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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/218

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

to attribute a much more remote antiquity to the most of them, and that evidences of a neolithic age in the valley of the Nile are more abundant than has generally been supposed.

In many minds the historical antiquity of Egypt, the almost fabulous ages to which its civilization ascends, seem to challenge the history of other countries, and the land of the Pharaohs, rejecting all chronological comparison, to have appeared in the midst of the world as a single example of a land which savage life had never trodden. Yet what are the centuries since Menes ruled over the reclaimed valleys, the few thousand years of which we can calculate the duration, by the side of the incalculable lapse of time since man, struggling with the glaciers and the prehistoric beasts, began his conquest of the earth? The antiquity of Egypt, the eight thousand years (if it be as many) since the first Pharaoh, are only as an atom in the presence of these ages. We can assert some vague knowledge of these pre-Pharaonic inhabitants, for two hatchets of the Chellean pattern were found some time ago in the desert, one at Esnet, the other near the pyramids of Gizeh; and we can now affirm in the most positive manner that Quaternary man lived in the country which is now Egypt, and was then only preparing to be. Four palæolithic stations have been more recently discovered—at Thebes, Tukh, Abydos, and Daschur. Join these sites to the other two where isolated pieces were found, and we have the geography of what we know at present of Chellean man in the valley of the Nile. Doubtless continuous researches would result in similar discoveries at other points, for I have met these relics wherever I have been able to make a short sojourn. The Chellean implements are found in the gravels of the diluvium on the pebbly surface. They have been disturbed and probably scattered, but some places yield them more numerously than others—points possibly corresponding to the ancient workshops. I have found a considerable number of specimens at Deir-el-Medinet; M. Daressy, of the Bureau of Antiquities, found a perfectly characteristic Chellean hammer stone in the Valley of the Queens at Gurneh, as perfectly worked as the best specimens found at Chelles, St. Acheul, and Moulin-Quignon.

The finds are not very numerous at Tukh, but one may in a few hours make a collection there of hatchets (or hammer stones), scrapers, points, simple blades, and a large number of stones bearing indisputable marks of having been worked, but not presenting precise forms. The deposit at Abydos is in the bottom of a circle behind the ruins surrounding the Pharaonic necropolis. The specimens seem sufficient to prove the existence of Quaternary man in Egypt, while the search for them has hardly yet begun. In view of them it is extremely improbable that man did not also exist there