Popular Science Monthly/Volume 55/May 1899/The Origin of European Culture

THE ORIGIN OF EUROPEAN CULTURE.[1]
By WILLIAM Z. RIPLEY, Ph. D.,

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, BOSTON, LECTURER IN ANTHROPOLOGY AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK.

PREHISTORIC archæology is possessed of a distinct advantage over linguistics in the investigation of racial problems; for human remains are often discovered in connection with the implements, utensils, or trinkets by which the civilization of an extinct people is archæologically determined. To attempt even an outline of the cultural history of Europe would be obviously impossible in this place. It would fill a complete volume by itself alone. Furthermore, the short span of forty years since the inception of archæological science has not sufficed to produce complete unanimity of opinion among the leading authorities. Many important questions, especially concerning eastern Europe, are still awaiting settlement. All that we can hope to do is to describe what may be termed a few fixed points in European cultural history. This, as in our discussion of physical origins,[2] we shall attempt to do by means of definite propositions, concerning which there is now substantial agreement.

I. In western and southern Europe an entirely indigenous culture gradually evolved during the later stone age. This was characterized by great technical advance in fashioning implements, carvings, and designs in stone, bone, ivory, and copper; by the construction of dolmens and habitations of stone; by pottery-making; and possibly even by a primitive system of writing.

A marked reaction has taken place during the last ten years among archæologists respecting the course of cultural development in France. It was long believed that after the first crude attempts of the palæolithic epoch an extended hiatus ensued, followed by the sudden appearance of a more highly developed civilization, brought by an immigrant broad-headed race from the East. Two waves of invasion were described: the first bringing polished stone, a later one introducing bronze, cereals, agriculture, and the domestication of animals. Not even credit for the construction of the great stone dolmen tombs was granted to the natives in Gaul, for these were all ascribed to an invasion from the North. The undoubted submergence of the primitive long-headed population of France by a brachycephalic type from the East, to which we have already adverted, was held accountable for a radical advance in civilization. Even the existence of a bronze age was denied to this country, it being maintained that the introduction of bronze was retarded until both metals came in together from the Orient in the hands of the cultural deliverers of the land. The absence of a distinct bronze age was speedily disproved; but the view that France and western Europe were saved from barbarism only by a new race from the East still held sway. It is represented by the classical school of G. de Mortillet, Bertrand, Topinard, and a host of minor disciples. The new school, holding that a steady and uninterrupted development of culture in situ was taking place, is represented notably by Reinach[3] in France and by Sergi[4] in Italy. Their proof of this seems to be unanswerable. Granting that it is easier to borrow culture than to evolve it, a proposition underlying the older view, it seems nevertheless that the West has too long been denied its rightful share in the history of European civilization.

A notable advance in the line of culture entirely indigenous to southwestern Europe has been lately revealed through the interesting discoveries by Piette at the PSM V55 D027 Neolithic ivory carving from mas dazil.pngNeolithic Ivory Carving. Mas d'Azil. (By special permission. Further reproduction prohibited.) station of Brassempuoy and in the grotto of Mas d'Azil. Carvings in ivory, designs upon bone, evidence of a numerical system, of settled habitations, and, most important of all, of a domestication of the reindeer, of the horse, and the ox in the pure stone age have been found; and that, too, in the uttermost southwestern corner of Europe. In the lake dwellings of Switzerland, as also in Scandinavia, a knowledge of agriculture, pottery, and the domestication of animals is evinced, likewise as a native discovery. PSM V55 D028 Bone carving from thayngen.pngBone Carving. Thayngen. (Alter Bertrand, 1891.) From other quarters of the continent in the stone age comes similar testimony to a marked advance of man culturally. The justly celebrated carving of a reindeer from Thayngen, almost worthy of a modern craftsman, betrays no mean artistic ability. The man who drew it was far from being a savage, even if he knew no metals, and buried his dead instead of cremating them. The evidence as to early domestication of animals is perhaps the most startling. Carved horses' heads, with halters and rude bridles, have been surely identified by Piette and others.

