The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
E. A. Allen
Part 2 out of 13
existence in Europe, but do think he was in existence elsewhere.
Still others, with all due respect for the discoveries of
Capellini, think it more prudent to await further discoveries.
The reader, who has followed us through this brief outline
of the past, can join which of the classes he will, and be sure
of finding himself in good company.
This completes our review of past geological ages. With the
termination of the Pliocene Age we find ourselves on firmer
ground. We only wish to call attention once more to the gradual
unfolding of life. We see that the rule has been that everywhere
the lower forms of life precede the higher. In the plant world
flowerless plants precede the flowering ones. The coal we burn
to-day is mainly the remains of the wonderful growth of the
flowerless vegetation of the Paleozoic Ace. When flowering
plants appear, it is the lower forms of them at first.
It was long ages before trees with deciduous leaves appeared.
The growth of animal life is equally instructive.
First invertebrate life, then the lowest forms of vertebrate
life. The fishes are followed by amphibians--then reptiles, then
birds. The first mammal to appear was the lowest organized of
all--the marsupials. And we have seen the sudden increase of
mammalian life in Tertiary times. We notice, in all the
divisions of life, a beginning, a culmination, and a decline.
There has never been such a growth of flowerless plants as in
the Paleozoic, and flowering plants probably culminated in the
Miocene. The same rule holds good for the animal world also.
As man is the most highly organized of all the animals, we can
not hope to find any evidence of his presence until we find
proofs of the presence of all the lower types of life. Of course
future discoveries may change our knowledge when the series is
complete; but, from our present stand-point, he could not have
lived before the Miocene Age, and we have seen how faint and
indecisive are the proofs of his presence even then. But should
it finally be proved, beyond all dispute, that man did live in
the Miocene Age, we must observe that this is but a small
portion, but a minute fraction, of the great lapse of time since
life appeared on the globe. We are a creation of but yesterday,
even granting all that the most enthusiastic believer in the
antiquity of man can claim.
Illustration of The Mastodon.-------------
(1) The manuscript of this chapter was submitted to Prof.
Winchell, of the University of Michigan, for criticism.
(2) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 146.
(3) Ibid. p. 147.
(4) Nicholson's "Manual of Zoology," p. 59.
(5) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 74.
(6) Nicholson's "Manual of Zoology," p. 42.
(7) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 323.
(8) Nicholson's "Zoology," p. 402.
(9) Dana's "Geology," p. 302.
(10) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 6.
(11) Dana's "Geology," p. 382.
(12) Haywood's, Heer's, "Primeval World of Switzerland."
(13) Dana's "Man. Geology," p.395.
(14) Nicholson's "Man. Zoo1ogy," p.42.
(15) Marsh: "American Assoc. Rep.," 1877.
(16) Marsh: "American Assoc. Rep.," 1877.
(17) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 6.
(18) Nicholson's "Manual of Zoology," pp. 419 and 504.
(19) When we talk of first appearance, we mean the discovery of
remains. All who believe in the doctrine of evolution, know that
the class Mammalia must have appeared early in Paleozoic times.
Thus, Mr. Wallace says, "Bats and whales--strange modifications
of mammals--appear perfectly well developed in the Eocene.
What countless ages back must we go for the origin of these
groups--the whales from some ancestral carnivorous animal, the
bats from the insectivora!" and even then we have to seek for
the common origin of these groups at far earlier periods.
"So that, on the lowest estimate, we must place the origin of
the Mammalia very far back in Paleozoic times." ("Island Life,"
(20) This word is also spelled Kainozoic, and Cainozoic.
We follow Dana, p. 140.
(21) Dana, "Manual of Geology," p. 488.
(22) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 28.
(23) Many of these animal forms were common during the early
(24) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 29.
(25) Dana, "Geology," p. 517.
(26) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 32.
(27) Marsh. "American Assoc. Rep.," 1877.
(28) Haywood's Heer's "Primeval World of Switzerland," p. 296.
(29) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 20.
(30) Ibid., p. 43.
(31) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 498.
(32) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 42.
(33) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 514.
(34) Haywood's Heer's "Primeval World of Switzerland," p. 334.
(35) Haywood's Heer's "Primeval World of Switzerland."
(36) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," pp. 57 and 64.
(37) Ibid., p. 57: also, Haywood's Heer's "Primeval World of
(38) Nicholson's "Manual of Zoology," p. 605.
(39) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 58.
(40) Ibid. 58.
(41) McLean: "Mastodon, Mammoth, and Man," p. 67.
(42) Dawkins's "Early Man in Europe," p. 66.
(43) See "Outline," p. 41.
(44) Lyell's "Antiquity of Man," p. 193.
(45) Quatrefages's "Human Species," p. 151.
(46) Prof. Winchell says: "Quatrefages does not now consider the
proof decisive (Hommes Fossiles et Hommes Sauvages,
Paris, 1884, p. 95)." He cites, as agreeing with him, MM.
Cotteau, Evans, "and, I believe, most of the members who have
not publicly pronounced themselves."
(47) Dawkins’s "Early Man in Britain," p. 67.
(48) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 68.
(49) "Human Species," p. 152.
(50) Prof. Winchell remarks that, though some savage races might
have been living in tropical lands during the Miocene, still the
oldest skull and jaws obtainable in Europe are of a higher type
(51) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 523.
(52) Marsh: "American Assoc. Rep.," 1877.
(53) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 73.
(54) Ibid., p. 78.
(55) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 77.
(56) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 76.
(57) Winchell's "Pre-Adamites," Whitney's "Auriferous Gravels of
California," Marsh's "Address before American Assoc.," 1879.
(58) "Antiquity of Man," p. 234.
(59) "Prehistoric Times," p. 433.
(60) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 343.
(61) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain."
(63) "Prehistoric Europe," p. 318.
(64) Quatrefages's "Hum. Species," p. 150; Geikie's "Prehistoric
Eur.," p. 345.
(66) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 344.
(68) "Early Man in Britain," p. 92.
(69) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 344.
(70) Same as Glacial. See "Outline," p. 41.
(71) "Early Man in Britain," p. 92.
(72) "Prehistoric Europe," p. 345, note 2.
END OF CHAPTER II************
The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
by E. A. Allen
Processed by D.R. Thompson
MEN OF THE RIVER DRIFT.<1>
Beginning of the Glacial Age--Inter-glacial Age--Man living in
Europe during this age--Map of Europe--Proof of former elevation
of land--The animals living in Europe during this age--
Conclusions drawn from these different animals--The vegetation
of this period--Different climatic conditions of Europe during
the Glacial Age--Proofs of a Glacial Age--Extent of the Glacial
Ice--Evidence of warm Inter-glacial Age--The primitive state of
man--Early English civilization--Views of Horace--Primitive man
destitute of metals--Order in which different materials were
used by man for weapons--Evidence, from the River Somme--History
of Boucher de Perthes's investigations--Discussion of the
subject--Antiquity of these remains--Improvement during
Paleolithic Age--Description of the flint implements--Other
countries where these implements are found--What race of men
were these tribes--The Canstadt race--Mr. Dawkins's views--When
did they first appear in Europe--The authorities on this
The Tertiary Age, with its wonderful wealth of animal and plant
life, gradually drew to its close. In our "Outline" we have
named the period that next ensued the Glacial Age.<2> This was
sufficiently exact for our purpose then, but we must remember
this is the name<3> for a long series of years. During this
period great changes in climate occurred. At its commencement, a
genial temperate climate prevailed throughout Europe; and this,
as we know, was preceded, during the Miocene Age, by a warm
tropical one.<4> This succession, then, shows us that, for some
reason or other, the climate had been gradually growing colder.
This change went forward uninterruptedly. Doubtless very
gradually, from century to century, the seasons grew more and
more severe, until, finally, the Summer's sun no longer cleared
the mountains of the Winter's snow. This was the beginning of
the Glacial Age proper.
The best authorities also suppose that the reign of snow and ice
was broken by at least one return (possibly more) of genial
climate, when animals and plants from the south again visited
the countries of Northern Europe--only, however, to be once more
driven forth by a return of arctic cold. But finally, before the
increasing warmth of a genial Climate, the glaciers vanished,
not to return again, and the Glacial Age became merged in that
of the present.
It is no longer a question that man lived in Europe during the
largest portion of this age, if not from the beginning. It is
necessary, then, to come to a clear understanding of the
successive stages of this entire age, and to trace the wonderful
cycles of climate--the strange mutation of heat and cold, which
must have exerted a powerful influence on the life, both animal
and vegetable, of the period--and see when we first find
decisive proofs of man's presence, and learn what we can of
The map of Europe, at the close of Pliocene times and the
commencement of the Glacial Age, is of interest to us in several
ways. From this it will be seen that it was considerably more
elevated than at the present. As this is no fancy sketch, but is
based on facts, it is well to outline them. Without the aid of
man, land animals can not possibly pass from the mainland of a
continent to an island lying some distance off the shore. But it
is well known that animals like the rhinoceros, and several
others, wandered as well over the surface of the British Islands
as on the adjacent coast of Europe. We are therefore compelled
to assume, that at that time the English Channel and the Irish
Sea were not in existence. This necessitates an elevation of at
least four hundred feet, which would also lay bare a large
portion of the North Sea.<5> In proof of this latter statement
is the fact, that, at a distance from land in the North Sea,
fishermen at the present day frequently dredge up bones and
teeth of animals that then roamed in Europe.<6>
Map of Europe------------------
While there is no necessity for supposing an elevation greater
than that required to lay bare a passage for animals back and
forth, yet soundings undertaken by the British government have
established the fact, that the ocean deepens very gradually away
from the shores of the main-land until a depth of six hundred
feet is reached, when the shore falls away very suddenly.
