Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 14 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the discoveries and interpretations of fossil discoveries in ancient times. It analyses nearly one hundred accounts from more than thirty ancient authors, from Herodotus in the fifth century BC to Augustine in the fifth century AD. The evidence indicates that ancient Greeks and Romans collected, measured, compared, and displayed extraordinary fossil remains in temples as relics of the glorious past. The literary evidence also suggests that observations of large vertebrate fossils certainly influenced certain myths and popular beliefs in ancient times. This chapter also argues that ancient Graeco-Roman accounts of encounters with marine, plant, animal, and trace fossils that were expressed in mythological language were remarkably perceptive for a pre-scientific culture.

Keywords: fossil discoveries, fossil interpretations, Herodotus, Augustine, ancient Greeks, ancient Romans, myths, popular beliefs, pre-scientific culture

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.