Truth': Reading Herodotus and Thucydides in Light of Pindar's Olympian 1 Jonas Grethlein
22. Thucydides and Myth Tim Rood
23. Fabula and History in Livy's Narrative of the Capture of Veii Christina Kraus
24. Roman Republican History in Imperial Rhetorical Exercises Henriette van der Blom
End Matter
Index John Baines, Henriette van der Blom, Yi Chen, Tim Rood


There is much of interest in this volume and all contributions are of a high academic level.