This is supposed to be the sea-coast of that time. The English
Channel would then have existed as the valley of the Seine, and
the Rhine have prolonged its flow over the present bed of the
North Sea. As the land stood at this height through a large
portion of the Glacial Age, it is not at all unreasonable to
suppose that primitive tribes hunted back and forth along these
valleys, and so doubtless many convincing proofs of their
presence at that early day lie buried underneath the waves of
the sea. In like manner, at the south, we know that elephants,
lions, and hyenas passed freely from Africa to Spain, Italy, and
the Island of Crete,<7> and, consequently, the Mediterranean Sea
must have been bridged in one or two places at least.<8>
The change from Pliocene times to early Glacial was so gradual
that quite a number of animals lived on from one to the other,
and, as we have already stated, one of these species has even
survived to our own times.<9>
But we note the arrival in Europe of a great number of new
animals, and the diversity of species seems at first an
inexplicable riddle. The key, however, is to be found in the
great climatic changes, which we have already mentioned as
occurring during this age. On the one hand, we find such animals
as the musk-sheep, reindeer, and arctic fox, animals whose
natural home is in high northern latitudes, where snow and ice
prevail most of the year.<10> Yet during this age they lived in
Southern France and Italy, which must then have had a far
different climate than that at present.
Were we to confine our attention to these alone we would be
convinced that the climate of Europe at that time was arctic in
its severity. But side by side with the remains of these animals
are found others which imply an altogether different climate.
The hippopotamus, now frequenting the rivers of Africa, during
that period roamed as far north as Yorkshire, England.<11>
This animal could not live in a country where the cold was
severe enough to form ice on the rivers. The remains of a number
of other animals are found whose natural home is in the warm
regions of the earth.<12> These two groups of animals, one from
the north and one from the south, show how varied was the
climate of Europe during the Glacial Age.
In addition to these, there was also a large number of animals
whose home is in the temperate regions of the earth--animals
that thrive in neither extremes of heat and cold. This includes
a great many animals of the deer kind, several varieties of
bears and horses; in fact, the majority of those with which we
Now, what conclusion follows from this assemblage of animals?
Many theories have been put forward in explanation. It has been
suggested that Europe at that time had a climate not unlike that
of some portions of the earth at present; that is, a long and
severe Winter was followed by a short but warm Summer.
During the Winter reindeer and other northern animals would
press from the north in search of food, but would retire on the
approach of Spring, when their feeding grounds would in turn be
occupied by bisons and animals of a southern habitat.
In confirmation of this view it is pointed out that a vast
collection of bones, from the bottom of a sink-hole or pond in
Derbyshire, England, conclusively show that in the summer-time
it was visited by bisons with their calves, and in Winter by
reindeer.<14> This theory is open to a great many objections.
As is well known, some animals make quite extensive migrations
annually, but we can scarcely believe that heavy, unwieldy
animals like the hippopotamus, were then such industrious
travelers as to wander every year from Italy to Northern England
and return.<15> But the very ground on which this theory rests,
that of strongly contrasted summers and winters, could not be
true of Europe or the western portions of it, owing to the
presence of the Atlantic Ocean, and the influence which it
inevitably exerts on the climate.<16> We see, then, that the
presence of these different animals can be explained only by
supposing great secular changes in climate. Let us see if we can
strengthen this view by an appeal to the vegetation of
We have seen how important a guide as to climate were the
remains of the vegetation of the early times. We therefore turn
with more confidence to such discoveries as will tell us of the
flora of this age. But there are many reasons why remains of
plant growth should be few. As we shall soon learn, this was a
period of flooded rivers; and in the gravels and loams thus
formed is found our principal source of information as to the
life of the age. But such a rush of waters would form gravelly
banks or great beds of loam, and would sweep any plants which
might be washed into its floods far out to sea; or if by chance
they should become buried in such gravel beds, the action of
water would speedily cause the decay of the tender portions,
such as leaves, bark, and soft wood, in which case no profitable
investigation could be made. Occasionally, however, around the
shores of old lakes, vegetable beds have been buried, and we
know that some mineral springs deposit a sort of protecting
sediment on every thing with which they come in contact. By such
means, at rare intervals, leaves, seeds, and fruits have been
sealed up for future inspection, and from a careful study of all
such instances much valuable information has been obtained.
At one place in the valley of the Seine was discovered, under a
bed of tufa, the remains of a forest growth. It is not doubted
that the deposit belongs to the Glacial Age.<17>
Yet the forest growth reminds us of that prevalent during the
Miocene Age. The fig-tree, canary, laurel, and box-tree grew in
profusion. These are all southern forms. One severe winter would
kill them all, and even hard frosts would prevent the ripening
of their fruits.
Neither were the Summers hot and dry. This is shown by the
presence of numerous plants which can not thrive in hot and dry
localities, but live in the shady woods of Northern France and
Germany. The evidence of this forest growth surely presents us
an inviting picture of Europe during a portion of the
We are not without evidence, also, of a much more severe
climate. In a lignite bed (a species of coal) found in nearly
the same latitude as the forest growth just mentioned, we detect
the presence of trees that grow only in cold northern climates,
such as birch, mountain pine, larch, and spruce.<18> And in some
peat-bogs of Southern Europe belonging to this age<19> are found
willows now growing only in Spitzbergen, and some species of
mosses that only thrive far to the north. It is quite evident
that this deposit testifies to an altogether different climate
from that indicated by the deposit before mentioned. No theory
of migration can explain this assemblage of plants, unless it be
migration taking place very slowly, in consequence of an equally
slow change of climate.
From what we have just learned of the animals and plants living
in Europe during this age, we can frame some conception of the
different climatic conditions of Europe. On the one hand, we
have a country with a mild and genial climate. Trees of a warm
latitude were then growing as far north as Paris, and we may
well suppose Europe to have abounded in shady forests and grassy
plains, through which flowed large rivers. It was just such a
country as that in which elephants and southern animals would
flourish, while vast herds of deer and bovine animals wandered
over the entire length and breadth of the land. Where animal
life was so abundant there were sure to be carnivorous animals
also, and lions, hyenas, tigers, and other animals added to the
variety of animal life.
This, however, is but one side of the picture. The other
presents us with a very different scene; instead of an abundant
forest growth, the land supported only dwarf birch, arctic
willows, and stunted mosses. Arctic animals, such as musk-sheep
and reindeer, lived all the year around in Southern France.
The woolly mammoth lived in Spain and Italy. In short, the
climate and conditions of life were vastly different in the
We must now turn our attention to the proofs of glaciers in
Europe, the phenomena from which this age derives its name.
Descriptions of Alpine glaciers are common enough, but as
glaciers and the Glacial Age have a great deal to do with the
antiquity of man, we can not do better than to learn what we can
of their formation, and their wonderful extension during this
period. The school-boy knows that by pressure he gives his
snowball nearly the hardness of ice. He could make it really ice
if he possessed sufficient strength. The fact is, then, that
snow under the influence of pressure passes into the form of
ice. In some cases nature does this on a large scale.
Where mountains are sufficiently elevated to raise their heads
above the snow line we know they are white all the year around
with snow. What is not blown away, evaporated, or, as an
avalanche, precipitated to lower heights, must accumulate from
year to year. But the weight pressing on the lower portions of
this snow-field must soon be considerable, and at length become
so great, that the snow changes to the form of ice. But as ice
it is no longer fixed and immovable. We need not stop to explain
just how this ice-field moves, but the fact is that, though
moving very slowly, it acts like a liquid body. It will steal
away over any incline however small, down which water would
flow. Like a river it fills the valleys leading down from the
mountains. But, of course, the lower down it flows the higher
the temperature it meets, and it will sooner or later reach a
point where it will melt as fast as it advances. This stream of
ice flowing down from snow-clad mountains is called a glacier.
Those we are best acquainted with are but puny things compared
with those of the polar regions, where in one case a great river
of ice sixty miles wide, flowing from an unknown distance, some
thousands of feet in depth (or height), pours out into
We at once perceive that such a mass of ice could not pour down
a valley without leaving unmistakable signs of its passage.
The sides of the mountains would be deeply scarred and smoothed.
Projecting knobs would be worn away. The surface of the
valley, exposed to the enormous grinding power of the moving
ice, would be crushed, pulverized, and dragged along with it.
Pieces of stone, like that here represented, would form part of
this moving debris, and as they were crowded along they
would now and then grate over another piece of stone more firmly
seated, and so their surface would be deeply scratched in the
direction of their greatest length. There is always more or less
water circulating under the Alpine glaciers, and the streams
that flow from them are always very muddy, containing, as they
do, quantities of crushed rock, sand, and clay.
Illustration of Scratched Stone---------
If, for any reason, this earthy matter was not washed out it
would form a bed of hard clay, in places packed with these
striated stones. Such beds of clay are known as "till" or
This is descriptive, though in a very general way, of the
glaciers as they exist to-day. Geologists have long been aware
of the fact that they have convincing proofs of the former
presence of glaciers in Northern Europe, where now the climate
is mild. The mountains of Scotland and Wales show as distinct
traces of glaciers as do those of the Alps. It is not necessary,
in this hasty sketch, to enumerate the many grounds on which
this conclusion rests. It is sufficient to state that by the
united labors of many investigators in that field we are in
possession of many conclusions relating to the great glaciers of
this age which almost surpass belief; and yet they are the
results of careful deductions. The former presence of this ice
sheet itself is shown in a most conclusive manner by the bowlder
clay formed underneath the great glacier, containing abundant
examples of stone showing by their scratched surface that they
have been ground along underneath the glacier. The rocks on the
sides of the mountains are scratched exactly as are those in the
Alps. By observing how high up on the mountains the striae are,
we know the thickness of the ice-sheet; and the direction in
which it moved is shown in several ways.<22>
Briefly, then, the geologist assures us that when the cold of
the Glacial Age was at its maximum glaciers streamed down from
all the mountains of Scotland, Wales, and Northern England;
that the ice was thick enough to overtop all the smaller hills,
and on the plains it united in one great sea of ice some
thousands of feet in thickness, that it stretched as far south
as the latitude of London, England. But that to the west the ice
streamed out across, the Irish Sea, the islands to the west of
Scotland, and ended far out into what is now the Atlantic.<23>
But these glaciers, vast as they were, were very small compared
with the glaciers that streamed out from the mountains of Norway
and Sweden. These great glaciers invaded England to the south-
west, beat back the glacier ice of Scotland from the floor of
the North Sea, overran Denmark, and spread their mantle of
bowlder clay far south into Germany.<24>
While such was the condition of things to the north, the
glaciers of the Alps were many times greater than at present.
