Griffins, giants, centaurs and cyclops fill ancient myths, but these monsters were more than fantasy and the Greeks and Romans had the bones to prove it. The fossil remains of mastodons, mammoths, and wooly rhinos became the supersized heroes and gigantic beats of classical mythology. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, the first bone collectors. Also, extinct humans – why did all our prehistoric cousins disappear? And, how the alphabet changed the world.
Ian Tattersall is Curator at the American Museum of Natural History and author of "Extinct Humans." He tells Jim Fleming that there are at least 17 species of early hominids and that homo sapiens is singularly intolerant of competition from related species. Also, Classical folklorist Adrienne Mayor, author of "The First Fossil Hunters," tells Steve Paulson that the ancient Greeks and Romans dug up fossils of mastadons and wooly rhinos and that these old bones formed the basis of many of their myths.SEGMENT 2:
Peter Green is a classicist at the University of Iowa. He tells Jim Fleming about the witchcraft practices of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They had professionals magicians armed with binding spells, voodoo dolls, aphrodisiacs and amulets.SEGMENT 3:
Elizabeth Ward is an Icelandic scholar at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and co-editor of "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga." She tells Steve Paulson about the Viking settlement of Newfoundland and recounts the saga of Eric the Red. Also, Scandinavian and English Literature scholar Richard Ringler is working on a new translation of "Beowulf." He tells Steve Paulson why this ancient classic has modern appeal. We also hear excerpts from Seamus Heaney's recording of his best-selling version of the story. (The CD set is available from HighBridge Company, 1000 Westgate Drive, St. Paul MN 55114 1-800-667-8433)Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 00-09-03-B.
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