Comparing Ancient Chronographic Histiographies from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Judah, and Greece in the Persian and Early Hellenistic Period


This research unit aims to advance the comparative exploration of ancient historiographies from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Judah, and Greece in the Persian and early Hellenistic periods. To this end we will pay significant attention to the following matters: the underlying assumptions and basic world-shaping conceptualizations on which these works were grounded (including conceptualizations of time, periodization, causality); the generative grammars and narrative patterns at work in these historiographical texts; the interrelation between genre, social location, and historical contingency, and intersections between local, ‘global’ and ‘glocal’ cultural traditions in shaping historiography.


Ancient Historiography, Comparative Historiography, Babylonian Chronicles, Herodotus, 1-2 Chronicles, Demotic Historiography, Aramaic-Demotic Cultural Interactions and Historiography


Ehud Ben Zvi
University of Alberta 


Sylvie Honigman

Tel Aviv University

Caroline Waerzeggers
Leiden University

Member Area

Tolouse 2022 Call for Papers

In the first meeting of our research unit, we propose to focus on matters of time-mapping. Periodization is never merely a convenient way for historians to break up the past in manageable units. The acts of dividing time and configuring its periods are grounded in claims of authority in the present. In this meeting, we ask how ancient (Near Eastern) historiographies organized time and whether the principles behind these periods can be discerned. We invite speakers to address these questions from a comparative perspective or to trace developments across traditions. Some topics that may be explored include: 

  • The frameworks informing the mapping of time: were periods premised on social time (e.g. generations), political time (reigns, dynasties), religious time (creation, temple building, liturgical cycles), mathematical time (calculated time periods) or astronomical time (planetary cycles), and what do differences of framework tell us about the historical contingencies faced by respective communities?
  • How were periods combined into timelines of greater length? Were the epochs differentiated among each other, and what ideas existed about the reasons why epochs began or came to an end? Did period schemes change in the course of time? When and why?
  • What was the outcome of the confrontation between local and imperial timelines? The creation of synchronisms, the suppression of alternative pasts, and the establishment of new systems of time- reckoning, are among some of the strategies of time that can be discerned.
  • Does epoch-making in chronicles respond to, confirm, or counter claims of political legitimacy? Do chronicles propose periodizations that differ from those in other literary genres?
  • Technicalities of dating: format of dates, dating as a (non-)concern, exactitude vs rough dating