Monday, August 11, 2014

Head of a Griffin at the Metropolitan

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is this head of a Griffin sitting in a case.  I believe that they give an approximate date but very little other information.  What was its provenance.  Where on earth did this come from?  A tomb?  Was it designed to be mounted on a staff?  

I had an opportunity in New York City to hear a lecture by Adrienne Mayor, an art historian from Princeton at the time, about her theory of the origin of the Griffin.   First mentioned by Herodotus who said that the story was spread by nomads and traders on the silk road, Ms Mayor observed that on one portion of the silk road one finds large fields of fossils exposed to the air.  One of the most common would look like the skeleton of a very large, four footed beast with the head of a bird.

Griffin on Wikipedia

Adrienne Mayor on Wikipedia

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