ARCHAEOLOGY (from Gr. ἀρχαῖα, ancient things, and λόγος, theory or science), a general term for the study of antiquities. The precise application of the term has varied from time to time with the progress of knowledge, according to the character of the subjects investigated and the purpose for which they were studied. At one time it was thought improper to use it in relation to any but the artistic remains of Greece and Rome, i.e. the so-called classical archaeology (now dealt with in this encyclopaedia under the headings of Greek Art and Roman Art); but of late years it has commonly been accepted as including the whole range of ancient human activity, from the first traceable appearance of man on the earth to the middle ages. It may thus be conceived how vast a field archaeology embraces, and how intimately it is connected with the sciences of geology (q.v.) and anthropology (q.v.), while it naturally includes within its borders the consideration of all the civilizations of ancient times.
In dealing with so vast a subject, it becomes necessary to distinguish. The archaeology of zoological species constitutes the sphere of palaeontology (q.v.), while that of botanical species is dealt with as palaeobotany (q.v.); and every different science thus has its archaeological side. For practical purposes it is now convenient to separate the sphere of archaeology in its relation to the study of the purely artistic character of ancient remains, from that of the investigation of these remains as an instrument for arriving at conclusions as to the political and social history of the nations of antiquity; and in this work the former is regarded primarily as “art” and dealt with in the articles devoted to the history of art or the separate arts, while “archaeology” is particularly regarded as the study of the evidences for the history of mankind, whether or not the remains are themselves artistically and aesthetically valuable. In this sense a knowledge of the archaeology is part of the materials from which every historical article in this encyclopaedia is constructed, and in recent years no subject has been more fertile in yielding information than “archaeology,” as representing the work of trained excavators and students of antiquity in all parts of the world, but notably in the countries round the Mediterranean. It is for its services in illuminating the days before those of documentary history and for checking and reinforcing the evidence of the raw material (the “unwritten history” of architecture, tombs, art-products, &c.), that recent archaeological work has been so notable. The work of the literary critic and historian has been amplified by the spade-work of the expert excavator and explorer to an extent undreamt of by former generations; and ancient remains, instead of being treated merely as interesting objects of art, have been forced to give up their secret to the historian, as evidence for the period, character and affiliations of the peoples who produced and used them. The increase of precise knowledge of the past, due to greater opportunities of topographical research, more care and observation in dealing with ancient remains and improved methods of studying them in museums (q.v.) and collections, has led to more accurate reading of results by a comparison of views, under the auspices of learned societies and institutions, thus raising archaeology from among the more empirical branches of learning into the region of the more exact sciences. This change has improved not only the status of archaeology but also its material, for the higher standard of work now demanded necessarily acts as a deterrent on the poorly equipped worker, and the tendency is for the general result to be of a higher quality.
The archaeological details concerning all subjects which have their “unwritten history” are dealt with in the separate articles in this work, including the ancient civilizations of Assyria, Egypt and other countries and peoples, while the articles on separate sites where excavations have been particularly noteworthy may be referred to for their special interest; see also Anthropology; Ethnology, &c. It remains here to deal generally with the early conditions of the prehistoric ancient world in their broader aspects, which constitute the starting-place for the archaeologist in various parts of the world at different times, and the foundations of our present understanding of the primitive epochs in the history of man.
The beginning of archaeology, as the study of pre-documentary history, may be broadly held to follow on the last of the geological periods, viz., the Quaternary, though it is claimed, and with some reason, that traces of man have been found in Quaternary period. deposits of the preceding or Tertiary period. Although there is no valid reason against the existence of Tertiary man, it must be confessed that the evidence in favour of the belief is of a very inconclusive and unconvincing kind. The discussion has been mainly confined to the two questions (1) whether the deposit containing the relics was without doubt of Tertiary times, and (2) whether the objects found showed undoubted signs of human workmanship. Vast quantities of material have been brought forward, and endless discussions have taken place, but hitherto without carrying entire conviction to the minds of the more serious and cautious students of prehistoric archaeology. A chronic difficulty, and one which can never be entirely removed, is our ignorance of the precise methods of nature’s working. It is an obvious fact, that natural forces, such as glacial action, earthquakes, landslips and the like, must crush and chip flints and break up animal remains, grinding and scratching them in masses of gravel or sand. If it were possible to determine with precision what’ were the peculiarities of the flint or bone, thus altered by natural agencies, it would be easy to separate them from others purposely made by man to serve some useful end. Our present knowledge, however, does not allow us to go so far in dealing with the ruder early attempts of man to fabricate weapons or implements. Even the one feature that is commonly held to determine human agency, the “bulb of percussion,” cannot be considered satisfactory, without collateral evidence of some kind. Flint breaks with what is called a conchoidal fracture, as do many other substances, such as glass. Thus on the face of a flint flake, at the end where the blow was delivered to detach it from the nodule, is seen a lump or bulb, which is usually regarded as evidence of human workmanship. To produce such a bulb it is necessary to deliver a somewhat heavy blow of a peculiar kind at a particular point of a flattened surface; and the operation requires a certain amount of practice. The fulfilment of all the necessary conditions might well be a rare occurrence in nature, and the bulb of percussion has come to be regarded as the hall-mark of human manufacture; but recent investigations have shown that the intervention of man is not necessary and that natural forces frequently produce a similar result. When, therefore, it is a question whether or no a group of rude flints are of human workmanship, evidence of design or purpose in their forms must be established. If this be found, and in addition if a number of flints, all having this character of design, be found together, then and then only is it safe to admit them into the domain of archaeology. There can be no doubt that much time and energy have been wasted, and a number of intelligent workers have been fruitlessly occupied in following up archaeological will-o’-the-wisps, through neglecting this elementary precaution.
Whether or no man produced flint implements before Quaternary times, it would seem to be a necessity that he should have passed through an earlier stage, before arriving at the precision of workmanship and the fixed types Eolithic. found in the old Stone Age deposits known as palaeolithic. It is now claimed that this earlier and ruder stage has actually been discovered in what are known as the Plateau-gravels of Kent, in Belgium, and even in Egypt, and the name of eolithic (ἠὠς, dawn, λίθος, stone) has been bestowed upon them. The controversy as to the human character has been very keen, some alleging that the fractured edges and even the definite and fairly constant types are entirely produced by natural forces. Sir Joseph Prestwich in England, and Alfred Rutot in Belgium, the latter arguing from his own discoveries in that country, have strongly supported the artificial character of the relics. On the other hand it is pointed out that the existence of these implements on the high levels of Kent furnished confirmation of Sir Joseph Prestwich’s theory of the submergence of the district, and that his support was thus somewhat biassed, while the geological conditions in Belgium are not quite comparable with those of the Kent plateau; and the Belgian evidence, whatever it may be worth in itself, is of no avail as corroboration of the Kentish case. It is to be regretted that the conditions are not more convincing, for, as stated above, they agree fairly well with the evolution theory of man’s handiwork, and if they could be accepted, would carry back the evidences to a more remote time when the physical features of Kent were of a very different character. The critics of eoliths have brought forward some facts that at first sight would seem to be of a very damaging nature. It was observed that in the process of cement manufacture the flints that had passed through a rotary machine in which they were violently struck by its teeth or knocked against each other, possessed just those features that were claimed as indisputable proof of man’s handiwork, and that even the forms were the same. These statements have, of course, been met by counter-statements equally forcible, and the matter may still be considered to be in suspense. The great struggle, therefore, is now more closely restricted to the nature of the chipping than as to the quasi-geological question, and if the solution is ever to be found, it will be by means of a closer examination and a better understanding of the difference between intentional and accidental flaking.
On reaching the Palaeolithic period we come to firmer ground and to evidence that is more certain and generally accepted. This evidence is fundamentally geological, inasmuch as the age of the archaeological remains is dependent Palaeolithic. upon that of the beds in which they are found. That they were deposited at the same time is now no longer questioned. The flints are found to have the same colour and surface characteristics as the unworked nodules among which they lie, and are generally rolled and abraded in the same way. This in itself suffices to show that the worked and unworked flints were deposited in their present stratigraphical position at the same time. The remote age of the beds themselves is demonstrated by the presence of bones of animals either now extinct or found only in far distant latitudes, such as the mammoth, reindeer, rhinoceros, &c., and in some cases these bones are found in such relative positions as to prove they were deposited with the flesh still adhering to them, and also that the animal was contemporary with the makers of the flint implements. Evidence of a somewhat different kind is provided for the palaeolithic period by certain caverns that have been discovered in England and on the continent. In these limestone caves palaeolithic man has lived, slept, eaten his food and made his tools and weapons. Much of his handiwork has been left, with the bones of animals on which he lived, scattered upon the floor of the cave, and has been sealed up by the infiltration of lime-charged water, so that the deposit remains, untouched to our own day, below an impermeable bed of stalagmite. In such circumstances there can be no doubt of the contemporaneous character of the remains, natural or artificial, if found on the same level. Moreover, so far as type is a criterion of age, the flint tools found in the cave deposits tend to confirm the date assigned to those of the river-gravels.
