The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
E. A. Allen
Part 5 out of 13
improvement. Our civilization, however, depends upon small
improvements. Only during the early part of this age, while iron
was scarce, and therefore valuable, would it be used for the
purpose of ornaments. Iron brooches have been found in
considerable quantities in the lake settlements. Bronze would
still be the principal article used for ornaments. The articles
of bronze manufactured play a great deal of skill. Nor was gold
entirely forgotten. The cap-shaped ornament of gold was found in
Ireland. During the Bronze age, as we have seen, there was no
attempt made to represent animal forms by way of ornaments;
but we meet with such representations during the early part of
the Iron Age. This shows how they ornamented the sheath of a
sword found in one of the Swiss lakes.
Illustrations of Ornamental Sword-sheath and Swords.--------
The warriors of the early Iron Age possessed leaf-shaped swords
for stabbing. The hilts were of bronze. This period was a
struggle for existence, on the part of the various tribes of
Europe. War must have been very common, so it is not strange
that a large number of relics of this age are of warlike
implements. Lance-heads, javelins, and arrow-heads have been
found in abundance. It appears, from experiments ordered by the
Emperor Napoleon III, that the javelins could only have been
used as missile weapons, and that they were thrown, not by the
hand merely grasping the shaft, but by means of a cord or thong,
something after the principle of a sling.<10>
Some years ago an old battle-field was discovered at Tiefenau,
in Switzerland. On it were found a great number of objects made
of iron, such as fragments of chariots, bits for horses, wheels,
pieces of coats of mail, and arms of various sorts, including no
less than a hundred two-handed swords. All of these were made of
iron.<11> The soldiers also carried with them shields, made
sometimes of bronze, as in the cut below, or of wood, studded
Illustrations of Lance-head and Javelin and Shields.----
There is evidence of considerable volume of trade at this time.
The Mediterranean was the theater of an extended commerce.
Phoenician sailors not only ventured to brave the Mediterranean
sea, but carried their vessels out on the Atlantic at as early a
date as 500 B.C. The Greek traders were also active. Massilia,
or as it is known in modern times, Marseilles, was the seat of a
thriving trade. African ivory has been found in the tombs of
Hallstadt, in Austria, in connection with ornaments of amber
from the Baltic, and gold from Transylvania. The inhabitants of
this town possessed in their salt mines the source of a
lucrative trade. The trader of the Iron Age was able to take an
immense stride by reason of the invention of money.
Heretofore, in Europe, we have not met with coins, and trade
must have been carried on by means of barter.
Illustration of a Gallic Coin.--------------
Acquainted as we are at the present day with money and the
mechanism of exchange, it is difficult to see how any extended
trade could be carried on without some unit of value, yet no
coins are known earlier than the Iron Age.<12> The most ancient
coins known are Greek, and date back to the eighth century
before Christ. This coin is one found in one of the lake
settlements. It is made of bronze, and the figures are not
stamped, but obtained by melting and casting.<13> This, however,
is not a Greek coin, but a Gallic one. On the battlefield of
Tiefenau, mentioned above, several Greek coins, struck at
Massilia, were found.<14>
It is scarcely necessary to point out, that though iron gives
its name to this age, it by no means follows that the only
difference between this and the Bronze Age is the use of iron.
"The pottery is different, the forms of the implements and
weapons are different, the ornamentation is different, the
knowledge of metallurgy was more advanced, silver and lead were
in use, letters had been invented, coins had been struck."<15>
That wonderful invention, the phonetic alphabet, was made during
the early part of this age. The past was no longer simply kept
alive in the memory of the living, handed down by tradition and
song. Inscriptions, and monuments, and books abounded, and we
are no longer confined to an inspection of their handiwork, or
examination of their habitations, and explanation of ancient
burial mounds for our knowledge of their life and surroundings.
It is no longer the archaeologists' collections, but the
writings of the historian that unfolds past times and customs.
Let us cast a glance at the condition of Europe at the dawn of
history. We have seen that in general terms the Bronze Age
coincided with the arrival and spread of the Celts, though the
earlier Celts were still Neolithic. The use of iron could
scarcely have been inaugurated before the innumerable hordes of
the Germanic tribes, probably driven from their Asiatic homes by
the presence of invading people, were on the march. The world
has, perhaps, never witnessed such a movement of people as
convulsed Europe for several hundred years, beginning the second
century before Christ and continuing until the fall of the
Western Empire of Rome. The light of history dawns on a stormy
scene in Europe. The Celts confined to the Western portion had
been largely subjected by the Roman armies, but the largest
portion of Europe held by the Germanic tribes was the seat from
whence assault after assault was made on the Roman Empire, which
at length, weakened by internal dissensions and enervated by
luxury, split in twain, and the western, and most important
part, fell before its barbarian foes.
The various tribes could not keep alive the civilization they
had overthrown. The wandering hordes of Germanic people could
not easily forget their former barbaric life, their marches of
conquest, and careers of pillage. But the claims of
civilization, though light and pleasant, are none the less
imperative, and a people who seek her rewards must form settled
communities, develop public spirit, organize government, and
sink the individual in the public good. Not appreciating these
claims, it is not strange that the incipient civilization nearly
expired, and that the night of the Dark Ages enwrapt Europe.
From out that darkness, composed of the descendants of the
people whose culture we have been investigating, finally emerged
the mediaeval nations of Europe.
The review has been a pleasant one, for it is a record of
progress. The difference between the culture of the Neolithic
and the Iron Age is great, but it is simply a development, the
result of a gradual growth. Civilization and history have only
hastened this growth. If we look around us to-day we can trace
the elements of our civilization back through the eras of
history, and though the faint beginning of some can be noticed,
yet many of them come down to us from prehistoric times. We have
treated of these early people in the three stages of culture
known as the Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Ages. We have seen
there is no hard and fast line dividing the different stages of
culture. To borrow the words of another, these stages of
progress, like the three principal colors of the rainbow,
overlap, intermingle, and shade off the one into the other, and
yet in the main they are well defined.<16>
We instinctively long to set bounds to the past, to measure it
by the unit of years. It affords us satisfaction to give dates
for events long since gone by. For any event in the domain of
history, it is natural and appropriate to gratify this desire.
It gives precision to our thoughts, and more firmly fixes the
march of events. But the historical portion of human life on the
globe is but a small part of the grand whole. When we pass
beyond history, or into prehistoric times, we find ourselves
utterly at a loss as to dates.
