Preprint / Version 1

The Recording of History


  • Ziqing Wang Keystone Academy





The recording of history was born from the innate desire of humankind to take note of the past. 70,000 years ago, after the Cognitive Revolution, when humans fulfilled the needs of survival, including food and shelter, they had the time and attention to harness their language and creativity to document the past. While it might be true that the primary cultures scattered across the world had some form of historical recording, the existence of such forms has been difficult to prove and analyze. Systematic historical recording only began with the emergence of organized societies and the invention of a writing system. This essay will examine the oracle bones of Shang China, Si Ma Qian’s work The Historical Records, and Roman historian Livy’s writings to demonstrate the universal nature of historical writing. 


Nylan, Michael. “SIMA QIAN: A TRUE HISTORIAN?” Early China, vol. 23/24, 1998, pp. 203–46. JSTOR, Accessed 2 July 2023.

Steele, R. B. “Livy.” The Sewanee Review, vol. 15, no. 4, 1907, pp. 429–47. JSTOR, Accessed 2 July 2023.