Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization/Chapter 8
THE STONE AGE—PAST AND PRESENT.
The Stone Age is that period in the history of mankind during which stone is habitually used as a material for weapons and tools. Antiquaries find it convenient to make the Stone Age cease whenever metal implements come into common use, and the Bronze Age, or the Iron Age, supervenes. But the last traces of a Stone Age are hardly known to disappear anywhere, in spite of the general use of metals; and in studying this phase of the world's history for itself, it may be considered as still existing, not only among savages who have not fairly come to the use of iron, but even among civilized nations. Wherever the use of stone instruments, as they were used in the Stone Age proper, is to be found, there the Stone Age has not entirely passed away. The stone hammers with which tinkers might be found at work till lately in remote districts in Ireland, the huge stone mallets with wooden handles which are still used in Iceland for driving posts and other heavy hammering, and the lancets of obsidian with which the Indians of Mexico still bleed themselves, as their fathers used to do before the Spanish Conquest, are stone implements which have survived for centuries the general introduction of iron.
Mere natural stones, picked up and used without any artificial shaping at all, are implements of a very low order. Such natural tools are often found in use, being for the most part slabs, water-worn pebbles, and other stones suited for hammers and anvils, and their employment is no necessary proof of a very low state of culture. Among the lower races, Dr. Milligan gives a good instance of their use, in describing the shell-mounds left by the natives on the shores of Van Diemen's Land. In places where the shells found are univalves, round stones of different sizes are met with; one, the larger, on which they broke the shells; the other, and smaller, having served as the hammer to break them with. But where the refuse-mounds consist of oysters, mussels, cockles, and other bivalves, their flint-knives, used to open them with, are generally found. Sir George Grey's description of the sites of native encampments, so frequently met with in Australia, will serve as another example. The remains of such an encampment consist of a circle of large flat stones arranged round the place where the fire has been; on each of the flat stones a smaller stone for breaking shell-fish; beside each pair of stones a large shell used for a cup, and, scattered all around, broken shells and bones of kangaroos.
Nor are cases hard to find of the use of these very low representatives of the Stone Age carried up into higher levels of civilization. Thus the tribes of Central and Southern Africa, though often skilful in smiths' work, have not come thoroughly to the use of the iron hammer and anvil. Travellers describe them as forging their weapons and tools with a stone of handy shape and size, on a lump of rock which serves as an anvil; while sometimes an iron hammer is used to give the last finish. The quantities of smooth rolled pebbles found in our ancient English hill-forts were probably collected for sling-stones; but larger pebbles, very likely used as cracking-stones, are found in early European graves. At the present day, the inhabitants of Heligoland and Rügen not only turn to account the natural net-sinkers formed by chalk-flints, out of which the remains of a sponge, or such thing, has been washed, leaving a convenient hole through the flint to tie it by; but they have been known to turn such a perforated flint into a hammer, by fixing a handle in the hole. And lastly, the women who shell almonds in the south of France still use a smooth water-worn pebble (couède, couèdou), as their implement for breaking the shells.
The distinction between natural and artificial implements is of no practical value in estimating the state of culture of a Stone-Age tribe. A natural chip or fragment of stone may have been now and then used as an edged or pointed tool; but we have not the least knowledge of any tribe too low habitually to shape such instruments for themselves. There is, however, a well-marked line of distinction in the Stone Age which divides it into a lower and a higher section. The art of implement-making is in a low stage among tribes who use stone instruments, but are not in the habit of grinding or polishing any of them. There are remains which clearly prove the existence of such tribes, and thus the Stone Age falls into two divisions, the Unground Stone Age and the Ground Stone Age.
To the former and ruder of these two classes belong the instruments of the Drift or Quaternary deposits, and of the early bone caves, and, in great part at least, those of the Scandinavian shell-heaps or kjökkenöddings. Even should a few ground instruments prove to belong to these deposits, the case would not be much altered, for the finding of hundreds of unground implements unmixed with ground ones would still show a vast predominance of chipping over grinding, which would justify their being classed in an Unground Stone Age, quite distinct from the Ground Stone Age in which modern tribes have generally, if not always, been found living.
The rude flint implements found in the drift gravels of the Quaternary (i. e. Post-Tertiary) series of strata, belong to the earliest known productions of human art. Since the long unappreciated labours of M. Boucher de Perthes showed the historical importance of these relics, the date of the first appearance of man on the earth has been much debated. I have no purpose of attempting to discuss the collection of geological and antiquarian fact and argument brought forward in Sir Charles Lyell's 'Antiquity of Man,' not only with reference to the men of the drift period, but to those of the bone caves, and of the early shell-heaps and peat-bogs. But it may he remarked that geological evidence, though capable of showing the lapse of vast periods of time, has scarcely admitted of these periods being brought into definite chronological terms; yet it is only geological evidence that has given any basis for determining the absolute date at which the makers of the drift implements lived in France and England. In an elaborate paper published in 1864, Mr. Prestwich infers, from the time it must have taken to excavate the river-valleys, even under conditions much more favourable than now to such action, and to bore into the underlying strata the deep pipes or funnels now found lined with sand and gravel, that a very long period must have elapsed since the implement-bearing beds began to be laid down. But his opinion is against extreme estimates, and favours the view that the now undoubted contemporaneity of man with the mammoth, the Rhinoceros tichorhinus, etc., is rather to be accounted for by considering that the great animals continued to live to a later period than had been supposed, than that the age of man on earth is to be stretched to fit with an enormous hypothetical date. Mr. Prestwich thus sums up his view of the subject, "That we must greatly extend our present chronology with respect to the first existence of man appears inevitable; but that we should count by hundreds of thousands of years is, I am convinced, in the present state of the inquiry, unsafe and premature."
A set of characteristic drift implements would consist of certain tapering instruments like huge lance-heads, shaped, edged, and pointed, by taking off a large number of facets, in a way which shows a good deal of skill and feeling for symmetry; smaller leaf-shaped instruments; flints partly shaped and edged, but with one end left unwrought, evidently for holding in the hand; scrapers with curvilinear edges; rude flake-knives, etc. Taken as a whole, such a set of types would be very unlike, for instance, to a set of chipped instruments belonging to the comparatively late period of the cromlechs in France and England. But a comparison of particular types with what is found elsewhere, breaks down any imaginary line of severance between the men of the Drift and the rest of the human species. The flake knives are very rude, but they are like what are found elsewhere, and there is no break in the series which ends in the beautiful specimens from Mexico and Scandinavia. The Tasmanians sometimes used for cutting or notching wood a very rude instrument. Eye-witnesses describe how they would pick up a suitable flat stone, knock off chips from one side, partly or all round the edge, and use it without more ado; and there is a specimen corresponding exactly to this description in the Taunton Museum. An implement found in the Drift near Clermont would seem to be much like this. The Drift tools with a chipped curvilinear edge at one end, which were probably used for dressing leather and other scraping, are a good deal like specimens from America. The leaf-shaped instruments of the Drift differ principally from those of the Scandinavian shell-heaps, and of America, in being made less neatly and by chipping off larger flakes; and there are leaf-shaped instruments which were used by the Mound-Builders of North America, perhaps for fixing as teeth in a war-club in Mexican fashion, which differ rather in finish than in shape from the Drift specimens. Even the most special type of the Drift, namely, the pointed tapering implement like a great spear-head, differs from some American implements only in being much rougher and heavier. There have been found in Asia stone implements resembling most closely the best marked of the Drift types. Mr. J. E. Taylor, British Consul at Basrah, obtained some years ago from the sun-dried brick mound of Abu Shahrein in Southern Babylonia, two taper-pointed instruments of chipped flint, which, to judge from a cast of one of them, would be passed without hesitation as Drift implements. As to the date to which these remarkable specimens belong, there is no sufficient evidence. A stone instrument, found in a cave at Bethlehem, does not differ specifically from the Drift type. To these must be added the quartzite implements of Drift type from the laterite deposits of Southern India, described by Mr. R. Bruce Foote.
With the Unground Stone Age of the Drift, that of the Bone Caves is intimately connected. In the Drift, geological evidence shows that a long period of time must have been required for the accumulation of the beds which overlie the flint implements, and the cutting out of the valleys to their present state, since the time when the makers of these rude tools and weapons inhabited France and England in company with the Rhinoceros tichorhinus, the mammoth, and other great animals now extinct. In the Bone Caves this natural calendar of strata accumulated and removed is absent, but their animal remains border on the fauna of the Drift, and the Drift series of stone implements passes into the Cave series, so that the men of the Drift may very well be the makers of some Cave implements contemporaneous with the great quaternary mammals.