We have referred in the preceding pages to the commonly accepted
belief of a few years ago, that, at most, a few thousand years
express the whole period of human life on the globe. This was
supposed to be the teaching of the Scriptures, but Infinite
Wisdom left not only his word, but he left an imperishable
record of the past in rocky strata and excavated valley, in
dripping caves and mountain masses. When it was seen that the
claims of geology for a greatly extended past, one transcending
the powers of the human mind to conceive its length, could no
longer be successfully denied, then it was that earnest
investigators in the field of human antiquity could no longer
shut their eyes to the fact that if geological evidence were
worth any thing, man must have existed in the world for a far
longer time than one covered by the brief period hitherto
This truth is so patent and plain that it has received the
unqualified indorsement of the most learned scholars.
Distinguished divines have been amongst its able expounders, and
instead of being in opposition to the Bible, as already stated,
the earnest reader finds in the periods of the geologists
unexpected confirmation of its truths. The evidence of an
extended past for man is not, however, wholly of a geological
nature, though these have been the ones principally relied on.
The archaeologist to-day summons to his aid the science of
language, studies into the origin of civilization and the
comparison of the different races of men, and derives from each
and all of these concurrent testimony as to a vast, shadowy, and
profound antiquity for man, one stretching way beyond the dawn
of history, far into the very night of time.
As we have now spent some time in tracing out the culture of
these early ages, it may be well to see if there are any means
at our command to determine the absolute chronology of the
various ages. At the very outset of our inquiry, we shall
perceive that we have no such class of facts as guided our
investigations into the age of the Paleolithic remains. We have
but to recall the situation in which the implements of that age
were found, always under such circumstances, that we see at once
that a great lapse of time has passed since they became imbedded
where found, and then the bones of the various extinct animals,
found so associated with the implements, that we are justified,
even compelled, to admit they occupied the same section of
country, and then, from a variety of causes, we are satisfied
that they occupied Europe at the close of the Glacial Age, if
not for long ages before. All this gave us a point of departure,
and we have showed with what care scholars have studied all
questions relating to the date of the Glacial Age.
But aside from the fact that geology points out that a long time
went by after the close of the Glacial Age before Neolithic man
arrived on the scene, we are largely deprived of its aid in our
investigations; for all the various implements and specimens of
the household industries, from which we derive our knowledge of
these latter ages, are found only in surface deposits; that is,
in the modern alluvia and silt of river bottoms, in superficial
deposits, in caves, and in peat-bogs; and even in other
instances where apparently deeply buried, as in the submerged
forest deposits of the British coasts, we know that,
geologically speaking, their age is recent.
But in spite of these difficulties, attempts have been made from
time to time to determine the absolute chronology of these ages.
The results, however, can only be considered as approximations
of the truth. We will call attention to some of these
calculations. Their value to us consists in showing us the
methods by which this problem has been attacked, and not in the
results obtained. M. Morlot, of Switzerland, has sought to
determine this question by a study of the delta of the Tiniere,
which is a small river flowing into the lake of Geneva. Like all
mountain streams, it brings down considerable quantities of
sediment, with which it has formed a conical shaped delta.
Cuttings for a railroad exposed a fine section of this cone, and
showed that at three different times layers of vegetable soil,
which must once have been its old surface were found.
The lowest surface was some twenty feet beneath the present
surface, and here were found relics of the Stone Age. The second
layer was at the depth of ten feet, and contained relics of the
Bronze Age. Finally the first buried layer, three feet beneath
the present surface, was found to contain relics of the Roman
Age. Obtaining from other data the time that has elapsed since
the deposits of the Roman layer, he readily calculates the age
of the Stone and Bronze layers. By this means he obtains for the
Bronze Age an antiquity of between three and four thousand
years, and for the Neolithic Age from five to seven thousand
years.<17> M. Morlot does not claim for his calculation more
than approximate accuracy.<18> But if we were to allow it a
greater accuracy than its author claims, it would still only
show us that from a period of from five to seven thousand years
ago, tribes of stone using folks lived in Switzerland. It tells
us nothing as to their first appearance, or the total length of
Other calculations of a similar nature have been made. The Lake
of Bienne, in Switzerland, has been gradually silting up along
its margins from time immemorial. About seven hundred and fifty
years ago there was an abbey built at one place on the then
existing shore of the lake. Since that time the gain of land has
been about twelve hundred feet. A considerable distance further
up the valley are found the remains of a lake settlement of the
Stone Age. If the gain of land has been uniform, it has not been
far from seven thousand years since the lake washed round the
ancient settlement. Of course the land may have gained faster at
one time than at another, but from the general configuration of
the valley it is considered that its gain was regular.<20>
Mr. Skertchly, of the Geological Survey of England, has
furnished still another estimate, based on the growth of the
Fen-beds on the east coast of England. It is sufficient to state
that he also arrives at an estimate of about seven thousand
years for the Neolithic period.<21> Now these results are
interesting, and their substantial agreement is, to say the
least, striking. We must remember, however, that none of them
are free from error. They may serve to clear up our thoughts on
this subject, but we notice they tell us nothing as to the
beginning of the Neolithic Age.
Abandoning the effort to obtain dates for the various ages,
attempts have been made to calculate the entire interval that
has elapsed since the close of the Glacial times, and thus set
bounds to the first appearance of Neolithic man. We briefly
touched on this question in determining the antiquity of the
Paleolithic Age, and we say, as far as this country was
concerned, it was comparatively a recent thing, but as for
Europe, it must be at a very remote time. M. Quatrefages has
called our attention to two investigations in Europe, which, in
order to understand this question, we will now glance at.
The waters of the Rhone carry into Lake Geneva every year
quantities of sediment. In other words, from this and other
sources, the lake is gradually being filled up.
Carefully calculating the amount carried into the lake in a
year, estimates have been made of the length of time it has
taken the river to fill up the lake as much as it has.
But in making this calculation the date arrived at was a maximum
one--that is, a point beyond which it is not reasonable to
suppose the time extended. These calculations gave as a result
one hundred thousand years. The meaning of this is that the time
elapsed since the close of the Glacial Age was something less
than the number just stated. On the other hand, a minimum date
for this time has been obtained by estimating the amount of
erosion in the valley of the River Saone, in France.