A system of writing seems also to have been invented in western Europe as far back as the stone age.[5] Letourneau and Bordier have advanced good evidence to this effect, although it is not yet incontestably proved. The Phœnicians were perhaps antedated in their noted invention by the dolmen builders, by the lake dwellers of the earliest times, and, according to Sergi, also by the people of the Villanova pre-Etruscan culture in Italy. In an earlier time still in the Po Valley, as far back as the stone-age Terramare period, pottery was made, and that, too, of a very decent sort. And all this time there is not the slightest evidence of contact with or knowledge of the East. As Reinach says, in no dolmen, no lake station, no excavation of the stone age is there any trace of an Assyrian or Babylonian cylinder, or even an Egyptian amulet. Even the jade and nephrite found in western Europe from Switzerland to Norway, which has so long been regarded as evidence of early commerce with the East, he denies as proof of such contact. The case thus put may perhaps be over-strenuously stated, yet one can not but realize from it that western Europe has too long been libeled in respect of its native aptitude for civilization. This is not constituted of bronze alone, nor is its trade-mark cremation. Thus, while an intensive outbreak of culture of a high order may not have arisen west of the Alps, it can no longer be denied that the general standard of intelligence was surely rising of its own native volition.

II. Throughout the eastern Alpine highlands, a culture far more highly evolved than the neolithic one in the West, and betraying certain Oriental affinities, appears at a very early time, a thousand years or more before the Christian era. This prehistoric civilization represents a transitional stage between bronze and iron.

In a secluded valley in upper Austria, close to the border line of Salzburg, by the little Alpine hamlet of Hallstatt, a remarkable necropolis was discovered more than a half century ago, which marked an epoch in archæological research. Excavations at this place alone, far from any present considerable seat of population, have already revealed more than three thousand graves. The primitive culture here unearthed, represented by all kinds of weapons, implements, and ornaments, bore no resemblance to any of the then known classical ones of the Mediterranean basin. Its graves contained no Roman coins or relics. There was nothing Greek about it. It contained no trace either of writing or chronology. It was obviously prehistoric; there was no suggestion of a likeness to the early civilizations in Scandinavia. It was even more primitive than the Etruscan, and entirely different from it, especially in its lack of the beautiful pottery known to these predecessors of the Romans. Little wonder that von Sacken, who first adequately described it in 1868, and Hochstetter, who worthily carried on his researches, believed that Hallstatt represented an entirely indigenous and extinct Alpine civilization. On the other hand, so exceedingly rich and varied were the finds in this out-of-the-way corner of Europe, that another and quite different view seemed justifiable. Might this not be an entirely exotic culture? products gained by trade from all parts of the world, being here deposited with their dead by a people who controlled the great and very ancient salt mines hereabouts? Neither of these interpretations of this find at Hallstatt have been exactly verified by later researches, and yet its importance has not lessened in the least. By later discoveries all over eastern Europe south of the Danube, from the Tyrol over to the Balkan peninsula, as well as throughout northern Italy, Würtemberg, and even over into northeastern France, the wide extension of this civilization[6] proves that it must in a large measure have developed upon the spot, and not come as an importation from abroad. On the other hand, its affinity in many details with the cultures both of Italy and Greece proved that it had made heavy drafts upon each of these, profiting greatly thereby. The best opinion to-day is, that it constitutes a link in the chain of culture between eastern and western Europe. As such it is

PSM V55 D030 Bronze situla from tyrol austria.png
Bronze Situla. Watsch, Austrian Tyrol.

of primary importance in any study of European origins.

The primitive stage of European civilization, to which the term Hallstatt is specifically applied by archaeologists, is characterized by a knowledge both of bronze and iron, although the latter is relatively insignificant. Its rarity indicates that we have to do with the very beginnings of its use. In this early combination of bronze and iron the Hallstatt culture is in strong contrast with the rest of Europe. Almost everywhere else, as in Hungary for example, a pure bronze age—sometimes one even of copper also—intervenes between the use of stone and iron. Here, however, the two metals, bronze and iron, appear simultaneously. There is no evidence of a use of bronze alone. Bearing in mind, what we shall subsequently emphasize in the case of Scandinavia, that in that remote part of Europe man had to put up with the inferior metal for close upon a thousand years before the acquisition of a better substitute, it will be seen that at Hallstatt a remarkable foreshortening of cultural evolution had ensued. Iron, as we have said, was still comparatively rare. Only in the case of small objects, less often in the blades of bronze-handled swords, does this more precious metal appear. But it is far more common than in the earliest Greek civilizations made known to us by Schliemann and others.

