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Archaeology Publication


InArchCenter ID: - IACBN0038


History is the story of people on planet Earth. It begins with human evolution, dating back to 150,000 years, and includes everything from politics, faith to cultures. History is a subject that can educate young minds about the past. It can help them decipher the rich past as well as dwell on tragedies. It is studied because it helps us comprehend the evolution of our world. It enables us to further develop our queries. It also helps in shaping our opinions. It dives into our roots and gives us information about our ancestors, going all the way back to a simpler time when humans lived in caves. History helps us understand and predict human behavior.

General Overview: -

Before Herodotus, the writing of History was almost the composition of myth and fable. Herodotus can be seen as the first man to put History on a more systematic, more academically rigorous basis. That’s not to say that Herodotus didn’t find myths and legends to be important in the writing of history, it’s just that he didn’t accept them at face value and used them rather as preliminary information to further investigate it in an objective manner. Herodotus never tried to prove himself by providing analysis as a Historian. But he was more concerned with setting before the reader the facts as he sees them (mixed with myths and fables) and allowing us to make up our own minds as to their veracity. All of the various forms of elements of Herodotus narratives are therefore accorded the same degree of importance and analysis is left largely to the reader. Sometimes this can be an intellectually invigorating prospect, at other times it is more of a challenge.

He was known as the Father of History because he was the first historian to collect and systematically document events and create an account. He compiled these accounts into his single major work known as “The Histories”. This document contains records of politics, cultural traditions, and the geographical landscape of areas including Northern Africa, Greece, and Western Asia. He relied on his personal observations and inquiries from natives to develop the records. This had an impact on the validity of the accounts but the work set a precedent for subsequent historical works since it was the first in Western literature. He was motivated to capture the history of ancient times and to ensure that events were not forgotten. His motivations are well captured at the beginning of the Histories where he states, “This is the showing forth of the inquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, so that neither what has come to be from a man in time might become faded”. He is best known for recounting, very objectively, the Greco-Persian wars of the late 5 century. He is revered for his honesty as he explains in hist sure of the veracity of the supposed events and scenes that occurred but is only writing down what he gathers from his numerous travels through the Greek world.

Herodotus was greatly influenced by largely forgotten, earlier writer Hecateus Miletus, who was a geographer. His greatest work was the Perie gesis or Circuit of the world written in around 500 BC. Only fragments of it remain. Though the Historians liked to dismiss Hecateus work.

According to Suda, Herodotus must have come from a relatively wealthy and influential family. It is believed that he was exiled from Halicarnassus by the tyrant Lygdamis and lived in Samos, until he returns to assist the removal of his foe. He spent time in Athens and even joined the colony of Thurii. He was buried either in Thurii or Pella, which is in the Macedonian region. His best work was divided into nine books and each book was named for a muse, Clio been the first and the historian muse. In the first six books, he recounts the growth of the Persian Empire, including the fall of Lydian King Croesus at the hands of Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire. In the last three books, the subject is Vengeance of the Persian ruler Xerxes who desires to avenge the Persian defeat at the battle of Marathon and finally annex Greece into his empire, with very little success. Although his accounts may not have all been historically factual, they do provide readers with a look into the various historical situations at that time.


  • The great Greek comic playwright Aristophanes mocked the Father of History, Herodotus, notably in The Archarnians and The Clouds. The Clouds play was also sent to the Great Philosopher Socrates. This shows how influential Herodotus' ideas were when Aristophanes was writing. Herodotus could rank alongside Socrates as a towering intellectual figure. The great playwright Sophocles was a friend of Herodotus. He even wrote a poem in Herodotus honor.

  • Although Herodotus was certainly not the world’s first Historian, nor the first Greek Historian, his extant work earned him the sobriquet in the modern world as “The Father of History.

  • Herodotus only knew how to speak, read and write Greek, which meant that some of his passages were factually incorrect due to translation problems. Generally speaking, events and personalities that Herodotus wrote about that were closer to his century were much more accurate than those further back in time.