It is fairly certain that about the middle of the Tertiary period the northern hemisphere possessed a temperate climate, such that even the polar regions were habitable. But the physical aspect of northern Europe was very different from that of Quaternary times. North of a line drawn roughly from southern England to St Petersburg all was sea. It was during the latter half of the Tertiary period that the continent assumed its present general form, though even in Pleistocene (Quaternary) times England and Ireland formed part of it. The great change of climate from temperate to arctic conditions during the latter half of the Tertiary period has been interpreted in various ways, no one of which is yet universally accepted. There can be little doubt, however, that no single cause was responsible for so complete a change. There may have been some alteration in the relative positions of the earth and the sun, which would conceivably have produced it; but what is practically certain is that the physical geography of northern Europe was affected by considerable difference in level, and it is clear that the raising of mountain ranges and the general elevation of the continent must necessarily have reacted on the climatic conditions. If in the later Tertiary time we find that the Alps, the Carpathians and the Caucasus have come into existence, it is not surprising to find that these huge condensers have brought about a humid condition of the continent to such an extent that this phase has been called the Pluvial Age. The humidity, however, was in some ways only a secondary result of the protrusion of high mountain ranges. The primary cause of the physical conditions that we now find in the valleys and plains was the formation of glaciers. These rivers of ice descending far into the lower levels during the winter months, melted during the summer, causing enormous volumes of water to rush through the valleys and over the plains, carrying with it masses of mud and boulders which were left stranded sometimes at immense distances. The intensity and force of the rivers thus formed would depend upon two factors, first the extent of the watershed, and secondly, the height of the mountains from which the water was derived. The result of increasing cold was that in course of time the northern hemisphere was surmounted by a cap of ice, of immense thickness (about 6000 ft.) in the Scandinavian area and gradually becoming thinner towards the south, but at no time does it seem to have extended quite to the south of England. This is proved by the absence of boulder-clay (glacial mud) in the districts south of London. These arctic conditions were not, however, continuous, but alternated with periods of a much less rigorous temperature during what has been called the Ice Age. Remains both of mammals and plants have been found, under conditions that are held to prove this alternation.
Such being the natural forces at work remodelling the surface of the earth; forces of such gigantic power as to be almost inconceivable in these more placid times, it can easily be understood how, in the course of the many thousands of years before the Quaternary period, when the surface of the globe attained its present aspect, the powerful river-systems of Europe wore their beds deep into the solid rocks. In some cases in Europe the erosive power of the river has worn through its bed to such an extent that the present stream is some hundreds of feet lower than its forerunner in palaeolithic times. From various causes, however, the rivers did not always wear for themselves a deep channel, but spread themselves over a wide area. This seems to have been the case with the Thames near London: the river-bed is not of any great depth, but at various periods it has occupied the space between Clapton on the north-east and Clapham on the south-west. It must not be assumed that the whole of this area of 7 m. or more was filled by the river at any one time, but rather that during the course of the palaeolithic period the river had its bed somewhere between these two limits. For instance, it is probable that at one period the bank of the Thames was at a point nearly midway between the northern and southern limits, where Gray’s Inn Road now stands. It was here that the earliest recorded palaeolithic 346 implement (now in the British Museum) was found towards the close of the 17th century in association with mammoth bones. But it is safe to say that the Thames was a very much wider and more imposing river in palaeolithic times than it is now, when its average width at London is under 300 yds. As, in the course of ages, it changed its bed and by degrees lessened in size and volume, it would leave, on the terraces formed on its banks, the deposits of brick-earth and gravel brought down by the stream, and it is on these terraces that the relics of palaeolithic man are found, sometimes in great quantities. It will be obvious from the nature of the case that the highest terraces, and those farthest apart, should contain the earliest implements; but it is by no means easy in the present state of the land surface and with our present knowledge, to place the remains in their relative sequence. More accurate observation, and a better understanding of the conditions under which these deposits were made, should solve many such problems. Much light has been thrown upon many points by Worthington Smith, who has excavated with great care two palaeolithic floors at Clapton and at Caddington near Dunstable. The latter discovery was of quite exceptional interest as confirming the geological evidence by that of archaeology. In this case the original level at which palaeolithic man had worked was clearly defined, and was prolific of dark-grey implements, which had evidently been made on the spot, as Smith found that many of the flakes could be replaced on the blocks or cores from which they had been struck by palaeolithic man; there were also the flint hammers that had been used in the operation. Above the floor was a layer of brick-earth, again covered by contorted drift, in which also implements occurred, but of a very different kind from those found below. In place of being sharp and unabraded, and with the refuse flakes accompanying them, they were rolled and disfigured, of an ochreous tint, and evidently had been transported in the drift from a much higher level now no longer existing, as the site where they occurred is the highest in the vicinity, about 500-600 ft. above sea-level. Here then we have a clear case of palaeolithic man being compelled to abandon his working place on the lower level by the descent of the waters containing the products of his own forerunners, probably then very remote. In this case the sequence of the various strata may be considered certain, and the remains thus accurately determined and correlated are naturally of extreme value and importance. But even this does not enable us to diagnose another discovery unless the internal evidence is equally clear and conclusive. One point of importance that may be noted is that the older abraded implements were mostly of the usual drift type, while the more recent ones from the “floor” contained forms more highly developed and elaborated, such as occur in the French caves. Explorations of this kind, carefully conducted in a strictly scientific spirit by men of training and intelligence, are the only means by which real progress will be made in this puzzling branch of archaeology.
Although many problems yet remain to be solved in England, its small area, and the relatively large number of workers, have together sufficed to put the main facts of the earlier stages of man’s existence on a fairly satisfactory basis. In France, owing to the richness of the results, a great number of trained and ardent workers have made equal, if not better, progress. But unfortunately the real scientific spirit is not invariably found. Not so long ago an apparently serious writer in a well-known scientific magazine gave a detailed account of his studies in primitive methods and explained at great length his attempts at the manufacture of flint and stone implements. He found by the processes he adopted that it was much more easy for him to produce a polished implement than one merely flaked. From this fact he seriously argued that a great mistake had been made in the relative ages of the neolithic and palaeolithic periods, and that the former must necessarily be the older of the two. The evidence of geological position and of the mammalian remains accompanying the obviously older flints was entirely disregarded, just as on the other hand it was forgotten that in regard to neolithic remains the proofs were in every way in favour of a relatively modern origin. Such attempts not only bring the serious study of early man into disrepute, but tend to retard the progress of real knowledge and are therefore to be deplored and when possible discouraged.
Caves (q.v.) have been at all periods regarded as something uncanny and mysterious, with perhaps a tinge of the supernatural. In classical times they were associated with semi-divine beings, with oracles, and even with the Cave Period. gods themselves, while half the legends of dwarfs and gnomes that run through the folk-lore of medieval and modern Europe are associated with caves. They have been used as shelters or habitations at all times, and in examining them it is fully as necessary to sift the evidence of age as it would be in dealing with the river-gravels. Their exploration in the first instance may well have been due to chance, but it is fairly certain that during the 16th century the search for the horn of the unicorn as an antidote to disease, was responsible for the opening up of a certain number. Among the finds were no doubt the fossil bones of Quaternary animals to which mythical names and imaginary properties were attached, and the popular belief in such amulets naturally gave a great impetus to the search. It is, however, only a little more than a century ago that these investigations took anything like a scientific turn, and even then they had only a palaeontological end in view. The idea that archaeology entered into the matter was not at all realized for some years. The remains of many extinct or migrated animals, such as the hyena, grizzly bear, reindeer and bison, were found in quantities in the now famous cave at Gailenreuth in Franconia; and later, William Buckland explored the equally well-known hyena-cave at Kirkdale in Yorkshire, where he demonstrated that these animals had lived on the spot, feeding on the mammoth, rhinoceros and other creatures that had been their prey. The remains of man, however, had not been found, nor were they even looked for. It was not until Kent’s cavern, near Torquay, was examined by the Rev. J. McEnery, that man was clearly proved to have been contemporary with these extinct beasts. So contrary was this contention to the ideas prevalent in the second quarter of the 19th century, that the pioneer in this work had died (in 1841) before the immense importance of his discovery was admitted. To Godwin Austen in the first place and to W. Pengelley in the second, with the aid of the British Association, was due the vindication of McEnery’s veracity and accuracy.
