The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
E. A. Allen
Part 4 out of 13
condition of Europe long before the Greek and Latin tribes lit
the beacon fires of civilization in the south.
It is evident that the builders of the lake settlements and the
fortified villages were an intelligent and industrious people,
though their scale in civilization was yet low. Their various
implements of bone, horn, and stone display considerable advance
over the rude articles of the Drift.
Illustration of Neolithic Axes.--------------------
One of the most important implements was the ax. The Paleolithic
hatchet, we remember, was rude, massive, and only roughly
chipped into shape, and was intended to be held in the hand. The
Neolithic ax was a much better made one, and was furnished with
a handle. They were enabled to accomplish a great deal with such
axes. "Before it, aided by fire, the trees of the forest fell to
make room for the tiller of the ground, and by its sharp edge
wood became useful for the manufacture of various articles and
implements indispensable for the advancement of mankind in
culture."<17> These axes vary in size and finish.
As a general thing they are ground to a sharp, smooth edge, but
not always, nor were they always furnished with a handle.
Some axes are found with a hole bored in them, through which to
pass a handle. These perforated axes are found in considerable
numbers, and some have denied that they could be produced
without the aid of metal. It is almost self-evident that the
perforated axes are later in date than the solid ones, and
probably many of them are no earlier in time than the Age of
Metals. There is, however, nothing to show that all belong to so
late a time. Besides, experiments have amply shown that even the
hardest kind of flint can be drilled without the aid
Warlike implements are, of course, quite common. Many of the
axes found are probably war axes. Then besides we have
arrowheads, spears, and daggers. These are considered to be
"marvels of skill in flint chipping."<19> Stone was used for a
great many other purposes, such as scrapers, sling-stones,
hammers, saws, and so on. Flint was generally the kind of stone
used. Our civilization owes a great deal to this variety of
stone. It is not only hard, but its cleavage is such that it was
of the greatest use to primitive man. In a general way the
Neolithic stone implements are seen to be better adapted to the
object in view than the Paleolithic specimens. They are also
Wood was largely used in their common household implements.
But it is only in exceptional cases that it has been preserved
to us. They have been recovered, however, in peat-bogs and in
the remains of lake settlements. These wooden utensils consist
of bowls, ladles, knives, tubs, etc. They used fire to hollow
them out, and the blows of the flint hatchet used to remove the
charred portions, are still to be observed in some specimens.
Illustration of Neolithic Weapons.--------------
The Neolithic people had learned how to manufacture pottery,
though not of a very superior quality. It is all hand-made: so
the potter's wheel had not yet been introduced. The material is
clay mixed with gravel or pounded shells. Very often they
ornamented their clay vessels with lines and dots. The bowls or
jars were evidently suspended by cords, for the bottom was made
too rounding for them to stand erect. Besides, we find the holes
for the cords, and in some places handles.
Illustrations of Ax in Sheath, and Hafted Hatchet in Sheath.--
No notice of Neolithic tools would be complete without
mentioning the use made of horn and bone. One peculiar use for
which they employed horn was as a socket for holding other
implements. Thus this figure shows us an ax in a socket of horn.
The middle of the socket is generally perforated with a round or
oval hole, intended to receive a handle of oak, birch, or some
other kind of wood adapted for such a use. The cut below
represents a hatchet of this kind. A number of these sockets
have been found, which were provided at the end opposite to the
stone hatchet with a strong and pointed tooth. These are boars'
tusks, firmly buried in the stag's horn. These instruments,
therefore, fulfilled double purposes: they cut or crushed with
one end and pierced with the other. Sockets are also found which
are not only provided with the boars' tusks, but are hollowed
out at each end, so as to hold two flint hatchets at once, as is
seen in our next figure. Chisels and gouges were also sometimes
placed in bone handles. Portions of horn probably at times did
duty as hoes. We give a representation of such an implement.<20>
We must now seek some information as to how the men of the
Neolithic Age supported life.
Illustration of Sheath, with two Hatchets.---------
Illustrations of Chisels in Sheath, and Horn Hoe.---------
From the remains of fish at all the lake settlements it is
evident they formed no inconsiderable portion of their food.
Fishing nets and hooks have been discovered. They were
successful hunters as well. But the men of this age were no
longer dependent on the chase for a livelihood. We have
mentioned several times that they were acquainted with
agriculture. This implies a great advance over the primitive
hunters of the early Stone Age.
On the shores of the lakes which furnished them with a place of
habitation they raised many of our present species of grain.
Owing to a cause of which we have already spoken--that is,
destruction of the lake settlements by fire--the carbonized
remains of these cereals have been preserved to us. There were
four varieties of wheat raised, none exactly like our common
wheat. In addition to this they raised barley and millet,
several varieties of each. Nor were the fruits neglected.
Apples and pears were dried and laid away for use in the Winter.
Seeds of the common berries were found in abundance, showing
that these primitive people were fully alive to their value.
From this it follows that the Neolithic people were not only
tillers of the soil, but horticulturists as well. According to
Dr. Keller, the vegetable kingdom furnished their principal
supply of food. Hazelnuts, beechnuts, and chestnuts were found
in such quantities as to show they had been gathered for use.
Neither hemp, oats, nor rye were known. Not only do we find the
remains of the grains, fruits, seeds, etc., from which the above
conclusions are drawn, but, farther than this, pieces of bread
have been found in a carbonized state, and thus as effectually
preserved as the bread of a far later date found in the ovens of
Pompeii. According to Figuier, the peasant classes of Tuscany
now bake bread, after merely bruising the grain, by pouring the
batter on glowing stones and then covering it with ashes.
As this ancient prehistoric bread is of similar shape, it was
probably baked in an equally primitive fashion.<21>
Aside from the natural interest we feel in these evidences as to
ancient industry, a study of the remains of plants cultivated by
the Neolithic people reveals to us two curious and suggestive
facts. It has been found that the wild plants then growing in
Switzerland are in all respects like the wild plants now growing
there. But the cultivated plants--wheat, millet, etc.--differ
from all existing varieties, and invariably have smaller seeds
or fruits.<22> This shows us that man has evidently been able to
effect considerable change by cultivation, in the common grains,
during the course of the many centuries which separate the
Neolithic times from our own age. But if this rate of change be
adopted as a measure of time, what shall we say is to the
antiquity demanded to explain the origin of cultivated grain
from the wild grasses of their first form?
We learn, in the second place, that the cultivated plants are
all immigrants from the south-east--their native home being in
South-eastern Europe and Asia Minor. We shall afterward see that
this is true of the domestic animals also. There can be but one
explanation for this. The ancient inhabitants of Europe must
have come from that direction, and brought with them the plants
they had cultivated in their eastern homes, and the animals they
had reduced to their service. The traces of agriculture thus
found in Switzerland are by no means confined to that country.
In other countries of Europe, such as England and France, we
also find proofs that men cultivated the earth. In localities
where we do not find the grain itself, we find their rude mills,
or mealing stones, which as plainly indicate a knowledge of the
agricultural art as the presence of the cereals themselves.<23>
As we have stated, Neolithic man in Europe possessed domestic
animals. He was not only a cultivator of the soil, but he was a
herdsman as well; and he kept herds of oxen, sheep, and goats.
Droves of hogs fattened on the nuts of the forest, and the dog
associated with man in keeping and protecting these domestic
animals. We know that the Swiss Lake inhabitants built little
stalls by the sides of their houses, in which they kept their
cattle at night. But these domestic animals were not descendants
of the wild animals that roamed the forests of Europe. Like the
plants, they are immigrants from the south-east. Our best
authorities consider they were brought into Europe by the
invading Neolithic tribes.
The, knowledge of husbandry, though rude, and the possession of
domestic animals, though of a few species only, strikingly
indicate the advance over the Paleolithic tribes. They also had
fixed places of living. This culture spread all over Europe.
That it was substantially the same everywhere there is no doubt.
Certain refuse heaps in Denmark, Scotland, and indeed in all the
sea-coast countries, have been thought to support a different
conclusion. Those of Denmark have been very carefully studied,
and so we will refer to them. All along the Baltic coast, but
especially in Denmark, have been discovered great numbers of
mounds, which were found to consist "almost entirely of shells,
especially of the oyster, broken bones of animals, remains of
birds and fishes, and, lastly, some wrought flints." The first
supposition in regard to those shell-heaps was that they were of
marine formation, accumulated beneath the sea, and elevated to
the surface along with the gradual rise of the land. But they
are now known to be nothing more or less than the sites of
ancient settlements. The location of the rude cabins can still
be traced. The ancient hearths are still in place. "Tribes once
existed here who subsisted on the products of hunting and
fishing, and threw out around their cabins the remains of their
meals, consisting especially of the debris of shell-
fish." These heaps gradually accumulated around their rude
dwellings, and now constitute the refuse heaps in question.<24>
The careful investigation of their contents has failed to
disclose any evidence of a knowledge of agriculture, and the
only domestic animal found is the dog. The implements are
altogether of stone and horn. No trace of metal has yet been
obtained. As a rule, they are rudely made and finished.
Though of the Neolithic type, they are not polished except in a
few instances. The principal interest turns on the question of
age of these refuse heaps. Some think they were accumulated at
the very beginning of the Neolithic Age--that these tribes
preceded by many years the men of the Swiss Lakes. Others think
they were tribes of the same great people, living at the same
time. On such a point as this, only those who have carefully
studied the deposits are entitled to speak.
Some few facts stand out quite prominently. The size of the
mounds<25> indicate long-continued residence--showing that these
people had permanent places of abode. As they are not confined
to Denmark, but are found generally throughout Europe, it would
seem to imply that the Neolithic people preferred to live as
fishers and hunters wherever the surroundings were such that
they could by these means obtain an abundant supply of food.
Some shell-heaps in Scotland were still forming at the
commencement of the Bronze Age; and Mr. Geikie, on geological
grounds, assigns the shell-heaps of Denmark to a late epoch of
the Stone Age.
