* Fragmentary nature of historical record; need to look at the broadest possible range of sources.
* Slow development of written literacy and the use of written documents.
* Formal constraints of literary conventions-acceptable form may conceal the answers to questions we ask.
* "Native" and "foreign" sources: do insiders tell us more?
* Difficulties in learning about ordinary people: can ethnography help?
* Dangers of retrospective interpretation:
A. "Modernizing" views-tendency to define and explain from our own frame of reference, in questions ranging from nature of "states" to literary genres.
B. "National" biases-tendency to find one's "national" roots in a time that knew no "nation."
C. Religious and other biases-the world through the lens of "the one true faith"; reason vs. faith in "modern" times.