Several circumstances conspire to give a special interest to Kent’s cavern, and not the least is the fact that the age and appearance of the various strata indicate that it has been the home or the refuge of human beings at all ages even up to medieval times, and perhaps from a period even more remote than is the case elsewhere. In the black mould that formed the uppermost layer were found fragments of medieval pottery, and relatively in close proximity were ancient British and Roman remains as well as relics of the earliest days of metallurgy, in the shape of bronze fragments. The two thousand years or more that may have separated the oldest from the most modern of these later products, is as nothing in comparison with the immense intervals that lie between the earliest of them and the infinitely more remote period when gigantic mammals first inhabited the cave. Attempts have been made from time to time to express in years what the interval must have been: but as the computations have differed by hundreds of thousands of years, according to the method adopted, it is scarcely wise to do more than speculate. Beneath the black mould, containing what may be called the recent remains, was a layer of stalagmite, some feet in thickness; and under this at one place was a great quantity of charcoal, which has been with good reason assumed to show the site of fireplaces. A quantity of implements of palaeolithic type was found, but the main layer at this level consisted of a reddish clay known as cave-earth, and in this deposit were implements both of flint and horn, as well as bones of extinct animals. The flint implements were mostly of the usual river-drift type, but some were of types generally confined to cave-deposits of this period; while the barbed harpoon 347 heads, and more especially a bone needle, were definitely of the cave class, so well represented in the caves of Dordogne. Again, below the cave-earth was a breccia formed of limestone and sandstone pebbles cemented together by a calcareous paste. In this also were found implements and bones of bears.
The succession of strata indicated above may be taken as typical of the caverns used by palaeolithic man, the breccia and stalagmite flooring being in themselves proof of a very considerable age, while the association in the former, or under the latter, of remains of human handiwork, with bones of extinct animals, may be safely taken to show contemporaneous existence.
Once the mind has fairly grasped the fact that man was living at so remote a time, it is a simple and natural conclusion that he should have provided himself with weapons and tools more or less rudely fashioned from the stones he found ready to his hand. The analogy of the recently extinct Tasmanian is sufficient to show that even the meanest savage is not without such aids. But the caves of France, of the same palaeolithic period, and used by men theoretically in the same stage of culture, bring before us a race of artists of first-rate capacity, who for accuracy of observation, and for skill in indicating the character and peculiarities of the animals around them, have never been surpassed. Such a statement sounds like a contradiction in terms. We are dealing with human beings whose intellect, to judge by their physical characters, should be on a level with that of the Fuegian or the Australian black, and far below that of the Maori or the Sandwich Islander. Yet none of these gentle and relatively cultured brown races produced anything in the nature of art that can in any sense be compared with the masterly drawings or sculptures of the cave-men of France. The best-known of the engravings, that of the mammoth on a piece of ivory, is in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. It is evidently intended to be nothing more than a sketch, the lines of the finely curved tusks being repeated several times in the desire for accuracy. But the heavy lumbering walk of the ponderous beast, his attitude, and even the character of the hairy hide, are all shown or suggested with a skill and freedom that not only denotes daily familiarity with the thing represented, but a most complete mastery of the art of translating the idea into simple line. This mammoth-drawing is probably the most important and monumental of its class, but there are many others that possess artistic qualities not less remarkable, while they have in addition a grace and beauty of line not less astonishing. One of these, in the British Museum, the head of an ibex-like creature, is outlined with a decision and refinement that can scarcely be surpassed, and many other sketches in horn or stone in the same collection show a keen appreciation of the characteristic features of the different animals as well as a masterly deftness in the handling of the graving-tool. If we are forced to marvel at the graphic skill of the cave-men, their sculptures in the round are on a still higher plane, as may be seen in the figures of reindeer in ivory in the British Museum. While they are not highly finished, they show a complete understanding of the animal’s peculiar forms and contours, which are rendered in a direct, unhesitating way that should betoken a long period of artistic training and an executive power uncommon at any time. These drawings and sculptures have always been appreciated and even regarded as being of a much more advanced style than was to be expected among men who are always classed in the lower grades of culture. But enough stress has not hitherto been laid on the artistic quality of the work, which would be considered fine at any time in the world’s history. This high artistic level was attained by a race of men whom we cannot credit with any great intellectual equipment; men, moreover, who were engaged in a daily struggle for the barest necessaries of life, in a trying climate and surrounded by a fauna whose means of attack and defence were infinitely superior to their own. There are many astonishing problems in archaeology, but none so badly in need of solution. Had the discovery been confined to a single drawing or even to a single site, fraud or a misreading of the conditions might have been alleged, but the case is very different. The drawings and sculptures have been found generally enough in France to demonstrate that such artistic power was fairly common, while the question of the authenticity and period of the discoveries has long since been satisfactorily settled. It is true that the climatic conditions in pleistocene France were more favourable to man than was the case farther north, but even an agreeable climate does not necessarily produce an artistic race; if it were so, the Polynesians would probably be the greatest artists the world has ever seen. The physical remains of palaeolithic man, even when found under unquestionable conditions, are, however, so scanty, that it is unlikely that the important question of the race or races inhabiting central and northern Europe will ever be settled by their means. The evidence at present is in favour of two very different types, one dwarfish and brutal (Canstadt), the other more advanced and noble in physical character (Cro-Magnon). To the latter were due the artistic productions, and until further physical evidence is forthcoming recourse must be had to the most minute examination of the objects themselves and to accurate observation of the conditions under which they are found. So far as our present materials go, these are the only means by which more light may be thrown on the many problems of early man.
In spite of the unquestioned and unquestionable character of palaeolithic discoveries in general, it must not be assumed that there has been an absence of falsification, forgery, and what the French call “mystification”; on the contrary, such attempts to meet the demand have been common enough. Apart from Edward Simpson, who was notorious as “Flint Jack” in the middle of the 19th century, many others, both in England and on the continent of Europe, have devoted themselves to this peculiar industry. Boucher de Perthes tried to conquer the scepticism of some of his friends who doubted the human origin of the Abbeville flints, by unwisely offering his workmen a reward for the discovery of human bones in the same beds. The Moulin Quignon jaw was accordingly produced, and became the subject of much controversy; but the evidence finally showed that it had originally come from elsewhere. The cave drawings also have found their imitators in modern times. One Meillet, a man of education, took a special pleasure in the production of spurious examples, and even published an account of his pretended discoveries. But here, as in all the attempts at imitation of the cave drawings, the modern efforts were betrayed by their poor artistic quality, and a comparison of the new discoveries with the old was generally enough to disclose the forgery. Two drawings on bone of a wolf and a bear, declared to have been found in a cave at Thayingen in Switzerland, were afterwards shown to have been copied from a child’s picture-book. In Switzerland also a brisk trade was carried on some years ago in false antiquities said to come from the Lake-dwellings; and fantastic types of tools and implements were placed on the market. In Italy, too, a lively discussion has taken place of late years over the authenticity of curiously shaped flint implements from the neighbourhood of Verona; while America has provided similar food for discussion in the well-known Lenapé stone and the Calaveras skull. The former bears drawings of the French cave type, while the latter if genuine would carry back the story of man in the American continent before Pliocene times.
An apparent break in the continuity of man’s history in Europe occurs at the end of the palaeolithic period. Attempts have been made to bridge the gap by means of a “mesolithic” period (μέσος, middle); but it would Mesolithic. not seem probable that the missing links will occur at all events so far north as Britain. We leave palaeolithic man in a cold climate, surrounded by a somewhat mixed fauna that formed his prey. We know him as a hunter and artist, but the remains show that he had no knowledge of pottery till towards the close of the period. Among the humbler arts he practised at least sewing, and lived in caves or took shelter at the base of overhanging rocks; but like the Australian, he frequently camped in the open. His successor of the later Stone Age (neolithic) we find to be a very different character and with very 348 different surroundings. The configuration of the land in which he lived is practically the same as we now see it. The severe arctic conditions with the appropriate fauna had entirely disappeared, and the introduction of new arts must have radically changed his daily life. The most important of these are the training of domestic animals, agriculture, and the development of pottery. What were the burial rites of palaeolithic man we have at present no means of knowing, but for his neolithic successor we know that these were matters of great moment. The abundance of arrowheads of flint indicate the common use of the bow and arrow as a weapon, while the art of weaving marks an immense stride in the direction of comfort and civilization. Of the form and construction of his dwelling we have only a limited knowledge, derived with some uncertainty from the analogy of the dwellings for the dead (barrows) and more certainly from the remains of the villages found erected on piles on the shores of lakes.
