Just Because We Haven’t Found It, Doesn’t Mean It Didn’t Exist

Nile shipwreck discovery proves Herodotus right – after 2,469 years

I love to see an ancient source vindicated. This article concerns a detailed description by Herodotus of a certain style of boat building that was doubted because archaeologists never found any examples of it … until now.

That’s actually a fairly tame claim to have vindicated. Some of Herodotus’s descriptions of exotic peoples, for example, seem pretty hard to swallow. But pretty much all such descriptions sound hard to swallow out of their context. Take this classic anthropological-ese description of American hygiene and medical care. Read it for a laugh.

I realize we can’t just rubber-stamp every ancient account we like while discounting the ones we don’t like. We have to have some kind of standard of proof. Still, historical proof is not like scientific proof. There’s a slippery slope between “We have found no proof that this [whatever it is] existed” and “We have found proof that this didn’t exist.” Some people fall down it.

7 thoughts on “Just Because We Haven’t Found It, Doesn’t Mean It Didn’t Exist

  1. Benjamin Ledford

    I love this, mostly because I get frustrated by the over-confident assertions that ancient accounts are false (or that particular figures didn’t exist) based on the fact that we haven’t *yet* uncovered intact remains that corroborate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Herodotus Vindicated Again – This Time about Cannabis – Out of Babel

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