To clearly delimit dates and places, I ask for information about the rulers before 1000 BC in the Fertile Crescent or Eastern Mediterranean. Historians may be Greek, Roman, or peoples belonging to the Hellenistic world, such as Egyptians (Maneto), Chaldeans (Berosus) or Jews (Josephus).

I am thinking of leaders like Sargon of Akkad, Hammurabbi, Tuthmoses III or Ramses II. They were extremely famous in their time and comparatively almost as powerful as the Great Kings of Achaemenid Persia only a few centuries later, but I dont find texts from the classic antiquity that speak of them.

The Bible alludes to the city of Pi-Ramesses, but the other pharaohs that it names are much more modern: Taharka, Nechao, Shoshenk, all belong to the last years of an independent Egyptian kingdom, about 600 BC. The Bible also contains no clear allusions to rulers of other empires prior to David and Solomon. There is a "Nimrod" in the Genesis who may be an Assyrian king called Ninurta from 1200 BC but may also be an Assyrian god with the same name.

Maneto, an Egyptian priest, is quite accurate in his list of pharaohs and quotes several Ramesses but the Egyptian priests who talked to Herodotus seem to remember that a Pharaoh called Sesostris (Senusret III) was far more powerful than Ramses II or Tuthmosis III, something that is not true.

I have not been able to find useful information in Berossus, which seems the most mythological of all.

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    Ramses II was certainly known to the ancient Greeks, as Ozymandias. Greek historian Diodorus Siculus wrote of the ancient leaders, for example.
    – samiles
    May 26, 2017 at 9:22
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    Sargon of Akkad, Hammurabbi, Tuthmoses III or Ramses II ere not almost as powerful as the Great Kings of Achaemenid Persia only a few centuries later. Each of their realms as at most a quarter or a third as vast as the Achaemenid Persian Empire.
    – MAGolding
    May 26, 2017 at 15:49
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    @MAGolding That's still pretty big... Jun 28, 2017 at 13:56
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    A large role would be taken by mythical or semi-mythical rulers, e.g. Perseus. Presumably, to the ancient writers they felt as real as, say, Ramses, if not more. Jun 28, 2017 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


The short answer to your question is: YES, they did. Herodotus and Josephus both reference and footnote many more ancient historians and their work. Rulers throughout the eastern Mediterranean are among them.

Unfortunately, much of it has been lost to history in such events as conquest/destruction among nations and tragedies such as the fire that destroyed the Great Library of Alexandria.

Added 8/5/21… Since a few ppl have asked that I actually name some of those earlier historians, here you go: Hecataeus of Abdera, Ctesias of Cnidus, Ephorus, Theopompus, Hieronymus of Cardia, Duris of Samos, Diyllus, Philistus, Timaeus, Polybius, and Posidonius. (Listed roughly from older to newer.)

(After a recent downsizing move, most of my books remain in storage so the preceding list is from Diodorus, not Herodotus.)

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    Citing examples of these great rulers would improve this answer. Jul 4, 2021 at 23:02
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    I’d advise one to simply review the Index of either Herodotus or Josephus (as well as any in-place footnotes). Jul 5, 2021 at 23:06
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    @NowChildrens : please follow your own advice and add some examples in the core of your answer, possibly with links to the Indexes. That will be very helpful for all the readers who cannot (or don't have time to) review them themselves...
    – Evargalo
    Aug 4, 2021 at 9:10
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    The request wasn't for historians, it was for the rulers named in the historians.
    – cmw
    Dec 11, 2023 at 23:50
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    Also, please stop with the myth of "one great fire that destroyed the Library at Alexandria". There were multiple libraries, and they slowly disappeared over several centuries, three at least, from their heyday to their disappearance from history. Ancient books didn't last more than several decades, especially in a moist climate, so would have required multiple rewritings each to survive that long. That requires money for scribes - and the money was frequently absent. Dec 12, 2023 at 3:50

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