A much-debated question arises here that cannot be passed over. The changes just mentioned are not such as would be produced by internal causes alone. Much of the evidence is in favour of neolithic man being an immigrant, coming into northern and central Europe long after palaeolithic man and his characteristic fauna had disappeared. Where did the earlier race go and who are its modern representatives, if any? The answers to this question are many. W. Boyd Dawkins is of opinion that the reindeer was followed by man in its journey to the north after the retreating glaciers, and that the modern representative of palaeolithic man is the Eskimo. His arguments are ingenious but unconvincing; they mainly consist in the similarity of the habits of both races in using harpoons and implements of similar form and make, their power of carving and drawing on bone, the absence of pottery, disregard of the dead, &c. As to the positive evidence, it is almost enough to say that the Eskimo, like the cave-men, used the material nearest to hand that served their purpose, and that nothing is more remarkable than the similarity of primitive weapons used by widely separated peoples; while the negative evidence as to the absence of pottery is of little value; their conditions of life would allow them neither to make it nor keep it. Till recently we had no evidence at all of the treatment of the dead by palaeolithic man, but this is no longer the case; the discoveries in the Grottes de Grimaldi, Monaco, show several methods of burial, near a hearth, or in rude stone cists (see Dr Verneau in L’Anthropologie, xvii. 291). A stronger argument would be furnished if it could be shown that by his physical character the Eskimo is an intruder in his present home, and is unrelated to his neighbours. But this has not yet been done, and the skulls of the Eskimo do not resemble any of those hitherto found in the caves. In fact, what evidence there is on the subject is rather against than in favour of the wanderings northward of the inhabitants of the caves. There are indications, on the other hand, that in the south of France, in the Pyrenees, the reindeer was in existence, with man, at a later period than that of the caves, while the type of skull is that of Cro-Magnon. Here, therefore, it may be that something like a bridging of the gap between palaeolithic and neolithic times may be forthcoming. But it still remains to be found, and for the present we must be content with uncertainty.
The neolithic period has often been loosely called the age of polished stone, from the fact that in no case has a polished or ground stone implement been found in a palaeolithic deposit. The term is not only loose but inaccurate. Neolithic. In the first place, there is no reason why the cave-men should not be found to have polished a stone implement on occasion, for they habitually polished their weapons of bone. Secondly, neolithic man was by no means uniform in his methods; he polished or ground the surfaces of such tools or weapons as would be improved by the process; but to take a common instance, he found that the efficacy of his arrow-point was sufficient when chipped only, and polishing is only occasionally found, as in Ireland. Many other implements also are found in neolithic times with no trace of grinding and yet with every appearance of being complete.
The most trustworthy evidence with regard to this and the succeeding archaeological periods is to be found in the grave-mounds. For the earlier part of the neolithic age, however, these are by no means fruitful of relics. From their shape they are called in England “long barrows” to distinguish them from the round barrows which belong to a succeeding time, though evidence is being accumulated to show that this division is not of universal application. Long barrows are by no means of such frequent occurrence in Britain as the round variety; they are most common in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Dorset, and occur as far north as Caithness. Some of them contain within the mound a stone chamber, at times with a gallery leading to it, and in the chamber the interment or interments took place. Similar barrows have been found on the continent of Europe, and both in Britain and abroad have one feature in common, viz. that no metal, with possibly the exception of gold, has ever been found in them. This similarity of burial custom, though it may conceivably indicate intercourse, certainly does not prove identity of race, as has been sometimes claimed. The type of skulls found in the interment is clear evidence against such an assumption.
In Britain, the burials were at times by inhumation only, and occasionally a great number of bodies were interred in the same barrow: at others, cremation had preceded burial. Another remarkable feature is that in many instances it is certain from the relative position of the bones of the unburnt burials that the corpse had been allowed to decay before the burial took place. This curious practice is known among many savage tribes of the present day. Its occurrence in Britain has been adduced in favour of the prevalence of cannibalism at this time, and not altogether without reason. While metal is entirely absent in the long barrows (and in fact relics of any kind are very rarely found), it is significant that in the succeeding round barrows also metal occurs but seldom, and then always of the types attributed to the earliest part of the Bronze Age. When, therefore, the mound pottery is of a class that may well be anterior to metal, and no metal is found with the burial, it is not unreasonable to assign such barrows to the Stone Age. A similar argument may be applied to the stone implements, but in the opposite direction. Many stone implements are found either isolated, or perhaps with no other relics that serve to fix their period. The material alone is often considered sufficient evidence of their being before the age of metals; but it is at any rate quite certain that a large number of stone axes, more particularly those with a socket for the handle, belong really to the Bronze Age. This uncertainty makes any account of the neolithic age difficult, unless the material is taken as the main basis.
Neolithic man, like his forerunners, still recognized that flint and allied stones provided the best material for his cutting and piercing implements, though he made use to a great extent of other hard stones that came ready to his hand. The mining of flint was undertaken on a large scale, and great care was taken to get down to the layer containing the best quality. In Norfolk, at Grime’s Graves, and in Sussex, at Cissbury near Worthing, the flint shafts have been carefully explored by William Greenwell, General Pitt-Rivers and others. The system was to sink two shafts some little distance apart and deep enough to reach the desired flint-bed, and the two shafts were then joined by a gallery at the bottom. At Grime’s Graves large numbers of deer’s horns were found, which had evidently been used as picks, as is proved by the marks found in the chalk walls; and the horn had been trimmed for the purpose. Cups of chalk were also found in the galleries and were believed to have been used as lamps. At Cissbury great quantities of unfinished and defective implements were found in the work, as well as horn tools, as in Norfolk. At such factories the primitive appliances correspond very closely with those in use among existing savages. The pebble was used as a hammer or an anvil, and the more delicate flaking was done by pressure with a piece of horn rather than by blows. Naturally enough the number of completed implements found in these factories is small; the finished tools would be bartered at once and carried away from the factory. All the 349 animal remains found in these pits belong to present geological conditions, thus emphasizing what has been stated above, that the absence of polished implements is no evidence for great age. Many other factories have been found in Britain, in Ireland and on the continent of Europe: at Grovehurst in Kent, at Stourpaine near Blandford, at Whitepark Bay, county Antrim, and in Belgium at Spiennes. Among the North American Indians the method would seem to have been somewhat different. After journeying to the site of a suitable quality of stone, they did not always complete the implements on the spot, but made a number of oval chipped disks of good stone which they carried away and worked up into the required implements at their leisure. These disks bear a strong likeness to some of the ovate implements from the Drift in Europe; in fact, but for the difference of surface condition or patina, they would be identical.
While the severe climatic conditions that preceded the neolithic age restricted the presence of man to the more temperate parts of the globe, it may be assumed that in neolithic times there was nothing to prevent him from occupying the greater part of the earth’s surface, short of the neighbourhood of the two poles. Thus it may be expected that an age of stone will be found, if looked for, in every part of the globe. So far as our present knowledge goes, all is in favour of the use of stone before metals, in all countries. The one material requires no special treatment before being adapted to man’s use, while the other demands considerable knowledge, even if reasoning power have but little place in the process. Thus the probabilities are here borne out by the facts. In the extensive “kitchen-middens” of Japan are found great numbers of chert implements mixed with pottery of a primitive type, recalling that of European early Bronze Age barrows, while the succeeding periods of metal are equally clear. Even in the Far East, therefore, the same sequence is to be observed. In China, the conditions are more obscure. The superstitious regard for ancestors has prevented the exploration of ancient tombs in that country, and thus systematic search has been impossible, while the precise details of the discovery of such relics as have come to light are difficult to obtain. In spite of the assertion that China had no Stone Age, it is surely more probable, in the absence of exact knowledge, that she followed the normal course. Modern territorial divisions, more especially if they are independent of the natural physical conditions of the land, such as mountain ranges, great rivers and the like, have but little value in considering the race problems of remote ages. If, therefore, we find that, in the countries bordering on what is now the Chinese empire, the ancient inhabitants followed the same broad lines of culture that are evident elsewhere, it is easy to believe that China too was normal in this respect. The negroes and Bantu races of Africa also were thought to have passed direct to the use of iron, perhaps owing to the existence on the Nile of a civilization of great antiquity, which enabled them to pass over the intervening stages. Inherently improbable, this is now known not to have been the case. Stone implements, whether ground or merely chipped, have been discovered on the Congo, and more recently on the Zambezi. It is quite true that in both cases they are found in superficial deposits, and may be of any age. But here again the probabilities are greatly in favour of their having been in use before iron was known. While stone tools, such as knives or arrow-heads, may possess qualities that render them superior to bronze or copper, it is certain that once the working of iron was understood, its superiority to stone would at once be perceived, and the stone tools be discarded. There can be little doubt that investigations in Central Africa will demonstrate that the same course was followed there as elsewhere. In South Africa, in Egypt and in Somaliland large quantities of stone implements have been discovered, and of the great age of most of them there can be no doubt. Some from the banks of the Nile have even been claimed as “eolithic”; but here, as in Europe, We can only say that the case is not proven: General Pitt-Rivers did good service in Egypt by discovering among the stratified gravels near Thebes a number of rude flints bearing unmistakeable signs of human workmanship, but he described them merely as of “palaeolithic type,” and deplored the absence of mammalian remains in the gravels. At the same time he pointed out that the bulk of the implements claimed as palaeolithic (and, it may be, correctly) are found on the surface, and therefore cannot be dissociated from the surface types; hence form alone cannot be trusted to determine age. Further, we are by no means well informed as to the value of patination in flints found on the surface in Egypt. The depth and intensity of the patination would no doubt have a direct relation to the age of the implement, if only it could be proved that all of them had been equally subjected to the conditions that produced the discoloration. But this is clearly impossible. Some implements may conceivably have been continuously on the surface of the desert from the time they were made, and have been acted upon by the sun and air for many thousands of years, while others, though of equal age, may have been covered by sand or otherwise protected for a large part of the intervening centuries. Patination, therefore, like form, can only claim a conditional value. It is at the best an uncertain indication of age, as great age may be possible without it. Similarly, in Somaliland, the condition of the implements is very curious, and in some respects puzzling, while their forms resemble those from the Drift in Europe. But as to the climatic conditions we know nothing, and it is therefore useless to speculate on the condition of the stones; as to the geology we know next to nothing, and no mammalian remains give us a helping hand, while the form alone is a dangerous foundation for argument.