All the valleys were filled with glacier ice, and they spread
far out on the plains of Southern Germany and westward into
France. The mountains of Southern France and the Pyrenees also
supported their separate system of glaciers. Ice also descended
from the mountains of Asia Minor and North Africa.<25>
In America we meet with traces of glaciers on a vast scale;
but we can not pause to describe them here.<26>
It need not surprise us, therefore, to learn of reindeer and
musk-sheep feeding on stunted herbage in what now constitutes
Southern France. When a continuous mantle of snow and ice
cloaked all Northern Europe, it is not at all surprising to find
evidence of an extremely cold climate prevailing throughout its
southern borders. We thus see how one piece of evidence fits
into another, and therefore we may, with some confidence,
endeavor to find proofs of more genial conditions when the snow
and ice disappeared, and a more luxuriant vegetation possessed
the land, and animals accustomed to warm and even tropical
countries roamed over a large extent of European territory.
In Switzerland it was long ago pointed out that after the
ancient glaciers had for a long time occupied the low grounds of
that country they, for some cause, retreated to the mountain
valleys, and allowed streams and rivers to work over the
debris left behind them. At Wetzikon most interesting
conclusions have been drawn. We there learn that, after the
retreat of the glaciers, a lake occupied the place, which in
course of time became filled with peat, and that subsequently
the peat was transformed into lignite. To judge from the remains
of animals and plants, the climate must have been at least as
warm as that at present; and this condition of things must have
prevailed over a period of some thousands of years to explain
the thick deposits of peat, from which originated the
But we also know that this period came to an end, and that once
more the ice descended. This is shown by the fact that directly
overlying the lignite beds are alternating layers of sand and
gravel, and, resting on these, glacier-born bowlders. The same
conclusion follows from the discoveries made at many
In Scotland it is well known that the bowlder clay contains
every now and then scattered patches of peat and beds of soil
either deposited in lakes or rivers. The only explanation that
can be given for their presence is that they represent old land
surfaces; that is, when the land was freed from ice, and
vegetation had again clothed it in a mantle of green. In this
cut is shown one of these beds. Both above and below are the
beds of bowlder clay. The peat in the centre varies from an inch
to a foot and a half in thickness, and contains many fragments
of wood, sticks, roots, etc.; and of animals, numerous beetles
were found, one kind of which frequents only places where deer
and ruminant animals abound.
Diagram of Interglacial Bed------------
From a large number of such discoveries it is conclusively shown
that, after all, Scotland was smothered under one enormous
glacier, a change of climate occurred, and the ice melted away.
Then Scotland enjoyed a climate capable of nourishing sufficient
vegetation to induce mammoths, Irish deer, horses, and great
oxen to occupy the land. But the upper bowlder clay no less
conclusively shows that once more the climate became cold, and
ice overflowed all the lowlands and buried under a new
accumulation of bowlder clay such parts of the old land surface
as it did not erode. Substantially the same set of changes are
observed in English and German geology.<28>
Having thus given an outline of the climatic changes which took
place in Europe during the Glacial Age, and the grounds on which
these strange conclusions rest, we must now turn our attention
to the appearance of man.
The uncertainties which hung over his presence in the earlier
periods, spoken of in the former chapter, do not apply to the
proofs of his presence during this age, though it is far from
settled at what particular portion of the Glacial Age he came
into Europe. We must remember we are to investigate the past,
and to awaken an interest in the history of a people who trod
this earth in ages long ago. The evidence on which we establish
a history of the early tribes of Europe is necessarily
fragmentary, but still a portion here and a piece there are
found to form one whole, and enable us to form quite a vivid
conception of manners and times now very far remote.
It is not claimed that we have surmounted every difficulty--on
the contrary, there is yet much to be deciphered; but, in some
respects, we are now better acquainted with these shadowy tribes
of early times than with those whose history has been recorded
by the historian's facile pen. He has given us a record of
blood. He acquaints us with the march of vast armies, tells us
of pillaged cities, and gives us the names of a long roll of
titled kings; but, unfortunately, we know little of the home
life, the occupation, or of those little things which make up
the culture of a people. But the knowledge of primitive tribes,
gathered from the scanty remains of their implements, from a
thorough exploration of their cavern homes, has made us
acquainted with much of their home life and surroundings:
and we are not entirely ignorant as to such topics as their
trade, government, and religion. We must not forget that this is
a knowledge of tribes and peoples who lived here in times
immeasurably ancient as compared with those in existence at the
very dawn of history.
We must try and form a mental picture of what was probably the
primitive state of man; and a little judicious reasoning from
known facts will do much for us in this direction. Some writers
have contended that the first condition of man was that of
pleasing innocence, combined with a high degree of
enlightenment, which, owing to the wickedness of mankind, he
gradually lost. This ideal picture, however consonant with our
wishes, must not only give way before the mass of information
now at our command, but has really no foundation in reason;
"or, at any rate, if this primitive condition of innocence and
enlightenment ever existed, it must have disappeared at a period
preceding the present archaeological investigations."<29>
Nothing is plainer than that our present civilization has been
developed from barbarism, as that was from savagism.<30> We need
go back but a few centuries in the history of any nation, before
we find them emerging from a state of barbarism. The energy and
intelligence of the Anglo-Saxon has spread his language to the
four corners of the globe; he has converted the wilderness into
fruitful fields, and reared cities in desert lands: yet his
history strikingly illustrates our point. A century back, and we
are already in a strange land. The prominent points of present
civilization were yet unthought of. No bands of iron united
distant cities; no nerves of wire flashed electric speech.
The wealth of that day could not buy many articles conducive of
comfort, such as now grace the homes of the poor. The contrast
is still more apparent when we recall another of the countless
centuries of the past. England, with Europe, was but just
awakening to modern life. Printing had but just been invented.
Great discoveries had been made, and mankind was but just
beginning those first feeble efforts which were to bring to us
our modern comforts. But a millennium of years ago, and the
foundation of English civilization had but just been laid by the
union of the rude Germanic tribes of the Saxons and the Angles.
Similar results attend the ultimate analysis of any
civilization. It was but yesterday that wandering hordes, bound
together by the loose cohesion of tribal organization, and
possessing but the germ of modern enlightenment, held sway in
what is now the fairest portion of the world: and we, the
descendants of these rude people, must reflect that the end is
not yet--that the onward march of progress is one of ever
hastening steps--and that, in all human probability, the sun of
a thousand years hence will shine on a people whose civilization
will be as superior to ours as the light of day exceeds the
mellow glow of a moon-lit night.
If such are the changes of but a few centuries, what must we not
consider the changes to have been during the countless ages that
have sped away since man first appeared on the scene! The early
Greek and Roman writers were much nearer right when they
considered primitive man to have been but a slight degree
removed from the brute world. Horace thus expresses himself:
"When animals first crept forth from the newly formed earth, a
dumb and filthy herd, they fought for acorns and lurking places
--with their nails, and with fists--then with clubs--and at last
with arms, which, taught by experience, they had forged.
They then invented names for things, and words to express their
thoughts; after which they began to desist from war, to fortify
cities, and enact laws." The learning of modern times leads to
much the same conclusion.
It is evident that primitive man must have been destitute of
metals; for it requires a great deal of knowledge and experience
to extract metals from their ores. In the eyes of savages, the
various metallic ores are simply so many varieties of stone--
much less valuable for his purposes than flint, or some other
varieties. We know it to be historically true, that a great many
nations have been discovered utterly destitute of any knowledge
When we reflect how much of our present enlightenment is due to
the use of metals, we can readily see that their discovery marks
a most important epoch in the history of man. There is, then,
every reason to suppose that stone was a most important article
for primitive man. It was the material with which he fought his
battle for existence, and we need not be surprised that its use
extended through an enormously long period of time. Not only was
primitive man thus low down in the scale, but of necessity his
progress must have been very slow.
The time during which men were utterly destitute of a knowledge
of metals, far exceeds the interval that has elapsed since that
important discovery.<31> Scholars divide the stone age into two
parts. In the first, the stone implements, are very few, of
simple shapes, and in the main formed of but one variety of
stone--generally flint~-and they were never polished. In the
second division, we meet with a great many different implements,
each adapted to a different purpose. Different varieties of
stone were employed, and they also made use of bone, shell, and
wood, which were often beautifully polished.
From what we have learned of the development of primitive
society, it will not surprise us to learn that the first
division of the age of stone comprises a vastly greater portion
of time, and is far more ancient, than the second. We will give
an outline showing the order of use of different materials;
but it is here necessary to remark that Bronze was the first
metal that man learned to use, and Iron the second.
ORDER IN WHICH DIFFERENT MATERIALS WERE USED FOR WEAPONS AND
IMPLEMENTS BY PRIMITIVE MAN.
Age of Stone.
Rough, or Old Stone Age--Paleolithic.
Polished or New Stone Age--Neolithic.
Age of Metals.
In this outline the words Paleolithic and Neolithic are the
scientific terms for the two divisions of the Stone Age, and
will he so used in these pages.
The only races of men that we could expect to find in Europe
during the Glacial Age would be Paleolithic tribes, and it is
equally manifest that we must find traces of them in beds of
this age, or in association with animals that are characteristic
of this age, or else we can not assert the existence of man at
this time. The valley of the river Somme, in Northern France,
has become classical ground to the student of Archaeology, since
it was there that such investigations as we have just mentioned
were first and most abundantly made. It is now well known that
the surface features of a country--that is, its hills and dales,
its uplands and lowlands--are mainly due to the erosive power of
running water. Our rivers have dug for themselves broad valleys,
undermined and carried away hills, and in general carved the
surface of a country, until the present appearance is the
result. It must be confessed that when we perceive the slow
apparent change from year to year, and from that attempt to
estimate the time required to produce the effects we see before
us, we are apt to shrink from the lapse of time demanded for its
accomplishment. Let us not forget that "Time is long," and that
causes, however trifling, work stupendous results in the course
Picture of Paleolithic Flints.--------
But a river which is thus digging down its channel in one place,
deposits the materials so dug away at other and lower levels, as
beds of sand and gravel. In the course of time, as the river
gradually lowers its channel, it will leave behind, at varying
heights along its banks, scattered patches of such beds.
Wherever we find them, no matter how far removed, or how high
above the present river, we are sure that at some time the river
flowed at that height; and standing there, we may try and
imagine how different the country must have looked before the
present deep valley was eroded.
