Beginnings and Endings

  • Craig Benjamin
Part of the Palgrave Advances book series (PAD)


The fundamental question of where to begin and end any piece of historical writing is not confined solely to practitioners of large-scale history.1 All histories are the product of selective judgement, no matter how objectively the historian might approach his or her particular task, and this is particularly so when it comes to the question of where a history should begin and end. To the ancient historian intent upon producing a study of the civilizations of Mesopotamia, for example, the standard starting point has traditionally been with the appearance of the first cities of the Tigris and Euphrates deltas late in the fourth millennium BCE. But the emergence of these cities should more accurately be seen as just another, almost inevitable stage in a continual process towards urbanization that began with the adoption of agriculture by semisedentized communities in the Fertile Crescent of South Western Asia some six or seven thousand years earlier. A more accurate account of the emergence of these early states, then, would need to explain why certain human communities abandoned hunter-gatherer lifeways and adopted domestication and sedentism sometime in the tenth millennium. At the other end of the study, the Mesopotamian specialist is faced with the equally troubling dilemma of where to conclude, for does the history of any particular region ever really end?


Human History World History Grand Historian Open Universe Loeb Classical Library 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig Benjamin

There are no affiliations available

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