Ancient literature

Ancient literature comprises religious and scientific documents, tales, poetry and plays, royal edicts and declarations, and other forms of writing that were recorded on a variety of media, including stone, clay tablets, papyri, palm leaves, and metal. Before the spread of writing, oral literature did not always survive well, but some texts and fragments have persisted. One can conclude that an unknown number of written works too have likely not survived the ravages of time and are therefore lost.

Incomplete list of ancient textsEdit

Bronze AgeEdit

Early Bronze Age: 3rd millennium BC (approximate dates shown). The earliest written literature dates from about 2600 BC (classical Sumerian).[1] The earliest literary author known by name is Enheduanna, a Sumerian priestess and public figure dating to ca. 24th century BC.[2] Certain literary texts are difficult to date, such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was recorded in the Papyrus of Ani around 1240 BC, but other versions of the book probably date from about the 18th century BC.

Middle Bronze Age: ca. 2000 to 1600 BC (approximate dates shown)

Late Bronze Age: ca. 1600 to 1200 BC (approximate dates shown)

Iron AgeEdit

Iron Age texts predating Classical Antiquity: 12th to 8th centuries BC

Classical AntiquityEdit

9th century BCEdit

8th century BCEdit

7th century BCEdit

6th century BCEdit

5th century BCEdit

4th century BCEdit

3rd century BCEdit

2nd century BCEdit

1st century BCEdit

1st century ADEdit

2nd centuryEdit

3rd centuryEdit

Late AntiquityEdit

4th centuryEdit

5th centuryEdit

6th centuryEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Grimbly, Shona (2000). Encyclopedia of the Ancient World. Taylor & Francis. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-57958-281-4. The earliest written literature dates from about 2600 BC, when the Sumerians started to write down their long epic poems.
  2. ^ "Why Has No One Ever Heard of the World's First Poet?". Literary Hub. 2017-06-22. Retrieved 2019-01-19.
  3. ^ Toby A. H. Wilkinson: Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge, London/New York 2001, ISBN 0-415-26011-6.
  4. ^ Jones, Mark (2006). Criminals of the Bible: Twenty-Five Case Studies of Biblical Crimes and Outlaws. FaithWalk Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-932902-64-8. The Sumerian code of Urukagina was written around 2400 BC.
  5. ^ a b Stephanie Dalley, ed. (2000). Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-953836-2.
  6. ^ Eccles, Sir John Carew (1989). Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self. Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-415-03224-7. The Epic of Gilgamesh, written in Sumer about 2200 BC.
  7. ^ Miriam., Lichtheim (2006). The Old and Middle Kingdoms. University of California press. p. 23. ISBN 9780520248427. OCLC 889165092.
  8. ^ a b c d e James P. Allen (2015). Middle Egyptian Literature: Eight Literary Works of the Middle Kingdom. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-08743-9.
  9. ^ Dalley, Stephanie, ed. (2000). "Etana (pp. 189ff.)". Myths from Mesopotamia. Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199538360.
  10. ^ Noonan, John T. (1987). Bribes. University of California Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-520-06154-5. The Poor Man of Nippur dates from about 1500 BC.
  11. ^ Thorkild Jacobsen (1978). The treasures of darkness: a history of Mesopotamian religion. Yale University Press. pp. 167–168, 231. "Perhaps it was brought east with the Amorites of the First Dynasty of Babylon."
  12. ^ Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol.2, 1980, p.203
  13. ^ a b Alan Lenzi (2008). "The Uruk List of Kings and Sages and Late Mesopotamian Scholarship". Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions. 8 (2): 137–169. doi:10.1163/156921208786611764.
  14. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Ajahn Sujato – A Practical Guide to Reading The Suttas – March 2018". YouTube.
  15. ^ Sri Lankan Journal of Librarianship and Information Management Vol.4, Nos.,3&4 (July – Dec.2011) pp. 1 -58
  16. ^ Zvelebil, Kamil (1973). The Smile of Murugan on Tamil literature of South India. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004035911.
  17. ^ "International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 11, Issue 7, July 2021 682" (PDF). International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications. 11. 2021.