Main Older Than Dirt Discussion

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09:28:36 AM May 29th 2016
edited by ScrewySqrl
regartding Fairy Tales:

I added the note about the oldest fairy tales belonging in older than Dirt due to a 2016 paper that did a comparison of various fairy tales from multiple cultures, collecting thematically similar stories, and linguistically backdated them. A few, most notably 'The Boy Steals the Ogre's Treasure' (Jack and the Beanstalk in English tradition, but there are many other variants) and stories of Faustian bargains for skill or treasure date back to the very earliest cities between 3500 and 4500 BCE.

To my mind, if such stories date that far back, even if just thematically similar, they should be mentioned here.

Another person removed it. Rather than an edit war, I'm posting here to ask if it should be put back.
08:50:14 AM Apr 13th 2012
I think this needs a new name since I'm pretty sure that whatever 'dirt' is probably existed long before 800BCE.
07:44:48 AM Nov 18th 2011
edited by ArcadesSabboth
Moving this out of private messages.

Worldwaker wrote (quote)

"I apologize if I came across more brusquely than I intended. But you should be aware that one of the guidelines of this wiki is "We are not Wikipedia". We don't have to have documented sources, we don't have to be scientifically accurate, we don't have to maintain a "No POV" stance.

"Well, we know Celtic Mythology is old, but we cannot absolutely prove its as old as Summerian Mythology, so..." is a Wikipedian attitude that we don't need. Was a cleanup needed of the Older Than Dirt page? Sure. Do we need to be so blasted picky about things that we know are ancient but simply cannot produce works for? No, absolutely not.

Celtic mythology, for example: you're basing your reclassification on the fact that we do not have any "documentary proof" that its older than the Roman occupation. That's blatantly ridiculous because the oral history was already present. I mean, seriously, what do you expect... the Celts didn't start telling these stories until the Romans showed up?

Again, stop being pedantic and picky. We are not wikipedia."
07:49:23 AM Nov 18th 2011
edited by ArcadesSabboth
My response:

You continue to be uncivil and brusque.

It appears to me that you assume that the Celtic myths, in the exact form and with the exact same tropes and values recorded in the medieval Hijacked by Jesus texts, existed word-for-word before 509 BCE. Nevermind that we don't even know any recognizably Celtic oral stories existed back then, since no written source from that period had recorded anything of the sort, let alone the specific tropes from the surviving medieval versions. This kind of assumption is exactly what the page description explicitly warns against. It is an assumption that everything oral is automatically older than the dawn of all writing. Nobody has a clue what was in unwritten oral stories. As the description of the page specifies, early folklorists assumed that oral stories never ever change until after they're written down, but this assumption is demonstrably false. Science Marches On and History Marches On.

We KNOW that oral stories change continually, and that written stories also change every time somebody writes a new version. Claiming that they never ever change is demonstrably false, and the page definition stated explicitly that it is false before I Got Known. Not being Wikipedia doesn't mean actual falsehoods, known to be false, should be posted on T Vtropes and declared to be historical facts.

Examples Are Not Arguable. Any trope on the entire wiki "might" be older than 509 BCE. That does not mean that X, Just...X should be on that index with no applicable example.

I realize that no POV means the wiki can't, for example, take a side in creationism vs. evolution. But if these assumptions are to be published on the wiki they should not be labeled as historical fact. This index, as currently defined, makes a historical claim about the date of invention of specific artistic concepts.

I started the cleanup because the demonstrably false historical statements bothered me hugely. I'm not disputing the Comet of Doom example you added or demanding a scientific paper proving it exists. I didn't add it before because I merely did not know about it... which doesn't make me a pedantic jerk. But I am opposed to putting falsehoods and/or "arguable" assumptions on this wiki and declaring them to be historical facts.

Celtic and Norse myths are not Older Than Dirt. This was stated explicitly by the page description/definition before I Got Known, and the reason was explicitly because they were not written down before 500 BCE. If you disagree with the current page description, (which I did not write), please take it to the Trope Repair Shop thread for this index.

If you dispute that Examples Are Not Arguable, this is not the place to discuss that either.

I will continue to maintain this page according to the current description (which I did not write) until a consensus is reached on the TRS to redefine the index. I will continue to discuss it only on that thread.
03:24:50 AM Nov 24th 2011
edited by LordGro
I agree with Arcades Sabboth.