It seems to us quite natural that isolated tribes, living where
game was abundant, and where fishing met with a rich reward,
should turn in disgust from the agricultural life of their
brother tribes, and, resuming the life of mere hunters and
fishers, speedily lose somewhat of their hardly won culture--for
civilization is the product of labor. Whenever a people from
necessity or choice abandon one form of labor for another
demanding less skill to triumph over nature, a retrogression in
culture is inevitable.<26>
From what we have stated as to the use of flint we can readily
see that it was a valuable material. Sections where it was found
in abundance would as certainly become thickly populated as the
iron and gold regions of our own day. In Paleolithic times the
supply of flint was mostly obtained from the surface and in the
gravel of rivers. In Neolithic times men had learned to mine for
flint. Flint occurs in nodules in the chalk. Near Brandon,
England, was discovered a series of these workings. They consist
of shafts connected together by galleries. These pits vary in
size from twenty to sixty feet in diameter, and in some cases
were as much as thirty feet deep. From the bottom of these
shafts they would excavate as far as they dared to the sides.
They made no use of timbers to support the roof, and so these
side excavations were not of great extent. In these old workings
the miners sometimes left behind them their tools. The principal
one was a pick made of deer's horn, as is here represented.
Besides these, they had chisels of bone and antler. The marks of
stone hatchets on the sides of the gallery are visible.
Illustration of Miner's Pick.---------------
In one instance the roof had caved in, evidently during the
night, and on clearing out the gallery near the end where the
roof stood firm, there were found the implements of the workmen,
just as they were left at the close of the day's work; and in
one place on the pick, covered with chalk dust, was still to be
seen the marks of the workman's hand. How many years, crowded
with strange scenes, have swept over England since that chalky
impression was made! The surface of the earth is a palimpsest,
on which each stage of culture has been written over the faint,
almost obliterated, records of the past. Not only the living
man, who has left there the impression of his hand has passed
away, but also his people and his culture. And now it is only
here and there that we catch a faint tracing underlying our
later civilization, by which we reconstruct the history of these
Nothing would be more natural than that where flint was found in
abundance a regular manufactory of implements would be
established. Such was the case at Cissbury, which we have
already mentioned as one of the early British towns. Mines had
been dug within the walls inclosing the town. The surface of the
ground near the old mines at this place is literally covered by
splinters of flint in every stage of manufacture, "from the
nodule of flint fresh out of the chalk, spoilt by an unlucky
blow, to the article nearly finished and accidentally
broken."<27> Here the flint was mined and chipped into
rudimentary shape, but carried away to be perfected
A very important place in Neolithic manufactures was noticed
near Tours, France. Here was an abundant supply of flint, and
very easily obtained, and the evidence is conclusive that here
existed real manufactories. Of one stretch of ground, having an
area of twelve or fourteen acres, we are told: "It is impossible
to walk a single step without treading on some of these
objects." Here we find "hatchets in all stages of manufacture,
from the roughest attempt up to a perfectly polished weapon.
We find, also, long flakes or flint-knives cleft off with a
single blow with astonishing skill."
But in all these objects there is a defect; so it is concluded
that these specimens were refuse thrown aside in the process of
manufacture. As at Cissbury, very few polished flints are found,
so we may conclude the majority of weapons were carried
elsewhere for completion. But some weapons were completed here.
In the neighborhood have been found the stones used as
polishers. This cut shows us one used in polishing the axes.
The workmen would take one of the rough-hewn instruments, and,
rubbing it back and forth on such a stone as this, gradually
produced a smooth surface and a sharpened edge.<28>
Illustration of Polishing Stone.------------
We have suggested that our civilization owes a great deal to
flint. If we will consider the surroundings of their
manufacturing sites, we will see the force of this remark.
It must have taxed to the utmost the powers of these primitive
men to sink the shafts and run the galleries to secure a supply
of this valuable stone. In short, they had to invent the art of
quarrying and working mines. This would lead to the division of
labor, for while one body of men would become experts as miners,
others would become skillful in chipping out the implements, and
still others would do the finishing and polishing. A system of
barter or trade would also arise, for the workmen at the mines
and factories would have to depend on others for food and
clothing, and in payment for the same would furnish them
implements. As localities where flint could be obtained in
suitable quantities are but few, we can see how trade between
widely scattered tribes would arise. This kind of traffic is
shown to have extended over wide distances in Neolithic times.
For instance, there was been found scattered over Europe axes
made of varieties of stone known as nephrite and jade. They were
highly valued by primitive tribes, being very hard and of a
beautiful green color. They are thought to have been employed in
the observance of superstitious rites. But quarries of these
varieties of stone do not occur in Europe. An immense amount of
labor has been expended in finding their native home. This is
now known to be in Asia.<29> Manufactured in Asia, axes of these
materials may have drifted into Europe and finally arrived
Illustration of Neolithic Boat-making.--------
Trade between different tribes must have been greatly
facilitated by means of canoes, which Neolithic man knew well
how to make. The art of navigation was probably well advanced.
The canoes were formed of the trunks of large trees. In most
cases they were hollowed out by means of the ax and fire
combined. Sometimes the ends were partially rounded or pointed,
but often cut nearly square across--rather a difficult shape to
propel fast or to guide properly. These ancient boats have been
found in nearly all the principal rivers of Europe, and in many
cases, no doubt, come down to much later date than the Neolithic
Age. From the remains of fish found in their refuse heaps we are
confident that in some such a shaped boat as this they trusted
themselves far out at sea. They served to transport them from
the shores of Europe to England, and at a later date to Ireland.
Illustration of Neolithic Cloth.----------
The clothing of the men of the Neolithic Age doubtless consisted
largely of the prepared skins of the animals, and some fragments
of leather have been found in the lake settlements. But a very
important step in advance was the invention of spinning and
weaving, both of which processes were known at this time.
The cloth which is here represented "is formed of twists of
interwoven flax, of rough workmanship, it is true, but none the
less remarkable, considering the epoch in which it was
manufactured. Balls of thread and twine have also been
found.<30> This cut is a spindle-whorl. These have been
discovered very often. They were made sometimes of stone and at
other times of pottery and bone. The threads were made of flax,
and the combs which were used for pushing the threads of the
warp into the weft show that it was woven into linen on some
kind of a loom. Several figures of the loom have been given, but
we have no certainty of their correctness.<31>
Illustrations of Spindle-whorl and Weaver's Comb.-------
Let us now see if we can gather anything as to the religious
belief of Neolithic man. On this point we can at best only
indulge in vague conjectures. Yet some light seems thrown on
this difficult subject by examination of the burial mounds.
This introduces us to a subject of much interest which, in our
hurried review, we can but glance at.
Scattered over Europe are found numbers of mysterious monuments
of the past. Some of them we have mentioned already as the
embankments surrounding ancient villages. But aside from these
are other monuments, such as burial mounds, rude dolmens, and
great standing stones, sometimes arranged in circles, sometimes
in rows, and sometimes standing singly. Many of these remains
may be of a far later date than the Neolithic Age, still it is
extremely difficult to draw a dividing line between the
monuments of different ages.
Illustration of Chambered Burial Mound, Denmark.----
Illustration of Dolmen, England.--------------------
Burial mounds are found everywhere, many in Europe going back to
the Neolithic Age, though some are of a very recent
construction. The Egyptian Pyramids are burial mounds on the
grandest scale. The first cut represents a Danish Tumulus, or
burial mound, of this Age. The openings lead to the center of
the mound, where they connect with chambers in which the bodies
were formerly placed. There are, of course, various
modifications of this tumulus. Often the gallery was omitted, a
rude chamber was erected, and a mound reared over it.
Sometimes, indeed, no chamber was made, but simply a mound
placed over the body.
Illustration of Dolmen, France.------------
Illustration of Dolmen, once Covered with Earth.-----
There have been found in England a great many stones arranged as
in the preceding cut, though generally not built with such
regularity as is there represented. They are named Dolmens, a
word meaning stone tables. They were more generally made of
rough stones, rudely arranged. This cut represents one found in
France. In early times these were supposed to have been rude
altars used by the mysterious Druids in celebrating their rites.
They are now known to be the tombs of the Neolithic Age.
They are, in fact, the chambers above mentioned. The mound of
earth has since disappeared and left its chamber standing
exposed to the air. Traces of the old passage way are still met.
Whether all Dolmens were once covered with earth or not, is not
yet known. In the majority of cases they probably were. In the
last cut portions of stone are still buried in the earth. We are
told that in India the people in some places still erect Dolmens
similar to those of Neolithic times.<32>
Illustration of Menhir.-------------
Illustration of Stone Circle, England.-------
Aside from the tombs themselves, there are other arrangements of
great stones which must have once possessed great significance
to their builders, but their meaning is now lost. Of this nature
are the blocks of rough stone set up in the ground generally in
the vicinity of tombs. These are the standing stones, or
menhirs, which, as we have stated, are arranged in various
forms. When arranged in circles, they are generally regarded as
tombs. When placed in long parallel rows, as at Carnac, in
France, we are not sure of their meaning. We are told that the
Hill tribes of India to this day erect combinations of gigantic
stones into all the shapes we have here described.<33>
The peculiar shape of the burial mounds, with a passage way
conducting us to an interior chamber, or series of chambers,
probably arose from the belief entertained by many savage
people, that the dead continue to live an existence much like
that when alive, and consequently the same surroundings were
deemed necessary for their comfort. So the tomb was made similar
to the house of the living. The ordinary Winter huts of the
Laplander are very similar in shape and size to the burial
tumuli, and amongst some people, as the inhabitants of New
Zealand, the house itself is made the grave. It was closed up
and painted red, and afterward considered sacred.
Illustration of Chambered Tomb, France.--------
So it may quite well be that the Neolithic inhabitants of
Denmark, "unable to imagine a future altogether different from
the present, or a world quite unlike our own, showed their
respect and affection for the dead by burying with them those
things which in life they had valued most; with women, their
ornaments, with warriors, their weapons. They buried the house
with its owner, and the grave was literally the dwelling of the
dead. When a great man died he was placed on his favorite seat,
food and drink was arranged before him, his weapons were placed
by his side, his house was closed, and the door covered up,
sometimes, however, to be opened again when his wife or children
joined him in the land of spirits."
That they believed in a life beyond the grave is shown by the
objects they buried with the individuals. These are implements
of various kinds, flakes, arrow-heads, scrapers, celts, and
pottery, doubtless intended to be of service to the deceased.
