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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/691

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THE ARYANS IN SCIENCE AND HISTORY.

edge, been the home of Aryan communities. The reasons for accepting it as the peculiar seat of the race seemed conclusive to ethnologists until a very recent date. Of late years some scholars of high rank, both in Germany and in England, have been led to adopt the suggestion, first made by the late eminent English philologist. Dr. Latham, that the Aryans may have been of European origin. Their arguments were well summed up in the interesting address delivered last year before the Section of Anthropology in the British Association by the president of the section. Prof. Sayce. They have since been fully considered and discussed by Prof. Max Müller in his recent work, "Biographies of Words, and the Home of the Aryans." His decision is that to which the great majority of ethnologists have long since given their assent, namely, that the preponderant weight of argument points to an Asiatic home for the race. Some of the grounds for this conclusion will presently be shown; but, in the first instance, it becomes necessary to fix the locality of this primitive seat somewhat more definitely than it is placed in Prof. Max Müller's essay. He finds that the Aryan home must have been "somewhere in Asia," but declines to say more.

This conclusion, it is evident, is too indefinite for science; nor does it seem likely that the learned author, if he had cared to be more precise, would have had any difficulty in drawing a much narrower limit. The "method of elimination" is easily sufficient for this end. From the whole of Asia we strike out at once, by the common consent of ethnologists, its eastern third, comprising China, Japan, and Thibet, and along with it, by like consent, the three great southern peninsulas, the Indo-Chinese, the Indian, and the Arabian. With Arabia the rest of the ancient Semitic countries, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Phoenicia, will be erased from the problem. The immense expanse of Siberia will also disappear; for, though one bold speculator has sought a frigid home for the early Aryans in that region, he has, as might be supposed, gained no adherents to his theory. No one proposes Asia Minor; and Armenia and the Caucasus seem put out of the question by the fact that our earliest historical knowledge of those regions shows them inhabited mainly by non-Aryan tribes.

The limits of the pristine Aryan home are thus readily and inevitably narrowed down to those already suggested—the bounds of ancient Persia and Bactria—that "vast plateau of Iran," as Archdeacon Farrar has well styled it, in which the mother-tongue of the Sanskrit and Zend was once spoken by the united community, from whose divided septs the Vedas and the Zend-Avesta have been bequeathed to us. In that region, as we have every reason to believe, the Aryan race was found in its purest condition. When, therefore, we seek to ascertain the physical