Was Herodotus accurately describing Egyptian culture?


So I saw this article last night, found it incredibly interesting, and now I’ve been inspired to write my paper on Herodotus’ credibility (as well as other historians of antiquity). It really got me thinking about the scarcity of sources we historians have when we’re examining the culture and customs of ancient civilizations, but more importantly, I hope to examine the nature of analytical work that is based on inaccurate information. Anyway, the fact that embalming practices were by no means universal, and considering the Egyptians were so secretive about their technique, it really begs the question “what do we really know, and can we actually trust the primary sources, and for that matter, secondary sources (which were based on questionable primary sources)?

~Max Henderson


7 thoughts on “Was Herodotus accurately describing Egyptian culture?

  1. Do you mean write your blog on this person? Because our papers are supposed to be on our tomb. Just clarifying.

    • hist3100 says:

      After reading what Herodotus wrote on Egypt in our last class, it has been interesting to learn the modern consensus of the history of ancient Egypt. I liked the article you linked. Was Herodotus a liar or simply misinformed? This would be an interesting topic to research.

  2. I agree. I read Herodotus’ writings for my Historiography class and also found his descriptions of Egyptian culture and society to be very interesting. However I don’t think all of his descriptions are accurate especially when referring to his reasons why Egypt and the Nile could exist despite Africa being the hottest continent he had ever visited. Some of his theories are quite funny. Also his description of a “winged serpent” seem highly implausible with no evidence to support his claims. It seems like;y that he heard a local urban legend or myth on the subject and took it as a true story, as Herodotus was known to do hence his nickname: the “father of lies”.

    Posted by Kevin Wilcox

  3. I believe Herodotus was more misinformed than a liar. Like a bad game of telephone, the story from the witness changes over time and each time it is repeated.
    It brings to mind Nemo’s dad, Marlin. By the time Nemo hears his dad is on the way, Marlin has become this super hero, fighting sharks and jellyfish.
    If I retell a story I have been told it does not make me a liar. ~TB

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