Herodotus and Egypt

Herodotus was born in Halikarnassos in Asia Minor in about 484 BC. He was both a traveller and historian, documenting his travels about 430-425 BC. He probably died in the early years of the Peloponnesian War, in around 425 BC. Little is known of his life apart from his travels.

Herodotus travelled in Egypt in about 450 BC, mostly in the Delta, but perhaps reaching as far south as Aswan. He seems to have collected his information through conversations, though he probably spoke only Greek. Herodotus provides valuable information about fifth century Egypt, under the rule of the Persian king Cambyses. He is described by some as the 'Father of History', but his fantastic stories have also given rise to the name 'Father of Lies'. However, the accuracy of some of these stories has been demonstrated by archaeology.

Among his accurate observations is the identification of the pyramids as containing royal burials. His description of mummification has proved invaluable as the starting point for the modern study of this process. His accounts of a festival and the identification of the Apis bull also provides important insights into religious practices, which are difficult to trace in the archaeological record.

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