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Newton and the Origin of Civilization$
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Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154787

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154787.001.0001

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Text and Testimony

Text and Testimony

(p.222) 7 Text and Testimony
Newton and the Origin of Civilization

Jed Z. Buchwald

Mordechai Feingold

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the manner in which Isaac Newton handled textual evidence as he grafted his revised idiosyncratic and exceptionally focused chronology. Three sources particularly exercised Newton as he proceeded to drastically abbreviate ancient history: the Persika of Ctesias of Cnidus, the Aegyptiaca of Manetho, and the Marmor Parium—key sources for the history of, respectively, Assyria, Egypt, and Greece. Before the late 1690s, Newton rarely cited these sources; he certainly did not consider them problematic. Yet as his revised chronology took shape, he engaged critically with them, undermining as much as possible their credibility, and explaining to himself—as well as to others—his reasoning.

Keywords:   Isaac Newton, chronology, historical texts, Persika of Ctesias of Cnidus, Aegyptiaca of Manetho, Marmor Parium

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