We know this to be a very common proceeding amongst all
barbarous people. In some cases it would appear as if they
realized that the material things themselves could be of no
service to the departed, but imagined that in some vague way the
spirits of things might be of service to the spirits of men, and
so they would purposely break the flints and throw the fragments
into the grave. Sometimes they may have buried only models of
the objects they wished to give to the dead, imagining that in
this way the spirits of the objects represented would accompany
and be of service to the spirits of the departed. To this day
the Eskimos bury small models of boats, spears, etc., rather
than the objects themselves. The ancient Etruscans buried
jewelry, but made it so thin and fragile that it could not have
been of service to the living. In China this is carried still
further, and paper cuttings or drawings of horses, money, etc.,
are burned at the grave.
These remarks may explain the absence of remains so often
noticed in Neolithic burials in England. But other evidence can
be given to show this belief in future life. The mounds were of
course often erected over noted chiefs, and we are not without
evidence that he was not allowed to go unattended into the other
world. It has been noted that often skeletons have been met with
having the skull, cleft, and in one case, at least, all but one
presented that appearance. It is but reasonable to suppose that
these skeletons were those of captives or slaves sacrificed to
be the attendants of the chief in the spirit world.
Funeral feasts were also held in honor of the dead. Thus we may
gather from burial mounds something of the religious belief of
It is not improbable that ancestor worship, or the worship of
the dead, was part of their faith, so that the mounds became
temples. On this point we are told "it is impossible not to
believe then that the people who made these great, and in some
cases elaborately constructed, tombs would continue ever after
to regard them as in some sort consecrated to the great chiefs
who were buried under them. Each tribe would have its own
specially sacred tombs, and perhaps we may here see a germ of
that ancestor-worship which may be traced in every variety of
We now approach a difficult part of our inquiry, but, at the
same time, one that possesses for us a great interest. Who were
these people into whose culture we have been inquiring?
While laying the foundation of our present civilization, though
being the fountain head from whence many of the arts and
industries, which now make our existence comfortable and happy,
take their feeble origin, gradually developing and expanding as
the time rolls on, have they themselves, as a race, vanished in
the mighty past, or are their descendants still to be found in
Europe? Who were they? Whence and when? Difficult problems, but
we have read to but little purpose if we have not already
learned that earnest observers need but the slightest clue to
enable them to trace out brilliant results.
In the first place, are there any grounds for supposing the
Neolithic people to be the descendants of those who hunted the
reindeer along the Vezere? This view has its supporters.
M. Quatrefages, a very able scholar indeed, maintains that the
Neolithic people were the same race as those who inhabited the
caves and found shelter in the rock grottoes of France.<35>
This, to others, does not seem credible. We must recall the long
lapse of time that it is apparent has elapsed between the two
ages. We have seen how different were the two cultures; as Mr.
Geikie remarks, "So great, indeed, is the difference between the
conditions of life that obtained in the two ages of Stone, that
we can hardly doubt that the two people came of different
stocks."<36> The Neolithic people brought with them domestic
animals and plants whose native home is in Western Asia. We can
hardly account for this fact, if we suppose them to be the
descendants of Paleolithic tribes in France.
Abandoning, therefore, any attempt to trace lines of connection
between the people of the two ages, let us carefully study all
the facts connected with the Neolithic people and their culture,
to see if we can solve the problem by so doing. We have noticed
that substantially the same stage of culture existed throughout
Europe from Switzerland to the British Islands. This points to
the presence of a common race during at least a portion of the
time. But if there was a common race living in Europe they would
certainly possess common physical features. As a race they may
have been tall in stature, or medium, or short, and portions of
the human skeleton would show a uniformity in this regard.
Now one of the means that scientists use to determine the races
of men is a comparison of skulls, measured in a systematic
manner. The objection has been made that no reliance can be
placed on these results, because at the present day skulls of
all sorts of shapes and sizes can be obtained among people of
the same nationality. But these objections would not apply to
people of prehistoric times. Their surroundings would be simple
and natural--not artificial and complex, as in modern times.
In our times people of different nationality are constantly
coming in contact, and intermarriage results; but in prehistoric
times this was not liable to occur, and so the comparative
purity of blood would certainly produce a much greater
uniformity of physical features.<37>
From a very careful examination of a great number of burial
mounds in Great Britain, it has been ascertained that in all of
those that date back to Neolithic times, and contain portions of
human skeletons, the bones are always those of individuals small
in stature, the average height being about five and a half feet.
The skulls are of that variety known as long skulls. From this
we can at once form a mental picture of the Neolithic
inhabitants of Britain. No less important conclusions have been
deduced from the study of burial mounds on the continent.
We meet with remains of these same small-sized people.
"They have left traces of their presence in numerous interments
in chambered tombs and caves in Belgium and France, as well as
in Spain and Gibraltar. We may therefore conclude that at one
period in the Neolithic Age the population of Europe, west of
the Rhine and north of the Alps, was uniform in physique and
consisted of the same small people as the Neolithic inhabitants
of Britain and Ireland."<38>
We must now inquire whether there are any people living in
Europe which might have descended from the original stock.
We are in the position of those who, from a few broken down
arches, a ruined tower and dismantled wall, would seek to form a
mental picture of the stately building that once stood there.
If we can here and there discover, by the light of history or
exploration, some races or tribes that, owing to their
geographical position, have escaped the fate that befell the
great body of their countrymen, we may perhaps replace our
mental picture by one founded on reality. Nor need we be in
doubt where to seek for such scattered remnants of people.
Successful invaders always appropriate to their own use the
fertile lowlands and the fruitful portions of the country of
their helpless foes. But a weak people have often, in the rocky
fastnesses of their land, made a successful stand. So, to
determine the race, we will examine the people living in such
regions, and see if there are any that physically conform to
what is already known of the Neolithic people, and so entitled
to claim a relationship by descent.
Both slopes of Pyrenees Mountains, between France and Spain,
have been occupied from time immemorial by a peculiar race of
people known as the Basque. Secure in their mountain homes, they
have resisted foreign civilization, and retained their national
characteristics as well as their liberties, though they have
been nominally vassals to many powers, from the early
Carthaginians to the later French and Spanish. From the many
invasions they have undergone the Basque language and people are
by no meals uniform. But Dr. Broca, one of the most learned
anthropologists in Europe, has shown that the original Basques
were dark in complexion, with black hair and eyes. In addition
to this, the efforts of some of the most eminent scholars in
Europe,<39> who have made numerous examinations of skulls and
skeletons obtained from ancient Basque cemeteries, have
conclusively shown that in all physical features the Basques
agree with men of Neolithic times.<40>
The Basques do not belong to the great division of the human
family known as Aryans, to which the English-speaking races, as
well as the nations of Europe generally, belong. They belong to
a far older division of the human family--the Turanian<41>--and
were doubtless in possession of Europe long before the Indo-
European nations commenced their westward migrations from
Central Asia. They are described as being brave, industrious,
and frugal, with patriarchal manners and habits. They scorn
authority, except what emanates from themselves, and have but
few nobility. They are impetuous, merry, and hospitable, fond of
music and dancing.<42> Of their warfare we are told they are
"not distinguished in open warfare, but unconquerable in
guerrilla warfare, and famed for defense of walled cities."<43>
Such are the Basques of to-day, and many of these traits of
character, we doubt not, were the same amongst the
Mr. Dawkins also thinks that two tribes, living in Northern
Italy, in the very earliest historical times, are other remnants
of the same people. One of these were the Ligurians.
Investigations and traditions show that some time before the
dawn of history they had been driven out of the pleasant parts
of Southern France, but had made a successful stand in the
mountain regions of Northern Italy. They, like the Basques, were
strong, active, and warlike. They were small in stature, swarthy
in features, and long-headed. To the south of these were the
Etruscans. But little is known of them, though the evidence is
that long before the Christian Era they were a powerful people.
In physical features they resembled those already described.
Their sculpture exhibits only short, sturdy figures, with large
heads and thick arms. Another possible remnant of these people
existed at the very dawn of history in the mountainous regions
of Wales. They were known as Silures. but have since become
absorbed in the surrounding population. In civilization and
physical features they agree with the remnants
In the north of Russia are found the Finns. Their origin and
migrations are alike unknown. One thing is certain, they belong
to the Turanian family, and so are probably allied to the
Basques and Etruscans. It is possible that they also are but a
sorry remnant of the once wide-spread Neolithic people.
Driven out of the fairer portions of Europe, they hive found an
asylum in their present bleak surroundings. Like the people
already described, they are short in stature, and
The tribes we have thus briefly mentioned are regarded by some
as representatives of the Neolithic people. Prof. Winchell,
speaking of the wide-spread extension of the Turanian race,
assures us, that "history, tradition, linguistics, and ethnology
conspire to fortify the conclusions that, in prehistoric times,
all Europe was overspread by the Mongoloid (Turanian) race, of
which remnants have survived to our own times in the persons of
the Basques, Finns, Esths, Lapps, and some smaller tribes."<45>
Researches into the surroundings of these people, combined with
what we have already learned as to the culture, customs, and
manners of the Neolithic people in the preceding pages, throw no
little light on this age. The darkness of oblivion seems
dispelled by the light of science, and we behold before us the
Europe of Neolithic times, thickly inhabited by a race of
people, small in stature, dark visaged, and oval-faced--fond of
war and the chase, yet having a rude system of agriculture.
The picture seems complete; and we have now only to raise some
inquiries as to the great stock of people to which they
belonged, and conjecture as to the date of their arrival
We are now learning that far back in the past, when mankind was
yet young in the world, the great Turanian family held a
commanding position. They seem to have dispersed widely over the
earth. Their migrations began long before that of the Aryan and
Semitic people. When tribes of these later people began their
wanderings, they found a Turanian people inhabiting the country
wherever they went. Long before the times of Abraham, the
fertile plains of Chaldea were the home of powerful tribes of
this family. Egypt, and the fertile Nile Valley, the home of
ancient civilization, was their possession at a time long
preceding the rise of the Pharaohs. Their Asiatic origin is
corroborated by what we have learned of their domestic animals
and cereals, which we know to be also from Asia, or the south-
east. These Turanian tribes, at some far remote time, must have
appeared in Asia Minor. Urged onward by the pressure of
increasing population, they passed into Europe and Northern
Africa. Their progress was, doubtless, slow; but they gradually
filled Europe. The English Channel must have presented no
inconsiderable barrier, and it was after Europe had been
populated for a long time that they ventured to brave its
passage in their rude canoes.