Investigations in the more remote parts of the world, though they may occasionally produce some startling novelty in the history of mankind, can scarcely be expected to furnish the same trustworthy continuous story as is to Europe and America. be found in the European area. Here history provides us with a fairly truthful account of what has happened for a period varying from two to three thousand years, or in some places even longer, and we are thus able to judge whether particular discoveries come into the historical stage or not. In more primitive lands where history (if there be any) partakes more of the character of mythical tradition, the task of defining the period to which particular discoveries belong is rendered much more difficult. In America, where history may be said to have begun five hundred years ago, such a feat is of course impossible, until a great deal of work on comparative lines has been accomplished. The accounts of the civilization of Mexico and Peru at the time of the Spanish conquest show a state of culture which in some respects must have put the Spaniards to shame, while in others it was primitive in the extreme. As regards internal communications, the working of gold and copper, and the manufacture and decoration of pottery, these American kingdoms were on a level with all but the most advanced nations; but of history in the true sense of the word they have none. In spite of this, it is by no means a hopeless task to disentangle the apparent confusion of their archaeology. It is now fairly well known what were the races or tribes that inhabited particular districts, and it is thus easy to make a corpus of the types adopted by the various peoples. This is the first certain step in the application of archaeological method. By degrees, as these types become familiar to the trained eye, it will not be difficult to arrange them in a progressive series, from the earliest in style to the latest. That this will be done by the archaeologists of the American continent, even with the present scanty materials, there can be little doubt. Numbers of young and enthusiastic workers have now had a good training in exploration in historical lands, and will usefully employ their experience on the antiquities of their own country. But if once a key be found to the ancient Mexican inscriptions, so plentifully scattered through the ancient monuments, it may be that enlightenment will come even more suddenly and more surely. The one problem that is of the greatest interest still awaits solution, viz. whether there is any relation, in culture or more remotely in race, between the inhabitants of ancient America and those of Europe or Asia. One thing is certain, that if there be any connexion, it is of 350 infinite remoteness. But it is at any rate noteworthy that the same designs, patterns and even games are found in ancient Mexico and in India or China; and whether these resemblances arise from relations between the peoples using them or from accident, is a problem well worth investigation.
In countries like Scandinavia or Switzerland, the story of the early ages is clear and comparatively free from complications. The one by its remoteness was left to develop with but little help from the rest of Europe up to historical times; the other, protected on so many sides by its mountain ranges, seems to have enjoyed a peaceful existence during the Stone and Bronze Ages. A community of fishermen and agriculturists, they led a calm domestic life on the edges of their many lakes where they constructed dwellings on piles with only a gangway to the shore, to prevent the attacks of predatory animals. The practice of building houses in lakes was a common one not only in Switzerland, but also in Britain and in Ireland, as in modern times among the natives of New Guinea. Besides securing the safety of the inhabitants, it had the not unimportant advantage of being more healthy; all refuse of food and other useless matter could at once be thrown into the water where it would be harmless. A similar form of dwelling is the Irish “crannog,” constructed on an island or shoal in a lake, in some cases artificially heightened so as to bring it above water. These crannogs were probably inhabited in Ireland up to comparatively recent times, if one may judge by the remains found on the sites.
It must not be forgotten that although the neolithic period had many phases, yet its duration is in no way comparable to the incalculable length of the palaeolithic age. For a variety of reasons it is thought that one of the earliest stages of neolithic times is represented by the now well-known kitchen-middens (refuse-heaps) of Denmark. These heaps are often of great size, sometimes reaching 10 ft. in height, and nearly 350 yds. in length. Here along the coast line the natives of Denmark lived, apparently building their huts upon the mounds and cooking their food upon hearths of stone. The conditions of their daily life would seem to have resembled those of the natives of Tierra del Fuego. Their implements of flint seem to have been chipped only, and it is conjectured that the few polished and more highly finished implements that have been found in the middens are importations from more cultured tribes living inland. Their food was in very great part composed of shell-fish, though they evidently caught and ate various kinds of deer, boar and a variety of carnivorous animals. The race which made these mounds is believed to have been akin to the Lapps, and their dwellings can hardly have been anything more than the rudest protection from the weather. The Swiss lake-dwellers were far more advanced, even in the Stone Age; their dwellings were elaborately planned and constructed, and remains of them have been plentifully found in the various Swiss lakes. Various forms of construction were adopted: in one the foundations consisted of poles driven into the bed of the lake; in others a kind of framework simply rested on the bottom, and in a third, the substructure was formed of layers of sticks reaching from the bottom of the lake up to the surface. The walls were of wattle, closed up with clay to keep out the weather; the hearths were of stone slabs, and the floors of clay well trodden down. Practically the same type of dwelling seems to have continued through the Stone and Bronze Ages, though on some sites no metal whatever is found and it is therefore assumed that these are of the earlier period. These people cultivated the land, growing wheat and barley; they were also hunters and fishermen, capable of manufacturing pottery without the aid of the wheel, which had not yet come into use so far north; and they wove mats and garments, while ropes and netting are plentiful. Their tools and weapons were made of stone, and to a great extent of deer’s horn. Human remains are hardly ever found on the sites of the lake-dwellings, and it is therefore uncertain what were the social affinities of the people; but the evidence of the sites is in favour of the same race being continuous into the Bronze Age, when their condition was more comfortable, as is shown by the abundant remains of domesticated animals.
Among the most notable and obvious relics of prehistoric times, both in Britain and in many other countries such as Spain, Portugal, France and even India, are gigantic circles and avenues of stone and dolmens (see Stone Monuments). These enduring monuments have excited Stone Age relics. the wonder of countless generations, and lent themselves to superstitious practices down to modern times. But the precise purpose for which they were erected and even the period to which they belonged, had never been definitely settled. They had been called burial places of great chiefs, and not unnaturally had been thought by others to have been temples or places of primitive worship used by the Druids, who moreover were often credited with their erection. Obviously such a question called for settlement, and the British Association in the year 1898 appointed a committee to investigate these stone circles with a view to ascertaining their age. Operations were begun at the well-known circle of Arbor Low, south of Buxton in Derbyshire; careful excavations were made through the ditch and the encircling mound and also within the circle, and although the evidence was not of the most complete kind, yet the committee came to the conclusion that the circle belonged to the end of the neolithic age. At Arbor Low all the stones are now lying on the ground (although, to judge from the other circles in England, they were certainly once upright), and the opportunities for surveying were thereby much diminished. It is a fortunate circumstance, therefore, that the fall of one of the stones at Stonehenge (q.v.) at the end of the 19th century, and the increasingly perilous state of some of the others, caused the owner, with the advice of the Society of Antiquaries of London, to undertake the raising of the great leaning stone in the interior of the circle. The work was superintended by W. Gowland, F.S.A., who made special investigations during the necessary digging, for the purpose of recovering any remains of man’s handiwork that had been left by the builders of the monument. In this he was very successful, finding in the course of the very limited excavation at the base of the monolith, a great number of stone mauls or hammers that corresponded so nearly with the bruised surfaces of the monoliths, that there can be no doubt of their having been used to dress the standing stones.
From a review of all the evidence of an archaeological nature that was to be obtained, Gowland came to the conclusion that the construction of Stonehenge belonged to the latter part of the neolithic age. No trace of a metal implement occurred in any of the debris. This would of itself be an interesting fact, but it became infinitely more interesting from researches in quite another direction, which brought corroborative evidence of a curious kind. For many years Sir Norman Lockyer and Prof. Penrose were engaged in examining the orientation of temples in Egypt and Greece, with a view to determining on what astronomical principle, if any, the plans had been laid down. With a rectangular plan, and with portions of the interior still well defined, they were able by elaborate calculation to determine that the temples had been definitely planned with relation to the rising or setting of the sun or of a particular star. Having been successful in these investigations they proceeded to apply the test to Stonehenge. The experiment was made on the longest day in the year 1901. Owing to a gradual change in the obliquity of the earth’s orbit, the point of sunrise on corresponding days of each year is not constant; and though the difference is hardly perceptible from year to year, in the course of centuries it becomes great enough for use as a measure of time. Enough remains of the monument to show the direction of sunrise at the time that Stonehenge was erected, it being always assumed that the coincidence of the main axis with the central line of the Avenue was designed with reference to sunrise on the longest day of the year. At the date of the experiment it was found that the sun had shifted nearly two diameters in the interval, and this variation gives a date of about 1680 B.C., which practically confirms the verdict of archaeology and seems to prove, moreover, that Stonehenge was a temple of the sun.
