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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/692

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and mental traits which properly belong to this remarkable race, we naturally turn our attention to that Medo-Persian people, in whom the character of the unmixed stock was first distinctly manifested. The results of such an inquiry may yield some valuable fruits to ethnological science.

But before proceeding with this branch of our study it will be necessary, if our search for the origin of the Aryan race is to be conducted on strictly scientific lines and to be carried back to the very germ of the race, to bear in mind the self-evident truth that every linguistic stock must have originated in a single household. Somewhere on earth there must have been an "Aryan family-pair," the progenitors of the breed; and all the speakers of the primitive Aryan tongue must once have been gathered, as has been well said, "under one roof." In an address which I had the honor of delivering before this section[1] two years ago, I endeavored to point out the conditions under which such a household must have been formed, and to show that it must necessarily have originated in some isolated spot where a little brood or a pair of orphan children, left alone at too early an age to have a completed language, could have found the means of subsistence. This must have been in some region where severe frost is unknown, and where food could readily be obtained by very young children all the year round. No such spot can be found in Europe, a fact which would make the rise of a new linguistic stock in that quarter of the globe, under its present climatic conditions, difficult to comprehend. But in the Aryan territory already described such a district presents itself at once in the semi-tropical belt which borders the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, and is known in modern geography as the Deshtistan, or "low country," of the province of Fars—that province which has always been deemed the original seat of the Persian people. In this coast district, as we are told by Prof. Rawlinson, snow never falls and there is but little rain. Heavy dews, however, occur at night, so that the mornings are often fresh and cool. Most of the region is dry and barren; but along the streams there is moisture, and the fruits of the tropics thrive. The sandy shore abounds in shell-fish and especially in oysters. On the northern coast of the Mexican Gulf, where the climate and other conditions are somewhat similar to those of this Aryan belt, I have seen from my open window in midwinter, while the magnolias were blooming near and the orange-trees showed their belated fruit, the little children of five or six years old wading at low tide in the shallow water, feeling with their naked feet for the shell-fish and gathering them into their baskets

  1. The present article was read before the Section of Anthropology, in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at its meeting in August, 1888. The "Vice-Presidential address" referred to is published in the Proceedings of the Association for 1886.