The Neolithic culture, which we have treated of in reference to
Europe only, is seen to have been of Turanian origin. From its
Asiatic home it spread over the entire world--to the islands of
the Pacific, and even America. The road that leads from
barbarism to civilization is long and difficult, and it is not
strange that but one or two families of men were able to attain
that end by their own unaided effort.<47> The Turanian Family,
which probably advanced man from savagism into barbarism, seems
to have at that stage exhausted its energies. This is but an
illustration of the fact that a race, like an individual, has a
period of growth, a maturity of healthful powers, and an old age
of slow decadence. After thus dispersing over the world,
carrying with them the culture of the Neolithic Age, they seem
to have halted in their progress. It remained for a new people,
starting, perhaps, from the same state of culture, but with new
energies, to discover and employ metals in the construction of
tools and implements. This gave them so great a command over
nature that civilization became possible. But whatever
considerable advance the Turanian races were able to make beyond
the Neolithic culture was by reason of intercourse with these
later people. Where completely isolated from them, as in the
New World, they remained, for the most part, in the
We have hitherto spoken as if there was but one race in Europe
during Neolithic times. In the main this is true; yet, near the
close of this time, a different race arrived in Europe.
That this is so, is proved by the same line of evidence used to
determine the Neolithic people. We shall have much to say of
them hereafter. They were the vanguard of the great Aryan race.
This calls for some explanation. It has been found that the
principal languages of Europe and South-western Asia have
certain common characteristics; so much so that we are
justified, even compelled, to assume that the nations speaking
these languages, such for instance as the Teutonic, Sclavic,
Italic, Greek, Persian, Hindoostanee, and others, are
descendants from a common ancestor. These people are called,
collectively, Aryans. They were the ones who drove the Turanians
out of the fairest portions of Europe. Though they appeared at a
late date, they have filled the most important places in
history, and the civilization of the world to-day is Aryan.
Now we must again form a mental picture of Neolithic Europe--
after it had been for a long time in the possession of the
Turanian tribes, the first band of Aryan invaders make their
appearance. They must have appeared somewhere near the south-
eastern confines of Europe, but they pressed forward to the
western portion. They firmly seated themselves in the western
and central parts of Europe, driving out the Turanian tribes who
had so long possessed the land. They were themselves still in
the Neolithic stage of culture. But they probably did not long
antedate the knowledge of metals. Mr. Dawkins thinks that it
caught up with them before they arrived in Britain, and that
they are the ones who introduced bronze into that island.
The Aryan tribe, who thus made their appearance in Europe, are
identified as the Celts of history.
The Neolithic Age thus drew to its close, but not all at once.
It disappeared first in the southern portion of Europe--from
Greece and Italy; but it lingered to a far later date in the
north: among the scattered tribes of Turanian people it would
still assert its sway. Even after metals were introduced, the
cheapness and abundance of stone would cause it to be used,
among the poorer people at least. But finally this culture gives
way to a higher one in Europe--though it still survived in
portions of Asia, the Isles of the Pacific, and in America.
We can but reflect on the difference between the two ages of
stone. The former ends amidst Arctic scenes--and, in the
darkness that ensues, ages pass before we again detect the
presence of man. The Neolithic closes gradually, everywhere
giving way to a higher culture. We must not forget that our
present civilization owes much to our far away Neolithic
ancestors. When we reflect on the difficulties that had to be
overcome before animals could be profitably held in a domestic
state, or cultivation of the earth made profitable, we almost
wonder that they succeeded in either direction. Aside from
these, we turn to them for the origin of trade, navigation, and
mining. No inconsiderable part of the battle of civilization had
thus been won.
(1) The manuscript of this chapter was submitted to Prof. Chas.
Rau, of the Smithsonian Institution, for criticism.
(2) The Cave-men were, undoubtedly, considerably in advance of
the Men of the Drift. If we regard the two as but one race of
men, then the statement is not true. We have, however, given our
reasons for considering the Cave-men as a different race.
Hence the statement made above.
(3) Consult Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," chapters on "British
Post-glacial and Recent Deposits."
(4) Lions still lived in Greece at the time of Herodotus.
See "Polymnia," vii, 125, etc.
(5) This last argument is drawn from Mr. Morgan's work. It is
well to state that his divisions are very far from being
accepted by all authorities.
(6) Morgan's "Ancient Society."
(7) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 189.
(8) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 223.
(9) On lake settlements, consult Keller's "Lake Dwellings;"
Rau's "Early Man in Europe," chap. v; Sir John Lubbock's
"Prehistoric Times," chap. vi; Figuier's "Primitive Man,"
p. 218, et seq.
(10) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 222.
(11) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 270.
(12) Keller's "Lake Dwellings." Translated by Lee.
(13) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 153.
(14) General Lane Fox's "Hill Forts of Sussex," Archaeology,
(15) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 267.
(16) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 56.
(17) Mr. Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 274.
(18) Smithsonian Report, 1868.
(19) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 103.
(20) Figuier's "Primitive Man," pp. 161-166.
(21) "Primitive Man," p. 171.
(22) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 219.
(23) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 268.
(24) These heaps are generally called
"kjokken-moddings"--meaning kitchen refuse.
(25) One mound is spoken of as being one thousand feet long, two
to three hundred feet wide, and ten feet high.
(26) On Danish Shell Mounds, consult Keary's "Dawn of History,"
p. 369, et seq.; Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," chap.
vii; Geikie's "Prehistoric Europe," pp. 365-9; Figuier's
"Primitive Man," pp. 129-134; Rau's "Early Man in Europe," pp.
108-113; Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," pp. 309-305.
(27) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 279.
(28) Figuier's "Primitive Man," pp. 147-150 and 154: Another
very important place was the Island of Rugen, in the Baltic Sea.
Rau's "Early Man in Europe," p. 137.
(29) "Proceedings American Antiq. Society, April, 1881," p. 286.
(30) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 262.
(31) See remarks of Prof. Rau on this subject ("Early Man in
Europe," pp. 128-9 and note.) Mr. Dawkins thinks it "probable
also that the art of weaving woolen cloth was known, although,
from its perishable nature, no trace of it has been handed down
to us." ("Early Man in Britain," p. 275.)
(32) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 132.
(33) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 130.
(34) On this subject consult Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times,"
chap. v.; Keary's "Dawn of History," p. 363-6; Geikie's
"Prehistoric Europe," p. 375; Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain,"
p. 284-9; Ferguson's "Rude Stone Monuments;" Figuier's
"Primitive Man," chap. iii.; Rau's "Early Man in Europe,"
p. 139; "Archaeology," Vol. XLII.
(35) "Human Species", p. 335.
(36) "Prehistoric Europe," p. 547.
(37) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 310, note 3.
(38) Ibid., p. 314.
(39) Thurman, Virchow, Huxley, and others.
(40) Mr. Dawkins is inclined to view them as a remnant of the
Neolithic people. Whether our scholars will ultimately accept
his views, remains to be seen.
(41) Brace's "Races of the Old World," p. 82,
(42) Am. Encyclopedia, Art. Basque.
(43) Brace's "Races of the Old World," p. 82.
(44) Brace's "Races of the Old World," p. 82.
(45) "Pre-Adamites," p. 150.
(46) It is unnecessary to caution the reader, that, after all,
our knowledge of "prehistory" is vague. Prof. Virchow, who is
eminent authority on these points, thinks it not yet possible to
identify the prehistoric people of Europe; and good authorities
hold that the Turanian tribes just named are the remnants of
Paleolithic tribes, instead of Neolithic.
(47) Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 39.
(48) The exceptions to this statement are the higher classes of
sedentary Indians, of which we shall treat in future pages.
END OF CHAPTER VI.***********************
The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
by E. A. Allen
Processed by D.R. Thompson
THE BRONZE AGE IN EUROPE.<1>
Races of Men, like Individuals--Gradual change of Neolithic Age
to that of Bronze--The Aryan family--First Aryans Neolithic--
Origin of Bronze--How Great discoveries are made--Gold the first
metal--Copper Abundant--No Copper Age--The discovery of Tin--
Explanation of an Alloy--Bronze, wherever found, the same
Composition--What is meant by the Bronze Age--Knowledge in other
Directions--Gradual Growth of Culture--Three Centers of Bronze
Production--Habitations during the Bronze Age--The Bronze Ax--
Implements of Bronze--Personal ornaments--Ornaments not always
made of Bronze--Advance in Arts of living--Advance in
Agriculture--Warlike Weapons--How they worked Bronze--Advance in
Government--Trade in the Bronze Age--Religion of the Bronze Age
--Symbolical figures--Temples of the Bronze Age--Stonehenge.
It is with races of men as with individuals, the progressive
growth of youth soon reaches its limit and maturity of power.
While it brings greater strength, it has not the buoyancy of
early years, so the manner of life becomes fixed, and onward
progress stops. They can then only hope to hold on the even
tenor of their way, happy if increasing years do not bring again
their childhood state. The Neolithic people entered Europe early
in the youth of the race which spread their civilization over
the globe, but the race to which they belonged appear to have
reached their zenith of development long ages ago, since which
time, whatever higher culture they have reached has been a gift
to them by other people. Their energies became exhausted, and
for a long series of years Europe was filled by the camps, lake
villages and fortified places of Neolithic times.
As to the absolute length of time during which they inhabited
Europe, we have no data to determine. Relatively, their sojourn,
however long, was but a short time compared to the duration of
the old Stone Age. It presents no such evidence of lapse of ages
as can be observed in the older deposits, yet we may be sure
that it was for no inconsiderable period.
The Paleolithic Age was apparently terminated in Europe by the
cold of the last glacial epoch. No such natural course put an
end to the Neolithic Age, but as the strong have an advantage
over the weak, the young over the old, so does a race young,
undeveloped, or in the early maturity of its powers, have an
advantage over the older and more fixed civilization with which
it comes in contact. To understand the causes which introduced
into Europe the Bronze Age, we must refer to the Aryan race and
We have in the preceding chapter briefly mentioned the Aryan
race. They have so much to do with the higher culture of the
Metallic Ages, that it seems not out of place to refer once more
to their origin. The evidence goes to show that the ancient
Aryans inhabited some portion of South-western Asia. As a race
or family, they appear to have been one of the latest developed.