In the case of the river Somme, we have a wide and deep valley,
a large part of which has been excavated in chalk rock, through
which the river now winds its way in a sinuous course to the
English Channel. Yet we feel sure that at some time in the past
it was a mighty stream, and that its waters surged along over a
bed at least two hundred feet higher than now. In proof of this
fact we still find, at different places along the chalky bluff,
stretches of old gravel banks, laid down there by the river,
"reaching sometimes as high as two hundred feet above the
present water level, although their usual elevation does not
exceed forty feet."<32>
The history of the investigation of the ancient gravel beds of
the Somme is briefly this: More than one instance had been noted
of the finding of flint implements, apparently the work of men,
in association with bones of various animals, such as hyenas,
mammoths, musk-sheep, and others, which, as we have just seen,
lived in Europe during the Glacial Age. In a number of cases
such finds had been made in caves. But for a long time no one
attributed any especial value to these discoveries, and various
were the explanations given to account for such commingling.
A French geologist, by the name of Boucher DePerthes, had noted
the occurrence of similar flint implements, and bones of these
extinct animals, in a gravel pit on the banks of the Somme, near
Abbeville, France. He was convinced that they proved the
existence of man at the time these ancient animals lived in
Europe. But no one paid any attention to his opinions on this
subject, and a collection of these implements, which he took to
Paris in 1839, was scarcely noticed by the scientific world.
They were certainly very rude, and presented but indistinct
traces of chipping, and perhaps it is not strange that he failed
to convince any one of their importance. He therefore determined
to make a thorough and systematic exploration of these beds at
Abbeville. In 1847 he published his great work on this subject,
giving over sixteen hundred cuts of the various articles he had
found, claiming that they were proof positive of the presence of
man when the gravels were depositing.
Picture of Flint Implements, so-called.------
Now there are several questions to be answered before the
conclusions of the French geologist can be accepted. In the
first place, are these so-called flint implements of human
workmanship? From our illustrations, we see that they are of an
oval shape, tending to a cutting edge all around, and generally
more or less pointed at one end. The testimony of all competent
persons who have examined them is, that however rude they may
be, they were undoubtedly fashioned by man. Dr. C. C. Abbott has
made some remarks on implements found in another locality,
equally applicable to the ones in question. He says: "We find,
on comparing a specimen of these chipped stones with an
accidentally fractured pebble, that the chipped surfaces of the
former all tend toward the production of a cutting edge, and
there is no portion of the stone detached which does not add to
the availability of the supposed implement as such; while in the
case of a pebble that has been accidentally broken, there is
necessarily all absence of design in the fracturing."<33>
Like the watch found on the moor, they show such manifest
evidence of design, that we can not doubt that they were
produced by the hand of man. But it is not enough to know that
they are artificial, we must also know that they are of the same
age as the beds in which they are found.
Section of Gravel Pit.-----------
This cut represents a section of a gravel pit at St. Acheul, on
the Somme. The implements are nearly always found in the lowest
strata, which is a bed of gravel from ten to fourteen feet
thick. Overlying this are beds of marl, loam, and surface soil,
comprising in all a depth of fourteen feet. It has been
suggested that the implements are comparatively recent, and have
sunk down from above by their own weight, or perhaps have been
buried in artificial excavations. The beds are however too
compact to admit of any supposition that they may have been sunk
there; and if buried in any excavation, evident traces of such
excavation would have remained. We can account for their
presence there in no other way than, that when the river rolled
along at that high elevation, and deposited great beds of sand,
these implements were someway lost in its waters, and became
buried in the gravel deposits.
Finally, we have to consider the age of the deposits. This is a
question that can be answered only by geologists, and we may be
sure that more than ordinary attention has been bestowed upon
them. The remains of many animals characteristic of the Glacial
Age were found in the beds at Abbeville. These include those of
the elephants, rhinoceros, hyenas, cave-bear, and cave-lion.<34>
In the formation of these gravel beds, ice has undoubtedly
played quite an important part. Bowlders that could have got
there only by the aid of ice, are found in several localities.
Evidence gathered from a great many different sources all
establish the fact that these gravels date as far back as the
close of the Glacial Age at least, and there are some reasons
for supposing them to be interglacial.
We can easily see that the melting away of the immense glaciers
that we have been describing would produce vast floods in the
rivers, and it is perhaps owing to the presence of such swollen
rivers that are due the great beds of surface soil, called loam
or loess, found in all the river valleys of France and
Germany.<35> These deposits frequently overlie the gravel beds.
They are then of a later date than the beds in which are found
such convincing proofs of the presence of man, and if they
themselves date from the close of the Glacial Age, it is no
longer a question whether the gravel beds themselves belong to
that age. Thus we see that we can no longer escape the
conclusions of Boucher DePerthes. The discovery of rudely worked
flints in the drift of the Somme River thus establishes the fact
that some time during the Glacial Age, man in a Paleolithic
state lived in France.
Geological terms convey to us no definite ideas as to the lapse
of time, and we have an instinctive desire to substitute for
them some term of years. In most cases this is impossible, as
we have no means to measure the flight of past time, nor are we
yet prepared to discuss the question of time, since to do so we
must learn a great deal more about the cause of the Glacial Age.
We might, however, cite statements which can not fail to impress
us with the fact that a great extent of time has passed.
In the case of the river Somme we have a valley in some places a
mile or more in width, and about two hundred feet in depth.
This has mostly been excavated in chalk rock. Taking our present
large rivers as a basis, it would require from one to two
hundred thousand years for the Somme to perform this work.<36>
It will not do, however, to take the present action of our
rivers as a guide, since we have every reason to suppose this
work went forward much more rapidly in past times. But we can
not escape the conclusion that it demands a very long time
indeed to explain it. The valley has remained in its present
shape long enough to admit the formation of great beds of peat
in some portions. Peat is formed by the decomposition of
vegetable growth. Its growth is in all cases slow, depending
entirely upon local circumstances. European scholars who have
made peat formation a special study assure us that to form such
immense beds as occur near Abbeville, several thousand years are
required, even under the most favorable conditions.
Yet we would be scarcely willing to rest such important
conclusions as the foregoing on the researches of one
individual, or in one locality. As already stated, DePerthes
made his discoveries public in 1847. Yet they were so opposed to
all that had been believed previously, that but few took the
pains to investigate for themselves. In 1853, Dr. Rigollot, of
Amiens, who had been skeptical as to DePerthes, commenced to
look for himself in the gravel beds at St. Acheul, about nine
miles below Abbeville. As might be expected, he was
Picture of Paleolithic Flint, England.------
It may be said that the scientific world formally accepted the
new theory when such English scientists as Evans, Falconer,
Lyell, and Prestwich reported in its favor. Since that time,
many discoveries of ancient implements have been made at various
places in France and England under circumstances similar to
those in the valley of the Somme. In England they have been
found along almost all the rivers in the southern and south-
eastern part. One class of discoveries there gives us new ideas
as to the extent of time that has passed since they were
deposited. That is where they occur in gravel beds having no
connection with the present system of rivers. In one case the
gravel forms a hill fifteen feet high, situated in the midst of
a swampy district, surrounded on all sides by low, flat
surfaces. Several such instances could be given; but, in all
such cases, we can not doubt that, somewhere near, there once
rolled the waters of an ancient river, that man once hunted
along its banks, and that, owing to some natural cause, the
waters forsook their ancient bed--and that since then, in the
slow course of ages, the action of running water has removed so
much of the surface of the land near there, that we can not
guess at its ancient configuration: we only know, from scattered
patches of gravel, that we are standing on the banks of an
One instance, illustrative of the great change that has come
over the surface features of the country, demanding for their
accomplishment a great lapse of time, is furnished by the Isle
of Wight. That island is now separated from the mainland by a
narrow channel, called the South Hampton Water, or the
It is now known that this is nothing but an old river channel,
in which the sea has usurped the place of the river. The coast
is a river embankment, with the usual accompaniments of gravel
beds, flint implements, and fresh water shells. On the shores of
the island we find the opposite bank of the old river. A very
great change must have taken place in the surface features
before the sea could have rolled in and cut off the Isle of
Wight from the mainland.
In speaking of the length of time demanded for this change, Dr.
Evans says: "Who can fully understand how immeasurably remote
was the epoch when what is now that vast bay was high and dry
land, and a long range of chalk downs, six hundred feet above
the sea, bounded the horizon on the South? And yet that must
have been the sight that met the eye of primitive man who
frequented the banks of that ancient river, which buried their
handiwork in gravels that now cap the cliffs--and of the course
of which so strange and indubitable a memorial subsists in what
has now become the Solent Sea?"<37>
The illustrations scattered through this essay are
representations of the stone implements found in the drift of
European rivers. During all the long course of time supposed to
he covered by the Paleolithic Age, there are but very few
evidences of any improvement, as far as we can judge from the
implements themselves. This is in itself a melancholy proof of
the low condition of man. He had made so little advance in the
scale of wisdom, he possessed so little knowledge, he was so
much a creature of instinct, that, during the thousands of years
demanded for this age, he made no appreciable progress.
The advance of the last century was many times greater than that
of the entire Paleolithic Age. A blow struck on one end of a
piece of flint will, owing to the peculiar cleavage of flint,
split off pieces called flakes. This is the simplest form of
implement used by man. It is impossible to say with certainty
how they were used; but, from the evidence observed on
them, they were probably used as scrapers. The men of that day
doubtless knew some simple method of preparing clothing from the
skins of the animals they had killed, and probably many of these
sharp-rimmed flakes were used to assist in this primitive
process of tanning.
Illustration of Flint Flakes.--------
When the piece of flint itself was chipped into form, it was one
whose shape would indicate a spear-head or hatchet. We present
illustrations of each. Forms intermediate between these two are
found. Some have such a thick heavy base that it is believed
they were used in the hand, and had no handle or haft.
Others, with a cutting edge all round, may have been provided
with a handle. M. Mortillet, of France, who has had excellent
opportunities of studying this question very thoroughly, thinks
that the hatchet was the only type of implement they possessed,
and that it was used for every conceivable purpose--but that
their weapon was a club, all traces of which have, of course,
long since vanished away.<38>
Illustrations of Spear Head Type and Hatchet Type.------
These few implements imply that their possessors were savages
like the native Australians. In this stage of culture, man lived
by hunting, and had not yet learned to till the ground, or to
seek the materials out of which his implements were made by
mining. Re merely fashioned the stones which happened to be
within reach in the shallows of rivers as they were wanted,
throwing them away after they had been used. In this manner the
large numbers which have been met with in certain spots may be
accounted for. Man at this time appears before us as a nomad
hunter, poorly equipped for the struggle of life, without
knowledge of metals, and ignorant of the art of grinding his
stone tools to a sharp edge.<39> Of course we can not hope to
learn much of their social condition other than that just
DePerthes found some flints which show evidence of their human
origin, and yet it would be very difficult to say what was their
use. He thinks they may have a religious significance, and has
set forth a great variety of eloquent surmises respecting them.