  • One theory is that Herodotus approached the Thebans and Corinthians to fund his work, but they turned him down so he wrote despairingly of their city-states.

  • Keeping with his theme that History should be edifying, Herodotus relates several incidents where people who commit evil deeds are repaid for them at a later date.

  • Herodotus visited Egypt at least once, probably after 455 BC, he may travel primarily as a trader, for in his writings he shows great interest in the products and methods of transport of the countries he described and few Greeks of his generations could have afforded to make such a lengthy journey purely for pleasure.

  • In its final form, Herodotus' “Histories” couldn’t have been completed until the last years of his life, but parts were undoubtedly written much earlier. He gave public readings from it while he was living in Athens.

  • Herodotus was particularly uncritical in dealing with military operations. Since he had no personal experience in warfare, and, therefore, couldn’t always assess accurately the military plausibility of the stories he heard.

  • Herodotus wrote his Histories with a remarkable degree of detachment, showing hardly any of the Greek’s usual bias against the hereditary enemy, Persia, or their contempt for barbarian people.

  • In book One of The Histories, when Herodotus describes the physical & political atmosphere in Persia, he greatly exaggerates how massively fortified the city of Babylon is. According to Herodotus, the city of Babylon had “magnificence greater than all other cities of which we know. He claims that hundred bronze gates were erected at the entrance of Babylon and the Babylon walls were a hundred meters high, twenty-two kilometers long and fifty meters thick. He also says he saw a deep water-filled trench that surrounded the entire perimeter of the city. Historians don’t agree on whether Herodotus ever actually visited Babylon; skeptics argue that he probably fabricated the details of his description of the city, Archaeological evidence tells us that Babylon had eight gates, not a hundred, and was not as grand as Herodotus boldly claimed. So, although he wrote about Babylon as if he himself had been there, he must have likely never visited.

  • In Book Two, Herodotus gives lengthy descriptions of Egypt, discussing the Nile River, Mummification, Egyptian gender roles, animals, holy festivals. However, most Historians doubt whether Herodotus ever actually visited Egypt. For example, he gives a detailed description of the three great Pyramids, then he definitely would have seen the sphinx. Additionally, Herodotus writes about embalming, describing the three- methods ranging from the most expensive to the least expensive. Herodotus claimed that elite, deceased Egyptian’s organs were removed from the left side of their abdomens, while commoners received cedar oil enemas to quickly remove the stomach and organs from the body. Our understanding of Egyptian Embalming and mummification comes largely from Herodotus and other Greek Historians like Diodorus of Sicily, but Herodotus got a lot wrong. Anthropologists in 2013 used CT scans of mummies and three-dimensional reconstructions to discredit Herodotus' descriptions of the Egyptian embalming process as inaccurate and not representative of what actually happened. We don’t know exactly what sources Herodotus used to get his information on Egyptian customs, but he most likely relied heavily on conversations with locals, who didn’t speak Greek, such as the people of Chemmis ( the modern-day Egyptian city of Akhmim).

  • In Book Three, Herodotus claimed that huge furry ants, the size of foxes, lived in Persia and spread golden particles of dust as they dug in the sandy ground. Herodotus said that after these giant ants would dislodge the gold dust from the sand, the locals would collect the dust. For centuries, Historians criticized this claim as outright fabricated until the 1990s, when a French explorer discovered that a marmot (a type of a large squirrel) that lived in the Himalayas (India and Pakistan) spread gold dust when it dug the earth. The people who lived in this region, the Deosai Plateau had a long oral tradition of describing how their ancestors collected gold dust from the ground. The Persian word for mountain ant was very similar to the Persian word for marmot, so Herodotus probably misunderstood the Persians he spoke to before he recounted the story. Herodotus later asserted in Book Three that the “ants were predators of adult camels, hunting and devouring them. Marmots probably haven't done this.