Pages of description would not give so clear an idea of this early civilization as the pictures of their lives, which the Hallstatt people have fortunately left to us. These are found in repoussé upon their bronzes, and particularly upon their little situlæ, or metallic pails. These situlæ are, in fact, the most distinctive feature among all the objects which they have left to us. By means of them their civilization has been most accurately traced and identified geographically. On the opposite page we have reproduced the design upon the most celebrated of these situlæ, discovered by Deschmann in 1882, at Watsch in the Tyrol. Another from Bologna, typical of the pre-Etruscan Italian time, will be found upon a later page. Upon each of these, the skill manifested in the representation of men and animals is no less remarkable than the civilization which it depicts. The upper zone of this situla from Watsch apparently shows a festal procession, possibly a wedding, for a lady rides in the second chariot. The grooms and outriders betoken a party of distinction. As for the second zone, doubt as to its exact interpretation prevails. Hochstetter declares it to be a banquet, food and entertainment being offered to the personages seated upon chairs at the left. Bertrand is disposed to give it more of a religious interpretation. As for the contest between gladiators armed with the cestus, all is plain. The spectators, judges, even the ram and the helmet for reward of the victor, are all shown in detail. It is not necessary for us to cite more evidence. A civilization already far from primitive is surely depicted. As for its date, all are agreed that it is at least as early as ten centuries before Christ;[7] not far, that is to say, from the supposed Homeric epoch in Greece.

The Hallstatt civilizations betray unmistakable affinities with three other prehistoric European cultures, widely separated from one another. It contains many early Greek elements; it is very similar

PSM V55 D032 Bronze breastplate from olympia.png
Bronze Breastplate from Olympia. (After Furtwaengler's Olympia, 1892.)

to a notable prehistoric culture in the Caucasus Mountains; and it resembles most nearly of all perhaps the pre-Etruscan civilization in Italy. With the third of these—the Italian—it seems to have been most nearly upon terms of equality, each borrowing from the other, after a fashion of which we shall have occasion to speak shortly. On the other hand, the relation of the Hallstatt culture to that of Greece and Caucasia seems to be somewhat more filial rather than fraternal. In describing the area of this civilization, we have seen how firmly it is intrenched all through the southern part of Austria-Hungary and well over into the north of the Balkan peninsula. A comparison of Furtwaengler's magnificent collection of objects from Olympia with those of Hallstatt instantly reveals their similarities. To make this clear, we have reproduced one of the Olympian breastplates, ornamented with figures, which at once suggest those upon the situla from Watsch above described. This design is doubly interesting. It shows us a slightly higher stage of the art of figural representation, as well as of conventional design. Not only the men and horses, but the borders, are far better drawn. More than this, we begin to detect a distinctly Oriental motive in other details. The bulls and the lions—lions are not indigenous to Europe nowadays—at once remind us of their Babylonian and Assyrian prototypes. We have entered the sphere of Asiatic artistic influence, albeit very indistinctly. This design here represented, it should be said, is rather above the average of the Olympian finds of the earlier epoch. Many of the other objects, especially the little votive figures of beasts and men, are much more crude, although always characteristic and rudely artistic in many ways. Through this Olympian stage of culture we pass transitionally on to the Mycenæan, which brings us into the full bloom of the classic Greek.

The Oriental affinities of the Hallstatt culture have been especially emphasized by recent archaeological discoveries at Koban, in the Caucasus Mountains. A stage of culture transitional between bronze and iron, almost exactly equivalent to that of the eastern Alps, is revealed. Similarities in little objects, like fibulæ, might easily be accounted for as having passed in trade, but the relationship is too intimate to be thus explained. Hungary forms the connecting link between the two. In many respects its bronze age is different from that of Halstatt, notably in that the latter seems to have acquired the knowledge of iron and of bronze at about the same time. PSM V55 D033 Hungarian bronze vessel.pngHungarian Bronze Vessel. (After Hampel, 1876.) In Hungary the pure bronze age lasted a longtime, and attained a full maturity. A characteristic piece is represented herewith. In respect of the representation of figures of animals such as these, Hallstatt, Hungary, and Koban are quite alike.

Have we proved that bronze culture came from Asia by reason of these recent finds in the Caucasus? Great stress has been laid upon them in the discussion of European origins. Are we justified in agreeing with Chantre that two currents of culture have swept from Asia into Europe—one by the Caucasus north of the Black Sea and up the Danube; the other across Asia Minor and into the Balkan peninsula, thence joining the first in the main center of Hallstatt civilization, east of the Alps? The point seems by no means established. Relationship does not prove parentage. Far more likely does it appear that the Koban culture is a relic or an offshoot rather than a cradle of bronze civilization. And even Chantre, ardent advocate as he is of Oriental derivations, seems to feel the force of this in his later writings, for he confesses that Koban is rather from Mediterranean European sources than that Europe is from Koban. Most probable of all is it, that both Hallstatt and Koban are alike derived from a common root in the neighborhood of Chaldea.

III. The Hallstatt (or Celtic?) civilization of bronze and iron roughly overlies the present area occupied by the broad-headed Alpine race; yet this type is not always identified with the Oriental culture. It seems to have appeared in Europe in a far lower stage of civilization, and to have subsequently made progress culturally upon the spot.

