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Oracles, Chimeras, and Bears, Oh My: Is There Science Behind Ancient Stories?

Evening Lecture

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1B0060
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)
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What if even the most outlandish legends are actually, at some level, true? Can science explain the unbelievable? Science writer Sarah Zielinski guides us through ancient tales strange and familiar that have been passed down over centuries and around the world: the lost city of Atlantis, the floating bridge of Ramayana, the immortal Chimera of the Iliad. Many of these tales are fantastic and supernatural, the result of epic imaginations and the embroidery that happens with oral storytelling traditions. 

Perhaps, Zielinski says, there are actual scientific explanations if one digs deep enough at the legends’ roots. Could it be that the giant underground catfish, bridge-building bears, and fire-breathing monsters sprang from events in nature rather than the imaginations of storytellers? She probes ten ancient legends from around the world, teasing out the evidence in the natural world that may have inspired storytellers centuries ago.