It only need be said that such theorizing is worse than useless.
That while it is very probable these tribes had some system
of belief, yet there is no good reason for supposing these
flints had any connection with it. It has been supposed, from
another series of wrought flints, that the men of this epoch
were possessed of some sentiments of art, as pieces have been
found thought to represent the forms of animals, men's faces,
birds, and fishes; but as very few have been able to detect such
resemblances, it is safe to say they do not exist.
As the love of adornment is almost as old as human nature
itself, we may not be surprised to find traces of its sway then.
Dr. Rigollot found little bunches of shells with holes
through either end. The supposition is that these were used as
beads; which is not at all strange, considering how
instinctively savage men delight in such ornaments. These
ancient hunters made use of beads partially prepared by nature.
Europe is not the only country where the remains of this savage
race are found. They are found in the countries bordering the
Mediterranean in Northern Africa, and in Egypt. In this latter
country they are doubtless largely buried under the immense
deposits of Nile mud; yet in 1878 Professor Haynes discovered in
Upper Egypt scrapers and hatchets, pronounced by archaeologists
to be exactly similar to those of the river Somme. We are not
informed as to their geological age, but there can be no
question that they are much older than any monument of Egyptian
civilization hitherto known.<40>
Paleolithic implements have also been found in Palestine and in
India. In the latter country the beds are so situated that they
present the same indicia, of age as do those of the Somme
Valley. A great portion of the formation has been removed, and
deep valleys cut in them by running water.<41> They have also
been found in at least one locality in the United States;
that is in the glacial gravel of the valley of the Delaware at
Trenton, New Jersey. We must not confound these remains with
those of the Indian tribes found scattered over a large extent
of surface. Those at Trenton also are not only in all respects,
except materials, similar to those of the Somme, but are found
imbedded in a formation of gravel that was deposited at least as
far back as the close of the Glacial Age, thus requiring the
passage of the same long series of years since they were used,
as do the implements of European rivers.<42> We must also bear
in mind that no country has been so carefully explored for these
implements as has Europe, and that the very country, Asia,
where, for many reasons, we might hope to find not only
unequivocal proofs of man's presence but from our discoveries be
able to clear up many dark points, as to the race, origin, and
fate of these primitive tribes, is yet almost a sealed book.
But the scattered discoveries we have instanced show us that the
people whose implements have been described in this chapter were
very widely dispersed over the earth, and everything indicates
that they were far removed from us in time. The similarity in
type of implements shows that, wherever found, they were the
same people, in the same low savage state of culture--"Alike in
the somber forests of oak and pine in Great Britain, and when
surrounded by the luxuriant vegetation of the Indian jungle."<43>
We have yet two important points to consider. The first is, what
race of men were these river tribes? and second, when did they
arrive in Europe? Did they precede the glacial cold? did they
make their appearance during a warm interglacial period? or was
it not until the final retreat of the glaciers that they first
wandered into Europe? These questions are far from settled;
yet they have been the object of a great amount of
To determine the first point, it is necessary that anatomists
have skeletons of the men of this age, to make a careful study
of them. But for a great many reasons, portions of the human
skeleton are very rarely found in such circumstances that we are
sure they date back to the Paleolithic Age, and especially is
this true of the men of the River Drift. In a few instances
fragmentary portions have been found.
M. Quatrefages, of France, who is certainly a very high
authority on these points, thinks that the hunter tribes of the
River Drift belonged to the Canstadt race--"so named from the
village of Canstadt, in Germany, near which a fossil skull was
discovered in 1700, and which appears to be closely allied to
the Neanderthal skull, discovered near Dusseldorf in 1857, and
about which so much has been written."<44> Quatrefages supposes
that this type of man is still to be found in certain Australian
tribes. These are not mere guesses, but are conclusions drawn
from careful study by eminent European scholars.<45>
It is well known that a competent naturalist needs but a single
fossil bone to describe the animal itself, and tell us its
habits. So also anthropologists need but fragments of the human
skeleton, especially of the skull, to describe characteristics
of the race to which the individual belonged.
Illustration of Neanderthal Man.-----------
This cut, though an ideal restoration, is a restoration made in
accordance with the results of careful study of fragmentary
skulls found in various localities in Europe. The head and the
face present a savage aspect; the body harmonized with the head;
the height was not more than five feet and a half; yet the bones
are very thick in proportion to their length, and were evidently
supplied with a powerful set of muscles, since the little
protuberances and depressions where the muscles are attached are
remarkably well developed.<46> Huxley and Quatrefages have both
pointed out that representatives of this race are to be found
among some Australian tribes. "Among the races of this great
island there is one, distributed particularly in the province of
Victoria, in the neighborhood of Port Western, which reproduces
in a remarkable manner, the characters of the Canstadt
race."<47> Not the least interesting result of this discovery is
the similarity of weapons and implements. "With Mr. Lartet, we
see in the obsidian lances of New Caledonia the flint heads of
the lower alluvium of the Somme. The hatchet of certain
Australians reminds us, as it did Sir Charles Lyell, of the
Yet some hesitate about accepting these interesting inferences,
thinking that the portions of the human skeleton thus far
recovered, which are beyond a doubt referable to this period,
are too fragmentary to base such important conclusions upon.
This is the view of Boyd Dawkins, who thinks "we can not refer
them to any branch of the human race now alive."<49> "We are
without a clew," continues he, "to the ethnology of the River
Drift man, who most probably is as completely extinct as the
woolly rhinoceros or the cave bear."<50> Future discoveries will
probably settle this point.
It is yet a much disputed point to what particular portion of
the Glacial Age we can trace the appearance of man. We can
profitably note the tendency of scientific thought in this
direction. But a short time has elapsed since a few scholars
here and there began to urge an antiquity for man extending back
beyond the commonly accepted period of six thousand years.
Though it is now well known and admitted that there are no good
grounds for this estimate, yet such was its hold, such its sway
over scientific as well as popular thought, that an appeal to
this chronology was deemed sufficient answer to the discoveries
of DePerthes, Schmerling, and others. It was but yesterday that
this popular belief was overthrown and due weight given the
discoveries of careful explorers in many branches, and the
antiquity of man referred, on indisputable grounds, to a point
of time at least as far back as the close of the preceding
It seems as if here a halt had been called, and all possible
objections are urged against a further extension of time. It is,
of course, well to be careful in this matter, and to accept only
such results as inevitably follow from well authenticated
discoveries. But it also seems to us there is no longer any
doubt that man dates back to the beginning of that long extended
time we have named the Glacial Age.<52>
In the first place, we must recall the animals that suddenly
made their appearance in Europe at the beginning of this age.
Though there were a number of species, since become extinct, the
majority of animal forms were those still living.<53>
These are the animals with which man has always been associated.
There is therefore no longer any reason to suppose the evolution
of animal life had not reached that stage where man was to
appear. We need only recall how strongly this point was urged in
reference to the preceding geological epoch, to see its
important bearings here. Mr. Boyd Dawkins has shown that the
great majority of animals which invaded Europe at the
commencement of this age, can be traced to Northern and Central
Asia, whence, owing to climatic changes, they migrated into
Inasmuch as man seems to have been intimately associated with
these animals, it seems to us very likely that he came with them
from their home in Asia. We think the tendency of modern
discoveries is to establish the fact that man arrived in Europe
along with the great invasion of species now living.<55>
Turning now to the authorities, we find this to be the accepted
theory of many of those competent to form an opinion.
In England Mr. Geikie has strongly urged the theory that the
Glacial Age includes not only periods of great cold, but also
epochs of exceptional mildness; and he strongly argues that all
the evidence of the River Drift tribes can be referred to these
warm interglacial epochs; in other words, that they were living
in Europe during the Glacial Age.<56>
In answer to this it has been stated that the relics of River
Drift tribes in Southern England overlie bowlder clay, and must
therefore be later in origin than the Glacial Age.<57>
But, Mr. Geikie and others have shown that the ice of the last
great cold did not overflow Southern England,<58> so that this
evidence, rightly read, was really an argument in favor of their
interglacial age.<59> The committee appointed by the British
Association to explore the Victoria Cave, near Settle, urge this
point very strongly in their final report of 1878.<60> To this
report Mr. Dawkins, a member of the committee, records his
dissent, but in his last great work he freely admits that man
was living in England during the Glacial Age, if he did not, in
fact, precede it.<61>
Mr. Skertchley, of the British coast survey, in 1879,<62>
announced the discovery in East Anglia of Paleolithic,
implements underlying the bowlder clay of that section.
Mr. Geikie justly regards this as a most important discovery.<63>
Finally Mr. Dawkins, in his address as President of the
Anthropological section of the British Association, in 1882,
goes over the entire ground. After alluding to the discovery of
paleolithic implements in Egypt, India, and America, he
continues: "The identity of implements of the River Drift hunter
proves that he was in the same rude state of civilization, if it
can be called civilization, in the Old and the New World, when
the hand of the geological clock struck the same hour. It is not
a little strange that this mode of life should have been the
same in the forests of the North, and south of the
Mediterranean, in Palestine, in the tropical forests of India,
and on the western shores of the Atlantic." This, however, is
not taken as proving the identity of race, but as proving that
in this morning-time of man's existence he had nowhere advanced
beyond a low state of savagism. Mr. Dawkins then continues:
"It must be inferred from his wide-spread range that he must
have inhabited the earth for a long time, and that his dispersal
took place before the Glacial epoch in Europe and America.
I therefore feel inclined to view the River Drift hunter as
having invaded Europe in preglacial times, along with other
living species which then appeared." He also points out that the
evidence is that he lived in Europe during all the changes of
that prolonged period known as the Glacial Age.<64>
Sir John Lubbock also records his assent to these views. He says
on this point: "It is, I think, more than probable that the.
advent of the Glacial Period found man already in possession
In our own country Prof. Powell says: "It is now an established
fact that man was widely scattered over the earth at least as
early as the beginning of the Quaternary period, and perhaps in
This completes our investigation of the men of the River Drift.
