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I recently read about ancient cave paintings in France. Would this be an example of the first purposely recorded human events? If not, what was? When did it happen and where?

I am not much of an academic or history buff, but am curious about this.

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2 Answers 2

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The Australian and New Zealand First Nations have an oral tradition and spoken history that goes back about 30,000 years. They have stories about how the land used to look, which seem to make no sense giving what Australia is like today, which have been proved to be true by the fossil record or geological layering.

In my opinion, this definitely counts as a history, rather than being borderline art.

I don't think that there is anything from earlier that has survived to this day, though I am quite sure that every tribe used to have it's own historical traditions.

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  • Cheers Carmi! Thanks to you I am now finding all kinds of great stuff about indigenous Australians and some of the rock arte dating back 40,000 years. Here is an example: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Australian_art. Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 14:23
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    wow, thats an amazingly long time ago. Perhaps not an inspired comment but from the heart.
    – alan2here
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 22:47
  • Like an oral history that survives to this day and may be proved by modern science? Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 14:32
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    Can you provide a source for this claim? I find some scientists arguing that some Australian Aboriginal oral traditions can be traced to around 10,000 years ago, but nothing claiming that any Maori (perhaps some other ancient indigenous persons on New Zealand) stories can be traced back 3 times longer. Commented May 5, 2023 at 1:11
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This depends on how you define "history". Herodotus is generally referred to as the first historian -- 440 BC. Of course, there are plenty of people that disagree, some with good reasons others not so much and all that strike me of a Japanese saying: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

Being facetious, the first recorded human event would be the first time someone told someone else what happened before. So, the first time language was used to pass information relating to past events.

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    I presume the scope was non-oral
    – DVK
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 10:27
  • Hence being facetious. ^_~ Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 10:30
  • Thanks Sardathrion, but Carmi's answer hits the target as it pinpoints a culture with verifiable recorded history that is 40,000 years old. All the same I am thankful for your perspective and the time you offered to give it. Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 14:25
  • @MatthewPatrickCashatt: You are welcome. Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 14:28
  • What about Gilgamesh? Yes, it's not really an exact historic account, but nor are Aboriginal Dream Time stories. Gilgamesh is, IIRC, 4.5k years ago. I'm pretty sure I have heard about historical accounts (mostly pharaohs having won wars, or claim to have, anyway) in Egyptian hieroglyphs, too, from several thousand years ago (though I don't know any offhand and am too lazy to go hunting for dates). Of course, 40k years old myths easily outshine those, but Eurasian (pre-)history is way more broken and scattered than Australian, so these old oral traditions are all lost in the mists of time.
    – sbi
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 14:57

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