To trace any definite connection between race and civilization in Europe is rendered extremely hazardous scientifically by reason of the appearance along with bronze of the custom of burning instead of burying the dead, their ashes being disposed in cinerary urns, jars, or other receptacles. By this procedure all possible clew to the physical type of the people is, of course, annihilated at once. It has become almost an axiom among archæologists that bronze culture and incineration are constant companions. Wherever one appears, the other may confidently be looked for. Together they have long been supposed to be the special and peculiar attributes of a new broad-headed immigrant race from the East. To prove this conclusively is, of course, absolutely impossible for the above-mentioned reason. Of the two, it seems as if incineration would be a more reliable test of race than a knowledge of bronze; for burial customs, involving as they do the most sacred instincts and traditions of a people, would be most persistently maintained, even throughout long-continued migrations. The use of bronze, on the other hand, being a matter of obvious utility, and capable of widespread dissemination commercially, is seemingly of far less ethnic significance.

To indicate the uncertainty of proof in these matters, let us suppose that the Hallstatt civilization, for example, is the result of an immigration of a brachycephalic Oriental civilized race overlying a primitive native long-headed one. That seems best to conform to the data, which northern Italy at least affords. Suppose the new people—call them Celts with the best authorities, if you please—brought not only bronze and iron, but the custom of incineration. Prior to their appearance inhumation was the rule. What would be the result if one attempted to determine the physical character of that people from a study of the remains in their necropoli? All the crania to be found in the graves with the precious objects of bronze would in no wise represent the people who brought that bronze. They burned their bridges behind them at death, and disappeared for good and all. And the remains left to the archæologist would represent precisely that class in the population which had nothing to do with the main characteristics of its civilization. And then, again, we must bear in mind that the interments in these necropoli as a whole, both with burned or buried dead, constitute a selected type. Neither Hallstatt, Watsch, nor any of the burial places of their type were open to the great mass of the common people. They were sacred spots, far removed among the mountains from any centers of population. Only the rich or powerful presumably had access to them. They are no more typical of the Hallstatt people, therefore, than interments in Westminster Abbey are representative of the English masses. All our data are necessarily drawn from a class within a class. Inductions from them must be very gingerly handled.

The situation above described seems to prevail almost everywhere in the Hallstatt cultural area. Two distinct burial customs denote possibly two separate peoples, the inhumers being certainly the older. In the Hallstatt necropolis, for example, about one third of the graves once contained human remains, all the others containing mere ashes. So ancient are these graves that only eight crania from the hundreds of interments of the first class are available for study. These are of a pronounced long-headed type.[8] The modern populations of this part of Europe are, as we have seen, among the broadest-headed people in the world, as are also all the modern Illyrians. Yet from the great necropolis at Glasinac in Bosnia, with its twenty thousand tumuli, the meager Hallstatt returns are amply corroborated.[9] The ancient inhabitants were as long-headed as they are pronouncedly of the opposite type to-day. Up in Bohemia and Moravia also, according to Niederle, the first bronze-age people, such as we know them, were still dolichocephalic quite like their predecessors in the pure stone age. And here also is incineration just about frequent enough to make it uncertain whether the human remains are typical or not.

Under these circumstances, three suppositions are open to us. We may hold that these long-headed crania of the Hallstatt people are worthless for any anthropological purposes whatever. This one would certainly be tempted to do were the testimony, such as it is, not so unanimous. Or, secondly, we may assume that these long-headed Hallstatt people belonged to a period subsequent to the appearance of the brachycephalic type in western Europe. If we do so, we place them in the same class with the Teutonic race which so certainly appears to overlie this one in the later iron age in Switzerland and throughout southern Germany; for the Helvetians and the Reihengräber conquerors from the north surely imposed a novel culture, albeit a militant one, upon the long-settled Alpine people, racially speaking. The Hallstatt civilization is immeasurably too early to permit of this hypothesis. At this time the long-headed Teutonic peoples about Scandinavia were certainly vastly inferior in culture, as we shall attempt to prove shortly. Thus we are forced to the third conclusion if we admit the competency of our cranial evidence—namely, that the Hallstatt people in this early bloom of civilization in Europe were allied to the Mediterranean type of the south. No other source for such a dolichocephalic population is possible. Our stock of types of this kind is exhausted.

