Mythohistory in Light of How Memory Works
Keywords:Myth, Oral tradition, memory techniques, observation vs. explanation, analogical reasoning
“Myths” did not start as quaint stories but as compellingly memorable devices to record events and observations in nonliterate societies. By understanding how people encoded information so as to maximize their brains’ abilities to remember, we can begin to extract at least some historical information from these inherited tales. But not all oral tradition is directly useful to historians because not all the information thus recorded is of events, and the clarity of the events diminishes radically as the lifestyle and especially the location of the storytellers change.
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