At the beginning of the 21st Century monsters still roam the remote, and sometimes not so remote, corners of our planet. It is our job to search for them. The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is - we believe - the largest professional, scientific and full-time organisation in the world dedicated to cryptozoology - the study of unknown animals. Since 1992 the CFZ has carried out an unparalleled programme of research and investigation all over the world. Since 2009 we have been running the increasingly popular CFZ Blog Network, and although there has been an American branch of the CFZ for over ten years now, it is only now that it has a dedicated blog.

Monday, 16 June 2014

MEANWHILE, BACK IN BABYLON

Ishtar Gate
The Babylonian kingdom was one of the mighty states of the ancient Near East, lasting from roughly BC 1830-BC 539.  Its capital, the city of Babylon, was in modern-day Iraq, on the River Euphrates.

Excavations revealed the Ishtar Gate (pictured above) and carved on this was the mushush.  To avoid confusion, I should remark that this creature's name was originally mis-read as sirrush, in which mistaken form it sometimes appears in books on cryptozoology.


Mushush

As can be seen, the creature is somewhat stylized, but speculation has arisen as to whether it was based on some genuine animal known to the Babylonians.  R. Koldeway, who excavated it in 1902, thought it might be a form of iguanodon which survived into historical times.  Another suggestion is that reports of mokele-mbembe, the legendary African cryptid, somehow reached the Babylonians.  There is no evidence, however, that Babylonian knowledge of Central Africa existed.   Willy Ley suggested it was a surviving sivatherium, a kinsbeast of the giraffe and okapi. The identity of this beast, commonly called the Dragon of the Ishtar gate, is currently unknown.  It does, however, have a horn on its nose.  Could it be a depiction of a rhinoceros that had been sculpted by someone who had never actually seen a rhinoceros, but had heard a vague description?  In such case it is more likely to be an Indian rhinoceros, as this has but a single horn.

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