Freakin’ weird ancient dragons

The guy at the s8int.com blog linked to the Penn Museum, which has recently opened up a vast archive of artifacts for internet searching. One of his favorite things to do is look at artifacts like dragons and try to pick out what ancient animal (or dinosaur) it might be based on.

I searched “dragon” and turned up this gorgeous bowl within a minute.


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Kind of looks like one of these, doesn’t it? Not to mention being very pretty.

Then I ran across this trumpet.


Source

I went, “Well, gee, that’s obviously an elephant. Look at the trunk. Why do they have it marked as ‘dragon’?”

It does have funky teeth instead of tusks, though. So I wondered if it might be an ambelodon.

But that’s not quite right. As I saw when I looked at one of the slightly different angles of the trumpet.

The sucker has fangs. It also has ears like a hippo, and little horns. I’m fully aware that it might all be artistic license, but if you were making an elephant, wouldn’t you include tusks instead of fangs?

I don’t know. This one stumped me. The more I stare at it, the more dragonish it looks. Do we know of any elephant or trunk-wearing animals that also have sharp teeth like that?

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4 thoughts on “Freakin’ weird ancient dragons

  1. Makara!

    Uhm. That would be the name of your elephant dragon thing, maybe. Hindu mythology. A sea monster with the head of an elephant. Sometimes classed as a dragon, I guess. Just looked it up.

    Also found this:

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  2. Spiffy picture! Someone suggested on Facebook that it could be a tapir. But I don’t think tapirs have a long enough snout. Maybe there was some giant kind running around that looked good decorating trumpets. 🙂

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  3. Hrm. Maybe a prehistoric variation on the tapir? That’s an idea. I dunno though. I still like the sheer weirdness of the mythology factor. And while I admire the skill of the artist who carved the trumpet… I’m now wondering what the heck that highly decorative instrument was supposed to summon. If the purpose the trumpet was created for is tied to ritual then having a mythological figure on it might make sense. But if it’s just a hunting horn or something then… Wow. Those people ate some weird stuff, you know? =F

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