Stonehenge therefore may be taken as marking for Britain the close of the neolithic period and heralding the dawn of a new 351 era, in which the inhabitants of the British Isles first acquired the art of working metal.
There is reason to believe that the transition from the use of stone to that of bronze was not due to the peaceful advance of civilization, but rather to the irruption of an Aryan race from the south-east of Europe into the countries Bronze Age. to the west and north. Of these people the Celts are to some extent the representatives at a somewhat more recent period. Here, however, we are dealing with terms the precise meaning of which is not yet generally admitted, and which, moreover, have too intimate a relation to the problems of philology to be fully discussed here (see Indo-European). The term Aryan (q.v.) itself is not free from objections. It was held by Max Müller to relate to a language and a civilization that took its rise in Central Asia, while others now contend that, although it is the mother language of the Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Teutonic and Celtic languages, it might equally well have originated in Europe. However this may be, and even this brief statement shows how wide a field the arguments would cover, there can be little doubt that the Bronze Age Celts were of this stock, and that in course of time they gradually spread their language and culture over a large part of Europe. Whether or no the knowledge of bronze started from one or more centres, it gradually spread from the south-east of Europe until it reached Scandinavia; the dates being roughly in Crete, 3000 B.C.; in Sicily, 2500 B.C.; in central France, 2000 B.C.; in Britain and in Scandinavia 1800 B.C. The appearance of the Celts in Britain is indicated by the presence of the round barrows. They were a fairly tall, short-headed race, using cremation and also inhumation in their burials, skilful in the manufacture of pottery and of the simpler forms of bronze implements, and freely using bone, jet, and at times amber, while gold was well known and evidently greatly esteemed. In the early centuries of the Bronze Age, swords, spears and shields were apparently quite unknown, the principal metallic products being flat axes, simple knives or daggers, and small tools or ornaments. In the burial places the bodies, if unburnt, are nearly always found in a crouching position, as if in the attitude of sleep; if cremated, the burnt bones are generally enshrined in an urn under the tumulus, the burial being sometimes in a cist formed of large stones. The pottery vessels are remarkable in more ways than one. In the first place they would seem to have been specially made for the burial rites, for whenever domestic pottery has been found, it is of quite a different character, unornamented and simple in outline. It must be confessed, however, that this latter is by no means common. The sepulchral vessels are at times highly decorated, and sometimes of great size. They are invariably hand made, and though they are by no means well fired they are never sun-dried, as is often said to be the case. A common kind of decoration is produced by impressing twisted cords in the damp clay, and this is believed with some reason to have had its origin in the practice of winding cords round the unbaked vessel to prevent distortion before or during the process of firing. That operation would of course burn away the cord and leave only its impression on the urn. Other forms of ornament are also used, incised lines in rudely geometrical designs, impressions of the end of a stick, and at times rows of hollows produced by the finger or thumb. The method of the burial, beyond giving an insight into the art of the period, also helps us to realize to some extent the ideas of primitive man. The underlying reason for careful and ceremonial burial is not always readily understood, apart from a knowledge of the ritual, such as existed in ancient Egypt. But in the Bronze Age in Britain it was the custom to bury with the dead not only carefully made vessels which doubtless contained food for the journey to the lower world, but also the ornaments and weapons of the deceased. Often the bonea of a pig have been found in the grave, doubtless representing part of the provender which could not conveniently be placed in the so-called food-vessel. Such practices indicate with a fair amount of certainty a belief in a future life in another world, where probably the conditions were thought to be much the same as in this. The burial of the weapons and other property of a dead man is, however, not always due to the belief that he may need them in some future state. The reason may well be that it would be thought unlucky for a survivor to use them.
Just as the neolithic age was immeasurably shorter than the palaeolithic, but was notable for great improvements in the arts of life, so the Bronze Age in its turn was shorter than the neolithic age, and again witnessed even more marked advance in culture. It is in fact an illustration of the truism that each step in knowledge renders all that follow less laborious; but it is not easy to understand how the transition from stone to metal came about, nor why bronze came to be the chosen metal rather than iron. Bronze, in the first place, is a composite metal, a mixture of copper and tin, while iron can be at once reduced from its ores; indeed, in the form of meteoric iron, it is already metallic, and needs but a hammer to produce whatever form may be wanted. From the archaeological point of view, there is, however, good reason for believing that bronze preceded iron. The forms of axes that are without doubt the earliest, are in outline much the same as the stone prototype, being only thinner in proportion. Then again, iron implements are never found on the earlier sites, and if they had been in existence some of them certainly would remain: further, at the end of the Bronze Age it is found that the forms of weapons in that metal are exactly copied in iron, as, for instance, at Hallstatt (q.v.) in the Salzkammergut, the famous cemetery which best illustrates the passage from the use of bronze to that of iron. It has been claimed that bronze was preceded by copper, a sequence which seems inherently probable; and whether or no it was general enough or enduring enough to constitute a period, there can be no reasonable doubt that in the Mediterranean area, and in central Europe, as well as in Ireland, great numbers of implements were made of copper alone without any appreciable admixture of tin. The casting of pure copper presents certain difficulties, in that the metal is not adapted for anything but a mould open to the air, and this would limit its utility, until the discovery that tin in a certain proportion (roughly 1 : 9) not only made the resulting metal much harder and better fitted for cutting-tools and weapons, but at the same time rendered possible the use of closed moulds.
There are thus two problems in connexion with the history of the Bronze Age. How was the metal discovered? And by whom or where? As to the first, it must be remembered that in some parts of the world, e.g. in China and in Cornwall, copper and tin are found together, and it may well be that tin was first accidentally included as an impurity, which, had it been noticed, would have been eliminated. Once it was found to produce a more useful metal, the blend would be deliberately made, and repeated trials would eventually demonstrate the most suitable proportion of one metal to the other. The question of where it was first discovered is one that is not likely to be answered with certainty, but the one essential is the presence of the two metals in one and the same locality. Tin does not exist in either Egypt or Mesopotamia, although bronze articles from the fourth and third millennium respectively B.C. have been found in these countries. The tin to produce the mere metal must have come from some foreign country; and the choice seems to be very small. Spain at the other end of the Mediterranean is unlikely, and Britain still more so; central Asia, Asia Minor, or China again seem too remote; for the spread of metallurgy from these centres would imply a trade connexion nearly 4000 B.C. In later times, later perhaps by 3000 years, Spain and Britain were undoubtedly among the chief sources of the tin supply of Europe and of the Mediterranean generally; but it will long remain a problem where bronze was first produced. There is indeed, no real necessity for confining its origin to a single locality; it is easily conceivable that the invention occurred independently in more places than one.
The history of early metallurgy has been carefully studied by W. Gowland, who communicated the results of his researches to the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1899. In his opinion the ores from which copper was first obtained by smelting were 352 originally found as pebbles or boulders in the beds of streams, where man in the Stone Age had been accustomed to search for stones to convert into implements; and in the same way the beds of rivers were for a long subsequent period the only sources of tin. Actual mining belongs in his opinion to a far later period, and naturally had its origin in the discovery of outcrops of the metal on the surface. By the simple application of fire, lumps of ore were reduced to a smaller size, and were then prepared for smelting by further reduction to the condition of a coarse powder. This latter process was carried out in the same way that grain was crushed between two stones; and stone-mills, doubtless used for the purpose, have been found in ancient workings in Wales. The next stage would be the furnace, and there can be little doubt that this would be of the simplest kind, merely a hole in the ground with the fire covering the metal, and with nothing but a natural draught. But Gowland holds that even with these singularly inadequate appliances, copper could be smelted from the surface ores, though the output would naturally be of the most uncertain and intermittent character, depending, as it must have done, on the wind. And until the discovery of bellows or some other method of increasing the draught of air, no progress could be made in this direction. With regard to the resulting metal, viz. copper, we have certain knowledge. From time to time there are found in the earth in Britain and elsewhere, hoards of fragmentary or imperfect bronze implements, portions of axes, swords, rings, &c., all of which have been failures in castings. These hoards are assumed to have been gathered together by the bronze founders to be recast into perfect and useful implements. Now, frequently associated with these hoards are portions of cakes of pure copper, originally circular in shape, flat on one face and convex on the other, like a lens with one flat face. The form of these cakes is in itself a fair proof of the prevalence of the method of smelting described above, as it is quite clear that the convex face of the cake followed the contour of the hole in the ground above which the fire was placed. The cakes are generally found broken up into small handy blocks. This can only be done in one way, viz. by watching the cake, after the fire and slag has been raked off it, until it is on the point of becoming solid, when it is quickly pulled out of the hole and broken up. It will be noted that while the implements in these founders’ hoards are invariably of bronze, the cakes are as invariably of copper. This is at first sight puzzling, until it is realized that these founders probably carried the tin necessary for forming bronze in the form of ore, and that tin ore in its pure state is a snuff-coloured powder very easily overlooked when lying on the earth, which it might very nearly resemble in colour, though it would be much heavier. Thus it is probable that in many such discoveries the tin ore has accompanied the copper cakes and bronze fragments, but has hitherto eluded the eyes of the finder. Not only have we this conclusive evidence of the methods by which Bronze Age man produced his raw material, but the discovery of crucibles and moulds takes us a step further towards the finished implements. The crucibles are generally simple bowls of thick clay with an extension of the lip at one side to pour out the molten metal. Several of these, with plentiful traces of metal still remaining in them, were found by the brothers Siret in the Bronze Age settlement at El Argar in Murcia. In the same place also were found moulds of stone for the casting of simple triangular axes. These were of the class known as open moulds, one stone being hollowed to the desired form, the other half being simply a flat cover, with no relation to the form of the implement to be produced. From the nature of the metal, such a mould is the only kind in which the casting of an efficient copper implement would be possible; and among the objects discovered by the Sirets were articles in plenty of pure copper.