From this we know that the time can not be less than seven
It is, perhaps, doubtful whether we shall ever be able to obtain
satisfactory answers to these questions. From what we have
repeatedly seen of the slowness of development of primitive man,
we do not doubt but what the antiquity of Neolithic Man goes
much farther back than seven thousand years. When a naturalist
finds in widely separated parts of the world animals belonging
to a common order, he is justified in concluding that the order
is a very ancient one. To illustrate, the opossum belongs to an
order of animals of which the only other representatives are
found in Australia and the neighboring islands.<23> We are not
surprised, therefore, to learn that this order was the first to
appear in geological time.<24> We think the rule is equally
applicable to races of men. We are told that the Turanian race,
or, as it is often named, the Mongoloid race, is a very widely
scattered one. Its representatives are found over the larger
portion of Asia, in Northern Europe, the islands of the Pacific;
and they were the only inhabitants of the New World at the time
of the conquest.<25> This wide dispersion would imply that they
were one of the ancient races of the world, and as such their
antiquity must be far greater than the above named number
This point grows clearer when we see what light is afforded on
this subject by historical research. The Turanian people were in
full possession of Europe while yet the ancestors of the Hindoos
and the various European nations dwelt together as one people in
Asia. As a race they had grown old when the Celts commenced
their wanderings. Egypt comes before us as a powerful people, at
a time at least as early as six thousand years ago. Even at that
time they had attained civilization. But we need not doubt that
there is a long series of years lying back of that, during which
this people were slowly advancing from a previous condition of
barbarism. The Egyptian people themselves are, in part at least,
descendants of a Turanian people that probably in former times
occupied the valley of the Nile and North Africa.<26>
Mr. Geikie has lately gone over the entire ground from the point of view of a geologist. He ranges over a wide field, and appeals in support to writers of acknowledged ability in all branches of learning.<27> Yet the impression we gather from his writings is that of ill-defined, but far-reaching antiquity, one necessary to account for the great climatic and geographical changes which he shows us have taken place since the Glacial Age. But he tells us that any term of years he could suggest would be a mere guess. We can not do better than leave the matter here.
Perhaps as a result of the research of our present scholars, we may soon have more precise results.
These closing essays have impressed on us clearly and distinctly the isolation of the Paleolithic Age. When we reflect on its prolonged duration, its remoteness in time, and its complete severance from the Neolithic and succeeding ages, we are almost ready to wonder whether they were indeed human beings.
But beginning with the Neolithic Age, we come to our own era. This primitive culture seems to have been the commencement of our own culture, and so the industries, household implements, and weapons of these ages possess a greater interest to us.
We have now completed our inquiry into prehistoric life in Europe, and are ready to turn our attention to other parts of the field. What we have thus far learned shows us how true it is that the past of human life on the globe is full of mystery.
We trust that what has been written will enable our readers to form clearer conceptions of life in Europe during these far
(1) Dana's "Manual of Mineralogy," p. 230.
(2) "Primitive Man," p. 298.
(3) Evans's "Ancient Stone Implements," p. 5.
(4) Evans's "Ancient Bronze Implements," p. 8.
(5) "Ancient Bronze Implements," p. 3.
(6) Ibid., p. 40.
(7) Ibid., p. 19.
(8) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 300.
(9) "Ancient Society," p. 216.
(10) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 325.
(11) "Prehistoric Times," p. 7.
(12) M. Desor, in "Smithsonian Reports," 1865, tells us that
small brass rings were probably used by people of the Swiss lake
villages of the Bronze Age epoch as money.
(13) Figuier's "Primitive Man," p. 310.
(14) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 7.
(15) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 17.
(16) Evans's "Ancient Bronze Implements," p. 1.
(17) "Smithsonian Report," 1860, p. 342.
(19) Mr. Southall, in "Recent Origin of Man," p. 475, quotes,
from Dr. Andrews, of Chicago, to the effect that these
calculations are very erroneous, as he thinks that M. Morlot
forgot that the size of the cone would increase more and more
slowly. On the contrary, M. Morlot says as follows: "Only this
growth must have gone on at a gradually diminishing rate,
because the volume of a cone increases as the cube of its
radius. Taking this fact into consideration, etc." (Smithsonian
Report, 1860, p. 341.) There are, however, several objections to
this calculation, for which see Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times,"
p. 400; also Quatrefages's "Human Species," p. 138.
(20) Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," p. 402. For criticisms on
this calculation see Southall's "Recent Origin of Man."
(21) British Assoc. Rep., 1879.
(22) Quatrefages's "Human Species," p. 139, et seq.
(23) Nicholson's "Manual of Zoology," p. 535.
(24) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 416, note.
(25) Keary's "Dawn of History," p. 382; Morgan's "Systems of
Consanguinity and Affinity."
(26) Dawkins's "Early Man in Britain," p. 324.
(27) "Prehistoric Europe," chap. xvi to xxii.
END OF CHAPTER VIII.*******************
The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
by E. A. Allen
Processed by D.R. Thompson
EARLY MAN IN AMERICA.<1>
Conflicting accounts of the American Aborigines--Recent
discoveries--Climate of California in Tertiary Times--Geological
changes near its close--Description of Table Mountain--Results
of the discoveries there--The Calaveras skull--Other relics--
Discussion of the question--Early Californians Neolithic--
Explanation of this--Date of the Pliocene Age--Other
discoveries bearing on the Antiquity of man--Dr. Koch's
discovery--Discoveries in the Loess of Nebraska--In Greene
County, Ill.-- In Georgia--Difficulties in detecting a
Paleolithic Age in this country--Dr. Abbott's discoveries--Paleolithic Implements of the Delaware--Age of the deposits
--The race of Paleolithic man--Ancestors of the Eskimos--
Comparison of Paleolithic Age in this country with that in
Europe--Eskimos one of the oldest races in the World.
When the energy and skill of Columbus were crowned with success,
and the storm-tossed Atlantic was found to lave the shores of a
western continent, reflecting minds in Europe were much
interested in the strange stories they heard of the inhabitants
of the New World. On the one hand Spanish adventurers told
scarcely credited stories of populous cities, temples glittering
with gold and silver ornaments, and nations possessed of a
barbaric civilization scarcely inferior to their own. On the
other hand were accounts of morose savages, cruel and vindictive
in nature, depending on fishing and the chase for a livelihood.
Nearly four centuries have elapsed since that time.
The aboriginal inhabitants have nearly disappeared, leaving
their origin and prehistoric life almost as great a riddle to us
as it was to the early colonists.
But in endeavoring to unroll the pages of their history, we have
chanced upon some strange discoveries. The Aztecs, that people
whose culture is to-day such an enigma to our scholars, are
known to be a late arrival in the valley of Anahuac. They were
preceded in that section by a mysterious people, the Toltecs,
whose remains excite our liveliest curiosity, but of which we
have yet learned but little. Yucatan is shown to have been for
many centuries the home of a people whose advancement equated
that of the Aztecs at their palmiest day. Like important
discoveries attended the labors of explorers in the North.
