Animals have been an integral part of Greek culture for thousands of years. From the mythological creatures like the Minotaur to the domesticated animals like sheep and goats, ancient Greece was home to a diverse range of fauna.
The rugged terrain of ancient Greece was home to a variety of wild animals, some of which are extinct today. Here are some of the native wild animals that roamed ancient Greece:
The brown bear (Ursus arctos) was once common in Greece but is now extinct in most regions. The Epirus region in northwestern Greece, however, still has a small population of brown bears.
Gray wolves (Canis lupus) were common in ancient Greece and still exist in some regions. They were considered sacred to Apollo, the god of music and prophecy.
The red deer (Cervus elaphus) was also common in ancient Greece but is now extinct in most regions. However, there are still small populations in some areas.
Ancient Greeks were known for their farming practices and livestock rearing. Here are some of the native domesticated animals that were kept by Greeks:
Sheep and Goats
Sheep (Ovis aries) and goats (Capra hircus) were important for their wool, milk, meat, and skins. These animals were an essential part of Greek agriculture.
Cattle (Bos taurus) were also raised by Greeks for their milk, meat, and hides.
Greece’s long coastline meant that marine life was an important part of their culture as well. Here are some of the native marine animals that are found in Greece:
Dolphins were considered sacred to the god Apollo and were often depicted in Greek art.
Octopuses (Octopus vulgaris) were a popular food item in ancient Greece and are still eaten today.
There are two species of sea turtles that can be found in Greece: the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas). These endangered animals are protected under Greek law.
Ancient Greece was home to a diverse range of animals, from wild beasts like bears and wolves to domesticated livestock like sheep and goats. Marine life was also an important part of their culture. While some species have become extinct, many still exist today, providing a glimpse into Greece’s rich natural heritage.