The explorations made with such eminent skill and success in the caverns of Périgord by M. Lartet and Mr. Christy, bring into view a wonderfully distinct picture of rude tribes inhabiting the south of France, at a remote period characterized by a fauna strangely different from that at present belonging to the district, the reindeer, the aurochs, the chamois, and so forth. They seem to have been hunters and fishers, having no domesticated animals, perhaps not even the dog; but they made themselves rude ornaments, they sewed with needles with eyes, and they decorated their works in bone, not only with hatched and waved patterns, but with carvings of animals done with considerable skill and taste. Yet their stone implements were very rude, to a great extent belonging to absolute Drift types, and destitute of grinding, with one curious set of exceptions, certain granite pebbles with a smooth hollowed cavity, some of which resemble stones used by the Australians for grinding something in, perhaps paint to adorn themselves with. It is very curious to find these French tribes going so far in the art of shaping tools by grinding, and yet, so far as we know, never catching the idea of grinding a celt.
The stone implements of the Scandinavian shell-heaps are a good deal like those of the Drift and the Caves, as regards their flint-flakes and leaf-shaped instruments, hut they are characterized by the frequent occurrence of a kind of celt which is not a Drift type. It is rudely shaped from the flint, the natural fracture of which gives it a curved form which may be roughly compared to that of a man's front tooth, if it tapered from root to edge. Here, also, the Unground Stone Age prevails, though a very few specimens of higher types have been found. I may quote Mr. Christy's opinion that the thousands of characteristic implements are to be taken as the standard of what was made and used, while, as has very often happened in old deposits lying in accessible situations, a few things may have got in in comparatively modern times.
Beside the want of grinding, the average quality of the instruments of the Unground Stone Age is very low, notwithstanding that its best specimens are far above the level of the worst of the later period. These combined characters of rudeness and the absence of grinding give the remains of the Unground Stone Age an extremely important bearing on the history of Civilization, from the way in which they bring together evidence of great rudeness and great antiquity. The antiquity of the Drift implements is, as has been said, proved by direct geological evidence. The Cave implements, even of the reindeer period, are proved by their fauna to be earlier, as they are seen at a glance to be ruder, than those of the cromlech period and of the earliest lake-dwellings of Switzerland, both belonging to the Ground Stone Age. To the student who views Human Civilization as in the main an upward development, a more fit starting point could scarcely be offered than this wide and well-marked progress from an earlier and lower, to a later and higher, stage of the history of human art.
To turn now to the productions of the higher or Ground Stone Age, grinding is found rather to supplement chipping than to supersede it. Implements are very commonly chipped into shape before they are ground, and unfinished articles of this kind are often found. Moreover, such things as flake-knives, and heads for spears and arrows, have seldom or never been ground in any period, early or late, for the obvious reason that the labour of grinding them would have been wasted, or worse. This question of grinding or not grinding stone implements is brought out clearly by some remarks of Captain Cook's, on his first voyage to the South Seas. He noticed that the natives of Tahiti used basalt to make their adzes of, and these it was necessary to sharpen almost every minute, for which purpose a stone and a coco-nut shell full of water were kept always at hand. When he saw the New Zealanders using, for the finishing of their nicest work, small tools of jasper, chipped off from a block in sharp angular pieces like a gunflint, and throwing them away as soon as they were blunted, he concluded they did not grind them afresh because they could not. This, however, was not the true reason, as their grinding jade and other hard stones clearly shows; but it was simply easier to make new ones than to grind the old. A good set of implements of the Ground Stone Age will consist partly of instruments made by mere chipping, such as varieties of spear-heads, arrow-heads, and flake-knives, and partly of ground implements, the principal classes of which are celts, axes, and hammers.
The word celt (Latin celtis, a chisel) is a convenient term for including the immense mass of instruments which have the simple shape of chisels, and might have been used as such. No doubt many or most of them were really for mounting on handles, and using as adzes or axes; but in the absence of a handle, or a place for one, or a mark where one has been, it is often impossible to set down any particular specimen as certainly a chisel, an axe, or an adze, When, however, the cutting edge is hollowed as in a gouge, it is no longer possible to use it as an axe, though it retains the other two possible uses of chisel and adze. The water-worn pebble, in which a natural edge has been made straighter and sharper by grinding, may be taken as the original and typical form of the celt. Rude South American tribes select suitable water-worn stones and rub down their edges, sometimes merely grasping them in the hand to use them, and sometimes mounting them in a wooden handle; and axes made in this way, by grinding the edge of a suitable pebble, and fixing it in a withe handle, are known in Australia. Moreover, the class to which this almost natural instrument belongs, that, namely, which has a double-convex cross section, is far more numerous and universally distributed than the double-flat, concavo-convex, triangular, or other forms.
Where artificially shaped celts are found only chipped over, in high Stone Age deposits, as in Scandinavia, they are generally to be considered as unfinished; but when celts of hard stone are found only ground near the edge, and otherwise left rough from chipping, they may be taken as denoting a rude state of art. Thus flint celts ground only near the edge are found in Northern Europe, and even in Denmark: but in general celts of the hardest stone are found, during the Ground Stone Age, conscientiously ground and polished all over, and every large celt of hard stone which is finished to this degree represents weeks or months of labour, done not so much for any technical advantage, as for the sake of beauty and artistic completeness.
The primitive hammer, still used in some places, is an oval pebble, held in the hand. Above this comes the natural pebble, or the artificially shaped stone, which is grooved or notched to have a bent withe fastened round it as a handle, as our smiths mount heavy chisels. Above this again is the highest kind, the stone hammer with a hole through it for the handle. This is not found out of the Old World, perhaps not out of Europe; and even the Mexicans, who in many things rivalled or excelled the stone- workers of ancient Europe, do not seem to have got beyond grooving their hammers. The stone axe proper, as distinguished from the mere celt by its more complex shape, and by its being bored or otherwise fitted for a handle, is best represented in the highest European Stone Age, and in the transition to the Bronze Age.
Special instruments and varieties are of great interest to the Ethnographer, as giving individuality to the productions of the Stone Age of different times and places. Thus, the rude triangular flakes of obsidian with which the Papuans head their spears are very characteristic of thoir race. These spears were probably what they were using in Schouten's time; "long staves with very long sharpe things at the ends thereof, which (as we thought) were finnes of black fishes." Among celts, the Polynesian adze blade, to be seen in almost any museum, is a well-marked type; as is the American double hatchet, and an elaborately-formed American knife. The Pech's knives or Pict's knives, of Shetland, made from a rock with a slaty cleavage, seem peculiar. They appear to be efficient instruments, as an old woman was seen cutting cabbage with one not long since.
As there are a good many special instruments like these in different parts of the world, the idea naturally suggests itself of trying to use them as ethnological evidence, to prove connexion or intercourse between two districts where a similar thing is found. For instance, among the most curious phenomena in the history of stone implements is the occurrence of one of the highest types of the Stone Age, the polished celt of green jade, of all places in the world, in Australia, where the general character of the native stone implements is so extremely low. There is a quarry of this very hard and beautiful stone in Victoria, and the natives on the river Glenelg grind it into double-convex hatchet blades, a process which must require great labour, and these blades they fix with native thread into cleft sticks, and use them as battle-axes. Two of the blades in question are in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh, presented by Dr. Mackay, who got them near the place where they were made. They are only inferior to the finest celts of the same material from New Zealand, in wanting the accuracy of outline which the Maori would have given, and the conscientious labour with which he would have ground down the whole surface till every inequality or flaw had disappeared, whereas the Australian has been content with polishing into the hollow places, instead of grinding them out. Were we obliged to infer, from the presence of these high-class celts in Australia, that the natives in one part of the country had themselves developed the making of stone implements so immensely beyond the rest of their race, while they remained in other respects in the same low state of civilization, the quality of stone implements would have to be pretty much given up as a test of culture anywhere. Fortunately there is an easier way out of the difficulty. Polished instruments of this green jade have been, long ago or recently, one of the most important items of manufacture in the islands of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, and the South Australians may have learnt from some Malay or Polynesian source the art of shaping these high-class weapons. The likelihood of this being their real history is strengthened by proofs we have of intercourse between Australia and the surrounding islands. Besides the known yearly visits of the trepang-fishers of Macassar to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the appearance of the outrigger-canoe in East Australia in Captain Cook's time, there is mythological evidence which seems to carry proof of connexion far down the east coast.