We see how, by researches of careful scholars, our knowledge of
the past has been enlarged. Though there are many points which
are as yet hidden in darkness, we are enabled to form quite a
clear mental picture of this early race. Out of the darkness
which still enshrouds the continent of Asia we see these bands
of savages wandering forth; some to Europe, Africa, and the
west; others to America and the east.
This was at a time when slowly falling temperature but dimly
prophesied a reign of arctic cold, still far in the future.
This race does not seem to have had much capacity for
advancement, since ages came and went leaving him in the same
low state. During the climax of glacial cold he doubtless sought
the southern coasts of Europe along with the temperate species
of animals. But whenever the climatic conditions were such that
these animals could find subsistence as far north as England he
accompanied them there, and so his remains are found constantly
associated with theirs throughout Europe. Though doubtless very
low in the scale, and at the very foot of the ladder of human
progress, we are acquainted with no facts connecting them with
the higher orders of animals. If such exists, we must search for
them further back in geological time. The men of the River Drift
were distinctively human beings, and as such possessed those
qualities which, developing throughout the countless ages that
have elapsed, have advanced man to his present high position.
(1) This chapter was submitted to Prof. G. F. Wright, of
Oberlin, for criticism.
(2) Lyell's "Antiquity of Man;" Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe,"
(3) It is, however, applicable to only a portion of the
Quaternary, or Post-tertiary period. (Wright.)
(4) Chapter II.
(5) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 339.
(6) Dawkins's "Cave Hunting," p. 365.
(7) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 112.
(8) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 337.
(9) The majority of the Pliocene animals disappeared from Europe
at the close of the period in question. This includes such
animals as the mastodon, hipparion, and many kinds of deer
(Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 334). The following animals
survived into the Glacial Age, and some even into Inter-glacial
periods: African hippopotamus (still living), saber-toothed
lion, bear of Auvergne, big-nosed rhinoceros, Etruskan
rhinoceros, Sedgwick's deer, deer of Polignac, Southern
elephant. ("Prehistoric Europe," p. 95.)
(10) The northern animals include the following: Alpine hare,
musk-sheep, glutton, reindeer, arctic fox, lemming, tailless
hare, marmot, spermophile, ibex, snowy vole, chamois. (Geikie's
"Prehistoric Europe," p. 32.)
(11) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 28.
(12) The following animals are given as southern species:
Hippopotamus, African elephant, spotted hyena, striped hyena,
serval, caffer cat, lion, leopard. In addition to the above
there were also four or five species of elephants and three
species of rhinoceros, which have since become extinct.
(Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 32.)
(13) It is scarcely necessary to give a list of these animals.
Prof. Dawkins enumerates thirty-three species. The following are
some of the most important: Urus, bison, horse, stag, roe,
beaver, rabbit, otter, weasel, martin, wildcat, fox, wolf, wild
boar, brown bear, grizzly bear. (Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe,"
(14) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 191.
(15) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 316.
(16) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 87.
(17) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 50.
(18) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 54.
(19) Ibid., p. 55.
(20) Kane's "Arctic Exploration," Vol. I, p. 225.
(21) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 180.
(22) Wallace's "Island Life," p. 104.
(23) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 189.
(24) Ibid., p. 192, et seq.
(25) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain."
(26) For fuller information on this topic see James Geikie's
"The Great Ice Age;" also, by the same author, "Prehistoric
Europe." In Appendix "B" of this latter work the author gives a
map of Europe at the climax of the Glacial Age, showing the
great extension of the glaciers. This map embodies the results
of the labors of a great many eminent scholars. See also Croll's
"Climate and Time;" also Wallace's "Island Life," pp. 102-202.
We are not aware that the statements as set forth above are
seriously questioned by any geologist of note. Some consider it
quite possible that the bowlder clays of Southern England and
Central Germany were deposited during a period of submergence
from melting icebergs. (Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p.
116.) But even this demands vast glaciers to the north of this
supposed submergence to produce the icebergs. The weight of
authority, however, is in favor of the glaciers. (Geikie's
"Prehistoric Europe," p. 175.)
(27) Haywood's Heer's "Primeval World of Switzerland," p. 200.
(28) "Prehistoric Europe," p. 261. It is no longer a question
that there was at least one mild period separating two periods
of cold in Europe. See Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 316;
Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," pp. 115-120; Lyell's
"Antiquity of Man," pp. 282-285., Dana's "Manual of Geology,"
first edition, p. 561; Haywood's Heer's "Primeval World of
Switzerland," Vol. II, p. 203; Wallace's "Island Life," p. 114;
Croll's "Climate and Time." Mr. Geikie, in his works, "The Great
Ice Age" and "Prehistoric Europe," maintains there were several
warm interglacial epochs.
(30) Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 29.
(31) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," p. 365. Morgan's "Ancient
Society," p. 39.
(32) Rau's "Early Man in Europe," p. 14.
(33) "Primitive Industry," p. 485.
(34) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," 384.
(35) Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," chap. ix. Most geologists
suppose there was a general depression of the region below the
sea level, or so as to form inland lakes, and that the loess was
thus deposited, as perhaps it is depositing at the present time
in the lakes of Switzerland. (Wright.)
(36) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 423.
(37) Evans's "Ancient Stone Implements," p. 621.
(38) Pop. Science Monthly, Oct., 1883.
(39) Dawkins's "Ear. Man in Brit.," p. 163.
(40) Wright's 'Studies in Science and Religion," p. 278. See
also British Association Report, 1882, p. 602.
(41) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 356.
(42) Abbott's "Primitive Industry."
(43) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 172.
(45) Quatrefages's "Human Species," p. 307.
(46) "Human Species," p. 305.
(47) Ibid., p. 307.
(48) Quatrefage's "Human Species," p. 306.
(49) "Early Man in Britain," p. 173.
(50) Ibid., p. 233.
(51) We do not give any estimate in years as to this antiquity
in this chapter.
(52) We must remember that this age is also variously called the
Quaternary, Pleistocene, and Post Tertiary. We do not now refer
to the evidence of man's existence in the Miocene and Pliocene,
treated of in the preceding chapter.
(53) Mr. Dawkins finds that fifty-five out of seventy-seven
species are yet living. "Early Man in Britain," p, 109.
(54) "Early Man in Britain," p. 110.
(55) Those who reject the proofs of the existence of man in
Pliocene times because the evolution of life had not then
reached a stage where we could hope to find man, are here
confronted with a difficulty. If Mr. Dawkins be right (as stated
above) then the various animals in question must have been
living in Asia during the preceding Pliocene Age. There is no
reason to suppose man was not associated with them, since he
belongs to the same stage of evolution (Le Conte's "Elements of
Geology," p. 568), and though, owing to climatic and
geographical causes, the animals themselves might have been
confined to Asia, there is surely no good reason why man may
not, in small bands, and at various times, have wandered
(56) "Prehistoric Europe," "The Great Ice Age."
(57) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 170.
(58) "Prehistoric Europe," p. 268.
(59) Ibid., 360.
(60) British Assoc. Rep., 1878.
(61) "Early Man in Britain," pp. 137, 141, and 169, with note.
(62) British Assoc. Rep., 1879.
(63) Prehistoric Europe, p. 263.
(64) British Assoc. Rep., 1882.
(65) Preface to Kains-Jackson's "Our Ancient Monuments."
(66) "First Annual Report, Bureau of Ethnology," p. 73.
END OF CHAPTER III******************
The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
by E. A. Allen
Processed by D.R. Thompson
Other sources of Information--History of Cave Exploration--The
formation of Caves--Exploration in Kent's Cavern--Evidence of
two different races--The higher culture of the later race--
Evidence of prolonged time--Exploration of Robin Hood
Cave--Explorations in Valley of the River Meuse--M. Dupont's
conclusions--Explorations in the Valley of the Dordogne--The
Station at Schussenreid--Cavemen not found south of the Alps--
Habitations of the Cave-men--Cave-men were Hunters--Methods of
Cooking--Destitute of the Potter's art--Their Weapons--Clothing
--Their skill in Drawing--Evidence of a Government--Of Religious
belief--Race of the Cave-men--Distinct from the men of the
Drift--Probable Connection with the Eskimos.
We have been delving, among the sands of ancient river bottoms
for a proof of man's existence in far remote times. Slight and
unsatisfactory as they may be to some, they are the materials
with which we reconstruct a wondrous story of life and times
removed from us by many a cycle of years.
Men have frequently resorted to the caverns of the earth for
protection. In places we find caves that served this purpose
during the Paleolithic Age. The men of the Drift, however, do
not appear to have used them, save as temporary places of
refuge, perhaps as a protection from bands of savage enemies, or
from unusually inclement weather. But yet most surprising
results have attended the exploration of caves in England,
France, and Belgium. We find in those gloomy places that the men
of the Drift were not the only tribes of men inhabiting Europe
during the Glacial Age. In fact, living at later date than the
Drift tribes, but still belonging to the Paleolithic Age, were
tribes of people who appear to have utilized caverns and
grottoes as places of permanent resort, and, judging from their
remains, they had made considerable advance in the arts of
living as compared with the tribes of the Drift.
But before pointing out the grounds upon which these conclusions
rest, it may be well to give a slight review of the history of
cave research. The dread and awe which kept people away from
caves during the Middle Ages preserved their contents for later
discoverers. In the seventeenth century, some adventurous
spirits began to search in them for what they called Unicorn
horns, which were deemed a most efficacious remedy for various
diseases. This search served the good purpose of bringing to
light various fossil bones of animals, and calling the attention
of scientific men to the same.
The cave of Gailenreuth, in Bavaria, was explored by Dr.
Goldfuss in 1810. He came to the conclusion that the bones of
bears and other extinct animals were proofs of the former
presence of the animals themselves. Dr. Buckland, a celebrated
English writer, visited the cave in 1816, and became much
interested in the work; so much so that when Kirkdale Cavern, in
England, was discovered in 1821, he at once repaired to the spot
and made a careful exploration. The results satisfied him that
hyenas and other extinct animals had once lived in England.
He followed up his explorations in a number of cases, and
published a work on this subject in 1822, which marks the
commencement of a new era in cave research.
In 1825 Kent's Cavern, near Torquay, was discovered, and Rev. J.