Much has been written in support of the theory that the bronze tools and implements found in this or that country must have been importations from southern and more highly civilized lands. More particularly has this been alleged with regard to Britain, which, lying as it did on the extreme limit of the ancient world, was regarded as being dependent on the continent for the more complex weapons. The constant discovery, however, of these hoards of rough metal, as well as of moulds of the highest finish for casting swords, daggers, celts, and almost every kind of ancient bronze implement and weapon known to us, provides a conclusive proof of the contrary. The occurrence of a foreign type of implement is so rare as to be a source of especial gratification to the collector who secures it; and it may be taken that, in general terms, all the bronze swords, daggers and spears found in Britain were of home manufacture. Relations with the continent, however, did exist, as is shown by the occurrence of an Irish type of gold ornament in France and Scandinavia, and by the similarity of ornamental motives in the British Isles and elsewhere. Among the continental races it is natural to find intercommunication more common, owing to the absence of natural barriers. The weapons of the Bronze Age were swords, spears, daggers and axes (celts), though the last would be equally well adapted for more peaceful purposes. The swords were usually of a narrow leaf shape, cast with the handle in one piece, the mounting of the grip and the pommel being added. For perfection of workmanship the weapons of this period have never been surpassed, and the skill of adjustment in the moulds, the fine and equal quality of the metal, and the flawless condition of the surfaces still excite wonder among the most expert of modern founders. The cutting edges of swords and “celts” were often, if not always, hammered to serve the double purpose of hardening that part of the weapon and sharpening the edge. In the case of the axe-heads (celts), this hammering had a distinct influence on the evolution of the form of the implement. The earliest celts, whether of copper or bronze, were in form, copies of their stone prototypes, and curiously enough exactly like the ordinary woodman’s axe of to-day, but of course without the socket for the handle. Hammering rendered the cutting edge both broader and thinner, giving it at the same time a curved outline. This widened curve eventually became an ornamental feature, the two ends of the cutting edge becoming curved points and adding greatly to the elegance of the outline. Later, the other edges were finished by hammering also, at times in a simple ornamental fashion; and whether for greater rigidity or for some other reason, flanges were produced in the same way on those edges, which again affected the ultimate form of the celt. The early flat celt was no doubt simply fixed in a perforated wooden handle, which would naturally tend to split if wielded with any vigour. The side-flanges were in course of time utilized to prevent this, by allowing the use of a different form of handle. In place of the simple straight handle, a branch was cut with an elbow-joint, and its shorter limb then divided into two prongs, between which the metal passed, while the flanges, beaten up from the edges, overlapped the two forks; and no doubt a lashing of sinew was added to render the whole secure. This made a good serviceable tool or weapon, and prevented the splitting of the handle; but still another step was taken. The flanges on the edges met over the prong of the handle on either side, while the upper end of the celt itself eventually became a mere septum dividing the two openings. This septum was finally judged to be useless, and done away with; and the celt was cast with one hollow only for the reception of the ends of the handle; thus the flat celt became, by a natural process of evolution and improvement, a socketed celt. It is a curious fact, however, that the modern form of axe where the handle passes through a socket in the metal itself does not seem to have been much in favour in the Bronze Age, although it was a stone form that certainly survived into the succeeding period.
This and other shortcomings in what must have been the universal weapon and implement of the race, were remedied from time to time by various improvements in the form of the bronze axe-head and the method of hafting; and the various stages of development, from the flat blade of copper or bronze to the socketed implement and even to a pattern now in use, can still be traced in the Bronze Age specimens that have come down to us.
With the discovery of iron as the ideal metal for cutting implements and weapons, we enter into the millennium before the Christian era; for roughly speaking, the development of the civilization associated with the gradual Iron age. substitution of iron for bronze began about 1000 B.C. Again we look towards the south-east of Europe for the earliest evidence of this great advance; from that quarter it gradually spread over the whole continent, reaching the more northern parts about five hundred years later. In Egypt, the home of a marvellous civilization at a very early time, the conditions were different, and there is reason to suppose that iron was known there long before it was in use on the northern side of the Mediterranean. Our knowledge of the dates at which iron was first known in parts of Asia is still very limited, and further discoveries must be awaited.
The archaeology of Ireland presents features in many respects different from those of the rest of the British Islands in the Stone and Bronze Ages. Such affinities in style as are traceable connect it rather with Scotland than with Ireland. any part of the south, a fact doubtless due to proximity as well as in part to race connexions. A special feature is the astonishing quantity of gold that was produced in Ireland during the early Bronze Age. The frequent discovery of gold ornaments of this time has enriched to a surprising degree the museum of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, while many private and public collections both in Ireland and elsewhere contain a considerable number of similar relics. If these represented the total wealth of gold of the Bronze Age the amount would probably exceed that of any ancient period in any country, except perhaps the republic of Colombia in South America. But the known remains can only be a small proportion of the original wealth. Vast quantities must have been discovered from medieval times onwards, nearly all of which would be melted down, owing to the ignorance of the finders or to the uncertainty of ownership. Further, it may be taken as certain that there still remains in the earth a great mass of the metal which may or may not be discovered at some future time. If it were by any means possible to estimate what these united categories would amount to, the result would scarcely be credited. It is well known that gold has been, and still is, found in Ireland; but it is hard to believe that there were no richer deposits than are now known. It is at any rate certain that the rivers were worked as late as the opening centuries of our era. In the Bronze Age the most characteristic ornaments were penannular objects of all sizes from a small finger ring up to an armlet, generally known as “ring money” from the difficulty of assigning a definite use to the whole series; and the flat, crescent-shaped, diadem-like objects called “lunulae,” which are perhaps even more definitely characteristic of Ireland. Such objects of gold, if ornamented at all, are, like some of the flat axe-heads, engraved with simple geometrical patterns, lozenge-shaped chequers and the like, a type of decoration in itself easily determined as being of the Bronze Age, but bearing at the same time an interesting and very curious analogy to remains of the same period from the Iberian Peninsula, more especially from Portugal. If any overland culture-relations existed between the two countries, it would be only reasonable to expect the occurrence of the objects in question in the intervening districts. But so far nothing of the kind has been discovered. Moreover, had it been an isolated instance of resemblance it might be negligible, but an equally odd similarity is found in the fact that the Irish were in the habit of grinding the faces of their flint arrow-heads, an apparently useless refinement, while the Portuguese of the early Bronze Age did the same. Again, the dolmens of Ireland bear a distinct resemblance to those of Spain and Portugal, while the French dolmens, with few exceptions in the north, have a different character. These curious points are in favour of the tradition that the original inhabitants of Ireland were of Iberian origin, and further, that they did not come overland but by sea, and there are indeed signs of extensive navigation in the Bronze Age of northern Europe. It was perhaps in the middle of our Bronze Age, say about 1000 B.C., that this Iberian race was supplanted by the Celts, who took a considerable time to emerge from their native barbarism. It is, at any rate, fairly certain that for some hundreds of years previous to this Celtic invasion, Ireland was an enormously rich country, supplying not only herself, but also Britain and part of the Atlantic seaboard with gold. The fact became eventually an ingrained tradition in the history of the country, subsisting in Irish literature for centuries after the Christian era. Such natural wealth must have produced in these early times a marked effect on the relations and culture of these Iberian Irish, and one might reasonably expect a much higher level of luxury and wealth than is indicated by the remains commonly found. With the opportunities provided by communication with the continent, and the interchange of goods, with all the chances of benefiting by ideas current among other races, it is astonishing that Ireland did not play a more prominent part in Europe, more than a thousand years before the Christian era.