The entire valley of its great river is known to have been the
home of a numerous population, that, from the nature of their
remains, we call the Mound-builders. Who these people were, when
and whence they came, and whither they went, are questions whose
solution is by no means accomplished. Nor are such discoveries
the only results. A study of their institutions has done much in
revealing the constructions of ancient society, and thereby
throwing light on some mysterious chapters of man's existence.
Of late years interest in the antiquity of man in America has
been reawaked by the discoveries of human remains in Pliocene
deposits in California, and the Glacial gravel of the Delaware
at Trenton, New Jersey. Before this it was supposed that we had
no authentic instance of human remains in America found under
such circumstances that it was necessary to assign to them a
profound antiquity. If these latter day discoveries be true, we
can not escape the conclusion that man lived in America at as
early a date as that indicated by any of the European
explorations. Some hold that the proof of his existence here in
Pliocene times is far more satisfactory than any evidence of his
presence in Europe during this time. There is something
fascinating in this belief. If some of the most eminent
scientists of America are not mistaken, man lived on our Pacific
coast before the great ice-sheets that pulverized the surface of
the earth and dispersed life before them came down from the
north. He ranged along the western rivers before the volcanic
peaks of the Sierras were uplifted, and his old hunting-grounds
are to-day buried underneath the greet lava flow which
desolated ancient California and Oregon. But this assertion has
not been allowed to pass undisputed, nor has it received the
assent of all scientists.
We can easily understand why scholars subject all questions
relating to the first appearance of man to very careful
scrutiny. If a competent geologist should assert that he had
found, in undoubted Pliocene formations, bones of some species
of animals not hitherto suspected of living at that date, his
statement would be accepted as proof of the same. But in the
case of man, every circumstance is inquired into. It is but
right that the utmost care should be exercised in this
direction. But, on the other hand, we are not justified in
demanding mathematical demonstration in every case of the
accuracy of a reported discovery. Yet such seems to be the
position of a portion of the scientific world. For, although
they willingly admit that man has lived on the earth for a very
long time indeed, they urge all sorts of objections to extending
that time into a past geological age.
Accordingly, when Professor Whitney states as the result of many
years spent in the investigation of the Tertiary formation of
California, that he finds evidence of the existence of man in
the Pliocene Age, it is not strange that one part of the
scientific world listens incredulously to his statements, and
are at once ready to explain away the facts on which he relies.
He may, of course, be mistaken, for it is human to err, but his
proofs are sufficiently strong to convince some of the best
scholars in America. We can do no more than to lay the facts
before the reader and let him judge for himself.
We have seen what a genial climate prevailed in Europe during
the Tertiary Age. This must also have been true of California.
A rich and varied vegetation decked the land. The great trees of
California of our day then flourished in Greenland, Iceland, and
Western Europe. The cypress of the Southern States was then
growing in Alaska and other high northern latitudes. The climate
probably passed from a tropical one, in early Tertiary times, to
a milder or temperate one in Pliocene times. Amongst the animals
inhabiting America were three species of camels. Rhinoceroses,
mastodons, and elephants trooped over the land. Tigers and other
carnivore prowled in the forests. Herds of horse-like animals,
one scarcely distinguishable from our common horse, grazed in
the valleys, along with several species of deer. From the
presence of the old drainage beds, we know that majestic rivers
rolled their watery burden through the land. Such a country
might well afford a home for man if he were present.
To understand fully the course of events which now took place we
must venture on geological ground. The great Pacific Ocean,
lying to the west of America, is constantly exerting a lateral
pressure, which during Tertiary times showed its effect in the
uplifting of the great mountain ranges of the western coast.<2>
During late Tertiary times, as a counterpart to the upward
movement, a great subsidence commenced in the Pacific region.<3>
Doubtless many islands, some think an entire continent even,
disappeared beneath the waves. The completion of the various
mountain ranges left the coast firm and unyielding; hence, as it
could not bend before the fiery flood forced upward from below
by the downward motion just mentioned, it broke, and the torrent
of molten rock leaped out as a lava flow. In consequence of
this, near the close of Pliocene times, the surface of
California and Oregon, especially the north of California,
became buried under the lava and ashes of the most desolating
volcanic outbreak that the earth has ever known.
Let us now see what bearing this has on the question of the
antiquity of man. Scattered here and there throughout California
are numerous masses of basaltic lava, which appear as elevated
ridges, the softer strata around having been denuded away.
They have received the general name of Table Mountains.
They have not only been noted for their picturesque beauty, but
miners long since found that the gravels underneath the lava
covering were rich in gold. In Tuolumne County the Table
Mountain is a flow of lava which originated in lofty volcanoes
several miles away.
It extends along the north side of the Stanilaus, which is a
small river flowing in a south-westerly course through the
county. The mountain is in the form of a ridge about two
thousand feet above the present level of the river. At one point
the river breaks through this ridge, which has been worn away
for a considerable distance. From this point the ridge appears
as a continuous mountain, stretching away to the south for a
distance of twenty miles, from where it crosses the river.
"As seen from a distance the Table Mountain reveals its origin
at once, in the contrast between the long, straight line of its
upper edge and the broken and curving ones which the eroded
hills of the auriferous strata everywhere exhibit. Its dark
color and comparative absence of trees and shrubs on its top
and sides also indicate very clearly that the materials of
which it is composed are very different from that of the
This is the celebrated Table Mountain of Tuolumne County. It is
simply a vast flow of lava. It must have been a grand sight when
this river of fire came rolling down from its volcanic fount.
Its present position on top of an elevated ridge is a very
singular one. In explanation of that we arrive at some very
important conclusions, and we can not fail to be impressed with
the fact that countless ages have rolled away since that lava
flood poured down the mountain side. "No one can deny that a
stream of melted lava, running for forty miles down the slope
of the Sierra, must have sought and found a depression or valley
in which to flow; for it is impossible that it should have
maintained for any distance its position on the crest of a
ridge." Lava is about as thick as molten iron, and would as
surely seek some valley in which to flow as would so much water.
"The valley of the Stanilaus, now two thousand feet deep, could
not then have existed; for this flow of lava is clearly seen to
have crossed it at one point."
"The whole face of the country must, therefore, have undergone
an entire change since the eruption took place, during which
this mass of lava was poured out. The valley of the Stanilaus
must have then been occupied by a range of mountains. The same
is true of the other side, where now is the valley of Wood's
Creek; for such ranges must have existed in order to form and
wall in the valley in which the current of lava flowed.
