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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/389

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THE PROBLEMS OF ANTHROPOLOGY.

THE PROBLEMS OF ANTHROPOLOGY.[1]
By RUDOLPH VIRCHOW.

INTERNATIONAL prehistoric congresses have for a whole generation exercised a great influence upon the researches and the ideas of our contemporaries. This institution was founded at the time when the discoveries of Boucher de Perthes of the existence of man in the Drift period; the observations of Ferdinand Keller on pile constructions; those of Cristi and Lartet on the troglodytes of the Dordogne, and of Vorso on the kitchen-middens; and the theory of Darwin and his disciples, were producing a revolution in scientific traditions. As a result of that revolution, the Congress found itself confronting a great problem. It was incumbent on it to study all the countries of Europe in order to collect prehistorical traces of man, to attract general attention to the origin and course of human civilization; and it proposed to itself to remove the veil of mystery from before the primitive cradle of man.

Many of the questions which were raised at this time have now been definitively resolved. We know that man existed in the Quaternary epoch, that he lived through long ages miserable and depressed, while stone, wood, horn, and bone constituted the material of his arms and of his only instruments; we are convinced that a long interval separated the age of stone from the age of metals, and that only in particular places was the use of stone immediately replaced by that of metals. These are the data which now make part of the general knowledge acquired by civilized nations since the foundation of the Congress. But further studies respecting the origin and the regions whence the different branches of civilization have sprung have advanced relatively but very little.

First, the question of Tertiary man especially occupied the Congress, and reached its culminating point at the meeting in Lisbon. We were taken there to the plain of Otta to look in the strata for his remains. We found there flint chips that might in an extreme case be regarded as having been cut by man; but we discovered no human bones or potteries or worked objects; and the majority of the Congress, on leaving the place, were far from being convinced that these flint chips were distinguished, in any respect, from the débris which is found in the ground everywhere, and which results from the disintegration of a siliceous soil. Nobody has ever found in virgin Tertiary strata any piece of flint that has been recognized by the learned world as an unquestionable relic of the ex-


  1. Address at the opening of the International Congress of Prehistoric Archæology and Anthropology, at Moscow.