6. Summing Up

29. History by number

The preceding inquiry looked at several ways to date the Eponym List. Neither astronomical nor "historial" (non-astronomical) documents could independently furnish the absolute dates of the List; the line of reasoning that determined the dates had to navigate between "history" and astronomy, and consequently both disciplines bear on the soundness of the results.

The fuzziness associated with ancient astronomical observations is reasonably well documented - 6th and 7th century BC observations agree with modern computed values reasonably well, though the match is not always as exact as astronomers would like. Further, data in "historical" documents are not readily quantifiable, and here the grounds for dispute are boundless.


30. An archaic perspective

Herodotus touring Egypt was impressed by the reputed longevity of Egyptian civilization. In later Hellenistic times, Berossus of Mesopotamia and the Egyptian Manetho clashed over whose civilization is older.

The fascination with ancient roots persisted in Christian times. St. Augustine in The City of God acknowledged that Egyptian wisdom predated Moses, but he claimed priority for Christianity by asserting that the prophet Abraham preceded the Egyptian sages. The antiquity of a tradition was important because people believed momentous happenings had occurred in the distant past. The community with the strongest connection to the most ancient times would possess the truest knowledge.

31. Clay time

If the primeval wisdom that captivated our ancestors is truly significant, then a likely place to uncover the ancient mystery would be Mesopotamia. A remarkable repository of information has been preserved in the sands of the Ancient Near East. Unlike most archaic knowledge, which has passed through many interpretations in reaching modern times, the cuneiform record is pristine. Only a limited portion has heretofore been addressed and the records may yet speak in an unambiguous way.