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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/18

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

a people advanced enough to have been powerfully affected in their "arts, customs, and religious belief." It seems reasonable to believe that traces of a Mongolian release would be found in Central America, the more so as a warlike people would eagerly seize upon a more powerful method of pulling the bow, yet no trace of a stone or metal thumb ring has ever been found in the western hemisphere. Ancient Mexican codices, while depicting the archer, reveal no trace of the Mongolian method. In the Old World this release crept westward as a result of the migration of, or contact with, Asiatic tribes, and metal thumb rings are dug up on the Mediterranean littoral. While the arrow release of China might not have effected a lodgment in America, the terra-cotta roofing tile certainly would. This important device, according to Schlegel, was probably known in China 2200 b. c., in Korea 500 b. c, and in Japan in the early years of our era. In the ancient records of Japan reference is made to "breaking a hole in the roof tiles of the hall," etc., and green-glazed tiles are dug up on the sites of ancient temples in Japan. The fragments are not only unmistakable but indestructible. I have shown elsewhere[1] that the primitive roofing tile crept into Europe from the East, distributing itself along both shores of the Mediterranean, and extending north to latitude 44°. Graeber finds its earliest use in the temple of Hira in Olympia, 1000 b. c. The ancient Greeks had no knowledge of the roofing tile. Among the thousands of fragments and multitudinous articles of pottery found by Schliemann in the ruins of Ilios, not a trace of the roofing tile was discovered. One is forced to believe that so useful an object, and one so easily made, would have been immediately adopted by a people so skillful in the making of pottery as the ancient Mexicans. Certainly these people and those of contiguous countries were equal to the ancient Greeks in the variety of their fictile products. Huge jars, whistles, masks, men in armor, curious pots of an infinite variety attest to their skill as potters, yet the western hemisphere has not revealed a single fragment of a pre-Columbian roofing tile. Vining, in his work, cites an observation of the Rev. W. Lobseheid, the author of a Chinese grammar. In crossing the Isthmus of Panama this writer was much struck with the similarities to China; "the principal edifices on elevated ground and the roofing tiles identical to those of China." The roofing tile is indeed identical with that of China. It is the form that I have elsewhere defined as the normal or Asiatic tile, but it reached America for the first time by way of the Mediterranean and Spain, and thence with the Spaniards across the Atlantic, where it immediately gained a footing, and


  1. On the Older Forms of Terra-Cotta Roofing Tiles. Essex Institute Bulletin, 1882.