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The Fauna of Greece and Adjacent Areas in the Age of Homer

Part of the History of Mechanism and Machine Science book series (HMMS, volume 6)

Aim of the present work is to study the composition of the fauna in Greece and adjacent areas around 3000 years ago through the knowledge of the Homeric man about the animal kingdom in Greece and adjacent areas. The method consists of the analysis of information derived from a thorough study of the first written documents of the Greek literature, the epics, attributed to Homer and Hesiod. Records of 2442 animals were found, corresponding to 71 different animal names. All animal names were attributed to recent taxa at different category levels; the majority (65%) were assigned to taxa of the species level and the rest to supraspecific taxa. Most of the animal names recorded in the epics have been retained, as integral words or roots in Modern Greek and they have been used in the formation of Latin scientific taxa names. Five animal phyla appear in the texts: (1) Chordata (mostly birds and mammals), (2) Arthropoda, (3) Mollusca, (4) Porifera, and (5) Annelida. Information in the epics also includes morphology, biology, ecology (habitat and prey-predator relationships) and behavior. The presence of several species in the area in that period is documented on the basis of archaeological and/or palaeontological findings from various Greek localities.

The knowledge of Homeric man about animals, as reflected in the epics, seems to concentrate mainly, but not exclusively, on animals involved in human activities. The populations of some common animal species of the Homeric age in the Greek populated areas have become extinct or reduced at the present time. On the other hand, some common animals of the present time do not appear in the epics, since they were introduced later. Useful zoological information can be derived from the study of classical texts, which may help historical biogeographers, as a supplement to archaeology and art, in the reconstruction of faunas of older periods.

Keywords

Wild Boar Brown Hare Zoological Nomenclature Lynx Lynx Wild Goat 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Voultsiadou, E., Department of Zoology, School of BiologyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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