Part of the problem with “Celtic Mythology” is that “Celtic” is a rather vague term. The page is almost exclusively about two things: Irish mythology and Welsh mythology. Which is no wonder because there is almost nothing else we have of Celtic mythologies, and both of these are definitely “only” Older Than Print.

It’s true that the rule is "we don’t need sources" on this wiki. But my opinion is that it’s justified to moderately deviate from this guideline on the “Older Than X” pages. If these indices are supposed to have any value, an entry should bother to point out a source and (if needed) an explanation. Otherwise, these indices (especially Older Than Dirt) will be flooded with inflationary assertions till this page loses all meaning, and nobody will care to read it. The source where something is found first is the interesting thing here, and the reason to have these pages.

It doesn't have to be a scientific source, or a scientific citation, but a source.

I don’t think it is much of a problem on these pages, but while there is no “No POV” rule, we have a Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment.
08:38:59 PM Nov 29th 2011
edited by Worldmaker
Its still nitpickery. In your analysis in the TRS thread, you specifically discount anything that cannot be "proven" to be older than your arbitrary cutoff, despite the fact that common sense says that it has to be. Your repeated statement that the oral traditions were not written down by X Cutoff is a perfect example of what I mean... the traditions were oral prior to that point. Do you know how much older? No... neither do I... but its probably safe to say that they weren't suddenly thought up the day they were written down, as you seem to be implying.

You are being pedantic. You're demanding sources for things you don't agree with, simple as that.

And if simply disagreeing with you is all that need happen to be considered uncivil, then I suppose I can live with that.
04:31:20 AM Dec 4th 2011
edited by LordGro
My thoughts on these arguments:
  • Common sense does not categorically say that anything has to be older than its oldest surviving version. Sometimes, authors make up new things from scratch, without a pre-existing Oral Tradition to draw on. Otherwise, we would have no new stories at all.
  • If you have good cause to believe (or proof) there was an Oral Tradition prior to the work that is your source, you should make an argument that the trope you talk about was in the Oral Tradition before it was in the written source. That the Oral Tradition was exactly the same as the written version is not very likely in most cases. If there is such an argument (not mere speculation), then I’m fine with it.
  • There’s nothing wrong with demanding sources. Sabboth would be hypocritical if he only demanded sources for things he doesn’t agree with while not doing the same for the things he agrees with; but as far as I can see, he doesn’t do anything like that.

But maybe we can relax this discussion by focusing more on specific cases than on the general "problem of Oral Tradition"?

It seems the trope that caused this dispute was Comet of Doom, currently commented with "Ten thousand year old Australian aboriginal cave paintings." I made a google search on comets and Aborigines and found this interesting (and quite recent) paper.

It also discusses Aboriginal rock carvings, concluding right at the bottom of page 9: “We are currently looking into the possibility that these engravings represent comets, but any connection at present is simply speculation.” And a little below at the end of the first paragraph on page 10: “However, we remain puzzled by the fact that nearly all accounts are from colonial times, with few accounts in the recorded oral tradition and no apparent trace of comets in in pre-colonial Aboriginal art.”

In other words, it’s not accepted fact that any aboriginal cave paintings/rock carvings represent comets. And all the described cases when Aborigines saw comets as portents of doom date from the 19th and 20th century.

The earliest documents interpreting comets as portents of doom seem to be ancient Chinese bone inscriptions that are alluded to in the paper and also mentioned in the wikipedia article on comets. I am going to update the index accordingly.
08:23:10 AM Nov 16th 2011
edited by ArcadesSabboth
I've removed two tropes for Zeus: Anything That Moves and Extreme Omnisexual. Zeus is depicted as a Casanova who Really Gets Around, but no actual Greek or Roman myths depict him as having no standards for cleanliness or appearance; only one or two depict him as having even slight bisexual tendencies; and in NO ancient stories does he mate with animals, robots, aliens, etc., ever. He only mates with attractive, beautiful female humans and goddesses, and some authors have him attracted to one or two beautiful human males. It could be Shapeshifting Seducer but not Extreme Omnisexual.