Yet a record of their progress is a record of civilization.
Unless we reflect, we are liable to be misled by the expression,
recent development. The Hindoos, one of the latest members of
this family, were in India several thousand years before
Christ.<2> But however far back we trace them, we find them in
possession of metals. Aside from this, we know that before the
different Aryan tribes had commenced their migration (with the
exception, however, of the Celts), while they formed but one
mass of people, they worked some of the metals.<3> They could
have acquired this knowledge only after the passage of many
years, when they were ignorant of it. This bespeaks a profound
antiquity for the Aryan family.
As we have seen, Europe, while yet inhabited by Neolithic
people, was invaded by a branch of the Aryans. We do not know
the date of this invasion, yet it must have been an early date,
since the Celts separated from the Aryans before the use of
metals. The Aryans have ever been noted as an aggressive people,
and under different names have, in modern times, carried
victorious arms in all quarters of the globe. This is equally
characteristic of the primitive Aryans. Though it is not
apparent that they possessed any higher culture than the people
who already inhabited Europe, yet they everywhere triumphed over
them and possessed themselves of the fairest portion of the
Neolithic domain, driving the primitive inhabitants to those
mountainous regions where their descendants are found to-day.
It is not probable that the Aryan invaders waged exterminating
war against the Neolithic tribes. The evidence shows that there
was considerable mingling of the two races. It has been
suggested, however, that the Neolithic people who were not
driven away were reduced to slavery.<4> However that may be, the
remains of the two people are found side by side in chambered
tombs and sepulchral caverns, showing that they dwelt together
in the same area. As before remarked, the Aryan invaders are
identified as the Celts. That it was relatively late in the
Neolithic Age when they made their appearance, is shown by the
fact that they had only reached the English Channel when a
knowledge of bronze caught up with them.
We must now endeavor to learn the origin of bronze.
The impulsive energies of this newer race found vent not only in
conquest over the neighboring tribes, but it is extremely
probable that they are the ones who first compelled nature to
yield up her metallic stores to be of service to man. If the
knowledge of fire was the starting point of human advancement,
surely the knowledge of metals, their useful properties, and how
to extract them from their ores, may lay claim to being the
starting point of our present enlightenment. We have but to
glance around us to see how many of our daily comforts are
dependent on the use of metals. Should we, by any mischance,
become deprived of the use of iron, or of the useful alloys,
bronze and brass, our civilization would be in great danger of
reverting to Savagism. Man, destitute of metals, can do but
little to improve his surroundings; but grant him these, and
victory over his environment is secured.
We can not retrace the exact steps of this beautiful discovery;
we are not sure to what family it is to be ascribed. Perhaps not
to any one alone. Nature may have taken her children by the
hand, and kindly guided their feeble steps in the line of
experiments leading up to this knowledge, and, finally, one
family, more fortunate than the others, succeeded in the
attempt. All great discoveries have been approached in different
directions, by different people. No sooner is it made than this
fact appears, and people widely separated by time and place are
found to be on the verge of the same great truth. It was
probably so at the discovery of metallurgy.
The Turanian tribes, who had so long inhabited Europe, were
suddenly confronted by the victorious hosts of the Celts, the
vanguard of the Aryans, the precursors of a higher culture.
The movements of these primitive people could not fail to have a
great effect on the human mind. It would become alert, keen, and
active. Such was the state of ancient society when a knowledge
of bronze was introduced--a discovery which consigned stone,
hitherto the substance most commonly made use of to advance
human interests, to a subordinate position, and opened up for
man the exhaustless mineral stores of nature.
It is suggested by some that gold was the first metallic
substance employed. Its glittering particles would attract the
attention of primitive man, and little articles of ornament were
early manufactured from it. To be sure, the supply was very
limited; but what there was would serve the useful purpose of
imparting to men some idea of metallic substances. Portions of
it falling in the fire might have suggested the idea of smelting
and of molding--might, at least, have lead to experiments in
that line. The supply of gold existing in a native state is so
small, that no use could have been made of it except
Iron, we know, is the most abundant mineral. But it is very rare
in a native state, and its ores have nothing distinguishing
about them, and so it is not strange that another metal received
the attention of primitive man. That metal was probably copper.
It is often found in a pure state in nature. In the Michigan
mines of our own country, masses of pure copper many tons in
weight have been discovered.<5> No such rich deposits are found
in the Old World; but considerable quantities of native copper
were obtained, and it was by no means a rare metal.
Copper possesses several qualities that would attract attention.
It is quite malleable; that is, it can be easily hammered into
shape. We can imagine the surprise of the old stone-workers at
finding a stone that, instead of breaking or splitting, could be
hammered into shape. By accident, or otherwise it would be
learned, in time, that it could be melted. This would lead to
the idea of molding.
If the above process were followed out, there would be a real
Copper Age preceding that of Bronze: no trace of such an age has
yet been detected in Europe. "But there is, however, every
reason for believing, that, in some parts of the world, the use
of native copper must have continued for a lengthened period
before it was discovered that the addition of a small portion of
tin not only rendered it more fusible, but added to its
elasticity and hardness."<6> The absence of a Copper Age in
Europe would imply that the art of manufacturing bronze was
discovered in some other locality.
Copper by itself is so soft that it would not be of much use to
man, except the experience they would gain of melting and
molding. In our own country the aboriginal inhabitants were well
acquainted with copper, and even knew how to mold it.
Yet, except as just pointed out, it is not probable that it
exerted any marked influence on their development.<7> In the old
world supplies of native copper are limited, and recourse must
be had to the ores of copper. Now these ores, such as copper-
pyrites, are nearly always of a bright color, and as such would
attract the attention of primitive man. They might suspect that
these bright colored ores contained copper from finding
similarly colored ores in connection with native copper, in fact
passing from one form to the other. But it requires no little
skill to reduce the ores of copper; and, when obtained, for
reasons just pointed out, it would not be of great utility.
But primitive man was thus cautiously and experimentally feeling
his way to a knowledge of metallurgy.
All the evidence obtainable goes to show that tin was known as
early as copper, or at least soon after. Its ores though not
striking on account of their color, are on account of their
great weight. It is comparatively easy to reduce it from its
ores. It is quite widely distributed over the earth. It often
occurs in the gravels of rivers, where, as we have already
mentioned, primitive men must have, at a very early date, sought
for gold. Owing to their weight, the gravel of tin-stone would
remain behind with the gold when it was washed. "In process of
time its real nature might have been revealed by accident;
and, before the eye of the astonished beholder, the dull
stone, flung into the fire, became transfigured into the
When two metals come together in a molten state, they often
form, not a mixture of the two, part copper and part tin, for
example, but a new compound, different from either, called an
alloy. Copper is, so to speak, a sociable metal, and readily
unites with many different metals--amongst others with tin, when
it forms bronze, the article that marks a new state in the
history of primitive culture. It seems to us strange that an
alloy, a combination of two different metals, should have been
the first used by man, and not a simple metal like iron.
Such, however, is the fact of the case; and we have tried to
point out the probable steps which led up to the invention of
bronze. We can scarcely comprehend the difficulties which
attended the labors of the primitive metal-workers. There were
no books containing the wisdom of many, from which the
investigator could draw his stores of knowledge. and the only
way that knowledge could be disseminated was by word of mouth.
Now, when one man makes an important step in a discovery,
hundreds of earnest workers, some, perhaps, in distant places,
are quickly made aware of the fact, and extend its scope, or
point out its imperfections, and thus hasten on the desired end.
Then, each individual, or community, must, of necessity, have
commenced at the beginning, and the discoveries made would
hardly be perpetuated in the memory of others. There were so
many obstacles to be overcome before a knowledge of bronze could
be acquired, in the then existing state of human knowledge, that
it must ever remain a source of wonder to us, at the present
day, that it was invented at all.
We may picture to ourselves the ancient copper-worker, after
numerous experiments, guided by some good genius, finally
hitting on some process by which, from his mass of ore, he
extracted a nearly pure piece of copper. Having learned how to
reduce these ores, there are many ways in which it might have
been found that a mixture of the two metals would form a new
compound of greatly increased value.
It must have taken a long course of experiments to determine
what proportions of each metal to use to make the best bronze.
It is interesting to know that these early workers had learned
the proportions of each to use, not varying a great deal from
the results of modern research--that is, from ten to twelve per
cent of tin. Bronze relics, no matter where obtained, whether in
the Old or the New World, do not widely depart from this
standard, and such instances as do would probably denote that
the supply of tin became short. This uniformity of composition
would imply that the art of making bronze was discovered in one
place, from which it gradually spread over the globe.
This fact is a key to the culture of the Bronze Age.
Widely separated communities, destitute of a knowledge of
metals, would instinctively make use of stone. In this case
uniformity of type would not imply community of knowledge. But a
knowledge of metals is altogether different. It is wonder enough
that one community should have hit on the invention of bronze.
The chance would be against its independent discovery in widely
separated areas. They would be more apt to chance on the
production of some other metal. Thus; tribes in the interior of
Africa are said to have passed direct from the Stone to the Iron
Age, a knowledge of bronze not having been carried to them.
We are thus able to form a true conception of the Bronze Age.
It did not prevail over the world at the same time. Indeed, as
we shall subsequently see, there is every reason to suppose it
spread very slowly, and that it still lingered in Central and
Northern Europe long after its use had been abandoned for that
of iron in the South. Neither, when it was first introduced, did
it put a stop to the use of stone. It was necessarily costly,
and on its first appearance in a country, brought hither by
trade, could only be afforded by rich and powerful chiefs and
warriors. As time advanced, and they learned to make it cheaper,
and each country took up its separate manufacture, it would
gradually supersede stone. But bronze was never cheap enough to
drive out the use of stone altogether. This only occurred when
the art of working iron was discovered.
We shall learn that the knowledge of bronze, while a very
important and distinguishing phase of culture of the Bronze Age,
was not its only characteristic. It was distinguished by the
arrival and spread of the Aryan races, by a great extension of
commerce, by more refinements in the comforts of life, by the
increasing strength of government, which in after ages flowered
out in the mighty nations of antiquity, and rendered historic,
Some facts stand out with great prominence. The origin of this
culture is lost in the very night of time. We may be sure that
it goes back to a profound antiquity, and that it extended over
a long series of years.