There has been, therefore, an amount of denudation during the
period since this volcanic mass took its position of not less
than three or four thousand feet of perpendicular depth, and
this surprising series of changes is not peculiar to one
locality, but the whole slope of the Sierras, through the gold
region, is the scene of similar volcanic outflows and subsequent
remodeling of the surface into a new series of reliefs
Illustration of Imaginary Section of Table Mountain.-------
In order to fully realize the change here spoken of, an
imaginary section of Table Mountains is here presented. Here we
see the two valleys on the sides, and the mass of lava covering
the top of the mountain. The dotted lines represent the position
of the old line of hills, which must once have inclosed the
valley down which coursed the fiery torrent.
We require to dwell on this, fact before we can fully understand
its meaning. The "eternal hills," two and three thousand feet in
height, have been completely washed away, and where they stood
is now a deep valley. But the old valley, protected by its stony
covering, is now a mountain ridge; and this, we are told, is not
a solitary instance, but the entire surface of the country has
been thus denuded. We stand in awe before the stupendous
results, which nature, working through vast cycles of time,
But if this lava flow took place in a pre-existing valley, we
ought to find under the rocky covering beds of gravel, rolled
stones, and other debris peculiar to a river bed.
Such, in fact, we do find extended along directly underneath the
lava, about fifteen hundred feet above the general level of the
country. These old river gravels are found to be very rich in
gold, and miners have tunneled into them in numerous places in
search of the valuable metal. In order to determine the
geological age of these gravels, and subsequent lava flow, a
careful examination of portions of plants and bones of animals
found therein has been made. The plants are pronounced by
competent authority<6> to be Pliocene, totally distinct from any
specimens now growing in California. The animal remains are
rhinoceroses, camels, and an extinct species of horse. The age
of these gravels is, therefore, pronounced to be Pliocene.
We would say in this connection that the auriferous gravels of
California have been the object of a very careful research by
Prof. Whitney. He adds to his conclusions that of another of the
State geologists. We need not give in detail his arguments, but
he reaches the conclusion that the auriferous gravels of the
Pacific slope represent the whole of the Tertiary Age.<7>
We have seen that in the ancient gravels of European rivers
archaeologists have found the materials wherewith to build a
fascinating story of man's appearance in Quaternary times.
We have underneath the lava flow of California the gravel beds
of rivers far antedating the gravels of the Somme. It is
therefore not a little interesting to learn from Prof. Whitney
that he finds many proofs of the existence of man in the gravels
of the Pliocene Age in California. Under the solid basalt of
Table Mountain have been found many works of men's hands, as
well as the celebrated "Calaveras Skull."
Illustration of Calaveras Skull.-----------
This skull was taken from a mining shaft at Altaville, at a
depth of one hundred and thirty feet from the surface, beneath
seven different strata of lava and gravel. Prof. Whitney was not
present when it was found. He, however, made it his business to
examine into the facts of the case, and he thus speaks of it:
"That the skull was found in these old, intact, cemented gravels
has been abundantly proved by evidence that can not be
gainsaid." And again: "So far as human and geological testimony
can at present be relied on, there is no question but that the
skull was found under Table Mountain, and is of the
This would seem to be pretty explicit, but, as we have said
before, Prof. Whitney, in his formal report as the State
geologist of California, reaches the conclusion that the
auriferous gravels of the Pacific are all of the Tertiary Age.
It is therefore not a little interesting to learn that numerous
instances are recorded of the finding of human remains or the
works of man in these gravels. Prof. Whitney mentions twenty
such instances.<9> Mr. Bancroft furnishes us a list of such
discoveries, giving as his authority Mr. C. D. Voy, of the
California Geological Survey, of Oakland, California. He states
that Mr. Voy personally visited most of the localities where the
discoveries were made, and took all possible pains to verify
their authenticity, and in many cases obtaining sworn statements
from the parties who made them.<10>
Two stone mortars and spear-heads, six and eight inches long,
were found in the gravel under Table Mountain, just mentioned.
These relics were found about three hundred feet from the
surface. A hundred feet and more of this depth was of solid
lava. At another place a stone bead was found three hundred feet
from the mouth of the tunnel, under a thick layer of lava.
Many other instances might be given of such discoveries, not
always under lava coverings, but always in such instances that
we are compelled to assign to them an immense antiquity. As, for
instance, at San Andreas, according to a sworn statement in Mr.
Voy's possession, large stone mortars were taken from a layer of
cemented gravel, overlain by one hundred and twenty-five feet of
volcanic and gravel materials. Many similar instances are on
record, but enough have been mentioned to serve the purpose of
As we have briefly gone over the ground on which the antiquity
of man in America is, by some, referred to the Pliocene Age, it
is but fair to notice some of the objections that have been
raised. It is not necessary to point out that the only questions
worthy to be considered are of a scientific nature.
We must deny either the age of the gravels themselves or that
the objects of human handiwork were found as claimed, or else
that they are of the same age as the gravels. Prof. LeConte
thinks, from the nature of the gravels and the peculiar
circumstances which surround them, that they are not older than
the close of the Pliocene Age. He thinks they, in fact, belong
to the transitory period between that age and the
Quaternary.<12> But as we are considering the question of
Pliocene man, it makes but little difference if the gravels do
belong to the very close of that period. They may still be
One great trouble with those remains is that they were not
discovered by professed geologists. We have to depend upon the
statements of miners. But if their statements can be believed
(and why should they not?), there is no doubt about their
genuineness. The testimony, as Mr. Whitney says, "all points in
one direction, and there has never been any attempt made to
pass off on any member of the survey any thing out of keeping,
or--so to speak--out of harmony with what has been already
found, or might be expected to be found. It has always been the
same kind of implements which have been exhibited to us, namely,
the coarsest and the least finished, which one would suppose
could be made, and still be implements at all."<13> This result
would hardly be possible, where so many parties are concerned in
furnishing the evidence, if the objects were not genuine.<14>
In opposition to this conclusion it has been urged that the
stone mortars, pestles, etc., have become imbedded in the gravel
by the action of streams, or slips from the mountain side in
modern times, or are the results of interments or mining
operations.<15> As an illustration of how they might become
buried by the action of streams, reference is made to somewhat
similar discoveries in the tin-bearing streams of Cornwall
(Wales). We know with considerable certainty that at a very
early date the Phoenicians worked in the gravels of these
streams for tin ores. Implements made use of by them and
others--such, for instance, as shovels, mortars, pick-axes,
stone bowls, and various dishes--have been found at all depths
in this gravel, by more modern miners.<16>
This may explain the presence, in some instances, of similar
remains in California, but it utterly fails to do so, where the
remains have been buried underneath a lava flow or a bed of
volcanic materials, as is the case in many of the instances we
have cited. Manifestly no water has disturbed their strata since
the volcanic materials were laid down. Neither can we think of a
land-slide carrying these remains into the heart of a mountain,
or burying them underneath a hundred feet of lava. The peculiar
position in which they were often found is surely lost sight of
by those who think they might have been placed there by
interment. We can not think of a savage people digging a grave
in such a position.
