Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Herodotus and the Gold Digging Ants

Gold Digging Ants

Herodotus Homo Fabulator

Herodotus who is considered as the father of history has mentioned that gold digging ants were in the northern stretches of ancient India. We need to be aware that Ancient India had covered most part of present day Pakistan, before the separation of 1947. Presently Pakistan tends to cover the original India, the region of the Indus Valley, the Sindhu Desh, Sindh country or the land of the Sindhus.

Due to his story of ants together with other strange tales which are not verified during that time, several researchers as well as writers since ancient times, have accused Herodotus of stupidity and lying. Voltaire like Cicero recognized him as the father of history during the Age of Enlightenment. He thought that history was a block containing fables and legends and that it is ok if the writer seems to be a liar.

He has been assessed by Aulus Gellius in Attic Nights III, 10, as `Herodotus homo fabulator’ and has been found guilty for reciting that plea to the fantastical, ethnographical elements which tends to induce superhuman races as well as for geographical description which at that time were inexplicable.


Species of Fox-Sized Furry Ants

Herodotus has reported that a species of fox sized furry ants seemed to be living in one of the far eastern Indian provinces of the Persian Empire which according to him was a sandy desert where the sand there comprised of a wealth of fine gold dust. Michel Peissel, a French ethnologist asserts thatthe Himalayan marmot on the Deosai Plateu in Gilgit-Balistan province of Pakistan could have been the giant `ants’ according to Herodotus.

Herodotus’s description of the province was that the ground of the Deosai Plateau was rich in gold dust. The Minaro tribal people living in the Doesai Plateau had been interviewed by Peissel who had confirmed that they had for generations collected the gold dust which the marmots had brought to the surface while digging burrows. The story had been well-known in the ancient world and later on authors such as Pliny the Elder had revealed it in his gold mining segment of the Naturalis Historia.

Discovery of the Greek El Dorado in Himalayas

Peissel speculates in his book, The Ants’ Gold – The Discovery of the Greek El Dorado in the Himalayas that Herodotus could have tangled the old Persian word for `marmot’ with `mountain ants’ since he possibly was unaware of any Persian and relied on local translator while travelling in the Persian Empire. Herodotus has not claimed of having seen the gold-digging `ant’ creatures but had stated that he was just reporting what the other travellers had informed him.

Whether Herodotus had made the mistake or it could have been one of his sources, will never be known states Alex Hollman, a scholar of Herodotus at Harvard University. He further adds that if the discovery seems to be true, it tends to show that though Herodotus could have misunderstood the story and was not certainly making it up. Herodotus known as the father of history would collect stories from sources around the world which is believed to be first recited and then published, around 425 BC and the gold-digging ants’ legend is said to be one of the most famous one due to its outrageousness.

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