By Adrienne Mayor
Griffins, Centaurs, Cyclopes, and Giants--these magnificent creatures of classical mythology proceed to stay within the sleek mind's eye throughout the bright debts that experience come all the way down to us from the traditional Greeks and Romans. yet what if those beings have been greater than only fictions? What if great creatures as soon as roamed the earth within the very areas the place their legends first arose? this is often the arresting and unique thesis that Adrienne Mayor explores in The First Fossil Hunters. via cautious study and meticulous documentation, she convincingly indicates that the various giants and monsters of fable did have a foundation in fact--in the big bones of long-extinct species that have been as soon as considerable within the lands of the Greeks and Romans.
As Mayor exhibits, the Greeks and Romans have been good conscious varied breed of creatures as soon as inhabited their lands. they often encountered the fossilized bones of those primeval beings, and so they built refined options to provide an explanation for the fossil facts, techniques that have been expressed in mythological tales. The legend of the gold-guarding griffin, for instance, sprang from stories first instructed via Scythian gold-miners, who, passing in the course of the Gobi desolate tract on the foot of the Altai Mountains, encountered the skeletons of Protoceratops and different dinosaurs that littered the ground.
Like their sleek opposite numbers, the traditional fossil hunters accumulated and measured striking petrified is still and displayed them in temples and museums; they tried to reconstruct the looks of those prehistoric creatures and to give an explanation for their extinction. lengthy regarded as delusion, the remarkably certain and perceptive Greek and Roman debts of big bone reveals have been really according to strong paleontological evidence. by means of studying those ignored narratives for the 1st time within the mild of recent clinical discoveries, Adrienne Mayor illuminates a misplaced international of historical paleontology. As Peter Dodson writes in his Foreword, "Paleontologists, classicists, and historians in addition to average historical past buffs will learn this e-book with the best of delight--surprises abound."
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Additional resources for The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times.
C . He is a controversial but key figure in the history of paleontological legends. In antiquity, elite historians considered him a storyteller who reported useless hearsay or made up entertaining tales from whole cloth—and his old reputation as the "Father of Lies" has lingered to this day. Some even question whether he undertook the travels he claimed. But as scholars and archaeologists discover more about the Saka-Scythians and other non-Greek cultures discussed by Herodotus, he is beginning to be appreciated as a faithful recorder of historical reality as well as popular beliefs.
Photo by Josiah Ober. THE G O L D - G U A R D I N G 21 GRIFFIN claws," even though they readily admitted that they knew the beasts were not really birds. It is "just our custom to call them that," they told Erman. " 4 T h e Siberians' use of a conventional name for the fossils parallels the way the Chinese referred to all fossils of extinct animals as "dragon bones" even though they recognized that some of the remains belonged to deer and horses. Consider our name for Dinosauria ("terrible lizards").
17 Augustus's reign, 31 B . C . - A . D . 14 Augustus's museum of giant bones in Capri Tiberius's reign, A . D . 1 4 - 3 7 Model of giant constructed from tooth Sea monster remains reported in Gaul Orontes' giant bones discovered in Syria Josephus, b. 37 Huge bones displayed in Palestine Pliny the Elder, 2 3 - 7 9 Claudius's reign, 4 1 - 5 4 Centaur remains displayed in Rome Skulls of dragons displayed in India Apollonius of Tyana rravels to India A . D . 100 Plutarch, ca. 100 Fossil mastodons of Samos recognized as elephant remains Hadrian's reign, 1 1 7 - 1 3 8 Suetonius Ajax's giant bones discovered at Rhoeteum Phlegon of Tralles, ca.