EDIT: Apparently a crowner was called to redefine Anything That Moves, except no new description was ever written. No idea what that description will be. So its applicablity to Zeus could change in the future.
08:46:59 AM Oct 26th 2011
edited by ArcadesSabboth
I don't agree that Ganymedes is Bishōnen. For one thing, the trope is supposedly Japanese in origin, and for another it is one of androgynous appearance. Ganymedes appealed to gods who, like many ancient Greek men, were not otherwise depicted as bisexual. He is described as beautiful and eternally youthful, but he is never described as effeminate or androgynous. Ancient Greek standards of beauty could include a "manly" or muscular appearance. It's hard to tell, with the stylistic differences between modern Japanese and ancient Greek art, whether depictions of him count as "bishie" but I don't think so. See

I removed it, here it is:
  • Bishōnen: Ganymede, Prince of Troy. According to The Iliad: "Ganymedes who was the loveliest born of the race of mortals, and therefore the gods caught him away to themselves, to be Zeus' wine-pourer, for the sake of his beauty, so he might be among the immortals."
01:52:22 PM Oct 15th 2011
edited by ArcadesSabboth
Several entries on this page do not belong here. In particular, the Norse and Celtic examples really should be moved to other Older Than trope pages to which they are known to date. Even the Argonauts examples are dodgy; though the story existed in some form quite early, the oldest surviving version is only Hellenistic in date.

As the main part of the description says, anything that wasn't written down, referred to in writing, or pictorally illustrated before 500 BCE should not be on this page. Any myth ~might~ be Older than Dirt, but without evidence it should not be assumed.

These entries should be moved or edited, and the corresponding pages for the works in question may need editing, too:

Norse and Celtic examples: Clothes Make the Superman, Dumb Muscle (Thor), Everything's Better with Rainbows, Evil Eye, Eyepatch of Power, The Fair Folk, Faux Death, Gender Bender (Loki, Gwydion), Hammer Space, Insubstantial Ingredients, Mad Eye, Magic Knight, Robe and Wizard Hat, Schmuck Bait (Cuchulainn), Shape Shifter Showdown, World Tree. (Fair Folk is arguable since it's such a widespread motif in other European myths and might date to a common origin.)

Another Dimension: Only the Hindu example is known to be Older than Dirt.

Celibate Hero, maybe (was Hippolytus mentioned before Euripides?)

Fantastic Foxes: When were these oral traditions first written down? Was it specifically before 500 BCE?

Mr. Seahorse: The example is Celtic. But Zeus giving birth to Athene probably counts.

A Taste of the Lash: Both listed examples are only Older Than Feudalism, but much older examples can surely be found.
02:25:21 AM Oct 16th 2011
edited by LordGro
You are right. All the "Older Than X" pages need a clean-up. I think a good idea would be to make a thread for this task on the 'Special Efforts' forum.
10:58:35 PM Oct 16th 2011
Well I gave it a start, but there's a lot of Norse and Celtic myth to move around. And I don't know how to change which Older Than trope shows up on the index ticker on the bottom of a trope or source page.
06:07:10 PM Oct 18th 2011
edited by ArcadesSabboth
Well I'm not staying up extra-late just to do that. How can these time-zone rules on the forum work for anyone not living in California, the Pacific islands, or Japan?
01:28:40 AM Oct 19th 2011
Sorry, I did not look here recently. The index tickers should be no problem: They will update automatically, as soon as you save your edits on the index page. For every bulletpoint on the index page, the first link after the bulletpoint gets indexed.
04:15:20 PM Oct 19th 2011
edited by ArcadesSabboth
Older Than Feudalism and Older Than Dirt are fighting for custody over most of the Old Testament. Since each page specifies which parts of The Bible belong to it, this should be possible to sort out.
09:07:19 AM Oct 30th 2011
Well I started a thread on Special Efforts. No responses yet, but I don't know how fast these things move on the fora.

So many links coming into this index from trope pages are just "this trope is really old!" instead of "this trope predates the Roman Republic" that I think renaming it to something less vague could help reduce the abuse. The original name could redirect to Oldest Ones in the Book.
08:47:55 PM Dec 22nd 2010
oracle The know it all who can't seem to give a straight answer is a common trope isn't it here? is it made yet? asked similarly to knowledge broker.
08:50:00 PM Jul 18th 2010
Why is Jesus under a spoiler in back from the dead?
01:08:56 PM Apr 14th 2013
It's just a recurring joke on the wiki.
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