While gold as a metal was known in Europe, even before copper, it is a curious fact that silver was almost unknown, and hardly ever used. One of the most interesting sites for the metal, at about the same period of which we have Mediterranean area. just been speaking in Ireland, was the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Here in the neighbourhood of Almeria have been found remains of a large and apparently prosperous population ranging from the Stone Age to the end of the Bronze Age, with houses and tombs, besides the fortifications rendered necessary, in the later period, by their possession of the rare and precious metal, silver. Rare it certainly was, for the quantity found was exceedingly small, tiny slender rings for the fingers or the ears, and rivets to hold the axe-blade in its handle; but nothing to compare with the lavish richness of the American mines. The interesting race who occupied these dwellings and finally were laid to rest in the adjoining graves were evidently connected more or less closely with the peoples inhabiting the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean.
Recent discoveries in the central Mediterranean area not only furnish new and trustworthy (though none the less surprising) dates in ancient history, but may also bridge the distance between the Levant and the Pillars of Hercules. The results achieved by Arthur Evans and other distinguished explorers in Crete (q.v.) opened a new chapter in the history of European civilization, and may fitly be compared with the excavation of Troy, Mycenae and Tiryns by Schliemann some thirty years before. The progress of archaeology in the interval can be well tested by a comparison of the discussions to which the two series of discoveries gave rise. The mistaken attributions and unfortunate animosities in connexion with earlier excavations are almost forgotten, while the brilliant discoveries in the island of King Minos have not only themselves been made on scientific principles, but are illumined by the splendid revelation of the civilizations of the Mycenaean and the pre-Mycenaean era.
A great change indeed took place in the methods of classical study during the last decade of the 19th century, a change which affected the entire character of future classical research. It was formerly the common habit among Classical. students and professors of archaeology to confine their attention and their interests entirely to classical texts and even to classical sites, rejecting as outside the scope of their studies anything that was not manifestly beautiful as art. Whatever was primitive in its aspect, or wanting in the familiar characteristics that had for centuries been associated with Greek art, was either rejected entirely or at any rate relegated to a second place, as having but a poor claim to be classed with objects of the finer periods. The result was necessarily misleading. The uninstructed majority very naturally regarded the art of Pheidian times as a thing of supernatural growth, which had been bestowed by divine favour upon a chosen spot on the earth, without a human parentage, and almost without leaving any descendants. The evolutionary methods of other branches of science, however, were by degrees brought to bear upon the sacred precincts of pure Greek art. It was found that the crude products of the second millennium B.C., the formless images evolved by the uncultured dwellers in the Mediterranean area more than a 354 thousand years before the time of Pheidias, were in truth the prototypes of the creations of himself and his contemporaries. This step being taken, the rest became easy. The most commonplace and ordinary relics were collected with as much avidity as they had formerly been rejected, in the belief that their simple forms would aid in the elucidation of their more complex and highly elaborated descendants. This minute attention, moreover, was not only given to the works of man, but even the remains of humanity received the attention they merited. It has been rightly thought, during recent years, that the question of race was a factor that deserved treatment in dealing with works of art of early times; and that natural evolution due to man’s tendency to change with time, might not be sufficient to account for the differences of type observed in human remains from the same country. For this reason, not only the objects associated with the burial have been preserved, but also the skeleton itself. This has been examined, measurements taken and recorded for comparison, and inferences made, sometimes of a surprising character. For example, if a cemetery be found with a preponderance of tall, long-headed skeletons in a district where the prevailing type of skeleton is short and brachycephalic (short-headed), the observer may reasonably expect a different kind of burial-furniture, and suspect an intruding race. In this particular respect, archaeology owes a signal debt to physical anthropology and to anthropological methods in general. The combination of the two is far more likely to lead to a reasonable and satisfactory conclusion than would be possible if the one branch of science had been pursued alone.
When once the existence of abundant remains of prehistoric man had been admitted, and their study had received recognition as a branch of science, the evidence supplied by the relics themselves and by their relation to Value of ethnology. extinct or existing animals would have sufficed to give a considerable insight into the conditions of primitive life. But, fortunately, corroborative evidence of the most useful kind was at hand, and has been of the greatest service in solving what might otherwise have been insoluble problems. Though the progress of civilization, and more especially the ever increasing rapidity of communication are rapidly changing the habits of life among the primitive peoples in various parts of the world, yet till past the middle of the 19th century, a certain number of tribes, if not races, were still in the Stone Age. Even at the present day stone-using tribes still exist, although by chance metal may be known to them. The importance of the study of their conditions of life and their technical processes, and of the collecting of their implements for the express purpose of illustrating prehistoric man, was recognized by Henry Christy (1810-1865), who had made extensive investigations and collected relics in conjunction with Edouard Lartet in the now famous caverns of the Dordogne, at a time when such explorations were somewhat of a novelty; and concurrently he formed a large collection of the productions of existing savage peoples, both collections after his death passing to the British Museum, his intention being that the one should elucidate the ether. (It is only fair to his memory, however, to state here that, by his express wish, the most important of the relics that he had obtained from the Dordogne caves were returned to France where they now are. Such instances of international courtesy are rare enough to deserve mention.) The value and interest of such a series can scarcely be over-rated. Almost till the 20th century, the Indians of North America, the Australian and Tasmanian natives, as well as those of New Zealand and the many archipelagoes of the Pacific, were, if not ignorant of the use of metals, at least habitually using stone where civilized man would use metal. The Maori made his war club of jade and the pounders for preparing his food of stone. The Australian had his stone axe-blade; and low as he stands in the culture scale, his spear-heads are chipped with an exquisite precision. The Papuan of inland New Guinea is still making his weapons of stone and wood; while until quite recently the North American Indian was making his delicate stone arrow points, and the Solomon islander his beautiful polished stone axe-blades. The knowledge gained by the study of a large series of such objects enables us to fill up very many gaps in the story of early man as told by his own remains. In fact, in this respect, the value of the comparison is much greater than could reasonably be expected; for, whatever may be the reason, nothing is more marked than the extraordinary similarity of stone implements at all times and over the whole world. An arrow-point made by a Patagonian Indian, one from a Japanese shell mound, and a third of the Stone Age from Ireland, are found to be practically identical. Whether it is that the same material and the same necessity naturally produce a like result, or whether there has existed throughout a continuity of type, is a question that will never be satisfactorily answered. The results, however, are of eminently practical value. The arrow-heads of neolithic man, which are found by hundreds all over Europe, may be seen fixed in their shafts in the hands of an American Indian; rude pieces of quartz, which unmounted would escape notice as implements, are seen to make excellent tools when mounted in a handle by the Australian black, while flakes of slate find a use when mounted as skinning knives by the Eskimo.
Now that the narrower conception of archaeology as a minor branch of classical studies has been given up, the new science has gradually won its way to universal recognition; and anthropology, a still wider subject but in many Organized study. points closely allied to the scientific study of ancient remains, has still more recently found favour at all the leading universities, and practical measures have been taken to establish the study on a firm and scientific basis. Apart from this official encouragement, much has been done towards the systematization and teaching of archaeology by practical excavators, whose pupils have attained considerable numbers and celebrity. Something has been done, too, in the national and provincial museums, to present the relics of past ages in an intelligible manner, so that the collections no longer consist of curiosities but of documents rich in instruction and interest even to the general visitor. The progress of photography, as well as the improvement and cheapening of methods of illustration, have also assisted enormously in the advance of archaeology; and similarly, the antiquities exhibited in museums and private collections to illustrate and amplify written records, have in the last generation received much attention on their own account, and have reacted in various ways on the teaching of ancient history. In some countries a further step in general education has been taken, and the lamentable waste of archaeological material arrested to some extent by the distribution of pictures and diagrams among schools and institutions, to call attention to the more ordinary local types, and to encourage those who are likely to discover them in the soil to save them from destruction and render them available for scientific study. A certain familiarity on the part of the young with the mere appearance of antiquities that come to light continually and are almost as often discarded or destroyed, would probably result in valuable additions being made to the available data.
Bibliography.—The most useful general works are the following:— Salomon Reinach, Epoque des alluvions et des cavernes (Musée de St Germain); Hoernes, Der diluviale Mensch in Europa; Sir John Evans, Stone Implements of Great Britain, and Bronze Implements of Great Britain; Boyd Dawkins, Cave-hunting, and Early Man in Britain; Greenwell, British Barrows; W.G. Smith, Man the Primeval Savage; James Geikie, Prehistoric Europe; Mortillet, Le Préhistorique; Robert Munro, Lake Dwellings of Europe; Ridgeway, Early Age of Greece; Jos. Anderson, Scotland in Pagan Times; the works of Oscar Montelius and Sophus Müller; L’Anthropologie, Matériaux pour l’histoire primitive de l’homme; Christy and Lartet, Reliquiae Aquitanicae; A. Michaelis, A Century of Archaeological Discovery (Eng. trans., 1908). See also Anthropology, and authorities mentioned there; Stone Age; Bronze Age; Iron Age, &c.; Geology; and the articles on different countries and sites.(C. H. Rd.)
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