Understanding the past appears to be yet another basic human need, and the recording of history emerged independently in civilizations throughout ancient history. The earliest simple chronologies date back to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. But the first actual factual (more-or-less) history that wasn’t just carved into tombs and temples was the “Twenty-Four Histories” of China, the official accounts of the dynasties there from C. 3000 BC through the Ming dynasty of the 17th Century AD. Starting with the Tang, each dynasty established an official post to write the history of its predecessor using court records; eventually this amounted to 3213 volumes (of sometimes dubious worth).


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