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Greek mythological beasts based on fossils

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posted on Jan, 19 2008 @ 10:39 PM
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Just saw History's Mysteries episode on The History Channel on Ancient Monster Hunters.

This scientist, Adrienne Mayor, is making the claim that many Greek mythological beasts were based on fossil finds.

Examples given were Protoceratops being interpreted as the Griffin, and a mastadon skull being interpreted as the Cyclops (the place on the skull where the trunk attaches could be mistaken/interpreted as an eye socket). This would fly in the face of traditional viewpoints which usually state that ancient man wouldn't have been educated or enlightened enough to notice fossils for what they are in the first place.

Was wondering what everyone else's opinions on the matter were, or if anyone else wanted to give their opinions on the origins of ancient religions and belief systems.




posted on Jan, 20 2008 @ 12:36 AM
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I think this interpretation might be a little sketchy but there is something interesting: images of dinosaurs and other now extinct animals are depicted in ancient art and described in ancient texts. The images are so spot on from modern archeology and reconstructions that it seems like they saw the creatures themselves- not just the bones or fossils. Sometimes I get the suspicion such creatures didn't go extinct as long ago as we may assume.



posted on Jan, 20 2008 @ 12:48 AM
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mankind from the most ancient days to this days christians like to add mythology to events.

Most Mythology has a pearl of fact.



posted on Jan, 20 2008 @ 01:02 AM
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I wouldn't go so far as to say spot on, most were fairly simple pictures. Keep in mind that as hunters they'd be able to get a good idea of what a critter looked like from the bones. And on occasion skeltons come to light that are nearly complete.



posted on Jan, 20 2008 @ 02:06 AM
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Originally posted by RuneSpider
I wouldn't go so far as to say spot on, most were fairly simple pictures. Keep in mind that as hunters they'd be able to get a good idea of what a critter looked like from the bones. And on occasion skeltons come to light that are nearly complete.


I agree somewhat about the simple pictures. Some look like stick figures and people claim, "It's a dinosaur!" But I don't see it at all. On the other hand, there are some incredibly detailed images. Those are the ones (albeit rare) I was referring to.



posted on Jan, 22 2008 @ 03:42 PM
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In reply to OP, I had never thought of that, the similarities between Greek "Mythological" Creatures and fossils they may have found.

That could explain some of the reason why some fossils are hard to find in areas of the world, as the Greeks could have looked at them as objects of charm and good luck??

Between Alexander the Great crossing well into India and China, and the Phoeniceans travelling west to the shores of Brazil and South America, they may have returned with vast holds of fossils to the Med. Would make sense.....



posted on Jan, 22 2008 @ 10:22 PM
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Right, well, the thing that struck me was how radically different this would make me look at Greek mythology. I mean, most history books (and myself included) kind of shrug off ancient mythologies. They're cute. We marvel at how creative they were. But we don't take them seriously, especially since around the same time in the Middle East, people were making the transition towards a complicated and sophisticated monotheism.

Maybe, if we take this Mayor at her word, the Greek myths were less exercises of imagination and more honest attempts at describing the natural world. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the beasts in ancient mythologies were real. However, if I find out that instead of just pulling, say, the Griffin out of their fourth point of contact, that someone had (or had seen) an actual fossil that they thought was a Griffin, well maybe that changes things just a little bit.

It just reminded me of something someone told me a couple years ago, which was (basically) when talking about the ancients we tend to assume that they were dumb - that at some magic point between then and now we wisened up. They weren't as advanced, sure. They weren't as learned. But, they weren't dumb.



posted on Jan, 22 2008 @ 10:50 PM
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reply to post by PragueSpring
 

My favorite version of the saying is "Just because they were primitive don't make them stupid."
Detailed pictures eh? I wasn't aware of those, got some links?

I still believe primitive man would have been pretty good at reconstructing skeletons. Maybe not perfect, but at least on par with older mdern reconstructions.



posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 12:02 AM
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Originally posted by RuneSpider
Just because they were primitive don't make them stupid.


hehehe. I say this all the time when people question facts about the ancients. Come on, people. Just because they lived in antiquity doesn't make them morons.


Detailed pictures eh? I wasn't aware of those, got some links?


This is one of my favorites from the Incas:




posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 12:18 AM
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Here is another one with multiple images. Looks like a T-Rex, Triceratops, and Stegosaurus:




posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 12:21 AM
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Oh, and here is some text:

Stones like these 6 were first found in Peru by conquistadors in the 16th century. At that time people didn’t recognize them as dinosaurs because dinosaurs weren’t reconstructed from fossils until the 19th century. They were considered to be strange, perhaps imaginary, creatures.

Thousands of stones like these have been found since then, and many of them have recognizable dinosaurs on them.

If one truly believes that dinosaurs died out millions of years ago, then one has to believe all ancient drawings of dinosaurs are fake and all historical reports of dinosaurs are bogus.

Source.



posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 01:18 AM
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...I have often been intriged by the Sphinx... As it can be interpreted as a Cherubim without wings...

altreligion.about.com...

Does that mean the Sphinx is a "fallen Angel"...?



posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 04:30 PM
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Originally posted by RuneSpider
I still believe primitive man would have been pretty good at reconstructing skeletons. Maybe not perfect, but at least on par with older modern reconstructions.


I agree. In fact, to go back to the TV special that originally sparked this, she (Dr. Mayor) claimed that the bones of heroes which the Greek cities worshipped (i.e. Herodotus' story that the Oracle at Delphi told the Spartans that they needed the bones of Orestes to defeat an enemy, which they promptly found, dug up and triumpantly returned to the city) were really the bones of a prehistoric animal (such as a mastodon). This, she says, would explain why the Greek heroes were said to be 3 times the size of normal humans. Of course, the Spartans won their battle and other cities quickly followed suit.

If you read ancient references to the "bones of heroes" as "fossils," then not only were the Greeks keeping fossils like museum artifacts, but were also going on tourist trips specifically to see/find them. The Greeks then, more than just being able to recognize fossils, they were among the first paleontologists.



posted on Jan, 23 2008 @ 04:46 PM
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Maybe to clarify. Why this theory intrigues me is that I've always had a bit of trouble with older mythologies - especially those with pantheons of gods and very...literary...myths and stories to go along with them. My fear was always that it went along the lines of:

Ancient Guy: Say, Ralph, how'd it all begin?

Ralph, the Shaman: Well, Ancient Guy....um...(panics and starts sweating nervously) see, in the beginning there was...you know, Chaos. And Chaos, gave birth to Gaea. Yeah, that's it. And Gaea gave birth to...etc.

Ancient Guy: Ralph, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Ralph: Heretic.

...

I mean Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism...regardless of whether or not they hold any water, all are based on historical events (or at least historical as far as their members are concerned).

Mayor's account at least brings Greek mythology closer to a historical event, even if that event was just the discovery of some unexplained fossils.



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