When Did History Begin?

Traditionally, the emergence of history is connected to the appearance of writing. But such a view is highly biased in favor of literate societies, or in political terms, in favor of the imperialist West that dominated most of the world between the 16th and 20th centuries. Should one really stick to this definition, it would compel one to admit that non-literate indigenous societies had no history in the Americas before the 16th century, in Australia prior to the turn of the 18th century, or across most of sub-Saharan Africa before the 1880s, that is, until European ‘colonizers / civilizers’ arrived there. However, in Europe itself, the vast majority of the population (peasantry, serfs) could not read or write well until the turn of the 20th century. But no one seriously proposes that European history belongs only to the nobility and their descendants.

Altamira Cave

The oneness of Humanity is visible in equal cultural complexity and dexterity at the use of language shared by all human groups. The common basis of this unity is the social (imagined) reality which human groups began to generate and maintain, perhaps already when the modern human emerged some 100 thousand years ago. Art and a huge variety of cultural difference observed in artefacts produced for the same purpose are taken as the most profound proof of the emergence of such a social (imagined) reality at least 70,000 years ago. The invention of the social (imagined) reality is the proper beginning of human history.

May 2017

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