McEnry made partial explorations in it. He discovered flint
implements and perceived they might be a proof of the presence
of man with these extinct animals. Dr. Buckland had not found
these relics, or else had passed them by as of no importance,
for he refused to entertain the theory that man and the extinct
animals had been contemporaneous. Explorations made in France in
1827-8 had furnished such strong evidence on this point that it
was deemed established by some scholars, but being opposed to
the prevailing belief, nothing came of it.
Illustration of Gailenreuth.---------
In 1829 Schmerling commenced his investigations in the caves of
the valley of the Meuse. For years he continued his work under
many difficulties. Sir Charles Lyell tells us he was let down
day after day to the opening of the Engis Cave by a rope tied to
a tree. Arriving there he crawled on all fours through a narrow
passage way to the enlarged chamber, where, standing in mud and
water, he superintended the investigations. He examined over
forty of those caves, and published his results in 1833.
He clearly showed that man must have been living along with
various animals now extinct in Belgium. But, as before remarked,
it was deemed sufficient answer to this careful explorer to
point out that his results were opposed to the accepted
chronology, and so they were passed by. When the time at last
came, and their true worth was recognized, Schmerling himself
had passed away.
We have already seen what great results followed the exploration
of DePerthes in the river gravels. When it had been clearly
established that man and extinct animals hid coexisted in
Europe, the results of cave explorations were eagerly recalled,
and governments vied with royal societies and private
individuals in continuing the researches. The results are that a
rich store of facts has been gathered from those gloomy resorts,
illustrative of the later stages of Paleolithic art.
A word as to the formation of caves, grottoes, caverns, and rock
shelters. These vary greatly in size, some being so small as to
furnish protection to but few individuals; others, especially
caves, so large that whole tribes might have found a place of
resort within their chambers. They are found in all limestone
countries. The formation of caves is now recognized as due to
natural causes acting slowly through many years. Limestone rock
is very hard and durable, but chemistry teaches us that water
charged with carbonic acid gas will readily dissolve it.
Rain-water falling from the clouds is sure to come in contact
with masses of decaying vegetable matter, which we know is
constantly giving off quantities of this gas. Laden with this
the water sinks into the ground, and, if it comes in contact
with limestone, readily washes some of it away in solution.
But beds of limestone rock are noted for containing great
fissures through which subterranean waters penetrate far into
the ground. We can readily see how this percolating water would
dissolve and wear away the surface of the rocks along such a
fissure, and in process of time we would have the phenomenon of
a stream of water flowing under ground.
Owing to a great many causes--such, for instance, as the meeting
of another fissure--we would expect that portions of this
underground way would become enlarged to spacious halls.
In some such a way as this it is now understood that all caves
Owing to many natural causes the river may, after a while, cease
to flow, leaving enlarged portions of its channel behind as a
succession of chambers in a cave. But water would still come
trickling in from the tops and sides, and be continuously
dripping to the floor, where it speedily evaporates. When such
is the case it leaves behind it the limestone it held in
solution. So, in process of time, if the deposition is
undisturbed, there will be formed over the floor of the cave a
more or less continuous layer of limestone matter known as
stalagmite. The same formations on the top and sides of the cave
are called stalactites. In places where the drip is continuous
the stalactite gradually assumes the shape of an immense icicle;
while the stalagmite on the floor of the cave, underneath the
drip, rises in a columnar mass to meet the descending
stalactite. A union of these is not uncommon, and, we have
pillars and columns presenting the strange, fantastic appearance
on which tourists delight to dwell in their notes of travel.
While these accumulations are in all cases very slow, still we
can not measure the time since it commenced by the rate of
present growth, because this rate varies greatly at different
times and places even in the same cave. And we must also remark
that this complete series of changes only occur in a few
localities, the majority of caves being insignificant
From what has been said as to the formation of caves, we would
expect them to occur in river valleys, and this is the case,
though in some instances there have been such immense changes in
the surface level of the country that we can now find no trace
of rivers near them. This is exactly similar to some gravel
deposits, which, as we have seen, are occasionally found where
is now no running water. The most noted caverns, however, are
found high up on the banks of existing rivers. We can not doubt
that the rivers were the cause of the caves. But having
excavated their beds below the level of the then existing caves,
they ceased to flow in them, and left them to be occupied by
savage animals and the scarcely less savage men. But at times,
swollen by floods, the river would again assert its supremacy
and roll its waters through its old channels.
These floods would not only tear up and rearrange whatever
debris had already accumulated, but would introduce
quantities of sediment and animal remains. In some such a manner
as is here pointed out (though exactly how geologists are not
agreed) caves were invaded, after being long occupied by men or
animals, by floods of water. In many cases the evidence would
seem to indicate that after such a visitation by water the cave
and its water-rolled and water-arranged contents were left to
silence, visited by neither man nor beast. In such instances
stalagmitic coverings would gradually form over the confused
debris, and in some places acquire a thickness of several
feet. In some instances several such floors are found one above
the other, pointing to a prolonged period of usage, and then a
quiet stage, in which the drip of falling water alone broke the
silence, and nature sealed up another chapter of cave biography
beneath the layer of stalagmite.
One of the most important caves of England is Kent's Cavern,
before mentioned. This cave was carefully explored under the
direction of a committee appointed by the British Association,
and to show the care and thoroughness of the work we need only
state that this work occupied the greater portion of sixteen
years, and hence the results obtained may be regarded as, in a
general way, illustrative of the life of the cave dwellers.
"This cave is about a mile east of Torquay harbor, and is of a
sinuous character, running deeply into a hill of Devonian
limestone, about half a mile distant from the sea. In places it
expands into large chambers, to which various distinctive names
have been given."<3>
Let us see what general results have been reached by this
committee. The investigation disclosed several different beds of
stalagmite, cave earth, and breccia. The lowest layer is a
breccia.<4> The matrix is sand of a reddish color, containing
many pieces of rock known as red-grit and some pieces of quartz.
This implies the presence of running water, which at times
washed in pieces of red-grit. The surface features must have
been quite different from the present, since now this rock does
not form any part of the hill into which this cave opens.<5>
And this change in drainage took place before this lowest layer
was completed, since not only bears, but men, commenced to visit
the cave. The presence of bears is shown by numerous bones, and
that of man by his implements.
Illustration of Spear-head--Lower Breccia, Kent's Cavern.---
We must notice that all the implements found in the breccia are
similar to those of the Drift, being rudely formed and massive.
No doubt these are the remains of Drift men, who, for some cause
or other, temporarily visited the cave, perhaps contending with
the cave bear for its possession. But a time at length arrived
when for some reason neither animals nor man visited the cave.
The slow accumulation of stalagmite went forward until in some
places it had obtained a thickness of twelve feet. Freely
admitting that we can not determine the length of time demanded
for this deposition, yet none can doubt that it requires a very
long time indeed. Says Mr. Geikie: "How many centuries rolled
past while that old pavement was slowly accreting, no one can
say; but that it represents a lapse of ages compared to which
the time embraced by all tradition and written history is but as
a few months, who that is competent to form an opinion can
doubt?" But after this long period of quiet, from some source
great torrents of water came rolling through the cave. We know
this to be so, because in places it broke up this layer of
stalagmite and washed it away, as well as large portions of the
breccia below, and after the floods had ceased, occasionally
inundations still threw down layers of mud and silt.
This accumulation is known as cave earth, and is the layer
containing the numerous remains of the Cave-men. Here the
explorers were not only struck with the large number of
implements, but at once noticed that they were of a higher form
and better made. Instead of the rude and massive implements of
the Drift tribes, we have more delicate forms chipped all
around. And we also meet with those that from their form may
have been used as the heads of spears or arrows. Flakes were
also utilized for various purposes. We also find
implements, weapons, and ornaments of bone--a step in advance of
Drift culture. They had "harpoons for spearing fish, eyed
needles or bodkins for stitching skins together, awls perhaps to
facilitate the passage of the slender needle through the tough,
thick hides; pins for fastening the skins they wore, and
perforated badgers' teeth for necklaces or bracelets."<6>
Nothing of this kind has yet been shown as belonging to the men
of the Drift.
Illustrations of Spear-head and Flake-----------
The bones of a large number of animals are also found in the
cave earth. The most abundant is the hyena, and no doubt they
dragged in a great many others; but the agency of man is equally
apparent, as the bones have often been split for the extraction
of marrow. Besides bones of the hyena, we have also those of the
lion, tiger, bear, and reindeer.<7>
Illustration of Harpoons, Pin, Awl, and Needle--Kent's Cavern.
With these animals man, from time to time, disputed possession
of the cave. At one place on the surface of the cave earth is
found what is known as the "black band." This is nothing more or
less than the fire-place of these old tribes. Here we find
fragments of partially consumed wood, bones showing the action
of fire--in short, every thing indicating a prolonged occupancy
No one can doubt but that this deposit of cave earth itself
requires a prolonged time for its accumulation.<8> But this
period, however prolonged, at length comes to an end. From some
cause, both animals and man again abandoned the cave.
Another vast cycle of years rolls away--a time expressed in
thousands of years--during which nature again spread over
the entombed remains a layer of stalagmite, in some places equal
in thickness to the first formation. Above this layer we come to
a bed of mold containing remains of the later Stone Age, of the
Bronze, and even of the Iron Age. Below the first layer of
stalagmite--the completed biography of Paleolithic times; above,
the unfinished book of the present. Such are the eloquent
results obtained by the thorough exploration of one cave.
The results of all the other explorations, in a general way,
confirm these. Mr. Dawkins explored a group of caverns in
Derbyshire, England. These caverns and fissures are situated in
what is known as Cresswell Crags, the precipitous sides of a
ravine through which flows a stream of water dividing the
counties of Derby and Nottingham.
This cut represents the different strata in Robin Hood cave.
It will be seen that, at one place, the stalactite has united
with the stalagmite below. It is not necessary to go into the
details of this exploration. All the relics of man found in
d, c, and the lower portions of b, are the rude
and massive forms peculiar to the River Drift tribes. But the
relics found in the breccia a, and the upper portion of
the cave earth b, denote a sudden advance in culture.
The rude tools of the lower strata are replaced by more highly
finished ones of flint.
