Methods and Tools of Information Dissemination on a Daily Basis in the Ancient World - From Agora to Acta Diurna

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Ketevan Nizharadze


Together with the development of civilization in world history, the need to disseminate information individually as well as collectively had progressively increased. Accordingly, each civilization tried to find a newer, faster and more efficient way of recording and transmitting information. The most important steps in this regard were taken in the ancient world. Antiquity had come a long way from sharing a piece of information on the Agora to developing an idea of writing news stories on a daily basis. Public meetings and trials on the Agora, as well as performances at special dramatic festivals, drew fairly large audiences.

In the ancient world, various signaling mechanisms and the system of messengers were also used quite effectively to convey information, but the principle of disseminating everyday recorded information, reminiscent of modern media, played an important role in informing the public, preceded by the Annals and the Fasti in particular.

The Annals conveyed the important events of the year, taken place in Rome, in a current-affairs style. The same practice of recording the information was also applied by the historians of the Ancient Near East, but the Romans are credited for coining the term “annals” to the very style of dispatching the historical events.

The Fasti, on the other hand, were a kind of calendar and marked chronological or diachronic records of material, all kinds of interesting information from both religious or secular life.

As we have already mentioned, the most effective means of rapid and mass dissemination of written information was the Acta Diurna, introduced by Julius Caesar in 59 BC, the very first year of his consulship. It was fundamentally different from the Annals and the Fasti. The Fasti were more of a calendar nature, the Annals conveyed only important information, while the Acta Diurna contained relatively insignificant news as well.

Based on the arguments suggested in the current paper, we came to the conclusion that the idea of today’s newspaper was formed in antiquity, developed and implemented in the form of daily written news, which formed the basis of the epoch making aspiration for freedom of speech. Accordingly, it can be assumed that in the paper, for the first time in classical philology, we have illustrated the way of logical development that ultimately led the ancient world to moving from the Agora type of democratic sharing of information to the practice of creating and disseminating daily news.


Information Dissemination, Agora, Annals, Fasti, Acta Diurna
Published: Dec 20, 2021

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