Giants and elephants of Sicily
Published:January 01, 2007
In Sicily, the great abundance of fascinating and impressive natural phenomena, have fed the imagination of men, who have interpreted them as the manifestation of the existence of supernatural and fantastic beings giving rise to myth and legend. Amongst these many myths, that of the cyclops Polyphemus, is closely linked to the geopalaeontological history of Sicily. The discovery, often inside caves, of the fossil skulls of elephants, in which there is a great nasal hollow (in the frontal part) where there was a trunk in life, gave rise to the belief that one-eyed giants had existed, in the past. The nasal hollow was wrongly interpreted as the orbit of a single frontal eye that characterized these monstrous beings, and the gigantic size was inferred by the notable dimensions of the skulls and the bones that are frequently found. In 1830 Giorgio Cuvier, attested to the fossil nature of the bones and put an end to the different inferences formulated about their origin.
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Myth and Geology
This book is the first peer-reviewed collection of papers focusing on the potential of myth storylines to yield data and lessons that are of value to the geological sciences. Building on the nascent discipline of geomythology, scientists and scholars from a variety of disciplines have contributed to this volume. The geological hazards (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and cosmic impacts) that have given rise to myths are considered, as are the sacred and cultural values associated with rocks, fossils, geological formations and landscapes. There are also discussions about the historical and literary perspectives of geomythology. Regional coverage includes Europe and the Mediterranean, Afghanistan, Cameroon, India, Australia, Japan, Pacific islands, South America and North America. Myth and Geology challenges the widespread notion that myths are fictitious or otherwise lacking in value for the physical sciences.