Storytellers in the African oral tradition do what storytellers in all cultures and in all times have done: they entertain the members of the audiences. In the process of doing so, they distill the essences of human experiences, shaping them into memorable, easily retrievable images of broad applicability with an extraordinary potential for eliciting emotional responses. Entertainment thus becomes a multidimensioned experience. Images of contemporary life are removed from their historical contexts so that performers may, with all of the artistic and mnemonic devices at their disposal, reorganize them in artistic forms. The oral arts, containing this sensory residue of past cultural life and the wisdom so engendered, constitute a medium for organizing, examining, and interpreting an audience’s experiences of those images of the present. The tradition is a venerable one: a Xhosa storyteller said, “When those of us in my generation awakened to earliest consciousness, we were born into a tradition that was already flourishing” (Nongenile Masithathu Zenani, comment to author, 1975). Much of the oral tradition of African cultures has been lost, and as African languages are in the process of dying each year, the traditions are gone forever. But some collections of these traditions exist, of which the finest are included in this section.
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence relating to religious rituals and practices current, prior to the codification of the Mishnah, from which it can be inferred that Judah HaNasi and his contemporaries recorded, rather than innovated, normative Judaism as authentically practiced during the 1st century CE and prior. For example, excavations at Qumran have yielded specimens of tefillin and parchment scrolls .  Likewise, the structure and placement of Mikvah ritual baths at the Judean fortress of Masada (see Map ) appears to be consistent with the rabbinic requirements per the Mishnaic tractate Mikvaot , but was constructed approximately 120 years before the Mishnah was compiled.  A clay seal discovered in Jerusalem in 2011 is consistent with the tradition recorded in tractate Shekalim chapter 5 .  The Elephantine papyri 419 BCE include a "Passover letter" which already included many of the pesach observances of today;  Among the papyri is the first known text of a Ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) from about 440 BCE. The Halachic Letter ( Miqsat Ma'ase Ha-Torah / Qumran Cave 4), which records approximately a dozen disputes regarding the application of halachah, also testifies to the evolutionary process of the Oral Law.
Because of repression during the Franco dictatorship (1939–75), the development of oral history in Spain was quite limited until the 1970s. It became well-developed in the early 1980s, and often had a focus on the Civil War years (1936–39), especially regarding the losers whose stories had been suppressed. The field was based at the University of Barcelona. Professor Mercedes Vilanova was a leading exponent, and combined it with her interest in quantification and social history. The Barcelona group sought to integrate oral sources with traditional written sources to create mainstream, not ghettoized, historical interpretations. They sought to give a public voice to neglected groups, such as women, illiterates, political leftists, and ethnic minorities.