Vultures and Men have been long intertwined – ever since a stone age humanoid carved, about 35,000 years ago, a flute from a griffon vulture bone - probably the world’s oldest recognizable musical instrument, with five finger holes and a V-shaped mouthpiece. A bit later, about 11,000 years ago, the oldest known representations of a vulture was carved on a stone in Göbekli Tepe, in today´s Turkey.
These, and many other absorbing fact about the representation of vultures across history, appears in a fascinating article published recently by Italian researcher Maura Andreoni in the Journal of Ancient History and Archaeology.
Along the times, vultures have been considered both impure or sacred, by many distinct cultures and in different historical periods. The idea of purification associated with vultures is present in many myths, religions, and burial praxis of ancient populations, and remains in some religions today (Bhudist sky burials in Tibet), probably derived from the fact that they usually do not prey upon living animals.
Vultures were conspicuous in all the ancient Mediterranean civilizations: they were sacred to Egyptians, who even took them as symbol of gods; considered to be all feminine and breed by parthenogenesis in the classical times; and they were very much appreciated by some early Christian authors, who came to comparing them even to the Virgin Mary.
Vultures are also present in many of the most enduring Greek and Roman myths and legends – and many parts of their body were considered as a medicine or even a talisman for happiness. They were so proverbial for Romans that they become even one of the symbols of the founding of Rome itself.
You can read about all this – and much more – in the article below. Enjoy!