Many ‘myths’ are authentic memories of human pasts, told by people who passed down precise accounts of their history.
Artist’s evidence-based depiction of the blast, which had the power of 1,000 Hiroshimas.
Allen West and Jennifer Rice
New research suggests that fire from the sky in the form of a small asteroid annihilated a city near the Dead Sea 3,600 years ago.
A mythical creature born of a misinterpreted fossil?
Akkharat Jarusilawong/iStock via Getty Images Plus
People tell tales to explain what they see – centuries later, scientists try to map handed-down myths onto real geological events.
The trilobite manuport (Bainella sp) from Robberg on the Cape south coast was carried at least 10 km to a small cave shelter. For scale, the bar is 10 cm long.
Geomythology can be a powerful way to inspire more people on the continent to become interested in Africa’s palaeoscience.
Giovanni Lanfranco’s Norandino and Lucina Discovered by the Ogre (1624): in many societies giants were long part of received wisdom.
Tales of giants can be found around the world - in Wales, in Australia, and the Pacific Islands. They helped people explain the sometimes cataclysmic changes to the environment they saw around them.
Mount Mazama, a volcano in Oregon. Indigenous stories preserve tales of its eruption more than 7,000 years ago.
Old stories from around the world tell of drowned islands, volcanic eruptions and upheavals to the land around them. Increasingly we are realising these tales preserve actual memory, often from thousands of years ago.
Cataclysmic natural disasters frame indelible human stories.
Francis Danby, The Deluge
New research suggests a mythical flood in China really happened about 4,000 years ago. It’s the latest case of scientists matching ancient tales to actual local natural disasters.