It does not require a great credulity to admit of this hypothesis, that the Hallstatt people were of Mediterranean type. Were not the Greeks, the Phœnicians, and the Egyptians all members of this same race? One single difficulty presents itself. Over in Italy, throughout the valley of the Po, an entirely analogous civilization to that of the eastern Alps occurs. Hallstatt and Villanova, Watsch and Bologna, are almost identical culturally. And yet over here in Italy the new culture of bronze and of incineration seems to be borne by a broad-headed people of the same type as the modern one. Thus, for example, at Novilara so long as the bodies were all inhumed, the people were of the long-headed Mediterranean type once indigenous to the whole of Italy, now surviving, as we have seen, only in the southern half. On the other hand, when incineration begins to appear in this place, the human remains still left to us are of a mixed and far more broad-headed type. It would seem admissible to assume that when the modern brachycephalic Alpine race submerged the native one it brought new elements of civilization with it. Many Italian authorities, at all events, agree in ascribing the new culture—call it Umbrian with Sergi, or proto-Etruscan with Helbig—to a new race of Veneto-Illyrian or Alpine physical proclivities. What they have not definitely proved, however, is that any necessary connection between race and culture exists. There is much to show that the broad-headed race came in some time before the introduction of the new arts. Even in the later Terramare period, preceding the Italian Hallstatt culture, when stone and copper only are in evidence, a change of physical type in the people apparently begins, just as also in France in the neolithic period.

The most indubitable testimony that tho Alpine race did not appear in western Europe, armed cap-à-pie with bronze and other attributes of culture, is afforded by the lake dwellings of Switzerland. Here in the pile-built villages of the Swiss lakes we can trace an uninterrupted development of civilization from the pure stone age through bronze and into iron. Beginning at a stage of civilization about equal to that of the ancient Aryan-speaking peoples, judged by the root words known to us; not only knowledge of the metals, but of agriculture, of the domestication of animals, and of the finer arts of domestic life, have little by little been acquired. Equally certain is it that no change of physical type has occurred among these primitive Swiss, at least until the irruptions of the Teutonic Helvetians and others at the opening of the historic period. From the very earliest times in the stone age a broad-headedness no less pronounced than that of the modern Swiss prevailed among these people.[10] Here would seem to be pretty conclusive proof that the Alpine race entered Europe long before the culture with which its name has been all too intimately associated.

In the outlying parts of Europe, perhaps even in Gaul, it is extremely doubtful whether any closer connection between race and culture exists than in the Alps. It has long been maintained that the brachycephalic people of the Round Barrows introduced bronze into Britain. Surely, as we have already shown, things point to that conclusion.[11] Beddoe, Dawkins, and other authorities maintain it at all events. Yet Canon Taylor makes it pretty evident that the new race arrived in Britain, as it certainly did in Gaul, considerably in advance of any knowledge of the metals. As for Scandinavia, much the same relation holds true. Both race and culture, as we shall see, came from the south, but it is by no means clear that they arrived at the same time or that one brought the other. In Spain, Siret has asserted that bronze came in the hands of a new immigrant broad-headed race, but the authoritative opinion of Cartailhac discovers no direct evidence to this effect.

The final conclusions which would seem to follow from our tedious summary is this: That the nearly contemporaneous appearance of a brachycephalic race and the first knowledge of metals indicative of Oriental cultural influences in western Europe, is more or less a coincidence. The first civilized peoples of the Hallstatt period seem to have been closely allied, both in physical type and culture, with the Greeks and other peoples of the classic East. Among them, perhaps over them, swept the representatives of our broad-headed Alpine type who came from the direction of Asia. These invaders may have been the Scythians, although the matter is incapable of proof. Pressure from this direction set both culture and population in motion toward the west, in much the same way that the fall of Constantinople in the fifteenth century induced the Renaissance in Italy.

IV. The remarkable prehistoric civilization of Italy is due to the union of two cultures: one from the Hallstatt region having entered Europe by way of the Danube, the other coming from the southeast by sea being distinctly Mediterranean. From these evolved the Umbrian and the Etruscan civilizations, followed in the historic period by the early Latin.

The earliest culture in Italy worthy the name is found in the palafitte or pile dwellings, in the northern lakes, and in the so-called terramare settlements in the valley of the Po. The former are not distinguishable from similar structures in the Swiss lake dwellings, but the terramare are entirely peculiar to Italy. Their like is not found anywhere else in Europe. Briefly described, they are villages built upon raised platforms of earth, encircled by a moat, and generally having a ditch or small pond in the middle, in which an altar is erected. These complicated structures are built upon the low, marshy, alluvial plains along the Po, but show many points of similarity with the true pile dwellings. The people of this early period were in the pure stone age, with few arts save that of making the coarser kinds of pottery. From their osseous remains, they seem to have been of a long-headed type, quite like their predecessors, who were cave dwellers. After a time, without any modification of the modes of construction of their settlements, new elements appear among these terramare people, bringing bronze and introducing cremation. At about the same period, as we have said, the Alpine broad-headed race began its submergence of the primitive Ligurian type, leading to the formation of the north Italian population as we see it to-day. This type surely invaded Italy from the north and northeast.

