Sidor som bilder


It will be necessary before we plunge into the subject to devote some little space to the classification used by archæologists, because it has very generally been misunderstood and excited much hostile criticism. Sir John Lubbock follows the

. Danish antiquaries in adopting the division of prehistoric time into three ages-of stone, bronze, and iron. The first of these he divides into two distinct ages, in consequence of the discoveries made in France and Britain of human implements associated with the extinct mammalia. These four great divisions are as follows:

*I. That of the Drift; when man shared the possession of Europe with the mammoth, the cave-bear, the woolly-haired rhinoceros, and other extinct animals. This we may call the “ Palæolithic” period.

‘II. The later or polished Stone Age; a period characterised by beautiful weapons and instruments made of Aint and other kinds of stone ; in which, however, we find no trace of the knowledge of any metal, excepting gold, which seems to have been sometimes used for ornaments. This we may call the “ Neolithic” period.

• III. The Bronze Age, in which bronze was used for arms and cutting instruments of all kinds.

• IV. The Iron Age, in which that metal had superseded bronze for arms, axes, knives, &c.; bronze, however, still being in common use for ornaments, and frequently also for the handles of swords and arms, though never for the blades.' (P. 2.) An ingenious critic in the Quarterly Review '* argues

" against this classification with apparently but a slight acquaintance with the evidence on which it is based.

He complains that it is too simple; “that it overlooks the existence

of different races of mankind, endowed with different qualities ‘ and capabilities, and assumes that they were at all times

governed by the hard logic of the nineteenth century, in the • Teutonic countries of Europe. He finds fault with the quiet sequence of events which the Danish classification pre

sumes, and protests against the peaceful progress ' presented by the industry of Copenhagen or Manchester at the present day being employed as the standard to be applied to these long-forgotten times. It is unfortunate that the critic did not give references to the works on archæology in which such assumptions are made. Sir John Lubbock certainly does not give the slightest ground for the charge. M. Nilsson in his works does not presume any peaceful progress,' nor that the ancient dwellers in Denmark were of the same Aryan race as the present inhabitants; he leaves the first altogether an open question, and states, with reference to the second, that at one


* April, 1870.

time the Laps had possession of the country.* Nor is the critic more happy in his argument from the survival of customs. It by no means follows from the fact that religious beliefs and habits are endowed with an extraordinary vitality, such as Paganism in the Church of the south of Europe, that stone would come back into everyday use in the Bronze and Iron ages to the exclusion of those two metals, unless they could no longer be obtained. But the magnitude of the trade in bronze in ancient times, and the abundance of the ores of iron, render such an accident improbable; and even if it did happen, as in the case of the unfortunate Icelandic colonists in Greenland, the form of the implements would prove the previous knowledge of metal. It is admitted on all hands that the use of stone survived in religious ceremonial, like that of the Roman civil dress in our sacerdotal vestments, long after it had been abandoned for ordinary purposes.

Flint flakes have been discovered in Roman graves in Britain,t at least as late as the days of Hadrian, and they have been found also in the foundation of the king's palace at Khorsabad. I

Again, the use of stone is not supposed by any archæologists to have been suddenly displaced by that of bronze, or the bronze by that of iron. The poorer class must have been content for a long time to use the one, while the richer only used the other. The ages of iron, bronze, and of polished stone may have been going on side by side in different parts of Europe at the same point of time. By the term age' Sir John Lubbock simply means that a definite succession can be traced of men who used rude unpolished stone weapons, of men who used polished stone and were ignorant of metals, of men who were acquainted with bronze and ignorant of iron, and, lastly, of men who used iron for those

to which it was best fitted. And this sequence can be traced, not in one or two isolated spots, but throughout nearly the whole of Europe. It may be, that while Scandinavia was in the Neolithic age, the bronze was gradually finding its way northward, and probably while bronze or stone, or both, were used in out-of-the-way places, iron was known in the centres of civilisation, on the shores of the Mediterranean. The idea that these ages are hard and fast chronological divisions has not been entertained, to our knowledge, by any writer on the subject.


Nilsson, “Stone Age,' pp. 201-202. † On a Romano-British Cemetery at Hardbam, Sussex. Archæol. Col., 1863.

I International Congress of Prehistoric Archæology. Paris, vol. 1867.

Since we have answered the objections that have been raised against the received classification, we may proceed to test our knowledge about the first or Palæolithic age, which lies altogether within the frontier of geology. Dr. Hamy, in common with most of the French archæologists, believes that man was living in Europe during the remote period known as the Miocene, because certain rude flint implements have been discovered in the Tertiary beds of Thenay, and because peculiar striæ and notches have been observed on the bones of a large extinct cetacea, the Halitherum, found in the Faluns of Puancé. It has not, however, been placed beyond a doubt that the flint implements were not ultimately derived from the surface of the ground, where they are strewn about in great profusion, nor has it been clearly proved that the marks on the bones could not have been caused by other agency than that of man.

While, therefore, we agree with Dr. Hamy that the climate at the time was warm enough for man to have lived in France, we cannot admit that any indisputable traces of his presence have yet been met with in any of the Miocene deposits.

