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Open Access Publications from the University of California

History-Writing in Ancient Egypt


The problematic search for ancient Egyptian historiography is tied to the debated extent and form of historical consciousness. The ancient Egyptians did have a sense of “historical” events or achievements that could be described to a future audience. Though they did not produce a historiography comparable to other ancient, or later Western, models, which attempt to analyze and critically reconstruct the distant past, they left texts that display historiographic features, such as an awareness of the singularity of events, or references to “reality.” The annals and the “king’s novel” are the most discussed examples of this kind of text. The non-mythical distant past is a featured subject of king-lists, and it became the object of historiography in Manetho’s Aegyptiaca.

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