From the foregoing considerations it will appear that there were two constituent streams of culture and also of men here uniting in the valley of the Po and on the northern slopes of the Apennines. Possibly, as Chantre affirms, these two streams were from a common Oriental source, here being reunited after long and independent migrations. At all events, a remarkable advance in culture speedily ensued, superior to either of those from which its elements were derived. For the civilization unearthed at Villanova, in the Certosa at Bologna. at Este, and elsewhere, while in much of its bronze work similar to the Hallstatt types, contained a number of added features, obviously either indigenous or brought directly from the south. The Hallstatt affinities are especially revealed in the situlæ to which we have already called attention. That of Arnoaldi, discovered at Bologna betrays much the same grade of skill in manufacture as the one from Watsch. Its flat development is shown by the accompanying cut. The scenes represented are not dissimilar. The boxers armed with the cestus, the chariots, and horses closely resemble one another. No doubt of a close intercourse between the two regions of Bologna and Austria possibly exist.

PSM V55 D039 Arnoaldi situla from bologna.png
Arnoaldi Situla, Bologna,
(From Revue Archéologique, 1885, vol, ii. Plate XXV.))

The influence of the second or native element in prehistoric Italian civilization appears most clearly in the Etruscan period. Etruria, lying south of the Apennines, was more essentially Italian, as we might expect, than the region about Bologna, where the Umbro-Hallstatt or continental culture flourished. It is easy to note the superiority in the former case. It is most clearly indicated in the pottery. Here we find an art which is truly indigenous to the climate and soil of the Mediterranean.

Popularly, the word "Etruscan" at once suggests the ceramic art; the progress effected in a short was certainly startling To give an idea of the sudden change, we have reproduced upon page 30 illustrations of typical bits of Italian pottery.[12] The first vase, prior to the full Etruscan culture, shows its crudity at once, both in its defects of form and the plainness and simplicity of its ornamentation. Such a vessel might have been made in Mexico or even by our own Pueblo Indians In a century or two some teacher made it possible to produce the sample depicted in the next cut. Perfect in form, superb in grace of outline, its decoration is most effective; yet it betrays greater skill in geometrical design than in the representation of animate life. The dog drawn on the girdle is still far from lifelike. Then come—probably after inspiration from Greek art—the possibilities in complex ornamentation represented by our third specimen. Not more pleasing

PSM V55 D040 Three ages of etruscan vases.png
Early Etruscan. Later Etruscan. Greek Etruscan.

in form, perhaps less truly artistic because of its ornateness, it manifests much skill in the delineation of human and animal forms. The culture culminates at this point. From profusion of ornament and overloaded decoration, degeneracy begins. It is the old story of the life and decay of schools of art, time in and time out, the world over.

The advance in culture typified by our vases was equaled in all the details of life. The people built strongly walled cities; they constructed roads and bridges; their architecture, true predecessor of the Roman, was unique and highly evolved. All the plain and good things of life were known to these people, and their civilization was rich in its luxury, its culture and art as well. In costumes, jewelry, the paraphernalia of war, in painting and statuary they were alike distinguished. Their mythology was very complex, much of the Roman being derived from it. Most of our knowledge of them is derived from the rich discoveries in their chambered tombs, scattered all over Italy from Rome to Bologna. There can be no doubt of a very high type of civilization attained long before the Christian era. Roman history is merged in the obscurity of time, five or six hundred years later than this. The high antiquity of the Etruscan is therefore beyond question. But its highly evolved art and culture show that we have no longer to do with European origins; to discuss it further would lead us to trench upon the field of classical rather than prehistoric archæology.

V. The northwestern corner of Europe, including Scandinavia, Denmark, and the Baltic plain of Germany, throughout the prehistoric period has been characterized by backwardness of culture as compared with the rest of Europe. It was populated from the south, deriving a large part of such primitive civilization as it possessed from the south and the southeast as well.

That this region was necessarily uninhabited during the Glacial epoch, long after the advent of man in southern Europe, is indubitable. It is proved by the extent of the glaciated area, which extends on the mainland as far south as Hamburg, Berlin, and Posen, and over the entire British Isles at the same time.[13] It was by the melting of this vast sheet of ice that those high level river terraces in France and Belgium were formed, in which the most ancient and primitive implements of human manufacture occur. In the area beneath this ice sheet no trace of human occupation until long after this time occurs. This fact of itself, is not absolutely conclusive, for glaciation would have obliterated all traces of anterior habitation or activity. As to the possibility of a tertiary population before the Glacial epoch, it presents too remote a contingency for us to consider, although we do not deny its possibility. It too far antedates prehistory, so to speak.

