In Greek mythology was a monster, a Gorgon, generally described as a winged human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Those who gazed upon her face would turn to stone.
According to Hesiod and Aeschylus, she died on an island named Sarpedon, somewhere near Cisthene. The 2nd-century BC novelist Dionysios Skytobrachion puts her somewhere in Libya, where Herodotus had said the Berbers originated her myth, as part of their religion.
Medusa was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who thereafter used her head, which retained its ability to turn onlookers to stone, as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity the image of the head of Medusa appeared in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion.
Scientists have revealed the discovery of fragments of a Gorgoneion, a ceramic representation of the Gorgon Medusa, from Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar. The location of the finds, in the deepest part of the cave, appears to give support to the myth and its location.
The discovery is a major breakthrough in the link between classical mythology and archaeology. It indicates that, in the eyes of ancient mariners of the 8th and 7th Centuries BC, Gorham’s Cave, situated at the base of one of the Pillars of Herakles, was the home of the Gorgon Medusa.
Featured Image: Perseus and Medusa / Image: Art by Phill Hosking