Dating letters bce
Its claim to truth is based in part on the fact that all the persons or events it describes really existed or occurred at some time in the past.Historians can say nothing about these persons or events that cannot be supported, or at least suggested, by some kind of documentary evidence.It springs from an outlook that is very new in human experience: the assumption that the study of history is a natural, inevitable human activity.Before the late 18th century, historiography did not stand at the centre of any civilization.
Nevertheless, 21st-century historians understand the pasts of more people more completely and more accurately than their predecessors did.
Deeds of ancestors, heroes, gods, or animals sacred to particular peoples were chanted and memorized long before there was any writing with which to record them.
Their truth was authenticated by the very fact of their continued repetition.
This article demonstrates the scope of that accomplishment and how it came to be achieved. Humans lived for tens of thousands of years with language, and thus with tales about the past, but without writing.
Oral history is still important in all parts of the world, and successful transmission of stories over many generations suggests that people without writing can have a sophisticated historical sense.