It is evident there was no great and sudden change from the
culture of the Stone Age to that of Bronze. It was as if the
darkness of night had given place to the roseate light of dawn,
to be shortly followed by the full day of historic times. It was
probably introduced by trade. The articles introduced in this
way would consist of simple implements, weapons, and ornaments.
Following after the trade would be found the smelter with his
tools, and, where the conditions were favorable, local
manufactories would be set up. But this home industry would not
prevent importation of more pretentious articles from abroad.
This would account for the rich collections of shields, swords,
and golden cups found in Denmark that betray an Etruscan origin.
Investigations of recent scholars show that the bronze of the
early Bronze Age came from Asia Minor. Subsequently there were
three great centers of bronze production, each having certain
styles. These were the Russian on the east, the Scandinavian on
the north, and the Mediterranean on the south. If this view be
correct, bronze must have been in use in the South of Europe
long before it was in the North. This view of the introduction
of bronze is, we think, that of the best scholars in Europe.
Others, however, think bronze was brought in by the invasion of
the Aryan tribes. Mr. Keary says: "The men of the Bronze Age
were a new race, sallying out of the east to dispossess the
older inhabitants, and if, in some places, the Bronze men and
the Stone men seem to have gone on for a time side by side, the
general characteristic of the change is that of a sudden
break."<9> We have shown that it was carried to England by an
invasion, and it was, perhaps, so introduced into Denmark, but
in other countries of Europe by trade.<10>
Let us now see what change in the home life, in the culture of
the people, would be brought about by the use of bronze. We must
reflect that we are not to deal with some new race, but with the
same race that inhabited Europe at the close of Neolithic times.
The people who had triumphed over nature with their implements
of stone were now put in possession of weapons and implements of
greatly increased efficiency. The results could not fail to
advance their culture. We would not expect any great change in
the houses. They would, however, be much better built.
The metallic tools were certainly a long ways ahead of the best
stone implements. With the aid of metallic axes, knives, saws,
gouges, and chisels, their cabins could be increased in size and
appearance. They still built settlements over the lakes, but the
Bronze Age settlements were more substantially built, and placed
farther out from shore. Fortified places were still numerous;
the remains of thousands of them of this age have been found in
Ireland. But the forests were cleared, wild animals disappeared,
society became more settled, and we may be sure that an
increasing number of little hamlets were scattered over
Caves were resorted to during this epoch only in times of
danger. One at Heathbury Burn, in England, contained portions of
the skeletons of two individuals, surrounded by many articles of
bronze and a mould for casting bronze axes. It is not difficult
to read the story. In some time of sudden danger workers in
bronze fled hither with their stores, but owing to some cause
were unable to escape the death from which they were fleeing,
and their bodies. with their mineral stores, were lost to
sight until the modern explorer made them a subject of
Illustration of Bronze Axes--First Form.-----------
The most important implement was the ax. Our civilization has
originated from many small things. It is difficult to
overestimate the importance of the ax in advancing civilization.
The stone axes, easily blunted and broken, could have made but
little impression on the vast forests of pine, oak, and beech,
covering the greater part of Britain and the continent in the
Neolithic Age. Clearings necessary for pasture and agriculture
must unquestionably, then, have been produced principally by the
aid of fire. Under the edge of the bronze ax clearings would be
rapidly produced, pasture and arable land would begin to spread
over the surface of the country; with the disappearance of the
forests the wild animals would become scarce, hunting would
cease to be so important, agriculture would improve, and a
higher culture inevitably follow. "When first the sound of the
woodman's ax was heard in the forests of the north, the victory
of man over his natural environments was secured, and the forest
and morass became his forever."<12>
The bronze ax was used for a great variety of purposes, not only
as an ax, but as chisel, hoe, etc. As might be expected, the
oldest axes were simply modeled after the stone ones.
The preceding cut represents these simple forms.
They were inserted into the handle much the same as they did the
stone axes. It never occurred to these ancient workers to cast
the axes with a hole in them for the handle.
Illustration of Bronze Axes--Second Form.------
Illustration of Bronze Axes--Third Form.--------
The above cut represents the second form of the ax. The trouble
with the first was that much usage would inevitably split the
handle. To remedy this, a stop or ridge was raised across the
celt, and the metal and the wood were made to fit into one
another. The small figure illustrates this method of hafting.
It would be quite natural to bend the sides of this second form
around, and thus would arise a third form in which the handle
was let into a socket, of which we also give a cut. As a general
thing, bronze axes were plain, but they were sometimes
ornamented with ridges, dots, and lines.
In addition to axes, they of course had many other implements of
bronze. Chisels were made much the same as at present, except
that the handle fitted into a socket. A few hammers have been
discovered in the Swiss lake villages. Bronze knives of
different styles and sizes were quite numerous. The workmanship
on them is generally skillful. They were, as a rule, fitted into
a handle of bone, horn, or wood, and the blade was nearly always
carved. In some cases the knives also ended in a socket into
which the handle fitted.<13>
Illustrations of Chisel, Hammer and Bronze Knives.-------
In matters of personal ornament, the men and women of the Bronze
Age were as willing to make use of artificial helps as their
descendants to-day, and no doubt fashion was quite as arbitrary
in her rule then as now. Among some savage nations the dressing
of the hair--especially of the men--is carried to a very
elaborate pitch.<14> In this respect, some of the dandies of the
Bronze Age certainly excelled. They evidently built up on their
heads a great pyramid of hair; in some cases large enough to
allow of the use of hair-pins two feet long. Of course such a
structure as this was intended to last a life-time. So careful
were they of this head-dress that they used a crescent-shaped
pillow of earthenware, so that it might not be disturbed when
they slept. Dr. Keller, who first described these crescent-
shaped articles, thought they were religious emblems of the
moon. He may be right, as the matter is not yet decided, but
some think they were the pillows in question. At first thought
this would seem absurd, but when we learn of the habits of the
natives of Abyssinia and other savage races, we cease to wonder.
Illustrations of Crescent, Bracelet, and Hair-pin.--------
In speaking of the ornaments of the Bronze Age, a caution is
necessary, because ornaments of bronze may belong to any age.
Bracelets and rings have been quite numerous. The bracelets vary
much in shape, are decidedly artistic in workmanship, and often
set off with carved designs. Some of this shape are composed of
a single ring of varying width, the ends of which almost meet
and terminate by a semicircular clasp; others are a combination
of straight or twisted wires ingeniously joined to one another.
"Some of these ornaments remain even up to the present day in a
perfect state of preservation. In an urn from one of the lake
settlements six specimens were discovered, the designs of which
appeared quite as clearly as if they had only just
We are called on to notice one important point in reference to
these bracelets and rings. That is, they are so small they could
scarcely be worn nowadays; a fact leading us to infer that the
people must have been of small size. It has also been noticed
that the handles of the swords are smaller than would be
convenient for soldiers now. Some ornaments of bronze were worn
as pendants. For this purpose they were provided with a circular
hole, and were probably worn suspended around the neck.
Illustration of Bronze Pendants.-------
Ornaments were not always of bronze. Necklaces were sometimes
made of amber, and gold beads were quite common. We give a cut
of both. They are from burial mounds of this age in England.
We remember the ornamentations on implements in the Paleolithic
Age was by engraving animal forms. In the Neolithic Age they
seem to have cared very little for ornamenting. During the
Bronze Age the ornamentation was of a simple but pleasing and
uniform style. It consisted of simple geometrical patterns,
combination of circles, dots, and straight lines. In this next
figure we have given the principal designs found in France.
Illustration of Necklace and Beads.---------
In the arts of living an increase in culture is noticeable.
We have seen that in Neolithic times they were acquainted with
the use of the distaff. In the Bronze Age they manufactured
woolen cloth. We have but few specimens of this cloth, because
it is under only very exceptional circumstances that woolen
fabrics can be preserved for any great length of time.
From examinations of burial mounds of this period, it would
appear that the better class of people were clad in linen and
woolen. Probably the use of the skins of animals for dress
purposes was mostly discontinued during this age. Woolen cloaks
of this period have been found in Denmark, though probably
dating from near the close.
Illustration of Ornamental Designs.---------------
In agriculture we detect only such advances as improved
implements would suggest. They used the sickle in gathering in
the harvest. We find no implements which we are sure were used
for agricultural purposes. Yet they must have had some means of
preparing the ground for the cereals. The day of wild animals
was gone. In the lake settlements of this age the domestic
animals outnumbered the wild species.<16>
Illustration of Bronze Sickle.-----------
During this age the horse was used for riding and driving, and
oxen were used for plowing.
The proof of this fact is certain sketches found in Denmark.
But the use of bronze in that country continued after iron had
been introduced in the south of Europe. Pottery was more
carefully made--though the wheel for turning it was not yet
introduced. The shapes were varied and elegant; sometimes,
instead of having a flat base, they came to a point below--in
which case they had to be placed in a support before they could
stand upright. Nearly all the pottery bears the ornamentation
peculiar to the Bronze Age--that is, straight lines, dots, etc.
Illustration of Clay Vessel and Support.-----------
During this age, the inhabitants were as much given to war and
conquest as any rudely civilized people: we, therefore, meet
with remains of their weapons. The principal ones were
swords, daggers, spear-heads, and arrows. The swords are always
more or less leaf-like in shape, double-edged, sharp-pointed,
and intended more for stabbing and thrusting, rather than
cutting. No hand guards were used.
