Who is the oldest named person that we can be pretty sure really existed?
October 23, 2004 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Who is the oldest named person that we can be pretty sure really existed?
posted by Pretty_Generic to Society & Culture (22 answers total)
 
It's a good and controversial question. I submit Gilgamesh, King of Uruk,who lived around 2500 BC.
posted by vacapinta at 1:59 PM on October 23, 2004


how about Sumerian cylinder seals? would they count? They acted as official signatures.
posted by amberglow at 2:49 PM on October 23, 2004


This article summarizes the case for the existence of Krishna as an actual, mortal person. (~3100 BC)
posted by Space Coyote at 3:07 PM on October 23, 2004


Khufu is older than 2500 BC.

Lists of pharoahs go back earlier, to about 3000BC, but the earliest one I recognize is Djoser from the 2600s. His is the step pyramid.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find there's some Chinese guy we can be confident existed from before 3000BC.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:08 PM on October 23, 2004


Oldie Oldenstein.
posted by yerfatma at 3:21 PM on October 23, 2004


Carl "Oldy" Olson, yerfatma?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 4:18 PM on October 23, 2004


ROU_Xenophobe is right of course. Looking into this a bit more, its odd how no historical names start appearing until about 3000 BC. Before that, its hard to tell myth from history, such as Biblical chronology or the list of ancient Sumerian kings (one of which was supposed to have ruled for 28,000 years)
posted by vacapinta at 4:26 PM on October 23, 2004


Old as in history or old as in elderly?
posted by 4easypayments at 5:45 PM on October 23, 2004


history, but they have to be verifiably real.
posted by amberglow at 6:09 PM on October 23, 2004


its odd how no historical names start appearing until about 3000 BC

Looking around, that's not long after people started writing things down.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:32 PM on October 23, 2004


History gets somewhat murky before writing was invented, yeah.

Skhul V is pretty old, though he probably went by some other name originally.
posted by sfenders at 8:12 PM on October 23, 2004


history, but they have to be verifiably real.

verifiably? how do you verify that someone existed?
i think the best you're going to get is documented.
even if you have someone's mummified physical remains, how can you be sure it's the person you think it is?
posted by juv3nal at 8:26 PM on October 23, 2004


Montgomery Burns.
posted by jonmc at 8:48 PM on October 23, 2004


Lucy? ;)
posted by mwhybark at 8:54 PM on October 23, 2004


I'm leaning towards King Scorpion as an answer.

As played by The Rock.

God help us all.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:06 AM on October 24, 2004


Oh, apparently he might actually just be King Narmer.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:12 AM on October 24, 2004


After going to the British Museum, it seems the existence of King Ra who lived at the same time (c. 3150BCE) is incontestable. A recent German study indicates that there were maybe two kings called Scorpion (Serqet), the earlier one living around 3300BCE.

I'm going for Ra though.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 10:50 AM on October 24, 2004


I wouldn't be at all surprised to find there's some Chinese guy we can be confident existed from before 3000BC.

I would. Even the pretty much mythical First Emperor Fuxi (Fu Xi, Fu Hsi) doesn't go back that far; he's usually put in the 29th century BC, and even this more adventurous dating doesn't take him back to 3000. My money's on Narmer.

Interesting question.
posted by languagehat at 11:44 AM on October 24, 2004


One of my favorite things in the National Lampoon ever was a fake advice column entry that went something like this (as I recall it):

Dear Answer Person,

Was prehistoric man literally nameless and faceless?

Curious

Dear Curious,

No. He had a face, and his name was Ug.

posted by Sidhedevil at 12:28 PM on October 24, 2004


Ra, who unlike Scorpion does have his name written in a rectangular frame (serekh) denoting a king, reigned in lower Egypt before Narmer.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:05 PM on October 24, 2004


Ka, not Ra. I'm a fucking idiot.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:45 PM on October 24, 2004


http://www.metafilter.com/user/1, because there was no user/0.
posted by crunchland at 8:02 PM on October 24, 2004


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