Tuesday, December 06, 2016

DINOSAURS: From Cultural to Pop Culture - ~220 BC: The Neades

A while ago I started a series I termed "DINOSAURS!: From Cultural to Pop Culture", describing how the science and just mere existence of dinosaurs (and sometimes other prehistoric beasts) have influenced culture and pop culture. 

For a full listing of all of the entries you can click here: DINOSAURS!: From Cultural to Pop Culture

For our next entry, we have:

Prehistoric Times: ~220 BC

Samos is a Greek island located in the Aegean Sea, near present day Turkey:

Location of Samo from Sarris et al, 2007

This island has been written about numerous times in the ancient past. One of the notable examples was the following:
"...in primeval times Samos was uninhabited [except for] animals of gigantic size, which were savage and dangerous, called Neades. Now these animals with their mere roaring split the ground. So there is a proverbial saying in Samos: 'So and so roars louder than the Neades.' And Euphorion asserts that their huge remains are displayed even to this day"
Euphorion (~220 BC)
Quoted in On Animals by Aelian (3rd Century AD) 
The Neades seem to be similar to other ancient beasts, the works of authors finding the fossils and trying to come up with story to explain them.  Below are some of the fossils that have been found on the island of Samos and have been dated to the Tourolio during the Early Miocene (samosin.gr).


 


The original writings of Euphorion had been lost, but the above section had been quoted by the natural historian Aelian in the 3rd century AD. Fossils today have been found in the Mytilini basin, which is located north of the village of Mytilini on Samos, along a major fault zone on Samos. Faults = earthquakes. Perhaps the ancient Greeks equated the earthquakes with the roar of the Neades (Soulinias, 2007)

Euphorion's quote also seems to focus on the fossils being put on display. It was discovered that around the 7th century BC a large fossil thighbone was placed on an altar of the Temple of Hera, a popular place at the time (Kyrieleis, 1988). It is likely that Euphorion saw the thighbone and created a tale of his own to explain it. 

Besides Euphorion's tale, Not much is written about the neades (I couldn't even find a picture), but Samos continued to be a focal point where paleontology influenced the culture of the time period. Next time we will look at when Plutarch makes a more impactful statement about what he thinks the fossils came from.


References
Kyrieleis, H. (1988). Offerings of the common man in the Heraion at Samos. Early Greek cult practice, 215-21.

Mayor, Adrienne. 2000. The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Sarris, D., Christodoulakis, D., & Koerner, C. (2007). Recent decline in precipitation and tree growth in the eastern Mediterranean. Global Change Biology, 13(6), 1187-1200.

Soulinias, N. (2007). Samos Island, Part II: ancient history of the Samos fossils and the record of earthquakes. Inside the Aegean Metamorphic Core Complexes: Journal of the virtual explorer, electronic edition.


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