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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/20

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xii
PREFACE.

discrepancy exists; but it has appeared to me an almost inevitable consequence of the different modes of investigation pursued. Almost all those who have hitherto written on these subjects have derived their information from Greek and Roman written texts; but, if I am not very much mistaken, these do not suffice. The classic authors were very imperfectly informed as to the history of the nations who preceded or surrounded them; they knew very little of the archæology of their own countries, and less of their ethnography. So long, therefore, as our researches are confined to what they had written, many important problems remain unsolved, and must ever remain as unsolvable as they have hitherto proved.

My conviction is, that the lithic mode of investigation is not only capable of supplementing to a very great extent the deficiencies of the graphic method, and of yielding new and useful results, but that the information obtained by its means is much more trustworthy than anything that can be elaborated from the books of that early age. It does not therefore terrify me in the least to be told that such men as Niebiihr, Cornewall Lewis, or Grote, have arrived at conclusions different from those I have ventured to express in the following pages. Their information is derived wholly from what is written, and it does not seem ever to have occurred to them, or to any of our best scholars, that there was either history or ethnography built into the architectural remains of antiquity.

While they were looking steadily at one side of the shield, I fancy I have caught a glimpse of the other.

It has been the accident of my life—I do not claim it as a merit—that I have wandered all over the Old World. I have seen much that they never saw, and I have had access to sources of information of which they do not suspect the existence. While they were trying to reconcile what the Greek or Roman authors said about nations who never wrote books, and with regard to whom they consequently had little information, I was trying to read the history which these very people had recorded in stone, in characters as clear and far more indelible than those written in ink. If, consequently, we arrived at different conclusions, it may possibly be owing more to the sources from which the information is derived than to any difference between the individuals who announce it.

Since the invention of printing I am quite prepared to admit that the "litera scripta" may suffice. In an age like the present, when nine-tenths of the population can read and every man who has anything to say rushes into print, or makes a speech which is printed next