Another coincidence in patterns of weapons said to come from two distant regions may be mentioned here. There is a well- known New Zealand weapon, the mére, or pátu-pátu. It is an edged club of bone or stone, which has been compared to a beaver's tail, or is still more like a soda-water bottle with the bulb flattened, and it is a very effective weapon in a hand-to-hand fight, a man being often killed by one thrust with its sharp end against the temple. Through the neck it has a hole for a wrist-cord. The mére is made of the bone of a whale, or of stone, and the finest, which are of green jade and worked with immense labour, were among the most precious heirlooms of the Maori Chiefs. One would think that such a peculiar weapon was hardly likely to be made independently by two races; but Klemm gives a drawing of a sharp-edged Peruvian weapon, of dark brown jasper, which is so exactly like the New Zealand mére, even to the wrist-cord, that a single drawing of one of the latter, shown in front and profile in Fig. 19, will serve for both. Another, stated to be from Cuzco, of a greenish amphibolic stone, is figured by Rivero and Tschudi, curiously enough, in company with a wooden war-club from Tunga in Colombia, which is hardly distinguishable from a common Polynesian form. If we knew of any connexion between the civilizations of Peru and the South Sea Islands, these extraordinary resemblances might be accounted for as caused by direct transmission.
When, however, their full value has been given to the differences in the productions of the Ground Stone Age, there remains a residue of a most remarkable kind. In the first place, a very small number of classes, flake-knives, scrapers, spear and arrow-heads, celts and hammers, take in the great mass of specimens in museums; and in the second place, the prevailing character of these implements, whether modern or thousands of years old, whether found on this side of the world or the other, is a marked uniformity. The ethnographer who has studied the stone implements of Europe, Asia, North or South America, or Polynesia, may consider the specimens from the district he has studied, as types from which those of other districts differ, as a class, by the presence or absence of a few peculiar instruments, and individually in more or less important details of shape and finish, unless, as sometimes happens, they do not perceptibly differ at all. So great is this uniformity in the stone implements of different places and times, that it goes far to neutralise their value as distinctive of different races. It is clear that no great help in tracing the minute history of the growth and migration of tribes, is to be got from an arrow-head which might have come from Patagonia, or Siberia, or the Isle of Man, or from a celt which might be, for all its appearance shows, Mexican, Irish, or Tahitian. If an observer, tolerably acquainted with stone implements, had an unticketed collection placed before him, the largeness of the number of specimens which he would not confidently assign, by mere inspection, to their proper countries, would serve as a fair measure of their general uniformity. Even when aided by mineralogical knowledge, often a great help, he would have to leave a large fraction of the whole in an unclassed heap, confessing that he did not know within thousands of miles or thousands of years, where and when they were made.
How, then, is this remarkable uniformity to be explained? The principle that man does the same thing under the same circumstances will account for much, but it is very doubtful whether it can be stretched far enough to account for even the greater proportion of the facts in question. The other side of the argument is, of course, that resemblance is due to connexion, and the truth is made up of the two, though in what proportions we do not know. It may be that, though the problem is too obscure to be worked out alone, the uniformity of development in different regions of the Stone Age may some day be successfully brought in with other lines of argument, based on deep-lying agreements in culture, which tend to centralize the early history of races of very unlike appearance, and living in widely distant ages and countries.
To turn to an easier branch of the subject, I have brought together here, as a contribution to the history of the Stone Age, a body of evidence which shows that it has prevailed in ancient or up to modern times, in every great district of the inhabited world. By the aid of this, it may be possible to sketch at least some rude outline of the history of its gradual decline and fall, which followed on the introduction of metal in later periods, up to our own times, when the universal use of iron has left nothing of the ancient state of things, except a few remnants, of interest to ethnologists and antiquaries, but of no practical importance to the world at large.
In the first place, there are parts of the world whose inhabitants, when they were discovered in modern times by more advanced races, were found not possessed of metals, but using stone, shell, bone, split canes, and so forth, for purposes in making tools and weapons to which we apply metals. Now as we have no evidence that the inhabitants of Australia, the South Sea Islands, and a considerable part of North and South America, had ever been possessed of metals, it seems reasonable to consider these districts as countries where original Stone Age conditions had never been interfered with, until they came within the range of European discovery.
But in other parts of North, and South America, such interference had already taken place before the time of Columbus. The native copper of North America had been largely used by the race known to us as the "Mound Builders," who have left as memorials of their existence the enormous mounds and fortifications of the Mississippi Valley. They do not seem to have understood the art of melting copper, or even of forging it hot, but to have treated it as a kind of malleable stone, which they got in pieces out of the ground, or knocked off from the great natural blocks, and hammered into knives, chisels, axes, and ornaments. The use of native copper was by no means confined to the Mound Builders, for the European explorers found it in use for knives, ice-chisels, ornaments, etc., in the northern part of the Continent, especially among the Esquimaux and the Canadian Indians. The copper which Captain Cook found in abundance among the Indians of Prince William's Sound, was no doubt native. The iron used for arrow-heads by the Indians at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata was no doubt meteoric. This has been found in use among the Esquimaux. There is a harpoon-point of walrus tusk in the British Museum, headed with a blade of meteoric iron, and a knife, also of tusk, which is edged by fixing in a row of chips of meteoric iron along a groove. But these instruments do not appear old; they are just like those in which the Esquimaux at present mount morsels of European iron, and there is no evidence that they used their native meteoric iron until their intercourse with Europeans in modern times had taught them the nature and use of the metal. It is indeed very strange that there should be no traces found among them of knowledge of metal-work, and of other arts which one would expect a race so receptive of foreign knowledge to have got from contact with the Northmen, in the tenth and following centuries; but I have not succeeded in finding any distinct evidence of the kind.
In the lower part of the Northern Continent, in Peru and some other districts of the Southern, the Stone Age was not extinct at the time of Columbus; it was indeed in a state of development hardly surpassed anywhere in the world, but at the same time several metals were in common use. Gold and silver were worked with wonderful skill, but chiefly for ornamental purposes. Though almost all the gold and silver work of Mexico has long ago gone to the melting-pot, there are still a few specimens which show that the Spanish conquerors were not romancing in the wonderful stories they told of the skill of the native goldsmiths. I have seen a pair of gold eagle ornaments in the Berlin Museum, which will compare almost with the Etruscan work for design and delicacy of finish. But what is still more important is that bronze, made of well-judged proportions of copper and tin, was in use on both continents. The Peruvians used bronze, and perhaps copper also, for tools and weapons. The Mexican bronze axe-blades are to be seen in collections, and we know by the picture-writings that both the Mexicans and the builders of the ruined cities of Central America, mounted them by simply sticking them into a wooden club, as the modern African mounts his iron axe-blade. The little bronze bells of Mexico and South America are cored castings, which are by no means novice's work, and other bronze castings from the latter country are even more remarkable.
How the arts of working gold, silver, copper, and bronze came into America, we do not know, nor can we even tell whether their appearance on the Northern and Southern Continent was independent or not. It is possible to trace Mexican connexion down to Nicaragua, and perhaps even to the Isthmus of Panama, while on the other hand the northern inhabitants of South America were not unacquainted with the nations farther down the continent. But no certain proof of connexion or intercourse of any kind between Mexico and Peru seems as yet to have been made out. All that we know certainty is that gold, silver, copper, tin, and bronze had there intruded themselves among the implements and ornaments of worked stone, though they had scarcely made an approach to driving them out of use, and that the traditions of both continents ascribed their higher culture to certain foreigners who were looked upon as supernatural beings. If we reason upon the supposition that these remarkably unanimous legends may perhaps contain historical, in combination with mythical elements, the question suggests itself, where, for a thousand or fifteen hundred years before the Spanish discovery, were men to be found who could teach the Mexicans and Peruvians to make bronze, and could not teach them to smelt and work iron? The people of Asia seem the only men on whose behalf such a claim can be sustained at all. The Massagetæ of Central Asia were in the Bronze Age in the time of Herodotus, who, describing their use of bronze for spear and arrow-heads, battle-axes, and other things, and of gold rather for ornamental purposes, remarks that they make no use of iron or silver, for they have none in their country, while gold and bronze abound. Four centuries later, Strabo modifies this remark, saying that they have no silver, little iron, but abundance of gold and bronze. The Tatars were in the Iron Age when visited by mediæval travellers, and the history of the transition from bronze to iron in Central Asia, of which we seem to have here a glimpse, is for the most part obscure. The matter is, however, the more worthy of remark from its bearing on the argument for the connexion of the culture of Mexico and that of Asia, grounded by Humboldt on the similarities in the mythology and the calendar of the two districts.
If we now turn to the history of the Stone Age in Asia, Africa, and Europe, we shall indeed find almost everywhere evidence of a Stone Period, which preceded a Bronze or Iron Period, but this is only to be had in small part from the direct inspection of races living without metal implements. The Kamchadals of north-eastern Asia, a race as yet ethnologically isolated, were found by the Kosak invaders using cutting-tools of stone and bone. It is recorded that with these instruments it took them three years to hollow out a canoe, and one year to scoop out one of the wooden troughs in which they cooked their food; but probably a large allowance for exaggeration must be made in this story. It is curious to notice that, thirty or forty years ago, Erman got in Kamchatka one of the Stone Age relics found in such enormous numbers in Mexico, a fluted prism of obsidian, off which a succession of stone blades had been flaked; but though one would have thought that the comparatively recent use of stone instruments in the country would have been still fresh in the memory of the people, the natives who dug it up had no idea what it was. Stone knives, moreover, have been found in the high north-east of Siberia, on the site of deserted yourts of modern date, said to have been occupied by the settled Chukchi, or Shalags.
Chinese literature has preserved various notices of the finding and use of stone implements. Such is a passage speaking of arrows with stone heads sent as tribute by the barbarians in the reign of Wu-Wang (about b.c. 1100), and two which mention the actual use of such arrows in China, whether by Chinese or Tatars, up to the 13th century of our era. Again, referring to Nan-hiu-fu, in the province of Kwan-tong, in Southern China, it is stated, "They find, in the mountains and among the rocks which surround it, a heavy stone, so hard that hatchets and other cutting instruments are made from it." This of course relates to a long past age, and it is to be remembered that China is not inhabited only by the race usually known to us as the Chinese, but by another, or several other far less cultured races; the mountains of Kwan-tong and the other southern provinces being especially inhabited by such rude and seemingly aboriginal tribes. There is, besides, a Chinese tradition speaking of the use of stone for weapons among themselves in early times, which implies at least the knowledge that this is a state of things characterizing a race at a low stage of culture, and may really embody a recollection of their own early history. Fu-hi, they say, made weapons; these were of wood, those of Shin-nung were of stone, and Chi-yu made metal ones.
Among the great Tatar race to which the Turks and Mongols, and our Hungarians, Lapps, and Finns belong, accounts of a Stone Age may be found, in the most remarkable of which the widely prevailing idea that stone instruments found buried in the ground are thunderbolts, is very well brought into view. In the Chinese Encyclopaedia of the emperor Kang-hi, who began to reign in 1662, the following passage occurs:—
"'Lightning-stones.'—The shape and substance of lightning-stones vary according to place. The wandering Mongols, whether of the coasts of the eastern sea, or the neighbourhood of the Sha-mo, use them in the manner of copper and steel. There are some of these stones which have the shape of a hatchet, others that of a knife, some are made like mallets. These lightning-stones are of different colours; there are blackish ones, others are greenish. A romance of the time of the Tang, says that there was at Yu-men-si a great Miao dedicated to the Thunder, and that the people of the country used to make offerings there of different things, to get some of these stones. This fable is ridiculous. The lightning-stones are metals, stones, pebbles, which the fire of the thunder has metamorphosed by splitting them suddenly and uniting inseparably different substances. There are some of these stones in which a kind of vitrification is distinctly to be observed."
Moreover, within the last century the Tunguz of north-eastern Siberia, belonging to the same Tatar race, were using stone arrow-heads, while Tacitus long before made a similar remark as to their relatives the Finns, whose "only hope is in their arrows, which, from want of iron, they make sharp with bones." "Sola in sagittis spes, quas, inopia ferri, ossibus asperant." But the Tunguz have been expert iron-workers as long as we have any distinct knowledge of them, and arrow-heads of stone and bone may survive, for an indefinite number of centuries, the main part of the Stone Age to which they properly belong. Even the Egyptians, in the height of their civilization, used stone arrow-heads in hunting, notwithstanding their vast wealth of bronze and iron. The peculiar arrows which are being shot at wild oxen in the bas-reliefs of Beni Hassan are still to be seen in collections; they are special as to their wedge-shaped flint heads, fixed with the broad edge foremost, a shape like that of the wooden-headed bird-bolts of the Middle Ages. The stone arrow-heads found on the battle-field of Marathon are often described, but arrow-heads and other instruments of the Stone Age are common in Greek soil, and may be præ-Aryan. It is clear, however, that metal must be very common and cheap to be used in so wasteful a way as in heading an arrow, perhaps only for a single shot.
If we go back eighteen hundred years, an account may be found of a people living under Stone Age conditions in a part of Asia much less remote than Tartary and China. Strabo gives the following description of the fish-eaters inhabiting the coast of the present Beloochistan, on the Arabian Sea, and, like the Aleutian Islanders of modern times, building their huts of the bones of whales, with their jaws for doorways:—"The country of the Ichthyophagi is a low coast, for the most part without trees, except palms, a sort of acanthus, and tamarisks; of water and cultivated food there is a dearth. Both the people and their cattle eat fish, and drink rain- and well-water, and the flesh of the cattle tastes of fish. In making their dwellings, they mostly use the bones of whales, and oyster-shells, the ribs serving for beams and props, and the jaw-bones for doorways; the vertebræ they use for mortars, in which they pound their sun-dried fish, and of this, with the mixture of a little corn, they make bread, for, though they have no iron, they have mills. And this is the less wonderful, seeing that they can get the mills from elsewhere, but how can they dress the millstones when worn down? with the stones, they say, with which they sharpen their arrows and darts [of wood, with points] hardened in the fire. Of the fish, part they cook in ovens, but most they eat raw, and they catch them in nets of palm-bark."
Though direct history gives but partial means of proving the existence of a Stone Age over Asia and Europe, the finding of ancient stone tools and weapons in almost every district of these two continents, proves that they were in former times inhabited by Stone Age races, though whether in any particular spot the tribes we first find living there are their descendants as well as their successors, this evidence cannot tell us. How, for instance, are we to tell what race made and used the obsidian flakes which were found with polished agate and carnelian beads under the chief corner-stone of the great temple of Khorsabad? All through Western Asia, and north of the Himalaya, stone implements are scattered broadcast through the land; while China, to judge from the slender evidence forthcoming, seems to have had its Stone Age like other regions.
Japan abounds in Stone Age relics, of which Van Siebold has given drawings and descriptions in his great work; and his own collection at Leyden is very rich in specimens. The arrow-heads of obsidian, flint, chert, etc., are of types like those found else- where. Their presence is sometimes accounted for by stories that they were rained from the sky, or that every year an army of spirits fly through the air with rain and storm; when the sky clears, people go out and hunt in the sand for the stone arrows they have dropped. The arrow-heads are found most abundantly in the north of the great island of Nippon, in the so-called land of the Wild Men, a population who were only late and with difficulty brought under the Mikado dynasty, and who belong to the same Aino race as the present inhabitants of the island of Yesso and the southern Kuriles. Consul Brandt says that stone arrow-heads are still used in North Japan, and that he has even seen in Yesso stone hammers and hatchets among the Ainos. In Japan, stone celts are frequently to be found in the collections of minerals of native amateurs, and they are dug up with other objects of stone. They seem only of average symmetry and finish. Here, again, the natives call such a stone celt a "thunderbolt," Rai fu seki, or Tengu no masakari, " battleaxe of Tengu," Tengu being the guardian of heaven. The notion is also current that they are implements of the Evil Spirit, whose symbol is the fox, whence the names of "Fox-hatchet," "Fox-plane." As a fox-plane, a double-flat celt is shown in Siebold's plates, which may have served the purpose of a plane, or, if it was fixed to a handle, that of an adze. Regularly shaped stone knives (not mere flakes) are represented; some are like the stone knives of Egypt, but rougher; the Japanese recognise them as "stone-knives." Some which have been dug up are kept in the temples as relics of the time of the Kami, the spirits or divinities from whom the Japanese hold themselves to be descended, and whose worship is the old religion of the Japanese, the way or doctrine of the Kami, more commonly known by the Chinese term, Sin-tu. Some stone knives, drawn by Siebold on Japanese authority, seem to be of a slaty rock, which has admitted of their being very neatly made in curious shapes. One very highly finished specimen is called the stone knife of the "Green Dragon," a term which may be explained by the fact that the conventional dragon of Japan has a sword at the end of his tail.
Again, Java abounds in very high-class stone implements, and such things are found on the Malay Peninsula, though in both these districts the natives, unlike the Polynesians, whose language is so closely connected with theirs, do not even know what stone celts are, and hold with so many other nations that they are thunderbolts.
In India an account of the discovery by Mr. H. P. Le Mesurier of a great number of ancient stone celts was published in 1861. He found them stored up in villages of the Jubbulpore district, near the Mahadeos, and in other sacred places; and since then many more have been met with by other observers. India has now to be reckoned among countries which afford relics not only of the Stone Age, but of its ruder period of unpolished implements, preceding the more advanced period of the ground celt.
In Europe, ancient stone implements are found from east to west, and from north to south, the relics perhaps of races now extinct, or absorbed in others, or of the Tatar population of Finland and Lapland, or of that unclassed race which survives in the Basque population about the Pyrenees, who, unlike the Finns and Lapps, cannot as yet claim relationship with a surviving parent stock.
As to our own Aryan or Indo-European race, our first knowledge of it, at the remote period of which a picture has been reconstructed by the study of the Vedas, and a comparison of the Sanskrit with other Aryan tongues, shows a Bronze Age prevailing among them when they set out on their migrations from Central Asia to found the Aryan nations, the Indians, Persians, Greeks, Germans, and the rest. A general view of the succession of metal to stone all over the world, justifies a belief that the Aryans were no exception to the general rule, and that they, too, used stone instruments before they had metal ones; but there is little known evidence bearing on the matter beyond that of a few Aryan words, which are worth mentioning, though they will not carry much weight of argument.
The nature of this evidence may be made clear, by noticing how it comes into existence in places where the introduction of metal is matter of history. In these places it sometimes happens that old words, referring to stone and stone instruments, are transferred to metal and metal instruments, and these words take their place as relics of the Stone Age preserved in language. Thus in North America the Algonquin names for copper and brass are miskwaubik and ozawaubik, that is to say, "red-stone" and "yellow-stone;" while the name e-reck, that is, "stone," is used by some Indian tribes of California for all metals indiscriminately. In the Delaware language, opeek is "white," and assuun is "stone;" so that it is evident that the name of silver, opussuun, means " white-stone," while the termination "stone" is discernible in uisauaasun, "gold." In the Mandan language, the words mahi, "knife," and mahitshuke, "flint," are clearly connected. Having thus examples of the way in which the Stone Age has left its mark in language, in races among whom it has been superseded within our knowledge, it is natural that we should expect to find words marking the same change, in the speech of men who made the same transition in times not clearly known to history. What has been done in this way as yet comes to very little, but Jacob Grimm has set an example by citing two words, hammer, Old Norse hamarr, meaning both "hammer" and "rock," and Latin saxum, a name possibly belonging to a time when instruments to cut with, secare, were still of stone, and which still keeps close to Old German sahs, Anglo-Saxon seax, a knife. There may possibly be some connexion between sagitta, arrow, and saxum, stone, and in like manner between Sanskrit çilî, arrow, çilâ, stone, while in the Semitic family of languages, Hebrew חֵצ, chetz, arrow, חָצָץ, chātzātz, gravel-stone, are both related to the verb חָצַץ, chātzatz, to cut. But against the inference from these words, that their connexion belongs to a time when stone was the usual material for sharp instruments, there lies this strong objection, that knife and stone might get from the same root names expressing sharpness, or any other quality they have in common, without having anything directly to do with one another, while the same word, hamar, may have been found an equally suitable name for "hammer" and "rock," without the hammer being so called because all hammers were originally stones.
Among the Semitic race, however, it seems possible to bring forward better evidence than this of an early Stone Age. If we follow one way of translating, we find in two passages of the Old Testament an account of the use of sharp stones or stone knives for circumcision; Exodus iv. 25, "And Zipporah took a stone" צֹר, tzor), and Joshua v. 2, "At that time Jehovah said to Joshua, Make thee knives of stone" (חַרבוֹת צֻרִים, charvoth tzurim). As they stand, however, these passages are not sufficient to prove the case, for there is much the same ambiguity as to the original meaning of tzor, tzūr, as in the etymologies of some of the words just mentioned. Gesenius refers them to צוּר tzūr, to cut, and the readings "an edge, a knife," and " knives of edges, i.e. sharp knives," have so far at least an equal claim. It remains to be seen which view is supported by further evidence.
In the first place, the Septuagint altogether favours the opinion that the knives in question were of stone, by reading in the first place ψῆφον, a stone, or pebble, and in the secend μαχαίρας πετρίνας ἐκ πέτρας, stone knives of sharp-cut stone. These are mentioned again in the remarkable passage which follows the account of the death and burial of Joshua (Joshua xxiv. 29—30), "And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Jehovah, died, being a hundred and ten years old, and they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath Serah, which is in Mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash." Here follows in the LXX. a passage not in the Hebrew text which has come down to us. "Καὶ ἐκεῖ ἔθηκαν μετ' αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον ἐν ᾧ ἔθαψαν αὐτὸν ἐκεῖ, τὰς μαχαίρας τὰς πετρίνας, ἐν αἶς περιέτεμε τοὺς υἱοὺς Ἰσραὴλ ἐν Γαλγάλοις, ο͂τε ἐξήγαγεν αὐτοὺς ἐξ Αἰγύπτου καθὰ συνέταξε Κύριος καὶ ἐκεῖ εἰσὶν ἔως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας." "And there they laid with him in the tomb wherein they buried him there, the stone knives, wherewith he circumcised the children of Israel at the Gilgals, when he led them out of Egypt, as the Lord commanded. And they are there unto this day." Any one who is disposed to see in this statement a late interpolation, may imagine an origin for it. The opening of a tumulus containing, as they so commonly do, a quantity of sharp instruments of stone, might suggest to a Jew who only knew such things as circumcising knives, the idea that he saw before him the tomb of Joshua, and, buried with his body, the stone knives wherewith he circumcised the children of Israel.
How far the modern Jews follow the translation "stone," "knives of stone," I cannot entirely say, but two modern Jewish translations of the Pentateuch which I have consulted read "stone" in Exodus iv. 25. It is to be remarked that the Rabbinical law admits such a use; it stands thus:—
״בכל מלין, ואפילו בצור ובזכוכית ובכל דבר הכורת, חוץ מבקרומית של קנה לפי שקוסמים נחזים ממכה ויבא לידי שפכה, ומטוה מן המובחר למול בברזל בין במכין בין במספרים ונהגו למול בסכין״
"We may circumcise with anything, even with a flint, with crystal (glass) or with anything that cuts, except with the sharp edge of a reed, because enchanters make use of that, or it may bring on a disease, and it is a precept of the wise men to circumcise with iron, whether in the form of a knife or of scissors, but it is customary to use a knife." Now as Professor Lazarus, a most competent judge in such matters, remarked to me with reference to this question, the mere mention of a practice in the Rabbinical books is not good evidence that it ever really existed, seeing that their writers habitually exercise their fertile imaginations in devising cases which might possibly occur, and then argue upon them as seriously as though they were real matters of practical importance. But there are observed facts, which tend to bring these particular ordinances out of the region of fancy, and into that of fact. As to the prohibition of the use of the reed knife, it is to be noticed that this (in the form of a sharp splinter of bamboo) was the regular instrument with which circumcision was performed in the Fiji islands. And as to the use of the stone circumcising knife, it is stated by Leutholf, who is looked upon as a good authority, that it was in use in Æthiopia in his time,—"The Alnajah, an Æthiopian race, perform circumcision with stone knives." "Alnajah gens Æthiopum cultris lapideis circumcisionem peragit." This would be in the sixteenth century. And though the modern Jews generally use a steel knife, there appears to be a remarkable exception to this custom; that when a male child dies before the eighth day, it is nevertheless circumcised before burial, but this is done, not with the ordinary instrument, but with a fragment of flint or glass.
Under the reservation just stated, a recognition among the Jewish ordinances of the practice of slaughtering a beast with a [sharp] stone, may here he cited from the Mishna:—
השוחט במגל יד, בצור, ובקנה, שחיטתו כשרה
"If a person has slaughtered [a beast] with a hand-sickle, a [sharp] stone, or a reed, it is casher," i.e. clean, or fit to be eaten. Here not only the context, but the necessity of shedding the animal's blood, proves that a proper cutting instrument of stone, or at least a sharp-edged piece, is meant.
Before drawing any inference from these pieces of evidence, it will be well to bring together other accounts of the use of cutting instruments of stone, glass, etc., by people who, though in possession of iron knives, for some reason or other did not choose to apply them to certain purposes. Thus the practice of sacrificing a beast, not with a knife or an axe, but with a sharp stone, has been observed on the West Coast of Africa during the last century, as will be more fully detailed in page 223.
An often quoted instance of the use of a stone knife for a ceremonial purpose, where iron would have been much more convenient, is the passage in Herodotus which relates that, in Egypt, the mummy-embalmers made the incision in the side of the corpse with a sharp Æthiopic stone. The account given by Diodorus Siculus is fuller:—"And first, the body being laid on the ground, he who is called the scribe marks on its left side how far the incision is to be made. Then the so-called slitter (paraschistes), having an Æthiopic stone, and cutting the flesh as far as the law allows, instantly runs off, the bystanders pursuing him and pelting him with stones, cursing him, and as it were, turning the horror of the deed upon him," for he who hurts a citizen is held worthy of abhorrence. There are two kinds of stone knives found in excavations and tombs in Egypt, both of chipped flint, and very neatly made; one kind is like a very small cleaver, the other has more of the character of a lancet, and would seem the more suitable of the two for the embalmer's purpose.
Noteworthy from this point of view, is another description by Herodotus, that of the covenant of blood among the Arabians, where a man standing between the parties with a sharp stone made cuts in the inside of their hands, and with the blood smeared seven stones lying in the midst, calling on their deities Orotal and Alilat. A story related by Pliny, of the way in which the balsam of Judea, or "balm of Gilead," was extracted, comes under the same category. The incisions, he says, had to be made in the tree with knives of glass, stone, or bone, for it hurts it to wound its vital parts with iron, and it dies forthwith.
With regard to the reason of such practices as these, it has been suggested that there was a practical advantage in the use of the stone knife for circumcision, as less liable to cause in- flammation than a knife of bronze or iron. From this point of view Pliny's statement has been quoted, that the mutilation of the priests of Cybele was done with a sherd of Saniian ware (Samiâ testâ), as thus avoiding danger. But the idea of a stone instrument having any practical advantage over an iron one in cutting a living subject, and even a dead body or a tree, will not meet with much acceptance. I cannot but think that most, if not all, of the series are to be explained as being, to use the word in no harsh sense, but according to what seems its proper etymology, cases of superstition, of the "standing over" of old habits into the midst of a new and changed state of things, of the retention of ancient practices for ceremonial purposes, long after they had been superseded for the commonplace uses of ordinary life. Such a view takes in every instance which has been mentioned, though the reason of iron not being adopted by the modern Jews in one case as well as in another is not clear. As to Pliny's story of the balm of Gilead, I am told, on competent authority, that the use of stone and such things instead of iron for making incisions in the tree, if ever it really existed, could be nothing hut a superstition without any foundation in reason. It may perhaps tell in favour of the story being true, that it is only one of a number of cases mentioned by Pliny, of plants as to which the similar notion prevailed, that they would be spoiled by being touched with an iron instrument. There seems, on the whole, to be a fair case for believing that among the Israelites, as in Arabia, Ethiopia and Egypt, a ceremonial use of stone instruments long survived the general adoption of metal, and that such observances are to be interpreted as relics of an earlier Stone Age; while incidentally the same argument makes it probable that the rite of circumcision belonged to the Stone Age among the ancient Israelites, as we know it does among the modern Australians.
With regard to the foregoing accounts, there is a point which requires further remark. Glass has been mentioned by the side of stone, as a material for making sharp instruments of; and it may seem at first sight an unreasonable thing to make the use of a production which belongs to so advanced a state of civilization as glass, evidence of a Stone Age. But savages have so unanimously settled it, that glass is a kind of stone peculiarly suitable for such purposes, that where a knife of glass, or a weapon armed with it, is found, it may be confidently set down as the immediate successor of a stone one. The Fuegians and the Andaman Islanders are found to have used in this manner the bits of broken glass that came in their way; the New Zealanders have been observed to take a piece of glass in place of the sharp stone with which they cut their bodies in mourning for the dead; and the North American Indians to fix one in a wooden handle, in place of the sharp stone with which the native phleme used to be armed. The Australians substituted such pieces, when they could get them, for the angular pieces of stone with which their lances and jagged knives were mounted. The Christy Museum contains some interesting specimens of these Australian instruments, which date themselves in a curious way as belonging to the time of contact with Europeans. They were originally set with stone teeth; but where these have been knocked out, their places have been filled by new ones of broken glass.
To complete the survey of the Stone Age and its traces in the world, Africa has now to be more fully examined. This great continent is now entirely in the Iron Age. The tribes who do not smelt their own iron, as the Bushmen, get their supplies from others; and in the immense central and western tracts above the Equator, there appears to be no record of tribes living without it. In South Africa, however, the case is different; and the accounts of the English voyages round the Cape of Good Hope about the beginning of the seventeenth century, collected in Purchas's 'Pilgrimes,' give quite a clear history of the transition from the Stone to the Iron Age, which was then taking place.
Then, as now, the inhabitants of Madagascar had their iron knives and spear-heads; and they would have silver in payment for their cattle, 1s. for a sheep, and 3s. 6d. for a cow. But on the West African coast, north of the Cape, there we're pastoral tribes, probably Hottentots, who evidently did not know then, as they do now, how to work the abundant iron ore of their country. At Saldanha Bay, in 1598, John Davis could get fat-tailed sheep and bullocks for bits of old iron and nails, and in 1604 a great bullock was still to be bought for a piece of an old iron hoop. But only seven years later, Nicholas Dounton, "Captaine of the Pepper-Come," begins to write ruefully of the change in this delightful state of things. "Saldania having in former time been comfortable to all our nation travelling this way, both outwards and homewards, yeelding them abundance of flesh, as sheepe and beeves brought downe by the saluage inhabitants, and sold for trifles, as a beife for a piece of an iron hoope of foureteene inches long, and a sheepe for a lesser piece;" but now this is at an end, spoilt perhaps by the Dutchmen, "who use to spoyle all places where they come (onely respecting their owne present occasions) by their ouer much liberalitie," etc., etc.
Stone implements from South Africa, till lately very scarce in ethnological collections, are now sent over in plenty. The Christy Museum contains arrow-heads, spear-heads, scrapers, &c.; and an adze mounted in its withe handle, which has been figured, seems to indicate modern use.
A native Dámara story indeed clearly preserves a recollection of the time, possibly several generations ago, when stone axes were used to cut down trees. The tale is a sort of "House that Jack Built," in which a little girl's mother gives her a needle, and she goes and finds her father sewing thongs with thorns, so she gives him the needle and he breaks it and gives her an axe. "Going farther on she met the lads who were in charge of the cattle. They were busy taking oat honey, and in order to get at it they were obliged to cut down the trees with stones." She addressed them:—"Our sons, how is it that you use stones in order to get at the honey? Why do you not say, Our first-born, give us the axe?" and so on. Even now, I have never met with a stone implement from West Africa. Yet the following passage relating to the Yoruba country, shows that they are to be found there as elsewhere. "The stones or thunder-bolts which Shango casts down from heaven are preserved as sacred relics. In appearance they are identical with the so-called stone hatchets picked up in the fields of America."
Going back two thousand years or so, record is to be found at least of a partial Stone Age condition in north eastern Africa. It appears from Herodotus that the African Ethiopians in the army of Xerxes not only headed their arrows with sharp stone, but had spears armed with sharpened horns of antelopes, while the Libyans had wooden javelins hardened at the point by fire. Strabo mentions in Ethiopia a tribe who pointed their reed arrows in this way, and another who used as weapons the horns of antelopes. It is interesting to observe that in South Africa the spear headed in this way has survived up to our own time; Mr. Andersson saw the natives at Walfisch Bay spearing the fish left at low water, with a gemsbock's horn attached to a slender stick.
Traces of a Stone Age in Egypt, in the use of the stone arrow-head, and of the stone knife for ceremonial purposes, have been already spoken of. No account of the finding of stone implements in North Africa seems to have been published till Mr. Christy, in a journey made in Algeria in 1863, found them there. He met with flint flake knives, arrow-heads, and polished celts, at Constantine; flakes, arrow-heads, and a beautifully chipped lance head of quartzite, at Dellys on the coast; and flakes and a large pick-shaped instrument, from the desert south-east of Oran, on the confines of Morocco. At Bou-Merzoug, on the plateau of the Atlas, south of Constantine, he found, in a bare, deserted, stony place among the mountains, a collection of tombs, 1000 or 1500 in number, made of the rude limestone slabs, set up with one slab to form a roof, so as to make perfect dolmens, closed chambers where the bodies were packed in. Tradition says that a wicked people lived there, and for their sins stones were rained upon them from heaven, so they built these chambers to creep into. Near this remarkable necropolis, Mr. Christy found flint-flakes and arrow-heads.
If we go westward as far as the Canary Islands, we find a race, considered to be of African origin, living in the fourteenth century under purely Stone Age conditions, making hatchets, knives, lancets, and spear-heads of obsidian, and axes of green jasper, and pointing their spears and digging-sticks with horns. It is possible that they might have once had the use of iron, and have lost it on removing to the islands, where there is no ore, but no evidence of this having been the case seems to have been found.
In Western Africa, when the god Gimawong came down to his temple at Labode on the Gold Coast once a year, with a sound like a flight of wild geese in spring, his worshippers sacrificed an ox to him, killing it not with a knife, but with a sharp stone. Klemm looks upon this as a sign of the high antiquity of the ceremony, and, taking into consideration the evidence as to the keeping up of the use of stone for ceremonial purposes into the Iron Age, the inference seems a highly probable one, although there is another side to this argument. In order to bring this into view, and to adduce some other facts bearing on evidence of the Stone Age, it will be necessary to say here something more of the Myth of the Thunder-bolt.
For ages it has been commonly thought that, with the flash of lightning, there falls, sometimes at least, a solid body which is known as the thunder-bolt, thunder-stone, etc., as in the dirge in 'Cymbeline,'—
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone."
The actual falling of meteoric stones may have had to do with the growth of this theory, but whatever its origin, it is one of the most widely spread beliefs in the world. The thing considered to be the thunderbolt is not always defined in accounts given. It is described as a stone, or it may be a bit of iron-ore, or perhaps iron, or a belemnite, βελεμνίτης, so called from βέλεμνον, a dart, apparently with the idea of its being a thunder-bolt; for this spear-like fossil is still called in England a "thunder-stone." Dr. Falconer mentions the name of "lightning-bones" or "thunder-bones," given to fossil bones brought down as charms from the plateau of Chanthan in the Himalayas, where, of course, frequent thunder-storms are seen to account for their presence. But it is also believed that the stone celts and hammers found buried in the ground are thunderbolts. The country folks of the West of England still hold that the "thunder-axes" they find, fell from the sky, and the Shetlanders agree in the opinion. In Brittany, the itinerant umbrella-mender of Carnac inquires on his rounds for pierres de tonnerre, and takes them in payment for repairs; and these are fair examples of what may be found in other countries in Europe, and not in those inhabited by our Aryan race alone, for the Finns have the same belief. The remarkable Chinese account of the thunder-stones has been already quoted, and it has been noticed that stone celts are held to be thunderbolts in Japan and the Eastern Archipelago. Even in a country where the use of stone axes by the Indians is matter of modern history, and in some places actually survives to this day, the Brazilians use, for such a stone axe-blade, their Portuguese word corísco, that is, "lightning," "thunderbolt" (Latin coruscare).
As the stone axes and hammers are but one of several classes of objects thought to be thunderbolts, it is probable that the myth took them to itself at a time when their real use and nature had been forgotten, and the reason of their being found buried underground was of course unknown. This view is supported by the fact of the existence of such instruments being also accounted for by taking them up into mythology in other ways. Thus in Japan the stone arrow-heads are rained from heaven, or dropped by the flying spirits who shoot them, while in Europe they are fairy weapons, albschosse, elf-bolts, shot by fairies or magicians, and in the North of Ireland the wizards still draw them out from the bodies of "overlooked" cattle. Dr. Daniel Wilson mentions an interesting post-Christian myth, which prevailed in Scotland till the close of the last century, that the stone hammers found buried in the ground were Purgatory Hammers for the dead to knock with at the gates.
The inability of the world to understand the nature of the stone implements found buried in the ground, is not more conspicuously shown in the myths of thunderbolts, elfin arrows, and purgatory hammers, than in the sham science that has been brought to bear upon them in Europe, as well as in China. It is instructive to see Adrianus Tollius, in his 1649 edition of 'Boethius on Gems,' struggling against the philosophers. He gives drawings of some ordinary stone axes and hammers, and tells how the naturalists say that they are generated in the sky by a fulgureous exhalation conglobed in a cloud by the circumfixed humour, and are as it were baked hard by intense heat, and the weapon becomes pointed by the damp mixed with it flying from the dry part, and leaving the other end denser, but the exhalations press it so hard that it breaks out through the cloud, and makes thunder and lightning. But, he says, if this be really the way in which they are generated, it is odd that they are not round, and that they have holes through them, and those holes not equal through, but widest at the ends. It is hardly to be believed, he thinks. Speculation on the natural origin of high-class stone weapons and tools has now long since died out in Europe, but some faint echoes of the Chinese emperor's philosophy were heard among us but lately, in the arguments on the natural formation of the flint implements in the Drift.
With regard, then, to ideas of thunderbolts as furnishing evidence of an early Stone Age, it may be laid down that such a myth, when we can be sure that it refers to artificial stone implements, proves that such things were found by a people who, being possessed of metal, had forgotten the nature and use of these rude instruments of earlier times. Kang-hi's remarks that some of the so-called "lightning- stones" were like hatchets, knives, and mallets, and Pliny's mention of some of the cerauniæ or thunder-stones being like axes, are cases in point. But the mere mention of the belief in thunderbolts falling, as for example in Madagascar and Arracan, only gives a case for further inquiry on the suspicion that the thunderbolts in these regions may turn out to be stone implements, as they have so often done elsewhere.
The thunderbolt is thought to have a magical power, and there is especially one notion in connexion with which it comes into use. This is that it preserves the place where it is kept from lightning, the idea being apparently here, as in the belief about the "wildfire" which will be presently mentioned, that where the lightning has struck, it will not strike again, so that the place where a thunderbolt is put is made safe by having been already struck once, though harmlessly. In Shetland the thunderbolts (which are stone axes) protect from thunder, while in Cornwall the stone hatchets and arrow-heads, which fall from the clouds where the thunder produced them, announce by change of colour a change of weather. In Germany, the house in which a thunderbolt is kept is safe from the storm; when a tempest is approaching, it begins to sweat, and again it is said of it, that "he who chastely beareth this, shall not be struck by lightning, nor the house or town where that stone is," while nearly the same idea comes out in Pliny's account of the brontia, which is "like the heads of tortoises, and falling, as they think, with thunder, puts out, if you will believe it, what has been struck by lightning."
In the mythology of our race, the bolt of the Thunder-god holds a prominent place. To him, be he Indra or Zeus the Heaven-god, or the very thunder itself in person, Thunor or Thor, the Aryans give as an attribute the bolt which he hurls with lightning from the clouds. Now it is possible that this was the meaning of the Roman Jupiter Lapis. The sacred flint was kept in the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, and brought out to be sworn by, and with it the pater patratus smote the victim slain to consecrate the solemn treaties of the Roman people. "'If by public counsel,' he said, 'or by wicked fraud, they swerve first, in that day, Jove, smite thou the Roman people, as I here to-day shall smite this hog; and smite them so much more, as thou art abler and stronger.' And having said this, he struck the hog with a flint stone."
To those who read this, it will seem probable that the flint of Jupiter was held either to be a thunderbolt or to represent one, and the practice cannot be taken as having of necessity come down from an early Stone Age, seeing that it might quite as well have sprung up among a race possessed of metals. The sacred instrument is commonly spoken of indefinitely, as lapis silex, Saxum silex, but it may have been a flint implement found buried in the ground, for already in the ancient song of the "Arval Brethren," the thunderbolt is spoken of as a celt (cuneus) "quom tibei cunei decstumum tonarunt," and, as has been shown, at least this development of the myth of the thunderbolt belongs to an age when the nature of the buried stone implement has been forgotten. Yet if all we knew about the matter was that victims were sacrificed with a flint on certain occasions, and that the Fetiales carried these flints with them into foreign countries where a treaty was to be solemnized, it might be quite plausibly argued that we had here before us a practice which had come down, unchanged, from the time when the fathers of the Roman race used stone implements for the ordinary purposes of life. This is the other side of the argument, which must not be kept out of sight in interpreting, as a relic of the Stone Age, the West African ceremony of slaughtering the beast on the yearly sacrifice to Gimawong, not with a knife, but with a sharp stone.
The examination of the evidence bearing on the Stone Age thus brings into view two leading facts. In the first place, within the limits of the Stone Age itself, an unmistakable upward development in the course of ages is to be discerned, in the traces of an early period when stone implements were only used in their rude chipped state, and were never ground or polished, followed by a later period when grinding came to be applied to improve such stone instruments as required it. And in the second place, a body of evidence from every great district of the habitable globe uniformly tends to prove, that where man is found using metal for his tools and weapons, either his ancestors or the former occupants of the soil, if there were any, once made shift with stone. It would be well to have the evidence fuller from some parts of the world, as from Southern Asia and Central Africa, but we need not expect from thence anything but confirmation of what is already known.
- Wilde, Cat of Mus. of R. I. Acad.; Dublin, 1857, p. 80.
- Klemm, 'Allgemeine Culturwissenschaft;' Leipzig, 1855–8, part ii. p. 86.
- Brasseur, 'Mexique,' vol. iii. p. 640.
- Milligan, in Tr. Eth. Soc.; London, 1863, vol. ii. p. 123.
- Grey, Journals, vol. i. pp. 71, 109.
- Casalis, p. 131; Petherick, p. 395; Burton, Central Africa, vol. ii. p. 312; Backhouse, Africa, p. 377.
- Klemn, C. W., part ii. p. 87.
- Klemm, C. W., part ii. p. 12.
- Sir John Lubbock, in his admirable treatise on primæval antiquities ('Pre- Historic Times;' London, 1865, 2nd ed., 1869), has now introduced the terms Palæolithic and Neolithic to designate the two great divisions of the Stone Age.
- Prestwich, On the Geological Position and Age of the Flint-Implement-Bearing Beds, etc. (from Phil. Trans.); London, 1864. See A. Tylor, On the Amiens Gravel, in Journ. Geol. Soc., May, 1867.
- See Evans, 'Flint Implements in the Drift;' London, 1862.
- Squier & Davis, p. 211.
- Vaux, in Proc. Soc. Ant., Jan. 19, 1860.
- See, for instance, W. Boyd Dawkins, in Proc. Somersetshire Archæological Soc., 1861–2, p. 197.
- H. Christy, in Tr. Eth. Soc., vol. iii. p. 362. Lartet & Christy, 'Reliquiæ Aquitaniæ,' (ed. by T. R. Jones,) London, 1865, etc.
- Lubbock in Nat. Hist. Review, Oct. 1861. Morlot in Soc. Vaudoise des Sc. Nat., 1859.
- Cook, First Voy. H., vol. ii. p. 220; vol. iii. p. 60.
- Purchas, vol. i. p. 95.
- Schoolcraft, part ii. pl. 48, figs. 1 and 2.
- Id., part ii. pl. 45, figs. 1–3. Another specimen in the Edinburgh Antiquaries' Museum, presented by Dr. Daniel Wilson.
- Klemm, C. W., part. ii. p. 26; Rivero & Tschudi. Ant. Per. Plates, pl. xxxiii. The opinion of Mr. Franks that these supposed South American weapons are really Polynesian, but ticketed by mistake, seems the most probable. [Note to 3rd Edition.]
- See Squier & Davis, etc.
- Squier, Abor. Mon. of State of N. Y., Smithsonian Contr.; Washington, 1851, pp. 176–7. Sir J. Richardson, 'The Polar Regions;' Edinburgh, 1861, p. 308. Hakluyt, vol. iii. p 230. Klemm, C. G., vol. ii. p. 18.
- Cook, Third Voy., vol. ii. p. 380.
- Mendoza Codex, in Kingsborough, vol. i.
- Dresden Codex, id.
- Tylor, 'Mexico;' p. 236.
- Ewbank, 'Brazil;' New York, 1856, pp. 454–463.
- Herod., i. 215.
- Strabo, xi. 8, 6.
- Kracheninnikow, p. 29.
- Erman, 'Reise,' vol. iii. p. 453.
- Sarytschew, in Coll. of Mod. etc., Voy. and Tr.; London, 1807, vol. v. p. 35.
- A. W. Franks, in 'Trans. of the Congress of Pre-historic Archæology' (Norwich, 1888), p. 264.
- Grosier, 'De la Chine;' Paris, 1818, vol. i. p. 191.
- Goguet, vol. iii. p. 331.
- 'Mémoires concernant l'Histoire, etc., des Chinois, par les Missionnaires de Pékin ;' Paris, 1776, etc., vol. iv. p. 474. Klemm. C. G., vol. vi. p. 467.
- Ravenstein, p. 4.
- Tac. Germ. xlvi.; and see Grimm, G. D. S., vol. i. p. 173.
- Wilkinson, Top. Acc., vol. i. pp. 222, 353.
- Strabo, xv. 2, 2.
- Ph. Fr. v. Siebold, 'Nippon, Archiv zur Beschreibung von Japan;' Leyden, 1832, etc., part ii. plates xi. to xiii. pp. 45, etc. Brandt, in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, vol. iv. (Verh.) p. 26, or Journ. Antbrop. Inst. vol. iii. p. 132.
- Yates, in 'Archæological Journal,' No. 42. Earl, 'Papuans,' pp. 175–6.
- Le Mesurier, in Joura. As. Soc. Bengal, 1861, No. 1, p. 81. Theobald, As. Soc., Apr. 1864, etc., etc.
- Weber, 'Indische Skizzen;' Berlin, 1857, p. 9. Max Müller, Lectures, second series, p. 230, etc.
- Schoolcraft, part ii. pp. 389, 397, 463, 506; part iii. pp. 426, 418.
- Grimm, D. M., p. 165; G. D. S., p. 610.
- In this connexion see the meanings of açman in Boehtlingk & Roth, and Benfey G. W. L., part i. p. 156.
- LXX., Ed. Field, Oxford, 1859. Elsewhere Gilead instead of Gaash, and other differences.
- Brecher ('Die Beschneidung der Israeliten.' Vienna, 1845, p. 70) says a reed is objectionable on account of the splinters.
- Mariner, vol. i. p. 329; vol. ii. p. 252; Vocab. s. vv. "camo," "tefe." Williams, 'Fiji,' vol. i. p. 166. The Orang Sabimba of the Malay Peninsula cut the umbilical cord at childbirth with a rattan knife, though they have iron ones, Journ. Ind. Archip., vol. i. p. 298.
- Ludolfi, 'Historia Æthiopica;' Frankfort-on-Maine, 1581, iii. 1, 21.
- My authority for this statement is Mr. Philip Abraham, Secretary of the Reformed Synagogue in Margaret Street, Cavendish Square.
- Mishna, Treatise Cholin, ch. i. 2.
- Herod., ii. 86.
- Diod. Sic., i. 91.
- Herod., iii. 8.
- Plin., xii. 54. The Bogos of Abyssinia are reported still to make stone hatchets for stripping bark, and to use flint chips for bleeding. 'Matériaux pour l'Histoire de l'Homme,' June, 1872. [Note to 3rd Edition.]
- Plin., xxxv. 46, xi. 109.
- Plin., xix. 57, xxiii. 81, xxiv., 6, 62.
- G. F. Angas, 'South Australia Illustrated;' London, 1847, pl. v.
- Fitz Roy, 'Voy. of H.M.S. Adventure and Beagle;' London, 1839, vol. ii. p. 184. Mouat, p. 305. Yate, p. 243. Loskiel, p. 144.
- Purchas, vol. i. pp.118, 133, 275, 417.
- See Busk, in 'Trans. Pre-hist. Congress,' 1868, p. 69. G. V. du Noyer, in 'Archæological Journal,' 1847.
- Bleek, 'Reynard in Africa,' p. 90.
- Bowen, 'Gr. and Die. of Yoruba lang.;' p. xvi., in Smithsonian Contr., vol. i.
- Herod., vii. 69, 71.
- Strabo, xvi. 4, 9, 11.
- Andersson, p. 15.
- Barker-Webb & Berthelot, 'Histoire Natnrelle des Iles Canaries;' Paris, 1842, etc., vol. i. part i. pp. 62, 107, 138. Bory de St. Vincent, 'Essai sur les Iles Fortunées;' Paris, An XI. (1803–4), pp. 58, 75–6, 156.
- Römer, p. 54. Klemm, C. G., vol. iii. p. 378.
- Bosman, 'Beschryving van de Guinese Goud-Kust,' etc.; Utrecht, 1704, p. 109 (West Africa). Latham, Descr. Eth., vol. i. p. 159 (Khyens).
- Speke, Journal of Disc.; Edin. and London, 1863, p. 223.
- Proc. R. Geog. Soc., Feb. 25, 1864, p. 41.
- Klemm, C. W., part ii. p. 65; and see Castrén, 'Finnische Mythologie,' p. 42.
- Pr. Max. v. Wied, 'Reise nach Brasilien;' Frankfort, 1820–1, vol. ii. p. 35.
- Wilde, Cat. R. I. A., p. 19.
- Wilson, 'Archæology, etc., of Scotland;' Edinburgh, 1851, pp. 124, 134, etc.
- Boethius, 'Gemmarum & Lapidum Historia,' recensuit, etc. Adrianus Tollius; Leyden, 1649, p. 482.
- Plin., xxxvii. 51.
- Ellis, 'Madagascar,' vol. i. pp. 30, 398.
- Coleman, Myth, of Hindoos, p. 327.
- J. Hunt, in Mem. Anthropol. Soc., vol. ii. p. 317. R. Hunt, 'Popular Romances of W. of England,' 2nd series, p. 233.
- Grimm, D. M.. pp. 164, 1170.
- Plin., xxvii. 55.
- Liv., i. 24; xxx. 43. Cornelius Nepos; Hannibal. Grimm, D. M., p. 1171.
- Kuhn, 'Herabkunft des Feuers,' p. 226.
- A passage in Klemm, C. G., vol. iv. p. 91, relating to a Circassian practice of sacrificing with a "thunderbolt," arises from a misunderstanding. See J. S. Bell, 'Circassia,' vol. ii. pp. 93, 108.