What is chronology
Simply defined chronology is the science (or art) of arranging things in order of time
. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of past events and persons in an cohesive, logical order of occurrence. Chronology deals with three things: (1) the order of events, (2) the length events runs, and (3) the grouping of events.
The story of chronology begins long before the origin of the wheel (ca 2500 BCE) and even before the invention of writing (ca. 3000 BCE). If we believe the Mesopotamian chronicles, chronology began with an oral tradition concerning the kings of the distant past.
Before the advent of precise record keeping, people were keeping track of the sequences of actors. The archaeological record confirms the real existence of some kings thought at one time to be strictly mythological, e.g., Gilgamesh. The oral tradition has preserved the sequence of actors at least in some semblance.
Why chronology matters
No study is more fundamental to the questions of “who are we?” and “where did we come from?” than chronology. It is difficult to answer these questions, but this study affords us the opportunity for a few precious answers. And as we glean the distant past, we can gain these insights by studying the archaeological and textual remains of our ancestors.
Chronology is not simply an attempt of modern peoples to understand the past. It is a need that taps deep into what it means to be human. No other animal seeks connection to the past or gains significance by being part of an unbroken chain of causal events.
The need to know where we come from owes its existence to the human faculty of externalizing our existence. Our existence is extended to the continuity of our community. However, this drive to know where our ancestors came from was not the same as what we would now consider to be history.
The peoples of the ancient world had a sense of history but it is not history as we know it.
The preceding blog was an abridged excerpt out of the book that I am currently writing.