Illustration of Bronze Weapons.-----------------
Sometimes the handles were fastened to the swords by means of
rivets; and, at other times, the handle was plaited with wood or
bone. They are of different lengths, intermediate between the
sword and the dagger. It is doubtful whether they made use
Bronze shields are, indeed, found; but, from the ornaments and
other circumstances they are generally considered to belong to
the Iron Age: for we shall subsequently learn that the
introduction of iron did not prevent the continued use of
bronze. The bow was well known; and this must have necessitated
the use of arrows. Some bronze arrows have been found; but a
flint arrow is nearly as serviceable as bronze, and much
cheaper, so we may be sure they were more common. They also
employed spears and javelins, and the bronze heads of these
weapons are found in various places. The invading Celt found
many camps and fortified places already in existence, and
continued them in use after the original occupant had been
Illustration of Mold.---------------
As we have spent some time in learning the different objects
manufactured out of bronze, it may be of interest to learn
somewhat of their methods of working bronze. We have already
stated how the amateur worker in bronze would follow on after
the trader--and so the objects of bronze would be made in all
the countries of Europe. Molds have been found in various
places. This is a mold for casting the axes having a socket in
which to put the handle. It was found in the cave at Heathbury
Burn, already mentioned. None of the bronze objects were forged
out, as a smith forges out objects of iron--they were cast.
In the absence of steel, it would be almost impossible to cut
bronze; hence it was necessary to make the casting as nearly
perfect as possible. Sometimes the molds were cut out of stone,
as in the figure just given. The molds themselves were, in this
case, difficult to make; besides, they could scarcely be made so
perfect as not to leave a little ridge, where the two halves of
the mold came together, which, as just explained, owing to the
absence of steel, it would be very difficult to remove.
In process of time they discovered an easier way of making the
molds, that employed at the present day--that is, by the use of
sand. The ridge would still remain, and is to be plainly seen on
specimens of ancient bronze.
To overcome the difficulty just mentioned, they invented a third
method of casting, which displays great ingenuity. A model of
the object desired was made of wood or wax, and inclosed in
prepared earth mixed with some inflammable material, in order
that, when subjected to heat, it might become porous. The whole
was then heated until the wax or wood disappeared. The mold was
then ready for use. The great advantage of this method was that
there were no projecting lines of junction to disfigure the
complete implement. This seems to have been the most common
method employed. This explains the fact, that we seldom find any
two bronze objects exactly similar to one another.
Any impression left on the wax model would be faithfully
reproduced. Marks of the spatula, with which the wax was worked,
are frequently found; and, in one case, the impression of the
human finger was observed.<17>
A people as highly cultured as those of the Bronze Age must have
had some system of government, and one that was a sensible
advance over the government of the Neolithic people. In the
Neolithic Age it was, doubtless, tribe against tribe.
Confederacies, the union of several tribes for common purpose of
defense, must have been more common at this age.<18> The first
Aryan tribes to arrive in Europe, as we have seen, were the
Celts. In time, they had to withstand the pressure of invasion
themselves. The Belgae, and other Germanic tribes, were also on
the move. But war at this period would partake more of the
nature of people against people, than of tribe against tribe.
The civil and the military departments of government must have
taken more definite shape, and we are not without evidence of
fairly organized and disciplined forces. As early as two
thousand eight hundred years before Christ, the sea-coast people
of Europe, while yet in the Bronze Age, allied their forces for
the conquest of Egypt.<19>
We have referred to the influence of trade in shaping
civilization. It is commerce that to-day is carrying
civilization to remote corners of the globe. Long before the
dawn of history, it was an active agent in advancing culture.
It is important to note the great expanse of commerce, both
inland and marine, which prevailed during the Bronze Age.
An important article of trade was, of course, bronze. The people
who first learned the secret of its manufacture would speedily
find a demand for their wares from surrounding tribes, and we
have already pointed out how this trade would quickly give rise
to local manufactures. But, to produce bronze, we know tin is
just as necessary as copper--and all the countries of Europe are
not provided with these metals; so more or less trade would
inevitably take place. In various ways the stores of the bronze
merchant might be lost, and only revealed in after years by
accident. One of these deposits, found in France, is evidently
the store of a merchant or trader from Etruria to the tribes of
the north and west, and so gives us a quite vivid idea of the
trade of that early time. It consisted of over four hundred
articles of bronze, "comprising knives, sickles, lance-heads,
horse-bits, rings, buttons, pendants, and bracelets."<20>
As an article of adornment, amber was highly prized, not only by
the people of Europe during the Bronze Age, but also by the
people of the preceding Neolithic Age. This caused a trade to
spring up which certainly did its share in enlightening the
people. The main supply must have been obtained from the shores
of the Baltic. That the trade was of importance is evidenced by
the fact that amber has been found scattered over Europe in the
tombs of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.
We have given a passing glance at the religion of each age we
have examined. It must be confessed that great uncertainty hangs
over the results. From a close examination of their industries,
we can gather considerable as to the home life and general
enlightenment of prehistoric times. A knowledge of religious
belief is gathered mainly from a study of their burial customs.
This is a very important part of our investigation, because a
religious belief is one of the exponents of the culture of
We have seen that in the Neolithic Age the dead were buried
surrounded by implements, weapons, and ornaments for use in the
future life. The descendants of these people throughout Europe,
even in the Bronze Age, would still continue this custom.
The implements buried with the body were more often of stone
than bronze. We must constantly bear in mind that bronze was
costly. This will explain its absence in many cases. It is
interesting to note in this connection that these are "cases in
which it is evident that flint implements were deposited in
graves rather in deference to ancient customs than because they
were still in every-day use."<21> We also notice that during
this age, often the objects placed in the graves were, from
their shape, obviously not intended for daily use. This would
clearly indicate that the popular mind became impressed with the
fact that these votive offerings, however freely given, could be
of no assistance to the departed, but they still continued the
custom because it was sanctioned by usage of past years.
But the dead were not always buried during the Bronze Age, nor,
indeed, as a general rule. The invading race doubtless brought
with them a new religion. Many of the ornamentations on their
swords, vases, and other articles, are supposed by some writers
to be religious symbols. From the frequent occurrence of the
circle, and combinations of circles, it has been suggested that
they worshiped the sun. And the occurrence of customs observable
even at a late day, in various portions of Europe, as pointed
out by Prof. Nelson, show that the worship of the fire-god, or
the sun, was once widely extended in Europe.<22> On this point
we are further told: "That even as late as the time of Canute
the Great,<23> there is a statute forbidding the adorement of
the sun and the moon."<24> So it is not strange that in the new
faith a different method of burial would be followed. That was
by cremation. "The dead were burned, were purified by being
passed through the fire along with their possessions."<25>
The ashes was then gathered together and placed in urns and
burial mounds and barrows. The votive offerings of flint and
bronze articles in daily use were also thrown in the fire, and
their burnt remains placed with the other ashes in the burial
urn. The cut is that of a bell-shaped barrow of the Bronze Age.
Illustration of a Burial Mound.-----------------
We have just seen what inferences have been drawn from the use
of the circle as an ornament. This is not the only sign that has
been thought to have some symbolical meaning. The cross was also
used as an ornament, and possessed probably some religious
significance. A third figure which has caused some discussion
was the triangle. "It is, on the whole, very probable that all
these signs, which are not connected with any known object, bear
some relation to certain religious or superstitious ideas
entertained by the men of the Bronze epoch, and, as a
consequence of this, that their hearts must have been inspired
with some degree of religious feeling."<26>
Illustration of Avebury Restored.-------------
We have mentioned the use of stone circles in Neolithic times.
During the Bronze Age they built the circle very large,
sometimes twelve hundred feet in diameter, and they were
sometimes made of earth. These circles are regarded by some<27>
as being simply burial places, and many of them have been proved
to be such. But others regard them as temples, meaning thereby
not a building, in our sense of the word, but a place of
sanctity, and probably where some form of worship was held.
"Even if we allow that they were originally tombs in every case,
it does not follow that they have not also been temples, for the
religious sentiment has, in all ages, and in all places, tended
to center in tombs, which ultimately have become places of
worship. Many of our Christian Churches have originated in this
manner, and it is a most obvious transition from the tomb to the
temple. The worship of the spirits of the dead at the one would
naturally grow into the worship of the Great Unknown in
The preceding cut is a restoration of one of the largest of
these temples. Here we see a circle twelve hundred feet in
diameter, of upright stones, guarded by both a ditch and
embankment. From the two openings in the embankment formerly
extended two long winding avenues of stone. Between them rises
Silbury Hill, the largest artificial mound in Great Britain,
being one hundred and thirty feet high. The area of the large
inclosure was about twenty-eight and a half acres. This was a
temple of no inconsiderable size. It was, of course in ruins
when the earliest account of it was written, and we can only
speculate as to the lapse of time since it was venerated as a
place of worship.
Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, is a better known ruin, though
not on as large a scale as at Avebury. The cut gives us a
restoration of it. The outer circle of standing stones is one
hundred feet in diameter, and when entire consisted of one
hundred stones. These are of sandstone, and were obtained in the
vicinity. A course of stone was laid along the top. We notice
within a smaller circle of stone. The material of these stones
is such that we know they must have come from a distance.
Mr. James tells us that they are erratic--that is, bowlders
brought from the North of Scotland by the glaciers--and that
others of the same kind are still to be seen lying around the
country.<29> But the more common opinion is that they were
brought there by the people from a distance, perhaps Cornwall or
the Channel Islands. If this be true, it is evidence of a strong
religious feeling, and a peculiar value must have been attached
to the material, since for any ordinary monument the stones in
the neighborhood would have sufficed. Still nearer the center
were five groups of three great stones each, and immediately
within these a horseshoe of smaller stones. Finally, near the
head of the horseshoe, a great slab of sandstone is supposed to
have served for an altar. The date of the two structures just
described has been a matter of some dispute.
Illusration of Stonehenge Restored.--------
It is worthy of notice that in the immediate neighborhood of
both of them are found a great number of barrows of the Bronze
Age. Over three hundred were erected in the neighborhood of the
latter. In the opinion of many this fixes their date in the
Bronze Age. Stonehenge, in its ruined state, has formed the
subject of no little speculation. Modern explorers, in
connecting it with the Bronze Age, have not dispelled from it
the enchantment of mystery. We must ever wonder as to the nature
of the rites there observed. Our questionings meet with but
feeble response; for though we have learned somewhat of past
times, it is comparatively but little. Ruined columns, crumbling
burial mounds, and remains of stone and bronze will always be
surrounded with more or less mystery--a striking illustration
that science is able to dispel but little of the darkness which
unnumbered years have thrown around the culture of the past.
Illustration of Ancient Tower, Scotland.-----------
(1) The manuscript of this chapter was submitted to Prof. Chas.
Rau, of the Smithsonian Institution for criticism.
