Why I Love: Ancient History

IT’S FALLING ASLEEP HOLDING A copy of Herodotus’ The Histories or Gaster’s The Oldest Stories in the World. It’s the endless theorizing about daily life in a different context. It’s the observation that no matter what the era, people will still be people. It’s the seminal technologies still strangely similar to our own. (It’s thus the feeling of anthropological deja vu.) It’s the skill and effort involved in translations. It’s the feeling of Deep Time, even though recorded history is only 6,000 years long. (It’s also knowing that we’ve only had 200-300 generations in that time.) It’s the enigmatic evolution from nomadic hunter-gatherers to agricultural urbanists. It’s the literature: the stories, the records, the rituals, the myths, the legends. It’s the artifacts: the tools, the weapons, the baked-clay and stone tablets, the tomb paintings; and it’s the educated speculation about the fate of the “soft artifacts” (textiles, leatherwork and the like). It’s spotting the anachronisms and got-rights in films like The 300 Spartans. It’s the ruins: temples, homes, villages, theaters, tombs, ships, cities. It’s the silent enigma of cuneiform and hieroglyphic. It’s the layering of cultures through exploration, war, and trade. And it’s the light-bulb thrill of understanding how we got Here from There.

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