Ancient Folks (as far as we think we know)
Recently there has been evidence that civilization may have flourished as long ago as 200,000 BC in Southern Africa. While this claim needs to be more fully examined it still only represents a tiny fraction of time when compared to the Earth (about .004%). As far as recorded history (written) it only goes back about 5,000 years (or about .0001%). The dinosaurs ruled for 160,000 million years. Compared to their domination we are only days out of the womb.
Regardless, it is notable that we do have oral traditions that describe situations and events that go back quite aways. The oldest oral traditions are likely that of the Australian Aboriginals. Some experts have speculated that these traditions may go back as far as 40,000 years.
In terms of written documentation, the oldest known is from the Sumerian Civilization. Their cuneiform clay documents are estimated to be between 5 & 6,000 years old and speak of times and events going back hundreds of thousands of years. One example is the Kings List which speaks of rulers that lived extremely long lives as demonstrated below:
|Ruler Length of reign|
|Alulim 8 sars (28,800 years)||: an initial paragraph about the rule of Alulim and Alalngar in Eridu for 64.8005]|
|Alalngar 10 sars (36,000 years)|
|En-men-lu-ana 12 sars (43,200 years)||12 sars (43,200 years)|
|En-men-gal-ana 8 sars (28,800 years)|
|Dumuzid, the Shepherd 10 sars (36,000 years)|
|En-sipad-zid-ana 8 sars (28,800 years)|
|En-men-dur-ana 5 sars and 5 ners (21,000 years)|
|Ubara-Tutu 5 sars and 1 ners (18,600 years)||father of Utnapishtim in Epic of Gilgamesh|
The next oldest written record would be the Egyptian hieroglyphics. The early writings speak of a time before the Pharaohs when the “gods” coexisted with humans.
There are some researchers who believe that by calculating the decrypted information obtained from the Papyrus of Turin, we obtain the initial period, referred to as the kingdom of Ptah, creator and first ruler of ancient Egypt, dating back 39,000 years.
Genesis (possibly written circa 1,200 BC) speaks of times going back to approximately 4,000 BC and lists rulers who lived extremely long lives but no where as long as the Sumerian Kings.