(2) Brace's "Races of the Old World," p. 60.
(3) Brace's "Races of the Old World," p. 61.
(4) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 343.
(5) "One mass estimated to weigh two hundred tons." Dana's
"Manual of Mineralogy," p. 291.
(6) Evans's "Ancient Bronze Implements," p. 2.
(7) Rau's "Anthropological Subjects," p. 89. In his preface to
this collection he asserts his belief, that "former inhabitants
of North America, notwithstanding all assertions to the
contrary, were unacquainted with the art of melting copper."
(8) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 401.
(9) "Dawn of History," p. 367.
(10) For an excellent discussion of this subject, about which
there is yet much uncertainty, we would refer the reader to
Evans's "Ancient Bronze Implements," chap. xxii.
(11) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 355.
(12) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 350.
(13) "Prehistoric Times," p. 34.
(14) "Early Man in Britain," p. 351.
(15) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 255.
(16) Rau's "Early Man in Europe," p. 135, and note.
(17) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 39.
(18) Morgan's "Ancient Society," pp. 119, 120.
(19) Dawkins's "Early Man in Europe," p. 449.
(20) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 383.
(21) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 157.
(22) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 74.
(23) A.D., 995-1035.
(24) Ferguson's "Rude Stone Monuments."
(25) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 367.
(26) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 283.
(27) Ferguson's "Rude Stone Monuments."
(28) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 377.
(29) James's "Stonehenge," p. 3.
END OF CHAPTER VII.***********************
The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
by E. A. Allen
Processed by D.R. Thompson
THE IRON AGE IN EUROPE.
Bronze not the best metal--Difficulties attending the discovery
of Iron--Probable steps in this discovery--Where this discovery
was first made--Known in ancient Egypt--How this knowledge would
spread--Iron would not drive out Bronze--The primitive Iron-
worker--The advance in government--Pottery and ornaments of the
Iron Age,--Weapons of early Iron Age--The battle-field at
Tilfenan--Trade of early Iron Age--Invention of Money--Invention
of Alphabetic Writing--Invasion of the Germanic Tribes--The
cause of the Dark Ages--Connection of these three Ages--
Necessity of believing in an extended past--Attempts to
determine the same--Tiniere Delta--Lake Bienne, British
Fen-beds--Maximum and Minimum data--Argument from the widespread
dispersion of the Turanian Race--Mr. Geikie's conclusions--The
isolation of the Paleolithic Age.
The introduction of bronze was the harbinger of better days to
the various tribes of Europe. Without metals it is doubtful if
man would ever have been able to raise himself from barbarism.
His advance in civilization has been in direct proportion to his
ability to work metals. As long as he knew how to work bronze
only he could not hope for the best results. The trouble was not
in the metal itself, but in the supply; for copper and tin, the
constituents of bronze, are found only in limited amounts.
When we reflect on the multiplicity of purposes for which some
metallic substance is needed, we at once perceive that men
require a metal which can not only be worked cheaply, but must
exist in great abundance, so that the needs of a rich and varied
culture may be met.
The Divine Author of nature has stored away just such a metal,
and in such exhaustless quantities that it forms an ingredient
in nearly all soils, and flows away in the waters of many
springs and rivers. It exists in abundance in nearly every
country of the globe, in some forming veritable mountain masses.
We refer to iron, the king of metals; and when man had learned
to reduce it from its ores he had taken the first step in a new
direction, the end whereof is yet far distant.
We have in the preceding chapter presented some reasons why
copper would be known before iron. In the first place, how were
men to learn there was such a thing as iron? Supposing its ores
did occur in abundance, there was nothing to attract attention
to them. They were not of great heft, like tin ore or of
striking color, like the ores of copper. In the hills, and under
the foot of man, nature indeed had imprisoned a genius;
but there was no outward sign by which man was to divine his
presence. Copper, as we have seen, occurs frequently in a native
form that is ready for use, without reducing from its ores.
Native iron, on the contrary, is almost the rarest of
substances, though it is reported as occurring in one or two
localities on the earth.<1> Almost the only examples of native
iron has been obtained from meteorites. Strange as it may seem,
these wanderers in space, which occasionally flame athwart the
sky, consist largely of pure iron; at least this is true of such
specimens as have from time to time been found on the earth's
surface. This supply is of course extremely limited, yet some
Siberian tribes are said to make knives from iron obtained in
this manner.<2> Moreover the evidence of language, as used by
the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, would imply the meteoric
origin of the first known form of the metal.<3> But though such
accidental finds might prove the existence of another metal,
they would furnish no hint how to extract it from its ores, or
indeed, that it existed in the form of ores.
The prolonged schooling in metallurgy, which men received during
the Bronze Age, could not fail to give them many hints, and
doubtless accidental discoveries of metallic substances were
made. We can conceive how, by accident or design, iron ore,
treated in a similar manner to copper and tin ore, would leave
behind a mass of spongy iron. The difficulty would be in working
it; for, as we have seen, they were in the habit of casting
their articles of bronze. But iron is very difficult of fusion.
It was a long while before they learned how to do that. They had
therefore to learn an entirely new art--that is, to fashion
their implements of iron by hammering the heated mass.
There is no reason to suppose that iron was first discovered in
Europe. Its spread has been from the east and south to the north
and west. It, in all probability, was discovered, like bronze,
in Asia. Although evidence, both archaeological and traditional,
goes to show that bronze was in use long before iron, yet iron
has been known from time immemorial. Explain it how we will,
civilization and history follow close after the knowledge of
iron. Wherever the light of history first falls on the nations
of the Old World, we find them acquainted with iron, but such
knowledge, at least on the part of the Mediterranean nations,
does not long precede history, for at that early time, iron was
still a most precious metal. It was not yet produced in
sufficient quantities to take the place of bronze; hence the
prehistoric Iron Age was there but of short duration.
Among the early Egyptians iron was known, but was probably not
very common. There is on this subject some diversity of opinion;
some believing that at the very earliest historical period they
were skilled in working it, and employed it in all the affairs
of life, but others assure us that at the most ancient period
they did not really use iron, and that bronze was the metal
employed for all ordinary purposes.<4>
A wedge of iron is said to have been found in a joint between
the stones of the great pyramid. Here, then, at the dawn of
historic times iron seems to be making its way among a bronze-
using people. The ancient Chaldeans employed iron as an
ornament, but not for implements. With them it was therefore a
precious metal. Among the Assyrians, iron was largely used, and
at a comparatively early date. A careful study of the poems of
Homer shows that the Greeks of nearly three thousand years ago
had a knowledge of iron, though it was a highly prized metal.
But to the north of the Mediterranean the prehistoric Iron Age
was of longer duration.
We can readily see that a knowledge of iron would spread in much
the same way as did bronze. When first introduced, it would be
rare and costly, and so would be used sparingly. Bronze axes
have been found with the edge of iron. Afterwards, as it became
more abundant, it would be used altogether for cutting
instruments and weapons, while bronze, being more easily worked,
would still be used for ornaments, brooches, etc. At Hallstadt,
in Austria, was discovered a cemetery which evidently belongs to
a time when iron was taking the place of bronze. In this case,
the implements of bronze are those forms which we have learned
were produced near the close of the Bronze Age. The iron
implements are not those forms best suited for that metal, but
imitations of those of bronze.<5> We remember when bronze was
first introduced, the weapons were simply copies of those forms
already made in stone.<6>
We may suppose that a knowledge of iron would spread rapidly.
The knowledge of metallurgy necessary for the production of
bronze was at this time widely disseminated. It would require,
therefore, but a hint to start them in experiments. In the
dissemination of this knowledge, commerce, of course, played a
most important part. Whenever the early Greek and Roman writers
have occasion to mention the arms of the less civilized tribes
of Europe, we learn they were of iron. This shows that at a very
early time this knowledge had spread all over Europe.<7>
It is scarcely necessary to remark that the use of iron would
not drive out the use of bronze. That would still be used for
many purposes; and even stone would continue in use, at least
for some purposes. At the battle of Marathon, arrow-heads and
lances of stone were largely used. We can easily understand how,
by one of a number of causes, some rude tribes, yet unacquainted
with the use of metal, would come to occupy the site of some
settlement, the inhabitants of which had been in the Bronze or
Iron Age. This actually happened at ancient Troy, where the
remains of a stone-using folk have been found above those of a
people using metal. This, though an exception to the general
rule, need give us no surprise.
Iron manufacture at the present day, is one of our great
industries. In its present form it is the final development of
an industry whose first unfoldings we have now to glance at.
That the first process man employed to procure iron should have
been very rude, is what we would expect. Some of the partially
civilized tribes of to-day may give us an insight into the
process employed. We are told that in Tartary each native makes
the iron he needs, just as every household would make its own
bread. The furnace is a very small affair, not holding more than
three pounds of ore. This is filled with ore and charcoal.
The bellows are used, and after the charcoal is all burned out,
the result is a small piece of spongy iron, which needs only
repeated heating and hammering to be made serviceable.<8>
Primitive furnaces, on a somewhat larger scale, have been
discovered in Switzerland. Here the excavation was made in the
side of a hill, and a rude, dome-shaped chimney built over it.
We must not forget that our task ends where the historian's
begins. The use of iron did not long precede history, so we have
but little to describe as to the customs and manners of life
during the prehistoric Iron Age. A general advance in all the
social arts must surely have taken place. Improved tools, and
more cheaply produced, could not fail to advance man very
materially in culture. Some lake settlements were still in use
as places of residence, but better means of protection than
water was now known--walled cities were in use, especially
around the Mediterranean sea.
Mr. Morgan has traced for us the evolution of government.
At this early date the Greek and Roman people were engaged in
substituting for ancient society the modern idea of government
founded on territory.<9> The great body of European tribes were
now in the final stage of barbaric life. Their system of
government was doubtless the highest known to ancient society--
that of confederacies; the union of tribes speaking dialects of
the same language, for offensive and defensive purposes.
Illustrations of Ornaments and Gold Ornament.-----------
As characteristic of the advance of this epoch, we may mention
the appearance of pottery made on the potter's wheel, and baked
in an improved kind of furnace. Previous to this epoch all the
pottery had been moulded by hand and baked in an imperfect
manner in the open air. This may be thought to be but a small
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