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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enlightening
Mayor takes into account the vast amount of prehistoric animal remains and links them to mythology very convincingly. I thoroughly enjoyed it and now I look at myths, legends and fabulous creatures in a very different light. Fasicnating.
Published 14 months ago by Miss VSME Green

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars fascinating area of history
Just what did ancient people think when they discovered the bones of a dinosaur, or the skull of a mammoth? Mayor sets out to answer that question, and discovers myths of dragons, griffins, and ancient heroes five metres tall. But also signs that ancient people tried to explain these extinct megafauna using natural explanations, like floods and earthquakes.
Published 8 months ago by liam mcglinchey


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enlightening, 11 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times (Kindle Edition)
Mayor takes into account the vast amount of prehistoric animal remains and links them to mythology very convincingly. I thoroughly enjoyed it and now I look at myths, legends and fabulous creatures in a very different light. Fasicnating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SLM, 16 Jan 2013
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S. L. Marchant "Q.E." (UK) - See all my reviews
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Reading this at the moment, having read Fossil legends of the First Americans already. It would seem the dark and middle ages set us back a long way in research and understanding of Earths past. What I've read so far is very intriguing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truly fascinating and novel approach to Greek and Roman mythology...., 12 May 2014
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C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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Palaeontology seems like such a modern academic discipline, one that relies very much on advances in modern scientific knowledge. We know now how and why fossils are created, what they are and where they came from - but I suspect many people, like myself, have rarely stopped to think about how our ancestors may have viewed these massive bones and relics. In the modern era we go looking for such things, but hundreds and thousands of years ago people often just stumbled across them, via agriculture, erosion, climatic upheaval. What did they think they were?

Mayor argues that we can in fact determine how the ancient Greeks and Romans incorporated these fossils into their worldview, via their art, literature and mythology. The mythical griffin, for example, she argues, was based on the skeletal remains of protoceratops preserved in the sands of the Gobi Desert. Or the legend of the Cyclops was based on the discovery of prehistoric elephant and mammoth skulls, the large hole in the skull for the trunk mistaken for a single eye socket.

Greek literature and historical records are full of reports of the findings of giants' and heroes' remains, all given the stamp of authenticity through Greek mythology, and often given ceremonial burials. Ajax, Achilles, Theseus, the list goes on. Scholars have traditionally dismissed these reports as the credulity of simpler minds in ages past, but these ancient peoples really did find giant bones. There is ample testimony of fossils found in temples and in sacred sites through Greece, Italy, Persia, Egypt, North Africa. Not having the benefit of our knowledge, they simply developed elaborate myth systems to explain their existence.

If nothing else, this book is a warning against the increasing silo-ization of academic scholarship. How many palaeontologists would be familiar enough with Greek and Roman art and literature to make the connection between their fossils and the ancients' monsters of myth? How many Greek scholars would recognise the physical similarities between a stylised griffin on a bronze bowl and the skeleton of a protoceratops? It's a rare author that can successfully combine Greek and Roman literature, folklore, art and mythology with history, geology, archaeology and palaeontology - but Adrienne Mayor more than succeeds. What a fascinating book this is! I could hardly put it down.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars fascinating area of history, 11 Feb 2014
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liam mcglinchey (Dublin, Dublin Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myth in Greek and Roman Times (Kindle Edition)
Just what did ancient people think when they discovered the bones of a dinosaur, or the skull of a mammoth? Mayor sets out to answer that question, and discovers myths of dragons, griffins, and ancient heroes five metres tall. But also signs that ancient people tried to explain these extinct megafauna using natural explanations, like floods and earthquakes.
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