  • Herodotus makes multiple references in Book Three and Four to one-eyed men (cyclopes, the plural of cyclops) called Arimaspoi, claiming that these cyclopes steal gold from Grypes (Griffins) in Northern Europe, Herodotus is not merely relating a mythical story or poem about these creatures; he seems to seriously and sincerely believe that they exist. To prove his point that cyclopes and Griffins live in Europe and that Griffin's job is to guard stockpiles of gold, he refers to the Greek Poet Aristeas and the Issedones (ancient residents of Central Asia) who mention the cyclopes and Griffins in their stories. To further convince his readers that his writings about the cyclopes and Griffins are accurate, Herodotus uses a little linguistic evidence: He says that the Scythians (Iranian Nomads) call cyclopes “Arimaspoi” because, in the Scythian language, Arima means “one” and spu means “eye”. Unless and until archaeological evidence uncovers one-eyed humans and half-lion, half-eagle creatures, Herodotus is plain wrong.

  • IN Book Two, Herodotus talks about the Nile River, which regularly overflows and floods the Nile Delta and the areas of land on both sides of the river. He was fascinated by the behavior of the Nile, as he had never seen nor heard of any river that behaved in this manner. Herodotus really wanted to discover why the Nile rises for hundred days, starting on the summer solstice before it retreats into the low tide for winter. After correctly discounting Greek explanations for the cause of the Niles rising - the Etesian winds, the flow of the ocean, and melting snow - Herodotus explains this theory for why the Nile swells during summer. His theory is a little convoluted, involving winter storms that disrupt the usual course of the sun, which dries out the streams in Libya that feed into the Nile. Unfortunately, Herodotus was mistaken about the Nile. We now know that the river actually floods in the summer month due to heavy tropical rainfall in Ethiopia.

  • Throughout the Histories, Herodotus discusses the Persian wars (499 - 449 BC), a series of battles in which Greek city-states were defending their land and political power against the encroaching Persian Empire, because no Persian primary source accounts of the Persian Wars exist today, we have to rely on Greek sources. Herodotus account is the most comprehensive and relatively contemporaneous. However, since he was Greek, Herodotus was not completely impartial and we have to closely examine his narrative for any Pro-Greek, anti-person bias in order to get close to the truth, describing the end of the battle of Marathon, Herodotus claims that corpses of 6,400 persons were left on the battlefield, while only 192 Greeks (Athenians) were killed. Yes, it’s true that the Persian army was significantly larger than the Greeks but the Greeks did conquer the Persians at Marathon. However, the number that Herodotus uses is exaggerated on such a large scale that Historians feel the need to investigate the accuracy of the rest of his accounts of military affairs. Since Herodotus was born six years after the battle of Marathon, his sources for that information were Greeks who had been influenced and biased by the Post-Marathon-Athenian political climate. Athenian’s perspective was that their victory at Marathon made Athens the leader of Greece, which they used as the main justification for the Athenian imperial policy.

  • When Herodotus wrote “The Histories’ in the late 400s BC, many philosophers were interested in discussing reproduction in the animal kingdom, specifically, animals gave birth to multiple offspring at once. Herodotus claimed that timid creatures frequently give birth to multiple babies so that some will survive even though many are killed by predators. Conversely, harsh creatures (like lions) only conceive once in a lifetime because they are less likely to be killed and therefore not in danger of going extinct. Regarding lions, Herodotus says that lion cub fetus uses its sharp claws to scratch at its mother’s womb. Scratching more and more until they aremborn. The lioness can supposedly only give birth once because her womb is a mangled scratched piece of useless flesh after giving birth. Aristotle called Herodotus ridiculous for this claim and modern natural History has proved Herodotus completely wrong. He may have been guessing that the birth process was painful because the offspring was struggling to get out. He also may have based his claims on ancient medical writings, such as those by the Greek Philosopher Democritus, but many accounts don’t survive today. To describe his belief that rabbits can conceive again, Herodotus used the term “epikuisketai’, an _ (commented PH extremely unusual and scientifically technical term, which indicates that he probably did read medical writings about animal reproduction.