It has been urged with considerable force that these relics have
been left behind by ancient miners when they mined for gold.
Dr. Wilson is cited as authority for the statement that the
Mexicans obtained "silver, lead, and tin from the mines of Tasco
and copper was wrought in the mountains of Zacotollan by means
of galleries and shafts, opened with persevering toil where the
metallic veins were imbedded in the solid rock." Prescott, the
historian, also testifies to the same fact.
We need only add to this, that wherever these ancient galleries
were opened in the solid rock, they still exist. Schoolcraft
mentions finding one two hundred and ten feet deep.<17>
The chances are not worth considering, that these old mines
would be overlooked. If, for instance, the Calaveras skull is
that of a prehistoric miner, killed in an old mining gallery
only a thousand years or so ago, it is inconceivable that all
evidence of this mine should have disappeared. Or, if in one
case it should have done so, it would surely have been
detected in other instances. The variety and explicitness
of the testimony brought forward makes all such
It is best, in this matter, to hold the judgment in suspense.
We have stated Mr. Whitney's position, and the objections that
have been raised to it. The amount of thought bestowed on the
antiquity of man will doubtless soon clear up the whole matter.
We can not do better than to consider his surroundings,
supposing that he was really present. The country must have been
very different from the California of to-day. Dr. Cooper says,
"The country consisted of peninsulas and islands, like those of
the present East Indies; resembling them also in climate and
productions."<19> The probabilities are that to the west and
southwest of California, instead of watery expanse of the
Pacific, only broken here and there by an ever-verdant islet,
there was either a continental expanse of land or, at any rate,
a vast archipelago. We know that over a large part of the
Northern Pacific area the land has sunk not less than six
thousand feet since late Tertiary times.<20>
We are certain the ocean area must have presented a vastly
different aspect before that depression commenced. It is not
unreasonable to suppose that communication between North America
and Asia was much easier than in subsequent epochs. It might
have been an easy matter for man to pass back and forth without
losing sight of land. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that
if Pliocene man was in existence, he would have occupied both
sides of the Pacific at this early time.<21> These last
conclusions are very important ones to reach, and as there is
reasonable foundation for them, we must bear them in mind in the
It will be remembered that the races of men who inhabited Europe
in the Paleolithic Age had only very rudely formed, unpolished
implements. It is not until we arrive at the Neolithic stage of
culture that we meet with specimens of polished stone
implements. To judge from the specimens of early Californian
art, the beautifully polished pestles, beads, plummets or
sinkers, spear-heads, etc., Pliocene man in California must have
been in the Neolithic stage of culture. Though they were not
acquainted with the potter's art, yet from their skill in
working vessels of stone, they had undoubtedly passed entirely
through Savagism, and had entered the confines of Barbarism,<22>
as far advanced, in fact, as many of the Indian tribes the
Spaniards found in possession of the country.
It must be confessed this seems very singular. It is this
statement that causes many to shut their eyes to what would be
otherwise at once admitted and refuse to believe the genuineness
of the discovery. If the implements brought to light had been of
the rude River Drift type--celts but little removed from nodules
of flint--scholars would not be so cautious about accepting
them. But when we learn they are Neolithic, we at once see why
they hesitate, and ask for more conclusive proofs; yet this is
no reason to disregard the discoveries. They may be a great
surprise, they may be an unwelcome discovery to the holder of
some theories, yet the only question is, whether they are true
or not, and if true, theories must be modified to fit the facts.
Prof. Putnam thus speaks, in reference to them: "As the
archaeologist has no right to be governed by any pre-conceived
theories, but must take the facts as he finds them, it is
impossible for him to do otherwise than accept the deductions of
so careful and eminent a geologist as Prof. Whitney, and draw
his conclusions accordingly, notwithstanding the fact that this
Pliocene man was, to judge by his works in stone and shell, as
far advanced as his descendants were at the time of the
discovery of California by the Spaniards."<23>
Perhaps a partial explanation of this matter may be found when
we consider all the circumstances of the case. The origin of man
is generally assigned to some tropical country. Sir John Lubbock
thus speaks of it: "Our nearest relatives in the animal kingdom
are confined to hot, almost tropical climates; and it is in such
countries that we are, perhaps, most likely to find the earliest
traces of the human race."<24> This is also the opinion of other
eminent scholars. M. Quatrefages thinks that man probably
originated in Asia. He points out, however, that, during
Tertiary times, the climate was much milder, and man might have
originated in Northern Asia.<25> Now, if it be true that a great
mass of land has disappeared beneath the waves of the Pacific,
why may we not suppose that, if this sunken land was not the
original home of man, it was at a very early time inhabited by
him; that here he passed through his experience in savagism?<26>
We know how suited the islands of the Pacific are to the needs
of a savage people; and we must not lose sight of the probable
ease with which they could reach the coast of California--and
also of what Dr. Cooper has told us of the climate and
geographical surroundings of California at that early time.
So it may not be unreasonable to suppose that man reached
California long ages before he wandered into Europe, and so
reached the Neolithic stage of culture much earlier than he did
in other parts of the world.<27>
It might be objected, that if a people in the Neolithic stage of
culture lived in California in the Pliocene Age, they ought to
have reached a very high stage of culture indeed when the
Spaniards invaded the country. This is what we would expect had
they been left to develop themselves. The great geographical
changes that took place near the close of the Pliocene would cut
off the primitive Californians from the Asiatics. Not only was
the land connection--if it indeed existed--now destroyed, but
causes were changing the climate. Ice and snow drove from the
north life of both animals and plants, and for an entire
geological period communications with Asia by way of the north
must have been very difficult, if not cut off altogether.
Who can tell what changes now came to the Asiatic branch of
these people? We are but too familiar with the fact that nations
and races sicken and die: many examples could be given.
The natives of the Sandwich Islands seem doomed to extinction.
In a few centuries, the Indians of America will live only in
tradition and song.
