This question is related to this one: Where can I find the primary source for Herodotus' Histories?. Thank you to everyone who provided information there. That really helped!

I have some related questions. The context is: I am arguing with someone who hosts a blog/online community and who claims that ancient history is "a hoax". His argument focuses on evidence of/citations of primary sources for Herodotus' Histories (as an example) as well as the recent discovery of fragments of the original Oxyrhynchus Papyri. He uses an inductive argument with a weak inference/conclusion. I am trying to find more evidence but I have not studied these topics. The answers to the last question I posted helped so, again, thank you.

Here are the questions he came back with when I shared the information you all provided:

  1. "What is the provenance of this source (codex A)? Who discovered it, how did they date it, when was it first cited, and who has owned/possessed this material ever since?"

  2. "those fragments (Oxyrhynchus Papyri) were ‘discovered’ about 120 years ago. In a ‘rubbish dump’. By two Oxford Scholars. Who also happened to find papyrus fragments of the works of Plato, Euclid, Sophocles, homer, and others, in the same ‘rubbish dump’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxyrhynchus_Papyri. Do you see a potential problem here? Or does this story seem believable to you?"

I suggested that he ask these questions of the community here himself, but I haven't heard back.

Any help with these questions and specifically facts or perspectives that may help with the suspicion/hoax claim would be useful. The argument he is using is weak, and I've already pointed that out, but I'm looking for historical facts/perspectives that some of you may have.

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Question 2 isn't a good one for this site as it is subjective and a request for debate. Is there a way to rephrase it? Why is there a problem with finding old documents in an ancient rubbish heap? That happens all the time in archeology. Dec 2 '18 at 16:14
  • Thanks. I think his suspicion may center on the same two people supposedly finding papyrus fragments of all of those works in the same rubbish dump. Are there any theories about how they all came to be there? Dec 2 '18 at 16:37
  • 1
    No idea, but it doesn't really seem weird to me. I'd guess someone's library got trashed en masse. If an army raided my house and threw all my books in the trash, someone in a thousand years would find an English bible not far from an English translation of Herodotus... As for the "same two people"...was anyone else even looking? Dec 2 '18 at 17:09
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    Seriously, though, if you're arguing with a conspiracy theory nutter, no amount of facts are going to get you anywhere. You can come up with an unending stream of theories to explain any sorts of facts if you ignore Occam's Razor...that's how conspiracy theorists operate. Dec 2 '18 at 17:36
  • 2
    This person's argument appears to be basically taking my answer here on its face and denying all of History. That's certainly that person's prerogative. Word of advice: you'll live a much happier life if you don't spend much of it arguing with idiots. Just laugh at them, perhaps say a quick prayer of thanks that he's not denying something hazardous like vaccines, and move on with your life.
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 2 '18 at 19:21

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