INESSA KALABEKOVA

“The First Fossil Hunters” book by Adrienne Mayor

Even though it’s not directly from “The First Fossil Hunters,” it perfectly captures the essence of the book. The ancient folks were onto fossils too, and they had their own unique perspectives. Some believed in giants and monsters, while others simply saw fossils as part of nature. It makes sense to me, adding a fresh angle when delving into Pliny and revisiting Greek myths. My only complaint is that after introducing the cool idea at the start, the book tends to repeat it a bit too much.

The book also issues a warning about academics sticking to their own fields. How many fossil experts know enough about Greek and Roman art to connect fossils with ancient myths? And how many Greek experts can recognize the similarities between a griffin on a bronze bowl and the skeleton of a protoceratids? Adrienne Mayor skillfully blends Greek and Roman stories, art, and history with fossils, crafting a fascinating read that I couldn’t put down.

I’m a fan of bold claims, and I’m fully on board with the idea that ancient tribes once thrived in the Altai mountains, mining gold and trading with the ancient Greeks. Having been born there and with my dad involved in gold mining, it feels personal. To add a fascinating twist, the Altai mountain tribes considering griffins as their totem animals adds a whole new layer to the narrative. The connection between these mythical creatures and the tribes in the Altai mountains mining gold brings an even more personal touch to the story. 

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