Such may have been the fate of the early inhabitants of the
Pacific continent: certainly it would not be surprising, if the
immense climatic and geographical changes which then took place
would produce that result. Or it may be that but a scanty
remnant lived on, absorbed by more vigorous, though less highly
cultivated stocks of the same people, whose homes had been on
the main-land of Asia--and the remnant left along the Pacific
coast must have lived on under vastly different circumstance.
The interior of North America was largely a dreary expanse
of ice and snow down to the 39th parallel of latitude.
It is quite true, this great glacier did not reach the Pacific
Slope; but it must have exerted a powerful influence on the
climate: and the evidence points, that the Sierra Nevada were
occupied by local glaciers which reached down into the fertile
expanse of the plains.
This was certainly a far different climate, and a far different
country, than that which sustained a vegetation of a tropical
growth. It may well be that the people should, as a result of
their changed conditions, have deteriorated in culture; or, at
any rate, their progress toward civilization may have been
stopped, and many thousands of years may have passed with no
perceptible improvement. It may be objected, that man will
improve under any state of existence, give him time enough.
This is, doubtless, in the main true. But a race may early reach
its limit of culture; in which case, as a race, it will not
improve: we may do much with the individual, but nothing, or but
very little, for the race.
In these considerations which have been advanced we may find
some reason for the early appearance of Neolithic man, as well
as the fact that he advanced no farther in culture. But whether
man first arrived in California in Pliocene times or not, he
continued to inhabit the land to the present day. He would,
however, be exposed to assault after assault from invading
tribes. We do not wish to examine the question of the origin of
the native Americans. It is held, by the best authorities, that
at least a portion of them came from Asia, using the Kurile
Islands as a stepping stone. Reaching the main-land of America,
and passing down the coast, they would, sooner or later, reach
the Valley of the Columbia--which has been characterized as the
most extraordinary region on the face of the earth in the
variety and amount of subsistence it afforded to tribes
destitute of a knowledge of agriculture. At certain seasons of
the year the rivers are crowded with fish, and they are then
caught with the greatest ease. As a mixture of forest and
prairie, the country is an excellent one for game. A species of
bread-root grew on the prairies; and, in the Summer, there was a
profusion of berries. To these advantages must be added that of
a mild and equable climate.<28>
These combined advantages would make this valley one of the
centers of population, from whence would issue successive bands
of invading people. A portion of these, passing over into
California, would come in contact with the descendants of
Pliocene man. The result would be, that the primitive
inhabitants, unable to escape to the west, would come in contact
with wave after wave of invading tribes. This is not altogether
theory. All inquirers into the customs, arts, and languages of
the primitive Californians have been struck with the remarkable
commingling of the same. We are driven to the conclusion that
here has been the meeting ground of many distinct tribes and
nations. "From such a mixture, and over-population of the most
desirable portions of the country, would naturally result the
formation of the hundreds of petty tribes that existed in
both Upper and Lower California when first known to
In view of these facts, it is not strange that no advance in
culture is noticeable; and the grounds just mentioned may go far
to explain why we catch sight, here and there, of bits of
customs, habits, and manners of life which strangely remind us
of widely distant people--though it will not explain the
presence of words of Malay or Chinese origin which are claimed
to exist.<30> What is known as the Eskimo trace is quite marked
in the physical characters and in the arts of the
Californians.<31> It is, probably, the continuance of the type
of the primitive American race.
It would naturally be interesting to know whether any date can
be given for the Pliocene Age, and so give us some ideas as to
the antiquity of man, if he were really here during that epoch.
This, however, is one of the most difficult questions to answer,
and in the present state of our knowledge incapable of solution.
Approximations have, of course, been made, and, as might be
expected, vary greatly in results. When it was acknowledged on
all hands that on geological grounds the age of the earth was
certainly very great, many times the few thousand years hitherto
relied on, it is not strange that popular thought swung to the
other extreme, and hundreds of millions of years were thought
necessary to explain the series of changes which the geologists
unfolded. This demand for a greatly extended time was
strengthened when the law of the gradual evolution of life was
expounded by the modern school of naturalists, and as great a
lapse of time as five hundred millions of years was not deemed
an extravagant estimate. Sir William Thompson has, however,
demonstrated that the time that has elapsed since the crust of
the earth became solidified can not be far from one hundred
millions of years, and consequently we know the time since the
appearance of life must be greatly less than that number
Attempts have been made to estimate the length of time required
to form the sedimentary crust of the earth. The results are so
divergent on this point that it is best not to adopt any
standard at present. Our views on this matter are also dependent
on the time that has elapsed since the close of the Glacial Age,
which, as we have seen, is not yet a settled point. If it be
true that the islands of the Pacific commenced to sink during
late Tertiary times, then we have a measure of that time in the
growth of coral, which has required at least four hundred
thousand years to form reefs the thickness of some that are
known to exist.<32>
But here, again, it seems we are not certain when this
depression commenced.<33> In a previous chapter we have gone
over the Glacial Age, and have seen when, according to Mr.
Croll's theory, it commenced. This was probably not far from the
close of the Pliocene Age. We might as well leave the matter
here. There are so many elements of uncertainty that it is
doubtful if we will ever be able to assign satisfactory dates to
In bringing to a conclusion this somewhat extended notice of
early man in California we have to admit that much of it is
speculative; still it is an endeavor to explain known facts.
The main statement is that man lived in California in the
Pliocene Age, in the Neolithic stage of culture. Whether the
arguments adduced in support of this statement are sufficient to
prove its accuracy must be left to the mature judgment of the
scientific world. There is no question but that the climate and
geography, the fauna and the flora, were then greatly different
from those of the present. Starting with these known facts, so
strange and fascinating, it need occasion no surprise, if the
pen of the enthusiastic explorer depict a scene wherein facts
and fancy are united.
In this case truth is certainly stranger than fiction, and when,
in imagination, we see the great Pacific archipelago emerge from
the waves, and, in place of the long swell of the ocean, we
picture the pleasing scenes of tropic lands, the strange floral
growth of a past geological age, the animal forms which have
since disappeared, with man already well advanced in culture:
when we recall all this, and picture forth the surprising
changes which then took place, the slowly subsiding land, the
encroaching waters, and the resultant watery waste, with here
and there a coral-girt island, the great volcanic uplift on the
main-land, the flaming rivers of molten lava, which come pouring
forth, followed by the night of cold, ice, and snow: when we
consider these, and the great lapse of time necessary for their
accomplishment, how powerless are mere words to set forth the
grandeur and the resistless sweep of nature's laws, and to paint
the insignificance and trifling nature of man and his works!
