10 Mysterious Images That Appear Across The Ancient World

The ancient world remains shrouded in mystery, with records and artifacts shining a limited light on our ancestors. Oddly, certain motifs seem popular in many ancient societies. However, no one can say for sure how they spread or what exactly they mean.

10. The Master Of Animals

The Master of Animals depicts a man (or woman) flanked by two animals, which he holds in a show of dominance. The specific animals vary, from snakes to bulls to lions. One of the oldest examples, a 5,000-year-old seal from Uruk, shows a figure holding two goats.

For 3,000 years, the symbol was borderline ubiquitous, appearing on everything from Bronze Age Mongolian petroglyphs to bronze vessels from Roman Italy to the grave goods of sacrificed Afghan queens. The mysterious Indus Valley culture put it on seals, while the Scythians loved it so much they put it on basically everything. Two particularly famous examples can be found on the Gebel el-Arak Knife (from prehistoric Egypt circa 3400 BC) and the Gundestrup Cauldron (from Denmark around 100 BC).

The current theory is that the motif arose in ancient Mesopotamia and eventually became associated with the hero Gilgamesh. How it gained such widespread popularity remains unclear.

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