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Thursday, March 08, 2007
Gold-digging ants of India
I haven't discovered an interesting myth for some time now, dark days for a generative mythologist! I have read the Egyptian travels of Herodotus, but not the Histories. That's why I missed this gem, explaining why India ("the bird of gold") possessed so much of the yellow stuff:

Eastward of India lies a desert of sand…. There is found in this desert a kind of ant of great size—bigger than a fox, though not so big as a dog…. These creatures as they burrow underground throw up the sand in heaps, just as our own ants throw up the earth…. The sand has a rich content of gold, and this is what the Indians are after when they make their expeditions into the desert…. When the Indians reach the place where the gold is, they fill the bags they have brought with them with sand and start for home again as fast as they can go; for if the ants—if we can believe the Persians’ story—smell them, they at once give chase.


Two great articles on the subject, one from Antlion Pit and the other by historian Paul Lunde.
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