"...machinery claims are made to the so called ideas in almost every film, and not infrequently they are backed up by suits for heavy damages. Inasmuch as these ideas, in the main, descend to us from Neanderthal man, it is often quite impossible for a given movie author to prove that he invented what he is accused of having stolen. So he must hunt for it in the literature of the past, and thus prove that, if he lifted it himself, so also did the man claiming it. Defending such suits has familiarized the solicitors of the movie folk with all the popular literature back to the earliest written records."
—H. L. Mencken, "Blackmail Made Easy"
The Oldest Ones in the Book recorded before the Greek alphabet was invented, around 800 BCE. Mostly from mythology, and generally orally transmitted (not in that sense!). If the work you're thinking of has a known author, and it's not ancient Egyptian, it's probably not from this era.
Specific works from this period:
- Most Mesopotamian Mythology, including Enuma Elish, The Epic of Gilgamesh, and Inannas Descent to The Netherworld.
- Hittite and Hurrian myths.
- All but the latest ancient Egyptian Mythology and literature.
- The ancient Indian (Sanskrit) Vedas are thought to date from this time. (All other Hindu Mythology comes later.)
- The oldest examples of ancient Chinese writing, though little survives from this period.
- Visual art from pre-literate cultures that predates 800 BCE can be included here, though it's important to be very careful interpreting just what tropes it represents.
- Real Life
Note: Tropes originating in mythologies/religions that aren't Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Anatolian, Vedic, or early Chinese never belong here, as we have no idea whether those stories even existed in 800 BCE, centuries or milliennia before they were first written down. Even The Bible and Classical Mythology are only Older Than Feudalism. Early folklorists often started with the assumption that folktales and myths were primordial; more research has shown that people can and do modify all sorts of tales for any purpose.
- Technically, the Oldest Ones in the Scroll, since books weren't invented until after this period.
- before the Late Period
- before the Warring States period
This category has the following 5 subcategories, out of 5 total.
Pages in category "Older Than Dirt"
The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 238 total.(previous page) (next page)
- Dark Is Not Evil
- Darkest Hour
- Dead Sidekick
- Death by Sex
- Death Glare
- Decapitated Army
- Defeat Means Friendship
- Deity of Human Origin
- Depending on the Writer
- Diabolus Ex Machina
- Disproportionate Retribution
- Distaff Counterpart
- Divine Date
- Divine Parentage
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu
- Double Standard Rape (Divine on Mortal)
- Dream Sequence
- Droit du seigneur
- Dude in Distress