Nor is the testimony of man's appearance during the next or Pleiocene Period of a higher value. M. Desnoyers * believes that he has met with traces of the existence of man at this time in some peculiarly scratched and grooved bones of Elephas meridionalis, from St. Prest, near Chartres. Sir Charles Lyell, however, thought it likely that the marks may have been caused by the teeth of a large extinct beaver, the Trogonthere, found in the same place; and he placed some recent bones in the cage of the porcupines in the Zoological Gardens, to see the result of their gnawing. This ingenious experiment showed that the marks in question may have been caused by the rodents, and not by the hand of man. M. Desnoyers' proof, therefore, cannot be accepted as conclusive that man was living in France during the Pleiocene period, although there is no assignable cause why he should not have been. The striæ on the bones found in the Val d'Arno, and considered both by M. Lartet and Dr. Hamy to have been made by the hand of man, fall also into the same doubtful category.

We must now give a slight sketch of the geological changes which heralded the advent of man into Europe, and which brought about the conditions of life under which he lived.

During the Pleiocene epoch, the mainland of Europe stretched far out beyond Britain into the Atlantic, and sup

[ocr errors][merged small]

ported herds of deer allied to the Axis and Rusa, now found only in the hot countries of the East, the mastodon and the sabretoothed tiger, the gigantic Elephas meridionalis, and sundry kinds of antelopes. The presence of these animals necessarily implies that the climate at that time was warmer than at the present day. The crag of Norfolk and Suffolk, and perhaps the Forest-bed of those counties that has furnished so many wondrous forms of extinct mammalia, are the only traces of this state of things in Britain ; but deposits of this age occupy wide areas in France, Germany, and Italy.

At the close of the Pleiocene epoch, the climate in Europe gradually became colder; and while this was going on, the continent, north of a line passing through the valley of the Thames straight through North Germany and far into Russia, slowly sank beneath the waves of the sea. These climatal and geographical changes continued until Britain was reduced to an archipelago, Scandinavia was an island, and glaciers slid down from the mountains to the sea, to float off as bergs, laden with the rocks and other detritus which cover our hills and valleys north of the Thames like a great tattered mantle. While the conditions of life were thus being changed in Europe, the animals fitted for a warm climate were compelled to retreat southwards to the shores of the Mediterranean, and some, such as the mastodon, became extinct. The period of depression of northern Europe, or the Glacial period, forms a clear line of demarcation in the region where the boulder clay is found. In the countries south of the line above mentioned, where the land was above water, and consequently could not be traversed by icebergs, the Preglacial or Pleiocene strata gradually pass into the Postglacial or Quaternary, without any sharp boundary, and the animal remains afford the only key to the age of the deposits. At last the sinking of the land ceased, and a corresponding elevation took place, until Britain formed again part of the continent of Europe. The temperature, however, still continued to be very severe. Nearly the whole of Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Cumbria, Lancashire and Derbyshire, were covered with enormous masses of ice, like those in Greenland, that have left indisputable traces of their presence in the moraines, and the smooth and polished surfaces of rocks over which they passed. It is indeed very possible that the elevation of northern Europe took place during the Glacial period, and that these insulated areas, full of traces of glacier action, are merely rags and tatters of a vast sheet of ice that covered nearly the whole of central and northern Europe. Whether this be true or not, there can be


no doubt that glaciers continued to occupy certain spots in Britain* and France, such as North Wales and Auvergne, after the glacial submergence, and during the time that the characteristic animals of the Quaternary, or Postglacial, or Postpleiocene epoch were living in those countries.

These physical changes naturally caused a revolution in the animal life. Driven from their ancient homes in northern Asia by the intense severity of the cold, or allured by the favourable conditions of life in Europe, the reindeer, musk-sheep, mammoth, the great woolly rhinoceros, the glutton, and the lemming spread through the whole continent north of a line passing through the Alps and the Pyrenees, attesting by their very presence the severity of the climate. Some of them even passed the Alps, and one, the mammoth, was fortunate enough to have been overwhelmed in the showers of volcanic ash that now constitute the Seven Hills. The animals, however, which inhabited Europe before their advent did not disappear en masse, but only those which were delicately constituted, and which could not adapt themselves to the changed conditions of life. The Elephas antiquus, two kinds of rhinoceros, and the hippopotamus ranged at least as far north as Britain; and their remains lie in the bone caves and river deposits, along with those of the arctic invaders. Their true home, nevertheless, was Southern Europe. The red-deer also survived, and the horses continued to live in vast herds. Another group of animals suddenly appeared on the scene, from a quarter of which we are ignorant—the lion, the cave-bear, the cavehyæna, and the Irish elk; while the bison and the Saiga antelope probably came from the temperate zone of Siberia. Sir John Lubbock is mistaken in referring any of the fossils from the Norwich crag to the bison. Those to which he alludes belong most probably to the urus, the Pleiocene ancestor of our larger domestic breeds of cattle.

Such was the strange intermixture of animal life during the Quaternary period. The remains of creatures now only capable of living in a severe climate lie side by side with those dwelling now only in hot regions, the reindeer and the musk-sheep with the hippopotamus and the hyæna. Sir John Lubbock explains the presence of these two groups of animals by the hypothesis that they belong to different periods and to two different condi

* See Trans. Geol. Soc. Glasgow, vol. i., pt. ii. Edinburgh New Phil. Journ. 1860. Quart. Geol. Journ., London, 1869, p. 209. † Matériaux pour l'Histoire de l'Homme, 1869, p. 376.

British Postglacial Mammals, Quart. Geol. Journ., 1869.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »