The Ancient Stone Implements, Weapons, and Ornaments of Great Britain/Chapter 24
FORMS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF IMPLEMENTS FROM THE RIVER-DRIFT.
Having now briefly described the circumstances of the discovery of these palæolithic implements in various localities in England, and given illustrations showing their usual forms, it will be well to say a few words as to their character and probable uses. The general resemblance in form between the series of implements found in the River-drift of England and in that of France, is obvious to all who have had the opportunity of examining collections formed in the two countries; while the character of the deposits and of the associated mammalian and molluscan remains being also the same, the implements in each may be regarded as being practically of the same age, and formed by the same race of men. In my former attempt at classifying them, I therefore took my characteristic specimens indifferently from either side of the Channel; more especially, as in 1861, when I drew the plate illustrative of the different types, but few discoveries had been made in England. As this plate has been considered useful as affording a convenient conspectus of the prevailing forms found in the River-drift, I make no apology for here reproducing it in a somewhat modified form, though many of the specimens engraved are of French and not of British origin. In conjunction with the woodcuts given in the text, the two plates into which it is now divided will give a fairly complete idea of most of the forms of palæolithic implements. In first writing on this subject in 1859, I divided these implements generally into three classes, as follows:—
1. Flint-flakes apparently intended for arrow-heads or knives.
2. Pointed weapons analogous to lance or spear-heads.
3. Oval or almond-shaped implements presenting a cutting edge all round.
I stated at the same time that of the second class there were two varieties, the one with a rounded cutting point, and the other acutely pointed; and that there was also so much diversity in their forms, that the classes, especially the second and third, might be said to blend, or run one into the other. In reconsidering the question in 1861, I saw but little to alter in the proposed classification, and even now find no cause for suggesting any material modification, though there are certainly some additional types to be added to those with which I was then acquainted.
The late Mr. E. T. Stevens, who had as much experience as any one in classifying these implements, suggested a somewhat different arrangement of the forms, dividing them under seven heads; and in the following remarks I shall adopt some of his terminology, though slightly departing from his order of sequence.
These may be divided in the same manner as those belonging to the Surface or Neolithic period, into external, ridged, flat, and polygonal. They are either simple or unworked; or wrought into form along the whole or part of the edge.
1. External flakes, or those first struck off a block of flint, the crust of which forms their convex face, are of common occurrence in the River-drift, but they are not often noticed or preserved by the workmen. Many of them are probably mere spalls resulting from the manufacture of the more highly-wrought implements. Some few, however, appear to have been utilized as tools, apparently for scraping.
2. Ridged flakes, or those of triangular section with a single ridge formed by two facets on the convex face, are extremely rare in the gravel-deposits, though occasionally found. Indeed, the art of making long narrow flakes, such as abounded in Denmark in Neolithic times, and are not uncommon in Britain, seems to have been almost unknown to the men whose relics we find in the River-drift; unless, perhaps, their absence in the gravel may be accounted for in some other way than by their non-existence. It is indeed possible that the implements found in the River-gravels were those for out-door, and not for domestic, use; and certainly, in some of the cave-deposits, where the large implements are extremely scarce, these skilfully-formed long flakes occur in considerable numbers. Generally speaking, the proportion of flakes to the more highly-wrought implements appears also to be far greater in the caves than that in the gravels. This apparent greater abundance may, however, to some extent be due to the flakes in the gravel escaping the notice of the workmen, or to their having been broken to pieces during the formation of the gravel.
3. Flat flakes are more common, but these are usually shorter, thicker, and broader than those of the Surface Period. They frequently exhibit that minute chipping at the edge, which is probably the result of wear from scraping some hard substance, such as bone or even wood. Occasionally a notch has been worn in the edge of the flake, as if the object scraped had been cylindrical.
4. Polygonal flakes are those most abundant in the River-drift; but the large, broad flakes of this character, such as are common in the valley of the Somme, and especially in its lower deposits, as at Montiers, near Amiens, are much rarer in England. Fig. 461, from Reculver, is a flake of this character, but I am not sure whether it does not, more properly speaking, come under the head of a wrought flake, as it appears to have been somewhat trimmed at the edges. It is worth while remarking, that many of the French specimens have the edge worn away by use, just on one side of the bulb of percussion, at a place where there is generally a clean sharp edge in a newly-made flake of this form. Occasionally similar marks of use are apparent on English specimens of the same character.
Taken as a whole, the simple flakes of the River-drift Period may be described as larger, coarser, thicker, and broader than those of the Surface Period, or of caves of later date than Le Moustier. Their use appears to have been for cutting and scraping whatever required to be cut or scraped.
I formerly regarded some of them as having possibly been arrow-heads, but the extreme rarity of any light, sharp-pointed flakes, and the absence of any evidence that those who fashioned them were acquainted with the use of the bow, render this assumption almost untenable. It is, however, barely possible that some may have served to tip spears or lances.
One of the commonest forms into which flint flakes were fashioned in Neolithic times, is that produced by trimming the end of the flake to a semicircular bevelled edge. To this form the name of "scraper" has been applied, from its still being used in that capacity by the Eskimos and some North American tribes. The same, or nearly the same, form occurs among the instruments belonging to the Palæolithic Period. Such scrapers are very abundant in many of the French caves, and, as has already been seen, are not entirely wanting in Kent's Cavern and in other British caves. They are, however, of very rare occurrence in the River-drift, and when found, are hardly ever trimmed to so regular and neatly-chipped a segmental edge, as those either from the surface or from the caves.
Occasionally the end of a flake has been worked to a quadrantal edge, so that one of the straight sides is much longer than the other. In some cases the end of the flake appears to have become rounded by wear rather than by trimming.
The implement from Icklingham, Fig. 424, formed from a polygonal flake, is very scraper-like in character. Its convex face shows a great many more facets than is usual with the scrapers of the Neolithic Period. A more characteristic scraper is that from High-Lodge Hill, Fig. 426. It is mainly among the implements found in a matrix of clay, or on a "Palæolithic floor," that these more delicate forms occur. They are not only more likely to have been injured by rolling, but when they form constituent parts of beds of gravel are also less liable to attract observation than are the larger implements.
There is another form which, when of large size, seems almost peculiar to the caves and the River-drift, and to which the term "side-scraper" may be applied. The instruments of this kind are made from broad flakes, usually about twice as broad as they are long. The butt-end of the flake—that at which the blow was administered to strike it off from the parent block—is either left blunt, or trimmed into such a form as may conveniently be held in the hand; the other end, which, owing to the great breadth of the flake, forms the side of the implement, is trimmed to a segmental edge by blows given on the flat inner face of the flake which is left as originally produced. Figs. 437 and 453 show implements of the side-scraper form in flint, and Fig. 443 one less carefully finished in quartzite. The edge is in some instances much more acute than in others. They appear to have been held in the hand, and used in some cases for cutting or chopping, and in others for scraping. The flints of what have been termed the "Plateau types" have their edges much more obtuse and rounded, and their chipping and wear seem to me due to natural causes and not to human workmanship. There are some implements which have been made from broad flakes, but which have both faces more or less trimmed, so as to come perhaps more properly under another category. Another form of trimmed flake is that in which the side-edges have received their outline by secondary chipping, as in Fig. 431. Occasionally they are worked to a sharp point, like the Le Moustier type of Mortillet; and when large, and boldly re-chipped on the convex face, merge in what has been termed the shoe-shaped type.
These are very various in form, and present great difficulties in any attempt to classify them. There are, however, some characteristic types, to attain which would seem to have been the aim of those who made the implements, though they were not always successful; and an innumerable variety of intermediate forms has been the result. To one of these types Mr. Stevens has applied the term "pear-shaped," but though the outline may be that of a pear, the section is so different, that the term seems open to objection. I would rather follow the nomenclature of the French quarry-men, who have given the name langues-de-chat to these implements; and term them "tongue-shaped." They are indeed as varied in their forms as the tongues of the different members of the higher orders of the animal creation, including both birds and beasts, and range as widely in their proportions, but they still retain a general resemblance to a tongue. They are either acute, or round, at the point, and the side-edges are usually sharp; but the characteristics of the form are that the greatest thickness of the implement is far nearer to the butt than to the point, and that the butt is more or less truncated. Fig. 428 gives a typical example of a long, narrow, acutely-pointed, tongue-shaped implement, equally convex on both faces, with straight side-edges, and thick truncated butt trimmed into form. Fig. 417, though so different in proportions, is a short implement of the same character. Fig. 427 affords an example of a broader variety, with a rounded point, and Fig. 447 of one broader still.
Figs. 458 and 463 may be described as tongue-shaped implements, with incurved sides; Fig. 433 as kite-like; Figs. 420 and 472 as ovate; and Fig. 423 as sub-triangular; but the general form of the implements is still, in each instance, tongue-shaped. It is frequently the case that one face of these implements is more convex than the other.
Another variety shows upon the rounded butt some considerable portion of the outer surface of the original pebble or flint from which the implement was made, as in Fig. 457. All such seem to belong to the tongue-shaped class, the character of the butt proving beyond all doubt that it was the pointed end that was used for cutting or piercing, while the butt-end, as is almost universally the case with the tongue-shaped implements, is adapted for being held in the hand.
I was at one time inclined to think that a considerable proportion of these instruments might have been attached to shafts, so as to serve for spear or javelin-heads; but so few of them are so roughly chipped at the butt-end as to render them really inconvenient to be held in the hand, that their use as spear-heads is very doubtful. A specimen from Bedford is said to have had the appearance of having had the butt-end wrapped round with grass so that it might be the more conveniently held in the hand. It is true that the acutely-pointed instruments appear to be rather weapons of offence than mere tools or implements, and not improbably to have been used in the chase; while those with rounded points seem to have been more adapted for the ordinary purposes of life. Some of them show marks of wear at the end, as if they had been used for chopping; and others, at each side, as if produced by boring some hard substance. They may have been used for digging in the ground for esculent roots; for cutting holes through ice, for fishing purposes, as suggested by Sir Joseph Prestwich; or even for tilling the soil, were those who fashioned them acquainted with agriculture, which I must confess appears to me improbable.
Another form of pointed implement is flat on one face, and convex on the other. The flat face has frequently been produced by a single blow, so that the form might be regarded as a variety of trimmed flake. The convex face has, however, in general been fashioned by bold strokes, in the same manner as the more common forms of large implements. In typical specimens the butt is thick, and the whole form is so like that of a shoe, that the term "shoe-shaped" has been applied to it. For the thinner specimens, I would suggest the term "flat-faced." Specimens of the shoe-shaped and flat-faced types are given in Figs. 418a., 429, and 430. It is hard to say what particular purpose such instruments were intended to serve.
Another form of pointed implement has a sharp edge along one side and at the point only, the other side heing left thick, and occasionally with the natural crust of the flint upon it. Such thick-backed single-edged implements appear to have served as knives of the rudest kind. Fig. 10 in Plate I. shows a specimen of this character. Others, like Fig. 419d, present a more chopper-like form, and were probably used as hatchets held in the hand without hafts. The form is not uncommon in the Le Moustier cave.
In other cases, the end of a long nodule of flint has been chipped to a pointed form, as in Fig. 418; or a flint has been converted by half a dozen blows into a rude pointed implement, probably to serve some temporary purpose. If, after being used, such tools were thrown away, as not being worth preserving, their abundance in some gravels is the less remarkable.
There is yet another large subdivision of the pointed implements, in which the butt is chipped to a sharper edge than in those to which the name of tongue-shaped more properly applies. They pass imperceptibly from the tongue-shaped at one end of the series into the oval or almond-shaped implements, presenting a cutting edge all round, at the other. For these latter I would propose the name of
These are usually almost equally convex on the two faces, but vary in form, being most frequently ovate—that is to say, rounded at both ends, but having one end broader than the other—oval, with the two ends similar or nearly so, and almond-shaped, or ovate-lanceolate, with one end pointed. Barer forms of the same character are heart-shaped, sub-triangular, lozenge-shaped, and lunate. To these must be added the form to which the term "perch-backed" has been given, from its resemblance to that fish; and that to which Mr. Stevens has applied the term discoidal.
The ovate sharp-rimmed implements vary considerably in size and also in general proportions. Specimens of the type may be seen in Figs. 456 and 467.
In some of these ovate specimens a flat place has been intentionally left on one of the sides towards the broad end, apparently to facilitate its being held in the hand and used as a knife. In some of the implements, which, like several of those from Hoxne, and that from Bury St. Edmunds, Fig. 419a, have lain in brick-earth instead of gravel, so that the edges are uninjured, minute marks of wear, as if from scraping or cutting, may be seen on the edges, principally opposite to this flat spot.
Both these and the oval sharp-rimmed implements are, as a rule, thin in proportion to their size. Specimens of the latter form are shown in Figs. 421 and 466.
The typical almond-shaped implements are scarcer than either of the foregoing. They also occasionally exhibit the flat spot already described, on one of their sides. A remarkably symmetrical and short example of this form is shown in Fig. 435.
The heart-shaped sharp-rimmed implements are rare, and resemble the sub-triangular, with the exception of their having a slight curvature inwards at the base. One of these is shown in Fig. 432. Mr. Stevens considers, that if any of the drift implements were used as spear-heads, they were of this form.
The sub-triangular sharp-rimmed implements are much rarer than those of the tongue-shaped character, in which the base of the triangle is blunt. Fig. 471, however, belongs to this class, though it is much rounded at the point. Some of the cave-implements, like Fig. 386, are intermediate between this and the ovate form. Among the curious implements, apparently of Palæolithic age, which have been found in some abundance in parts of Poitou, the sharp-rimmed sub-triangular type is common. The form has also been found in the Department of the Aisne, and in the cave of Hydrequent, in the Pas-de-Calais.
The lozenge-shaped implements of this class are pointed at each end, but the sides are never straight. Fig. 440 shows a thick specimen of this form. Some of the large flat implements from the valley of the Somme are more of the pointed oval or vesica piscis form, than lozenge-shaped.
The lunate and perch-backed implements having one side considerably more curved than the other are very scarce, but more have been found at Santon Downham than elsewhere. One of these is shown in Fig. 436, and another from Shrub Hill in Fig. 448. I have also met with the form among the implements from Barton Cliff, Hants. They are possibly mere accidental varieties of the oval or ovate form; and indeed it seems doubtful whether it is worth while to insist much on these subdivisions of form, many of which must, necessarily, have resulted from the manner in which the flint happened to break during the process of manufacture. Though, therefore, I have here attempted a somewhat detailed classification, it must not be supposed that I consider each form of implement to have been specially made to serve some special requirement, as is the case with many of the tools and weapons of the present day. I am far more ready to think that only two main divisions can be established, though even these may be said to shade off into each other; I mean pointed implements for piercing, digging, or boring, and sharp-edged implements for cutting or scraping.
The discoidal implements are described by Mr. Stevens as very coarsely worked; in typical specimens, nearly circular, very thick in the centre, and brought to an edge all round. He thinks they may have been used as missiles. The same may be said of polygonal blocks of flint, from the whole surface of which broad flakes have been dislodged by blows given in various directions. They may, however, possibly be only cores. In form they much resemble the blocks or "knuder" from the Danish kjökken-möddings.
I have never seen any of the long prismatic cores from the River-drift, though some are of rather regular form. A few hammer-stones, such as must have been used in fashioning the flint implements, have been found, and some have been already mentioned. It is, however, difficult, among a mass of rolled and waterworn pebbles, to recognize with certainty such as have served as hammers.
If, to the more regular types embraced in the foregoing classification, we add a considerable number of roughly-chipped, unsymmetrical, but, generally speaking, pointed forms of implements, and a few abnormal shapes, as, for instance, that shown in Fig. 444, we shall have a good idea of the character of the stone implements hitherto discovered in the River-drift, whether of England or the Continent.
A glance at the figures will at once show how different in character they are, as a whole, from those of the Surface or Neolithic Period, excepting, of course, mere flakes, and implements made from them, and simple blocks and hammer- stones. So far as we at present know, not a single implement from the River-drift has been sharpened by grinding or polishing, though, of course, it would be unsafe to affirm that such a process was unknown at the time when they were in use. With the unpolished implements of the Neolithic Period, which most nearly approach those of the Palæolithic in form, it will as a rule be found that the former are intended for cutting at the broader end, and the latter at the narrower or more pointed end. Even in the character of the chipping, a practised observer will, in most instances, discern a difference.
Thirty-eight years ago, when first treating of the character of these instruments, I pointed out these differences between the implements of the two periods, as being marked and distinct; and though since that time, from our knowledge of the form and character of the stone implements of both periods having been much enlarged, some few exceptions may be made to a too sweeping assertion of these differences, yet on the whole, I think, they have been fully sustained.
Unground flint implements, with a sharp point, and a thick truncated butt, and, in fact, what I have termed tongue-shaped in form, are, for instance, no longer confined to the Drift, but have been found by myself, with polished implements, on the shores of Lough Neagh, in Ireland; and yet, though analogous in form, they differ in the character of the workmanship, and in their proportions, from those from the gravel. The difference is such, that though possibly a single specimen might pass muster as of Palæolithic form, yet a group of three or four would at once strike an experienced eye as presenting other characteristics.
In the same manner, some of the roughly-chipped specimens from Cissbury and elsewhere, such, for instance, as that shown in Fig. 28, appear to be of the tongue-shaped type, or of some other River-drift forms. These are, however, exceptional in character; and as their finding appears to be confined to the sites of manufactories of flint implements, where a very large proportion of the specimens found are merely "wasters" produced in the manufacture, it is doubtful how far they are to be regarded as finished tools.
On this subject of the difference in character between the Palæolithic and Neolithic forms, I have been severely taken to task by M. Zinck, who has figured several Danish Neolithic specimens in juxtaposition with some of my own figures of implements from the Drift. In many cases, however, the comparison is made between implements of very different dimensions, though, by being drawn to different scales, they are made to appear of the same size in the figures; and, in other cases, the specimens engraved are apparently unfinished, or merely wasters thrown away.
But even granting that these exceptional instances of resemblance can be found, there is no one who can deny that the general facies of a collection of implements from the River-drift, and that of one from the Surface is absolutely distinct. With regard to the Scandinavian stone antiquities, I possess perhaps as extensive a collection of them as any one out of that country; and further, I have more than once examined the collections, both public and private, at Copenhagen, as well as at Christiania, Stockholm, and Lund, and yet I do not remember to have seen any specimen—unless, possibly, a mere flake or rough block—which, if placed before me without comment, I should have taken to be Palæolithic.
In most cases, even if a similarity of form should be found to exist, there will be a difference in the character of the surface of the material; the deep staining, more especially, and the glossy surface so common on the implements from the gravel, being but rarely met with on those from the surface soil.
But though, on the whole, so widely differing from the implements of the Neolithic Period, those belonging to Palæolithic times show a marvellous correspondence with each other, in whatever part of England they are found; and this correspondence extends, in an equal degree, to the implements found in the River-gravels of France and of other Continental countries. In illustration of this, Mr. Flower has engraved, side by side, two implements from Thetford, and two from St. Acheul, each pair being almost identical both in shape and size. But what is more remarkable still, this resemblance in form prevails not only with the implements from the River-gravels of Western Europe, but with those from the lateritic beds of Southern India. It is true that the material is somewhat different, the Indian implements being formed of compact quartzite instead of flint, and that this circumstance somewhat affects the character of the fracture and facets; but so far as general form is concerned, they may be said to be identical with those from the European River-drifts.
The original discoverer of these implements (in 1863), Mr. R. Bruce Foote, has described them on more than one occasion, and it would be out of place here to enter into details concerning them. Suffice it to say, that they have been found in the Madras Presidency by Mr. Bruce Foote, Mr. King, and others, in situ, in beds to which, whether correctly or not I will not attempt to determine, the name of "lateritic" has been given, and at an elevation of 300 feet and upwards, above the sea in the neighbourhood of which they often lie. These lateritic beds consist principally of a red ferruginous clay, more or less sandy, and occasionally contain, or pass into, gravelly beds. Those fringing the coast have been regarded as of marine origin, but as they contain no marine organisms, and as in some of their characters they closely resemble undoubtedly fluviatile deposits, it is possible that this view may be incorrect, and that they originally covered one of the slopes of a valley connected with a large river, the other slope of which has now disappeared in consequence of the encroachment of the sea. However this may be, in several valleys, at a higher level above the sea than the beds in which most of the specimens were found, "chipped quartzite implements were obtained from unquestionable river-gravels."
They have also been found in the South Mahratta country, especially in the Malprabba valley. In 1873 Mr. Hacket found an ovate implement of quartzite (5 inches), in situ, in clay, in the Narbadá valley, eight miles north of Gadarwara, below a bed of ossiferous gravel, apparently of Pleistocene age. Mr. W. T. Blanford has found them in Hyderabad, Mr. V. Ball in Orissa, and Mr. J. Cockburn in South Mirzapore. Mr. Bruce Foote has recorded a large number of other Palæolithic finds in Southern India, between 10° and 16° of N. latitude and 76° to 80° E. longitude, mostly in connection with existing river-valleys.
The curious flint or chert implements found at Abu Shahrein, in Southern Babylonia, which much resemble those of the Palæolithic age in form, seem more probably to be Neolithic. The broad end appears to have been that intended for cutting, the point being left blunt.
An implement of more truly palæolithic character, found on
the surface of a bed of gravel between Mount Tabor and the Lake of Tiberias, was exhibited by the Abbé Richard at the meeting of the British Association at Edinburgh in 1871.
Another implement of palæolithic type was obtained by M. de Vogué at Bethsaour, near Bethlehem. Others, both of quartzite and flint, have been found by Mr. Frank Calvert on a ridge of hills near the Dardanelles. Mr. H. Stopes, F.G.S., also found such an implement near Jerusalem in 1880.
In Algeria implements of undoubted palæolithic forms have occurred at Ousidan and at Palikao, in the province of Oran. Sir John Lubbock has also found a specimen made of flint at Kolea, Algeria. What may be instruments of the same age have been found in gravel at Gafsa, in Tunis. In Egypt several well-marked palæolithic implements have been found. That picked up near Thebes in 1872 by the late Mr. Ouvry I then regarded as Neolithic, but it may be of earlier date. Those described by Sir John Lubbock in 1873, and Professor Henry W. Haynes, of Boston, Mass., in 1881, have many of them greater claims to be regarded as palæolithic. But the discovery of flint flakes by General Pitt Rivers in the stratified gravel in which the Tombs of the Kings, near Thebes, are hewn, placed their great antiquity beyond doubt. Mr. H. Stopes also found an implement of palæolithic type half a mile from the spring of Moses, near Cairo, in 1880. More recent discoveries of well-marked palæolithic implements at high levels above the valley of the Nile, such as have been made by Professor Flinders Petrie and Mr. H. W. Seton-Karr, show that what is now Egypt was occupied by man in Palæolithic times. Numerous other discoveries in Egypt of implements of well-marked palæolithic forms have been recorded by M. J. de Morgan. More remarkable still is the discovery by Mr. Seton-Karr of implements of most of the wellknown palæolithic forms at high levels in Somaliland, in positions apparently connected with existing river-courses, such as that of the Issutugan.
In the southernmost part of Africa, in the Cape Colony, and in Natal, stone implements have been discovered which, from their shape, if that alone were sufficient, may be classed as Palæolithic. They are chipped out of various silicious rocks, and are for the most part found upon the surface, though occasionally at considerable depths below it. They have been described by Mr. W. D. Gooch, Mr. W. H. Penning, Mr. J. C. Rickard, and others. Mr. Rickard describes four series from the Junction, Port Elizabeth, East London, and the Diamond Fields. He has presented me with several specimens, mostly in quartz. Mr. E. J. Dunn has given me a remarkably symmetrical ovate implement (6 inches), made of some metamorphic schist, and found under nine feet of stratified beds at Process-fontein, Victoria West, in 1873, and Mr. J. B. Taylor has presented to me ovate implements of quartzite from the valley of the Embabaan, Swaziland.
I have elsewhere, when calling attention to the discoveries of Mr. Seton-Karr in Somaliland, remarked that their great interest consists in the identity in form of the implements with those found in the Pleistocene deposits of North-Western Europe and elsewhere. Any one comparing the implements from such widely separated localities, the one with the other, must feel that if they have not been actually made by the same race of men, there must have been some contact of the closest kind between the races who manufactured implements of such identical forms. Those from Somaliland occur in both flint (much whitened and decomposed by exposure) and in quartzite, but the implements made from the two materials are almost indistinguishable in form. Those of lanceolate shape are most abundant, but the usual ovate and other forms are present in considerable numbers.
Turning westward from Somaliland we meet with flint implements of the same character found by Professor Flinders Petrie at a height of many hundred feet above the valley of the Nile. A few have been discovered in Northern Africa; they recur in the valley of the Manzanares in Spain, in some districts in Central Italy, and abound in the river-valleys of France and England. Turning eastward we encounter implements of analogous forms, one found by M. Chantre in the valley of the Euphrates, and many made of quartzite in the lateritic deposits of India; while in Southern Africa almost similar types occur, though their age somewhat uncertain.
That the cradle of the human family must have been situated in some part of the world where the climate was genial, and the means of subsistence readily obtained, seems almost self-evident; and that these discoveries in Somaliland may serve to elucidate the course by which human civilization, such as it was, if not indeed the human race, proceeded westward from its early home in the East is a fair subject for speculation. But, under any circumstances, this discovery aids in bridging over the interval] between Palæolithic man in Britain and in India, and adds another link to the chain of evidence by which the original cradle of the human family may eventually be identified, and tends to prove the unity of race between the inhabitants of Asia, Africa, and Europe, in Palæolithic times.
With regard to the reputed discoveries of palæolithic implements at Trenton, New Jersey, and elsewhere in the United States of America, I venture to reserve my judgment. Opinion in America is divided, one antiquary recording that in a quarry, the antiquity of which does not exceed two hundred years, and from which the Indians obtained chert from which they chipped out their implements, forms which exactly resemble the "turtle-backs" of Trenton occur; while other writers carry back the beds and the implements they contain so far as to Glacial times. Recent excavations seem to give evidence of, at all events, a high antiquity.
To return to the purposes of the implements themselves. With regard to their general uses, many opinions have been expressed. Sir Joseph Prestwich has suggested that some of them may have been used as ice-chisels, for cutting holes in ice, to obtain water and to be enabled to fish during continued frosts, as is practised by many occupants of northern regions at the present day. Such a use is of course possible; but the occurrence of implements of similar forms in Madras, Somaliland, Northern and Southern Africa, seems to militate against this view, unless we are to suppose that at some remote time a glacial climate may have prevailed in those parts of the world also, as we believe it to have done here.
M. Boucher de Perthes thought that some of the pointed forms might have been used as wedges for splitting wood or grubbing for esculent roots, or possibly for tilling the ground. Some of the sharp-rimmed implements he regarded as hatchets. He has pointed out various methods in which they might have been hafted and used. Some of the smaller size, I have suggested, may have been missiles. On the whole, however, although I have pointed out the manner in which some of the implements appear to have been held, and have called attention to the marks of wear on their edges, I revert to my old opinion, "that it is nearly useless to speculate on the purposes to which they were applied."
To use the words of Sir John Lubbock, "Almost as well might we ask to what would they not be applied. Infinite as are our instruments, who would attempt even at present to say what was the use of a knife? But the primitive savage had no such choice of tools; we see before us, perhaps, the whole contents of his workshop; and with these weapons, rude as they seem to us, he may have cut down trees, scooped them out into canoes, grubbed up roots, killed animals and enemies, cut up his food, made holes in winter through the ice, prepared firewood, built huts, and in some cases at least, they may have served as sling-stones." To these possible uses I may add that of fashioning other instruments of wood and bone, such as may yet be eventually discovered with them in the same beds of drift, as has already been the case in caves, with regard to those of bone or stag's horn.
Considering the number of the stone implements which have been collected, it seems at first sight singular that no other relics of those who made them have as yet been discovered. For, nothing of moment in the shape of implements, utensils, or appliances, made of other materials than stone, have as yet been found, nor with but few exceptions, any portions of the human skeleton. It must, however, be remembered how imperishable in their nature are flint and the other silicious stones used for these ancient implements, as compared with the other materials which, among a savage people, come readily to hand, such as wood, bone, horn, or hide; and, moreover, that even the flint implements, in many cases testify to the rough usage they have undergone by water transport, before being finally laid in their resting-place in the gravel. Lighter objects, such as those of wood and other organic materials, would, if exposed to the action of a stream, in many cases have been washed right away to the sea; or, if accidentally lodged, would have perished by the ordinary processes of decay. It is only in the case of bone implements that we can hope that future discoveries may bring them to light; but even this contingency depends mainly on their attracting the eye of some intelligent gravel-digger; since, for one yard of gravel examined by a scientific observer, it is probable that thousands pass through the hands of ordinary labourers, who require some instruction before they can be brought to recognize even the best-wrought forms of flint implements. Some few objects both of wood and bone, showing traces of having been cut by Palæolithic man, have been found near London by Mr. Worthington Smith, but these traces are but slight.
The comparative absence of human bones in these beds seems to be partly dependent on the same cause of deficient observation; but portions of a human skeleton, apparently contemporary with the beds in which they lay, and in which also palæolithic implements occurred, have been found in the neighbourhood of Paris, and a human skull near Bury St. Edmunds. The Galley Hill skeleton affords but a doubtful instance.
Living, as in all probability man must have done, by the chase, his numbers must necessarily have been small, as compared with those of the animals on which he subsisted. Sir John Lubbock has calculated that among the North American Indians the pro- portion is about 1 to 750: and as man is in all probability at least four times as long-lived as most of these animals, the proportion might be increased to 1 to 3,000. If this were so, and all the bones were preserved, it would follow that about 3,000 bones of the different animals of the chase would be found to one of human origin. But here again the fact comes in, which is also pointed out by Sir John Lubbock, that in most of the beds of gravel no trace has as yet been found of any animal so small as man. Other possible causes for this scarcity of human remains in the River-drift will be mentioned at a subsequent page. Even in sepulchres of the Neolithic period the bones of those buried have not unfrequently entirely disappeared.
Of what was the condition and stage of civilization of the men of that time, it is probable that the implements by themselves afford but insufficient means for judging. Many of them, though rude, may be matched in that respect by stone implements in use among the Australian savages of the present century; while others again show great dexterity in working so intractable a material as flint, though in no way approaching that attained by some of the flint-workers in Neolithic times. Comparing the implements of the two periods together, the main differences are that the forms are fewer, and, as a rule, larger and more rudely chipped in the earlier period; and, beyond this, that the art of grinding to an edge appears to have been unknown. If we regard, as probably we safely may do, the remains of human art found in caves like Kent's Cavern, associated with bones of animals belonging to the same fauna as that of the River-Drift, as being attributable to the same age and probably to the same race of people, we get some further insight into their habits and conditions of life. The evidence seems to justify us in regarding these River-drift or Cave folk as hunters, and probably nomads, subsisting to a great extent on the produce of the chase; living where possible under natural shelters, to which they brought either the whole or portions of the slaughtered animals, the bones of which, fractured for the purpose of extracting the marrow, we find accumulated in the caves: during the latter part of their occupation of this country acquainted with the art of spearing fish by means of barbed harpoons; and able to sew, though probably not to spin or to weave. This last supposition, like some others, rests on negative evidence only, but is still justified by the absence of spindle-whorls. Their thread, like that of the Eskimos, would seem to have been formed of animal sinew or intestine, and to have been used for joining together skins, in which the holes, for the needle to pass through, were made by awls of pointed bone.
Some knowledge of drawing and engraving is evinced by our own Cave-dwellers, as well as by those of France. These latter had personal ornaments in the shape of perforated shells and teeth, and if the view could be supported that the perforated fossil Coscinopora globularis was in use for beads of necklaces, we should have evidence of a similar use of personal ornaments among the River-drift folk.
A want of acquaintance with cereals is suggested by the absence of mealing-stones or corn-crushers. The pounding-stones, such as have been found, would seem to have been used for crushing some other sort of food, possibly roots.
The art of pottery also appears to have been unknown, so far as this country is concerned, but it is said to have been practised in Belgium.
Slight as was the knowledge of the useful arts exhibited by the River-drift men, it will I think be clear to the dispassionate observer, that we cannot regard their implements, however ancient they may be, as the earliest productions of the human race; on the contrary, we must conclude that man had already existed for an extended period upon the earth, before these relics were imbedded in the gravels. The mere identity in shape of various classes of implements occurring in distant localities, seems to afford sufficient evidence of a long lapse of time, during which it was discovered that certain forms were best adapted for certain purposes, and the custom of thus fashioning them became established, and, as it were, hereditary over a large area. Still, though eventually works of man will, in all probability, be discovered in older beds than these Quaternary gravels, I must repeat that I cannot at present accept the views of the Abbé Bourgeois and others as to their occurring in the Pliocene beds of St. Prest, near Chartres, and in the Miocene beds at Thenay, near Pontlevoy; nor can I regard the so-called Plateau types as being of necessity of human workmanship, and still less as being the precursors of the Palæolithic forms. To judge from the figures, the so-called Pliocene flake from Burma is not artificial, as it has no flat face. An article on the fractured flints found on the seashore, and their resemblance to so-called Tertiary implements, has been published by M. Michel Hardy.
Leaving these older deposits out of the question, I must now pass on to a consideration of the degree of antiquity which must be assigned to the Quaternary beds of River-drift; but before doing so, it will perhaps be well to say a few words as to the characteristics of authenticity presented by these implements; for, as is so universally the case, where the demand for an article has exceeded the supply, spurious imitations of them have been fabricated, and in some cases successfully passed off upon avid but unwary collectors. In England, indeed, this has perhaps not been the case to the same extent as in France; but I have seen a few fabrications of Palæolithic forms, produced both by the notorious "Flint Jack" and by more humble practitioners in Suffolk. More skilful, however, have been some forgers in the North-East of London, whose productions can with difficulty be distinguished from the genuine articles.
As a rule, however, unless the forged implement has been put through some process, for the purpose of altering the character of its surface (which it is hardly ever worth the while of the ordinary forger to do, even supposing him to be acquainted with means for so doing), its surface can always be restored to its original condition, assuming it to have been smeared over with some substance in order to give it an appearance of antiquity, by thoroughly washing it in hot water. The surface of a newly-chipped flint can then in almost all cases be at once recognized by its peculiar dull lustreless appearance, especially if it be black flint, such as is best adapted for being chipped into form. Not unfrequently the metallic marks of the iron hammer with which it has been chipped out are visible, the angles are sharp and harsh, or, if smooth, show traces of having been ground, and the character of the chipping is usually different from that of genuine implements, as is also often the form.
The genuine specimens from the beds of River-drift, with but very few exceptions, present some one or more of the following characteristics;—glossiness of surface, dendritic markings, calcareous incrustations, and discoloration, varying, of course, with the nature of the beds in which they have lain. The angles are often somewhat smoothed, even if not distinctly waterworn; and when, as happens in some rare cases, the flint has remained unaltered in colour, and without presenting in a marked manner any of the characteristics above specified, its surface will, on close examination, be found dotted over at intervals with bright glossy spots, probably those at which for ages it has been in contact with other stones. The glossiness of surface so frequent on these implements appears to be partly due to mechanical, and partly to chemical causes. The polishing effect of the friction of sand on flints in the bed of a river, or even when lying on the surface of the ground, is well known; and the brilliantly-polished flakes not unfrequently found in the bed of the Seine at Paris, and those from the sandy heaths of Norfolk and Suffolk, afford examples of the results of this friction since Neolithic times. In the Palæolithic implements, however, the gloss which so frequently accompanies a structural alteration in the surface of the flint, seems due to the same chemical cause which has produced the alteration in the structure; and this cause, as I have already remarked, appears to be the infiltration of water partially dissolving the body of the flint.
An interesting paper by M. E. d'Acy, on the patination of the worked flints of St. Acheul, was communicated to the Anthropological Congress at Paris in 1878.
The dendritic markings are more common on the implements from some localities, as, for instance, Santon Downham, than from others, and are due to the crystallization of peroxide of manganese upon their surface. Although these moss-like forms do not of necessity take any great length of time for their production, as is proved by their occasional occurrence in paper of recent manufacture, in which particles of manganese have been accidentally present, yet to superinduce them on a forged flint would pass the ordinary fabricator's skill, and their presence may safely be regarded as an indication of an old surface. The same may be said of the calcareous incrustations, which also are by no means of universal occurrence. The safest and indeed the most common indication of an implement being really genuine is the alteration in the structure of the flint which has taken place over the greater part, if not the whole, of its surface, and the discoloration it has undergone. In ochreous beds of gravel the specimens are frequently much stained of a yellow, buff, or brown colour; where less iron is present they become grey, especially at the angles, and often more so on one face than the other. In red or brown marl, and in places where they lie at no great depth from the surface^ or where there is a free passage for water charged with carbonic acid, they frequently become white; whereas, in more impervious clay, they are often stained brown, or even remain black, though the surface is rendered glossy. In beds where much chalk is present they seem to have a tendency to retain their original colour. The discoloration of the surface is not always attended by the glossy appearance already mentioned, but this depends in a great measure on the character of the flint originally employed.
It sometimes happens that the upper side of an implement has been whitened during its sojourn in the earth, while its lower side has remained almost unaltered.
The recognition of these marks of authenticity has in some cases induced forgers to re-work, and according to their view, improve, genuine but imperfect ancient implements; but the newly-chipped surfaces can always be recognized on washing the specimens. In France some attempts have been made to dis- colour the surface of flints by chemical means, but in the instances which have come under my notice, the process has not been very successful; for though the surface of a dark flint has been whitened, it has become rough and somewhat pitted. A more deceptive discoloration has sometimes been produced by leaving the forged implements for many months in a kitchen boiler, the hot water in which gradually dissolves away a small portion of the surface of the flint and thus changes its colour. In such cases the form will often reveal the hand of the forger. It may, however, be thought that, by dwelling too much on this subject, suggestions will be offered, of which the fraudulent skill of some future forger will avail himself; and I therefore return from this digression to the consideration of the antiquity of the flint implements from the River-drift.
- Archæol., xxxix pl. iv.
- Phil. Trans., 1860, p. 310, Arch., vol. xxxviii. p. 289.
- Arch., vol. xxxix., p. 57.
- "Flint Chips," p. 41.
- Nature, vol. xxv., 1881, p. 173.
- Watelet, 1866.
- "Flint Chips," p. 41.
- Arch., vol. xxxviii., 1860, p. 291.
- Arch., vol. xli. p. 401, pl. xviii. 9.
- Aarböger f. Nord. Oldk. og Hist., 1867, p. 283.
- Q.J.G.S. (1867), vol. xxiii. pp. 48, 52.
- Madras Journ. Lit. and Science, Oct., 1866. Geol. Mag., vol ii. p. 503. Q.J.G.S., 1868, vol. xxiv. p. 484. Trans. of Inter. Cong. of Preh. Arch., 1868, p. 224. Proc. As. Soc. Bengal, Sept., 1867. Aarbög. f. Nord. Oldk., 1869, p. 339. Mem. Geol. Survey India, vol. x., 1873, p. 43. Essex Naturalist, vol. ii. p. 97. Geol. Mag., Dec. 2, vol. vii., 1880, p. 542.
- Q.J.G.S., 1868, vol. xxiv. p. 493.
- Mem. G. S. India, vol. xii. p. 241.
- Rec. G. S. India, Aug., 1873, p. 49. Dawkins, "Early Man in Brit.," p. 166.
- Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. xvii., 1888, p. 57.
- Journ. As. Soc. Bengal, vol. lvi., 1887, p. 249.
- Proc. Soc. Ant., 2nd S., vol. i. p. 66. "Horæ Ferales," p. 132, pl. i. 19.
- Trans. Preh. Cong. 1878, p. 278.
- Mat., vol. viii. 1873, p. 179.
- Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. x., 1881, p. 428.
- Brit. Assoc. Rep., 1880, p. 624.
- Mat., vol. x., 1875, p. 197.
- Mat., vol. xxii. 1888, p. 221.
- Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. x. 1881, p. 318, pl. xvi.
- L'Anthrop., vol. v., 1894, p. 530.
- Proc. Soc. Ant., 2nd S., vol. v. p. 331.
- Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. iv., 1875, p. 215, pl. xvi.
- Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. xi., 1882, p. 382.
- Brit. Assoc. Rep., 1880, p. 624.
- "Hawara," 1889, pl. xxvii., and subsequent expeditions.
- "Rech. sur les Origines de l'Egypte," 1896, q.v.
- Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. xxv. 1896. p. 272, pl. xix.-xxi. Brit. Assoc. Rep., 1895, p. 824. Proc. R. S., vol. lx., 1896, p. 19.
- Q. J. Ethn. Soc., vol. ii. p. 41, pl. i. 3.
- Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. xi., 1882, p. 124. Brit. Assoc. Rep., 1880, p. 622.
- Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. xvi., 1887, p. 68.
- Camb. Ant. Comm., vol. v. p. 57, 6 plates.
- Proc. Roy. Soc., vol. lx., 1896, p. 19.
- C. C. Abbott, "Primitive Industry," 1881; Report, 1877, 1878. Proc. U. 8. Nat. Hist. Mus., 1888, Appendix; 1890, pp. 187, 371. Proc. Bost. Nat. Hist. Soc., vol. xxi. pp. 124, 132. T. Wilson, "La Période paléol. dans l'Amér. du Nord.," Paris, 1892.
- W. H. Holmes, Smithsonian Inst. Rep., 1894. Nature, vol. xlviii., 1893, p. 253; vol. lv. 1897, p. 469 v.; Mercer's "Res. upon the Ant. of Man in the Delaware Valley," 1897.
- "Flint Chips," p. 42.
- "Ant. Celt. et Antéd.," vol. iii. p. 76, et seqq.; 455, et seqq.
- Arch., vol. xxxviii. p. 291.
- Nat. Hist. Rev., 1862, p. 250.
- "Man the Prim. Savage," p. 268.
- P. 542 supra.
- P. 607 supra.
- Nature, vol. xxvii., 1883, pp. 8, 53, 54, 102.
- Nature, vol. xxix., 1884, p. 83. "Man the Prim. Savage," p. 272.
- Cong. Inter. d'Anthrop., &c., 1867, p. 70. Hamy, "Paléont. Hum.," p. 49.
- See F. C. J. Spurrell in Arch. Journ., vol. xlviii., 1891, p. 315, Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. xxiii. p. 260. Brit. Assoc. Rep., 1892, p. 900. Nat. Science, vol. v., Oct., 1894.
- "Explication de l'apparence de taille, &c.," Dieppe, 1881.
- See Worthington Smith in Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. xiii,, 1884, p. 377, and "Man, the Prim. Savage," p. 294 et seqq.
- See also Prestwich, Phil. Trans., 1860, p. 297.
- See antea, p. 565.
- C. R. du Cong. Intern. des Sci. Anthrop., 1880, p. 234.