  • The battle of Marathon was hugely important to the Greeks because it symbolized their first victory over Persian tyranny. Herodotus claimed that the surviving Greeks buried the 192 slain Athenian soldiers in the middle of the battleground to pay tribute to them. For hundreds of years, archaeologists and researchers have excavated Marathon to try to find these Athenian remains. For years a hell known as Soros (burial mound) has been considered to be the only serious candidate for Herodotus battlefield burial ground. A large number of burials certainly occurred at this location, many of them were men who died a violent death. Some of the burials include ceramics dating to around the time Marathon. However, new research dates most of the ceramics that were buried with the dead as from the sixth century BC - long before the battle of Marathon. Another problem is that Soros includes the bones of two women, who certainly Were not fighting at Marathon.

  • Pederasty, a relationship between adult men and adolescent boys, was a common cultural practice in ancient Greece. In Book One of The Histories, Herodotus states that the Greeks introduced pederasty to the Persians. In a passage describing the Persians clothing choices and polygamous lifestyle (they marry multiple wives and keep concubines), Herodotus remarks that Persian also copulate with boys - a practice they learned from the Hellenes (Greeks). The scholars have disregarded the origin of Persian pederasty since ancient times, and not many sources back up Herodotus claims. For example, Plutarch argued that Persian men had relations with the eunuch boys long before they encountered Greek culture. Plutarch said that, However, we should keep in mind that Herodotus was a total crackpot” - he wrote on The Malice of Herodotus. An essay criticizing The Histories for its inaccuracies and misinterpretations. Sextus Empiricus, a Greek Philosopher wrote that Persian law (which predated Persian exposure to Greeks) recommended pederasty. Whether Herodotus was wrong or not, we do know that Greeks took pride in their culture. Plato listed pederasty, philosophy, and Hud sports as three defining features that separate the Greeks from barbarians.

  • In Book One of The Histories, Herodotus tells the story of Arion, a renowned harpist who performed for Periander, the ruler of Corinth. After winning money in a music competition in Sicily, Arion set sail back to Corinth. When the crew of his ship conspired to kill him for his money, Arion sang one last song before jumping overboard and a dolphin carried him to safety to the Taenarum shore. Periander doubted Arion’s Fantastic story until the scheming sailors showed up, were amazed to see Arion alive, and admitted their plot. We don’t know for sure that Herodotus believed that a dolphin saved Arion, but he acknowledged that it was a wonderful miracle. It’s easy to dismiss Arion’s story as fiction, myth, or metaphor or to argue that the dolphin was a piece of driftwood or another boat. However, there is some compelling evidence that the story could be true. First Herodotus provides corroborating evidence - he says that the Lesbians agree in their account of the story, dolphin included. Second, Herodotus describes a small bronze statue, dedicated to the Arion of a man on a dolphin’s back at Tarentum. Pausanias, a Greek traveler in the second century CE, wrote that he saw a statue at Tarentum. Third, coins minted in Corinth and Tarentum depict nude men riding on dolphins, Finally, there are multiple modern reports of dolphins rescuing humans from maritime dangers like sharks. However, none of these dolphins - rescue reports are fully confirmed. Also, the image of a dolphin carrying a man to shore is very popular in Greek mythology. The fact, which may also explain the statue and coins, casts some level of doubt on Herodotus’s account of Arion’s rescue.

Herodotus' encyclopedic method did not leave much room for analysis. He treats every piece of his narrative, from the main themes to the digressions and from the facts to the fiction, with equal importance. He shows how Persian hubris led to the downfall of a great empire, but he also places a great deal of stock in gossipy tales of personal shortcomings and moral lessons.

When Herodotus was not traveling, he returned to Athens; there he became something of a celebrity. He gave readings in public places and collected fees from officials for his appearances. In 445 BC, the people of Athens voted to give him a prize of 10 talents - almost $ 200,000 in today’s money - to honor him for his contributions to the city’s intellectual life. After Herodotus, historical analysis became an indispensable part of intellectual and political life, scholars have been following in Herodotus footsteps for 2,500 years.

It is from Herodotus and his fellow authors that Archaeology has been able to classify and better understand findings and excavation sites. Much is owed, not only to Herodotus' own account of late 5“ century Greece but to the rich legacy that he bestowed on the future.

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