At the notable International Congress of Anthropology and Prehistoric Archæology at Stockholm in 1874 a landmark in these sciences was established by substantial agreement among the leading authorities from all over Europe upon the proposition now before us.[14] First of all, every one subscribed to the view that the palæolithic or oldest stone age was entirely unrepresented in Sweden. The earliest and simplest stone implements discovered in the southern part of that country betray a degree of skill and culture far above that so long prevalent in France and Germany. Stone is not only rubbed and polished into shape, but the complicated art of boring holes in it has been learned. Norway also seems to be lacking in similar evidence of a human population in the very lowest stage of civilization. Stone implements anterior to the discovery of the art of rubbing or polishing are almost unknown. Only about Christiania have any finds at all been made. In Denmark some few very rude implements have been found. They are so scarce as to suggest that they are mere rejects or half-finished ones of a later type. The kitchen middens, or shell heaps, of Jutland, for which the region is most notable, as described by Steenstrup, abound in stone implements. They all represent man in the neolithic age. Polished stones are as abundant as the rudely hammered ones are rare. From the absence of all the very early stone implements, and from the sudden appearance of others of a far more finished type, the possibility of a gradual evolution of culture about Scandinavia in situ is denied on all hands. The art of working stone has surely been introduced from some more favored region. The only place to look for the source of this culture is to the south.

Tardy in its human occupation and its stone culture, Scandinavia was still more backward, as compared with the rest of Europe, in its transition to the age of bronze. This is all the more remarkable in view of the rich store of raw materials on every hand. Nowhere else in Europe does the pure stone age seem to have been so unduly protracted. A necessary consequence of this was that stone-working reached a higher stage of evolution

PSM V55 D042 Flint and bronze weapons.png
Flint dagger. Stone Axe. Bronze Axe.
(From Montelius, 1895 b.) (From Montelius, 1895 b.) (From Montelius, 1895 b.)

here than anywhere else in the world save in America. In other parts of Europe the discovery of metal-working, of course, immediately put an end to all progress in this direction. The ultimate degree of skill to which they attained is represented in the accompanying cuts. The first, a flint poniard, shows the possibilities, both in the line of form and finish, of manufacture by the chipping process. To equal this example one must look to the most skillful of the American Indians, as in Tennessee, where they were too remote from mines of native copper to make use of a ready substitute for stone. Our second implement is an axe hammer, made of diorite. To shape, sharpen, bore, and polish a piece of stone like this certainly required a long apprenticeship in the art.

Bronze culture, when it did at last appear in this remote part of Europe, came upon the scene suddenly and in full maturity. Whether this was as early as the eighth to the tenth century, as Montelius avers, is disputed by many. PSM V55 D043 Bronze bracelet of 650 bc.pngBronze Bracelet; 650-500 b. c. (From Montelius, 1895 b.) All are nevertheless agreed that evidence is absolutely lacking that the art was of indigenous origin. From what part of the world this knowledge of bronze ultimately came we leave an open question, as also whether it came with Phoenician traders or direct from Greece, as Worsaae affirms. It was certainly introduced into Sweden, making its way into Norway about the same time directly from the peninsula of Jutland. Its first appearance is in a highly evolved state. Such crude attempts at manufacture as Chantre finds so long prevalent along the Rhone Valley, for example, are entirely absent. Both in form and ornamentation the hand of the master is apparent. This bronze age, like that of stone, lasted a very long time—far longer than anywhere else on the continent. Central Europe passed through three stages of metallic progress while Scandinavia was evolving two. Not until the second or third century of our era—not until the time of the Romans, it would appear—did iron begin to supplant bronze. History repeats itself. The excessive duration of the bronze age, as in the case of stone antecedently, led to the attainment of a remarkable skill. The two accompanying cuts are typical of the best work of this time. In the one case, merely superficial ornament, especially the skillful use of the spiral; in the other, real beauty of form in the bracelet, are clearly apparent. Possessed of such skill in the working of bronze, it is small wonder that the need of a better metal was not felt. Only when fashioned into weapons of war does iron reveal its supremacy over bronze. This, of course, with the campaigns of historical times, brings us to the end of our chronicle.

