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346
ARCHAEOLOGY

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