Illustration of Robin Hood Cave.-----------
The most important discovery was that of a small fragment of
rib, with its polished surface ornamented with the incised
figure of a horse. The peculiar value of this discovery is, that
it serves to connect the Cave-men of England with those of the
continent who, as we shall afterward see, excelled in artistic
work of this kind.
In another cave of this series, in association with similar
flints, were found the following bone implements. We can only
conjecture the use of the notched bone. The pieces of reindeer
horn, terminating in a scoop, may have served as a spoon to
Illustration of Horse Incised on Piece of Rib.------
We must not fail to notice that the more highly finished relics
of the Cave-men are found in strata overlying those of the River
Drift; and, in the case of Kent's Cavern, these two sets of
implements are separated by a layer of stalagmite requiring a
very prolonged time for its formation. This would imply that the
Cave-men came into England long after the tribes of the River
Drift; and, judging from the relics themselves, they must have
been a distinct people. We must recall how completely the
climate and animals in England varied during the Glacial Age.
We have also seen how closely connected the River Drift tribes
were with the animals of the warm temperate regions. Coming at a
later date, totally distinct from them in culture are those
Cave-men--perhaps they may prove to be associated with the
Arctic animals. But, before speculating on this point, we must
learn the results attending the exploration of the caves of
Belgium, France, and other countries on the continent of Europe.
Illustration of Bone Implements--Cresswell Crags.-----------
In the valley of the river Meuse (Belgium), and its tributaries,
have been found a number of caves and rock-shelters. It was in
the caves of the Meuse that Schmerling made his explorations.
When the real value of his work was recognized, the Belgian
government had a thorough exploration made by M. Dupont,
director of the Royal Museum in Brussels. This gentleman
scientifically examined forty-three of these resorts.
His opinions, therefore, are deserving of great weight; but,
unfortunately, they are not accepted by all. These caves vary
greatly in size--many being mere rock-shelters. From their
position, we are at once struck with the prolonged period of
time necessary to explain their formation. They are found at
very different heights along the river's bank. In one case two
caves are so situated that the river must have sunk its bed
nearly two hundred feet between the time of their formation.<9>
M. Dupont thinks the evidence very clearly points to the
presence of two distinct stages in cave life--one of which he
calls the Mammoth period, and the other, which is more recent,
the Reindeer. It is, however, known that the mammoth lived all
through the Reindeer epoch, if not to later times; so the names
bestowed on these periods do not seem very appropriate. We can
readily see, however, that, while the names might be wrong, the
two periods might be reality. In many cases, the same cave
contained remains of both stages, separated by layers of cave
earth, and it is noticed that, in such cases, those of the
Reindeer stage are invariably of a later date. In general terms,
M. Dupont finds that the implements of the Mammoth period are of
a rude make, consisting of a poor kind of flint, and poorly
finished. But, in beds of the Reindeer epoch, the flint
implements consist, principally, of well-shaped blades and
flakes--with numerous bodkins, or awls--javelins, or arrow-heads
--besides articles of bone and horn such as harpoons, and teeth
of various animals drilled as if suspended for ornaments.
Their workmanship indicates decidedly more skill than that of
the implements obtained from the lower levels. But the most
remarkable finds of the Reindeer epoch consist of portions of
reindeer horn, showing etchings or engravings which have been
traced by some sharp point, no doubt by a flint implement.
One small bit of horn has been cut or scraped so as to present
the rude outline of a human figure.
So far the evidence seems to bear out the same conclusions as do
those of the British caves, though it also shows that the men of
the Drift inhabited caves quite extensively. We must remember,
however, that the greatest wealth of cave relics belongs to the
so-called Cave-men, but that savage tribes have always resorted
to caves as a place for occasional habitation.<10>
It is in France that we find the greatest wealth of relics of
Cave-men. Sir John Lubbock has left us a description of the
valley of the Vezere, where these caverns occur. The Vezere is a
small tributary of the Dordogne. "The rivers of the Dordogne run
in deep valleys cut through calcareous strata: and while the
sides of the valley in chalk districts are generally sloping, in
this case, owing probably to the hardness of the rock, they are
frequently vertical. Small caves and grottoes frequently occur:
besides which, as the different strata possess unequal power of
resistance against atmospheric influence, the face of the rock
is, as it were, scooped out in many places, and thus 'rock-
shelters' are produced. In very ancient times these caves and
rock-shelters were inhabited by men, who have left behind them
abundant evidence of their presence.
"But as civilization advanced, man, no longer content with the
natural but inconvenient abode thus offered to him, excavated
chambers for himself, and in places the whole face of the rock
is honey-combed with doors and windows, leading into suits of
rooms, often in tiers one over the other, so as to suggest the
idea of a French Petra. Down to a comparatively recent period,
as, for instance, in the troublous times of the Middle Ages,
many of these, no doubt, served as very efficient
fortifications, and even now some of them are in use as store-
houses, and for other purposes, as, for instance, at Brantome,
where there is an old chapel cut in solid rock.
"Apart from the scientific interest, it was impossible not to
enjoy the beauty of the scene which passed before our eyes, as
we dropped down the Vezere. As the river visited sometimes one
side of the valley, sometimes the other, so we had at one moment
rich meadow lands on each side, or found ourselves close to the
perpendicular and almost overhanging cliff. Here and there we
came upon some picturesque old castle, and though the trees were
not in full leaf, the rocks were, in many places, green with box
and ivy and evergreen oak, which harmonized well with the rich
yellow brown of the stone itself."<11>
Thus it will be seen this valley has been a favorite resort for
people at widely different times, and amongst others, the cave
dwellers of the Paleolithic Age. As in the caves of Belgium,
some of them are at a considerable height above the stream,
while others are but little above the present flood line.
Mr. Dawkins refers us to the results of the exploration of a
French scientist in one of the grottoes of this section, which
seem to be exactly similar to the results obtained from the
caves of Cresswell Crags and Kent's Cavern. The implements
obtained from the two lower strata are rough choppers and rude
flakes of jasper and other simple forms. Above these beds was a
stratum of black earth, underneath a sheet of stalagmite.
Here were found implements of a far higher type: those of
flints, consisting of flakes, saws, and scrapers, with finely
chipped heads and arrow-heads, and awls and arrow-heads of bone
and antler.<12> Now these results can only be interpreted as
were those in the English caverns. The lower and ruder
implements belong to the men of the Drift; the later and more
polished ones to the Cave-men.
Illustration of Bone Implements, Dordogne Caves.-------------
Most of the relics obtained from these caverns belong to the
Cave-men proper. However, the implements from one of them, known
as Le Moustier, are of a rude type, and may belong to those of
the Drift. But most of them are of superior make and finish.
These specimens are all from caves in this vicinity.<13>
We have seen that the men of the Drift were very widely
scattered over the earth. We find, however, that the Cave-men
had a much more limited range. Dr. Fraas has shown their
presence in Germany. At Schussenreid, in Bavaria, was found an
open air station of these people. It was evidently a camping-
ground, one of the few places where proofs of their presence
have been discovered outside of caves. Here we found the usual
debris, consisting of broken bones, charcoal, blackened
hearth-stone, and implements of flint and horn. We must stop a
minute to notice a bit of unexpected proof as to the severity of
climate then prevailing in Europe. This deposit was covered up
with sand, and on this sand were the remains of moss,
sufficiently perfect to determine the kind. We are assured that
it is composed of species now found only in Alpine regions, near
or above the snow-line, and in such northern countries as
Greenland and Spitzbergen.<14> Dr. Fraas also proved their
presence in several caves in Suabia. One known as the Hohlefels
Cave was very rich in these relics. They have been found in
Switzerland, as at Thayengen; but are not found south of the
Alps or the Pyrenees. Men, indeed, inhabited caves in Italy, but
they did not use the implements characteristic of the
Cave-men.<15> Mr. Dawkins points out that this range corresponds
very nearly to that of the northern group of animals, thus
differing widely from the men of the River Drift. In this
connection we must notice that the reindeer is the animal whose
remains are most commonly met with in the debris they
have left in the caves. This animal surely testifies to a cold
climate. We are thus justified in concluding that the Cave-men
are associated with the Arctic group of animals.<16>
We must now turn our attention to the culture of the Cave-men.
We must reflect that long ages, with great changes of climate
and life, both animal and vegetable, have rolled away since the
remains of these early races were sealed by the stalagmite
formation in caves. The relics at their best are but scanty
memorials of a people long since passed, and we can not expect,
can not hope, to recover more than a general outline. But this
will be found full of interest, for it is a picture of
Paleolithic life and times existing in Europe long ages before
the pyramids of Egypt were uplifted.
With respect to habitations, we have already seen that he took
up his abode in caves, at least where they were suitable.
According to their depth and the light penetrating them, he
either occupied the whole extent of them, or established himself
in the outlet only. About the center of the cave some slabs of
stone, selected from the hardest rock such as sandstone or
slate, were bedded down in the ground, and formed the hearth for
cooking his food. But in no country are such resorts
sufficiently numerous to shelter a large population; besides,
they, are generally at some distance from the fertile plains,
where game would be most abundant. In such cases they doubtless
constructed rude huts of boughs, skins, or other materials.
Such an out-door settlement was the station at Solutre, France,
where has been found an immense number of bones of horses,
reindeers, also, though in less abundance, those of elephants,
aurochs, and great lions.<17>
Where no cave presented itself, these people made for
themselves convenient sheltering places under the cover of some
great overhanging rock. In various places in France such resorts
have been discovered. The name of "rock shelters" has been given
to such resorts. In such places, where we may suppose they built
rude huts, are found rich deposits of the bones of mammals,
birds, and fishes, as well implements of bone and horn.
We have frequently referred to the presence of hearths, showing
that they used fire. Like other rude races, it is probable that
they obtained fire by the friction of one piece of wood upon
another. M. Dupont found in one of the Belgium caves a piece of
iron pyrites, from which, with a flint, sparks could be struck.
Speculations have been indulged as to the probable condition of
man before he obtained a knowledge of fire. If the acquisition
of fire be regarded as one of the results of human endeavor, it
must surely be classed as one of the most valuable discoveries
which mankind has made. We do not believe, however, that we
shall ever discover relics of races or tribes of men so low in
the scale as to be ignorant of the use of fire. Even some of the
flints which M. Bourgeois would refer to the Miocene Age show
evidence of its action.<18>
Full-page picture of Rock Shelter at Bruniquel.-----------
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