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Find Ancient Sources

What is an ancient source?

  • An ancient source is a source that was created before the fall of the Roman Empire
  • We use the term ancient source, instead of primary source, because an ancient source can be considered both a primary and a secondary source. Many ancient sources are based on earlier sources that may no longer exist.

Find ancient sources

  • Many online databases and websites provide access to ancient sources
  • The following are comprehensive digital collections of ancient sources for Classics (ancient Rome and ancient Greece)

What are standard abbreviations for ancient sources?

  • Names of authors and titles of works are often abbreviated using a standard format.
  • A list of abbreviations can be found at the Perseus Project webpage or in the Oxford Classical Dictionary.

What is the numbering system for citing ancient sources?

  • Ancient texts use a unique numbering system for locating content.
  • This specialized format allows scholars to reliably refer to the same passage of an ancient source regardless of the language or publication that they are using.
  • Examples:
    • Homer's Iliad is divided into 24 Books (what we might now call chapters); each book begins with Line 1.
    • Herodotus' Histories contains nine Books, each divided into Chapters. Each chapter is further divided into sections, each beginning with Line 1.

Resources to Help with Historical Research

Guide: find primary sourcesGuide: Study Effectively: Reading CriticallyGuide: Use one source to find another

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