The prehistoric experience of metal-working in Scandinavia is typical of the other details of its cultural evolution. In its earliest epoch no trace of domestic animals is present. It is rather a remarkable fact that even the reindeer seems to have been unknown.[15] What can Penka say to this in his positive affirmation that the original Aryans got up into Scandinavia, having followed the reindeer from central Europe north after the retreat of the ice sheet? The fact is, archæologically speaking, from the evidence furnished by the kitchen middens, that if they ever did this "they left a fine country, where deer were plenty, to subsist upon shellfish on the foggy coasts of Denmark."[16] The entire absence of economic motive for such a migration is at once apparent. Men seldom travel far under such conditions. Quite early, however, even in the stone age, do evidences of domestic animals occur, to the dog being added the ox, horse, swine, and sheep. Pottery in a rude form also follows. Finally, and in apparent coincidence with the bronze culture, comes a new custom of incineration. The dead are no longer buried, but burned. A profound modification of religious ideas is hereby implied. It seems to have been at about this time also that our Alpine racial type entered Scandinavia from Denmark, although, as we have already observed, it is yet far from certain that the new race was the active agent in introducing the new elements of culture. All that we know is that they both came from the south, and reached this remote region at about the same time.

That the origins of culture in Europe are certainly mixed would seem to be about the main conclusion to be drawn from our extended discussion. It has an iconoclastic tone. Yet we would not leave the matter entirely in the air, nor would we agree with Mantegazza (1884) in his conclusion that "Ignoramus" sums up our entire knowledge of the subject. There is some comfort to be drawn even from this mass of conflicting opinions. Our final destructive aim has been achieved if we have emphasized the danger of correlating data drawn from several distinct sciences, whose only bond of unity is that they are all concerned with the same object—man. The positive contribution which we would seek to make is that the whole matter of European origins is by no means so simple as it has too often been made to appear. It is not imperative that conclusions from all the contributory sciences of physical anthropology, philology, and cultural history should be susceptible of interweaving into a simple scheme of common origins for all. The order of races, for example, need mean nothing as respects priority of culture. Nor do the two sciences, philology and archæology, involve one another's conclusions so far as civilization is concerned. Language and industrial culture may have had very different sources; their migrations need stand in no relation to one another in the least. Each science is fully justified in its own deductions, but must be content to leave the results of others in peace. Such is the ultimate conclusion to which all the latest authority is tending. Only by a careful comparison of data from each sphere of investigation may we finally hope to combine them all in a composite whole, as many-sided and complex as the life and nature of man itself.

  1. Advance sheets from The Races of Europe, now in the press of D. Appleton and Company, to appear in May. Footnotes and references are herein largely omitted.
  2. Popular Science Monthly, January, 1898, pp. 304-322.
  3. Le Mirage Orientale, 1893 a; and in his admirable outline of sculptural origins in Europe (1894-'96).
  4. Arii e Italici, Torino, 1898, especially pp. 199-220.
  5. Reinach, 1803 a, pp. 543-548. G. de Mortillet, 1897, denies the claim.
  6. Chantre, 1884; Hocrnes, 1892; Bertrand and Reinach, 1894 a; Sergi, 1898 a; and Orsi (Bull. Paletnologia Italiana, xi, 1885, p. 1 et seq.) are best authorities. See also Hallstatt in the subject index of our Bibliography, soon to be published as a Special Bulletin of the Boston Public Library.
  7. Hoernes, 1892, p. 529; Bertrand, 1876 a, second edition, pp. 207-216, fixes about 800 B.C.; but 1894 a, p. 80, carries it back to 1200-1300 B.C.
  8. Zuckerkandl, 1883, p. 96.
  9. Weisbach, 1897 b.
  10. This fact has been established beyond doubt by the recent great work of Studer and Bannwarth, Crania Helvetica Antiqua, 1894. Vide p. 13. Sergi's attempt to interpret the data otherwise (1898 a, p. 67) is entirely erroneous. Gross's data apparently refer entirely to the later period of Teutonic invasions in the iron age (1883, p. 106). Cf. Munro, pp. 537 and 541.
  11. Popular Science Monthly, December, 1897, p. 151.
  12. From Montelius, 1897.
  13. Cf. maps and data in J. Geikie, 1894; Penck, 1884; and Niederle, 1893, p. 25.
  14. Bertrand, 1876 a and 1876 b, gives a full account of it. The best recent authorities upon Scandinavian culture are Sophus Mueller, 1897, and Montelius, 1895 b. Other works of reference are those of Worsaae, Nilsson, Hildebrand, Madsen and Rygh, full titles being given in our supplementary Bibliography of the Anthropology and Ethnology of Europe. Comprising nearly two thousand titles, it will be provided with a detailed subject index.
  15. Bertrand, 1876 b, p. 40.
  16. Reinach, 1892, pp. 72-78, for severe criticism of Penka's hypotheses.