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Individual Topics

Herodotus' Methodology | Herodotus and "Science" | Egypt | Ancient Geography | Gold-digging Ants | Psammetichus' experiment

Herodotus' Methodology

This subject is so critical that I thought it deserved its own subhead. Nevertheless, so many sites and articles discuss Herodotus' methods that this can only serve as an introduction.

K.H. Waters, Herodotos the Historian: His Problems, Methods and Originality (Norman, 1985). Etext of the introduction, chapters 1 and 2, from William M. Murray's Herodotus course. .

"Historical Causation in Herodotus" by Carol Abernathy. Abstract of Senior Honors Thesis, Tulane University.

Amazon. The Historical Method of Herodotus by Donald Lateiner (Phoenix Supplementary Volumes, No 23).

Review by Mabel L. Lang, BMCR 1991.

A very thorough and complex work with much new insight into historiographic beginnings, this book provides through quotation and notes a veritable mine of all the best that has been said about Herodotus throughout the ages.

John Porter's interesting introduction to Herodotus for a University of Saskatchewan course. Dicusses the "background to Herodotus' account and ... approaches to evaluating his aims in writing this curious work." Includes discussions of myth, the logographers and the footprint of contemporary politics.

Herodotus and "Science"

Experimental Method in Antiquity , with a bit on Psammetichos's experiement and an antidote about citron preserved in Athenaeus. From F. P. Jones's "Comment: Experimental Method in Antiquity" American Psychologist, 1964.

"Herodotus and Thucydides Through the Lens of Aristotle" by Ben Zarit for Gregory Crane's "Greek Science" class at Tufts. Studying accounts of the hippopotamus and other topics, Zarit presents how Aristotle drew on Herodotus and Thucydides' strengths.

Web Archive: Herodotus on why the Nile floods in summer [Herodotus 2.19-2.27] from the Internet History of Science Sourcebook.

"Medes, Lydians, the 'Battle of the Eclipse' and the Historicity of Herodotus" by G.D. Summers. Electronic publication related to the Kerkenes Project , an excavation of Kerkenes Dag in Turkey. Although not the sort of topic I get excited about, the article is interesting and accessible to non-astronomical specialists. I also adore the layout and laud Summers for allowing the image of a a red herring to go with a statement about red herrings.

"Herodotos's Report on Thales' Eclipse" by Thomas Worthen, Electronic Antiquity, May 1997.


Herodotus on Egypt by Matt Bune for The Ancient Egyptian Culture Exhibit (Minnesota State University EMuseum).

Egypt under the Roman Empire [Strabo comments on Herodotus, among other things] Trans. Hamilton (Ancient History Sourcebook)

Pharonic Egypt, a large and intelligently made megasite includes Frequent references to Herodotus (a search), such as entries on Amasis (569-526) and Egypt and the rising Persian empire (with a beautiful map).

Herodotus: Observations on Egypt by Hoa Le. Somewhat basic account of Herodotus and Egypt.

Herodotus in Africa (especially outside of Egypt) from an African history course by Jim Jones. Includes discussion of whether Herodotus though Africans were black.

From Herodotus to Hollywood: Myths about ancient Egypt by Carol S. Paton, from Strange Horizons 2000. Popular article with good points about the continuity between ancient and modern misunderstandings of Egypt.

Ancient Geography

Hanno's Periplus on the Web (one of my sites). Guide to web resources of the Carthaginian explorer of Africa.

Amazon. The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought by James S. Romm, also available in hardback.

Reviewed by T. Corey Brennan, BMCR 3.5.16 (1992).

"Nearly all geography, in antiquity, can be read as a form of literature." So James R[omm], in his introduction to a stimulating new book on how the Greeks and Romans attempted to describe the lands (both real and imagined) which lay beyond the fringes of their civilizations.

Amazon. Pytheas of Massalia : On the Ocean : Text, Translation and Commentary by Christina Horst Roseman (Ares publishers blurb)

Arrian's Indica , trans. E. Iliff Robson (1933)

Gold-digging Ants

Giant Gold-mining Ants of India (Herodotus 3.102-5)

"'Gold-Digging Ants' Mystery Seems Solved, After Bugging Scholars for Centuries" by Marlise Simons, NYT Nov 25, 1996. Excerpted by the "Marmot Burrow"!

"Golden 'ants' on the Trail of Herodotus' Furry, Ore-loving Insects" by Thomas Sancton, Time, December 9, 1996.

The gold-digging "ants" discussed by Jona Lendering

Psammetichus' experiment

"Herodotus' Conception of Foreign Languages" by Thomas Harrison, Histos 1998. This is a great article and kudos to Harrison for writing it. But I just want to say this: When I was in college I wrote a similar paper and when I entered graduate school I was eager to turn it into a journal article. I knew it was a rich topic that hadn't been explored. When I found this article, I was crushed! It's a great article, though.

Chronicle of Salimbene, thirteenth-century Italian Franciscan, on Frederick II (13th Century)

Like Psammetichus in Herodotus, he made linguistic experiments on the vile bodies of hapless infants, "bidding foster-mothers and nurses to suckle and bathe and wash the chidren, but in no wise to prattle or speak with them; for he would have learnt whether they would speak the Hebrew language (which had been the first), or Greek, or Latin, or Arabic, or perchance the tongue of their parents of whom they had been born. But he laboured in vain, for the children could not live without clappings of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and blandishments.
From the Internet Medieval Sourcebook.

Experimental Method in Antiquity , with a bit on Psammetichos's experiement and an antidote about citron preserved in Athenaeus. From F. P. Jones's "Comment: Experimental Method in Antiquity" American Psychologist, 1964.

Tertullian, Ad Nationes makes Christian use of the story. (Search for "bekkos".)

"A Linguistic Big Bang" by Lawrence Osborn, New York Times Sunday, October 24, 1999. Fascinating article on the development of a new language by Nicaraguan deaf children. Herodotus is mentioned.

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

If you enjoy this site you may also like these other sites by me:

Ancient Library. Exciting new project, putting dozens of classical dictionaries and other resources online. Also includes a Wiki Classical Dictionary.

Alexander the Great on the Web. Links to over 1000 images and 200 images of Alexander.

Cleopatra on the Web. Comprehensive website on Cleopatra VII of Egypt. Includes 168 images.

Hieroglyphs! Comprehensive guide and web directory to Egytian hieroglyphs.

( See all my ancient history sites )