The discoveries in California are not the only instances of the
relics of man and his works found under such circumstances that
they are relied on by some to prove the great age of man in
America. But on account of the rarity of these finds, and the
contradictory statements and opinions respecting them, the
scientific world has until lately regarded with some distrust
the assertion of a great antiquity for man on this continent;
but a review of the evidence on this point, and especially of
Dr. Abbott's discoveries in New Jersey, must impress on all the
conclusion that tribes of men were living here at the close of
the Glacial Age, and probably long before that time.
It need occasion no surprise to learn that several of the
discoveries of former years, relied on in this connection, have
since been shown to be unreliable. They have not been able to
stand a careful examination at the hands of later scholars.
They were made when European savants were first communicating to
the world the results of the explorations of the river gravels
and caves of that country. The antiquity of man being amply
proven there, may afford some explanation why more
discriminating care was not employed. Of this nature were some
of the discoveries in the valley of the Mississippi; such, for
instance, as the portion of the human skeleton found mingled
with the bones of extinct animals a few miles below Natchez, and
the deeply buried skeleton at New Orleans, in both of which
cases a simple explanation is at hand without the necessity of
supposing a great flight of years.
Some of these discoveries yet remain an unsettled point. Such is
the discovery of flint arrow-heads in connection with the bones
of a mastodon found in Missouri. Dr. Koch, who made the
discovery, draws from the facts of the case such a suggestive
picture that we will give his own words. After describing where
found, he says: "The greater portion of these bones had been
more or less burned by fire. The fire had extended but a few
feet beyond the space occupied by the animal before its
destruction, and there was more than sufficient evidence that
the fire had not been an accidental one, but, on the contrary,
that it had been kindled by human agency, and, according to all
appearance, with the design of killing the huge creature which
had been found mired in the mud, and in an entirely helpless
condition. All the bones which had not been burned by the fire
had kept their original position, standing upright and
apparently quite undisturbed in the clay, whereas those portions
which had been extended above the surface had been partially
consumed by the fire, and the surface of the clay was covered,
as far as fire had extended, by a layer of wood ashes, mingled
with larger or smaller pieces of charred wood and burnt bones,
together with bones belonging to the spine, ribs, and other
parts of the body, which had been more or less injured by the
fire. It seemed that the burning of the victim and the hurling
of rocks at it had not satisfied the destroyers, for I found
also, among the ashes, bones, and rocks, several arrow-heads, a
stone spear-head, and some stone axes."
Such is Dr. Koch's very interesting statement of this find.
"It was received by the scientific world," says Foster, "with a
sneer of contempt," and, it seems to us, for very insufficient
reasons. It is admitted that his knowledge of geology was not as
accurate as it should have been. He made some mistakes of this
nature, which have been clearly shown.<35> Still, he is known to
have been a diligent collector, and we are told "no one who knew
him will question but that he was a competent observer."<36>
It seems to us useless to deny the truth of his statements.
There is, however, nothing to necessitate us believing in an
immense age for these remains. This is not to be considered a
point against them, for there is no reason for supposing that
the mastodon may not have lingered on to comparatively recent
times, and that comparatively recent men may not have
intercepted and destroyed helpless individuals. Indeed, we are
told there are traditions still extant among the Indians of
We have other facts showing that, in this country as in Europe,
man was certainly living not far from the time when the land was
covered with the ice of the Glacial Age, whatever may be true of
still earlier periods. We are told that, when the time came for
the final breaking up of the great glaciers, and while they
still lingered at the head waters of the Platte, the Missouri,
and the Yellowstone rivers, a mighty lake--or, rather, a
succession of lakes--occupied the greater portion of the
Missouri Valley. The rivers flowing into them were of great
size,<38> and heavily freighted with sediment, which was
deposited in the still waters of the lakes, and thus was formed
the rich loess deposits of Nebraska.
From several places in this loess have been taken rude stone
arrows, buried at such depths and under such circumstances, that
we must conclude they were deposited there when the loess was
forming. But this requires us to carry them back to a time when
elephants and mastodons roamed over the land, for bones of these
huge creatures<39> are quite frequently found. This arrow-point
--or, it may be, spear-head--was found twenty feet from the
surface; and almost directly above it, and distant only thirteen
inches, was a vertebra of an elephant. "It appears, then, that
some old races lived around the shores of this lake, and,
paddling over it, accidentally dropped their arrows, or let them
fly at a passing water-fowl;" and, from the near presence of the
elephant's bone, it is shown that "man here, as well as in
Europe, was the contemporary of the elephant, in at least a
portion of the Missouri Valley.<40>
Illustration of Implement found in Loess.-----------
Other examples are on record. In Greene County, Illinois,
parties digging a well found, at the depth of seventy-two feet,
a stone hatchet. Mr. McAdams carefully examined the well, to see
if it could have dropped from near the surface. He tells us the
well was dug through loess deposits; and from the top down was
as smooth, and almost as hard, as a cemented cistern.<41>
The loess was, as in Nebraska, deposited in the still waters of
the lake which once occupied the Valley of the Illinois.<42>
And we need not doubt but that it dates from the breaking up of
the glacial ice. The position of this hatchet, then, found at
the very bottom of the loess deposits, shows that, while yet the
glaciers lingered in the north, and the flooded rivers spread
out in great lakes, some tribes of stone-using folks hunted
along the banks of the lakes, whose bottoms were to form the
rich prairies of the West.
Previous to this discovery, Mr. Foster had recorded the finding
in this same formation, distant but a few miles, a rude hatchet.
There was in this case a possibility that the stone could have
been shaped by natural means, and so he did not affirm this to
be a work of man; but he says, "had it been recovered from a
plowed field, I should have unhesitatingly said it was an
Indian's hatchet."<43> We think it but another instance of
relics found under such circumstances, that it points to the
presence of man at the close of the Glacial Age.
No doubt many similar discoveries have been made, but the
specimens were regarded as the work of Indians; and though the
position in which they wore found may have excited some
surprise, they were not brought to the attention of the
scholars. Nor is it only in the prairie regions of the West
where such discoveries have been made. Col. C. C. Jones has
recorded the finding of some flint implements in the drift of
the Chattahooche River, which we think as conclusively proves
the presence of man in a far away time as do any of the
discoveries in the river gravels of Europe. It seems that gold
exists in the sands of this river, and the early settlers were
quick to take advantage of it. They dug canals in places to turn
the river from its present channel--and others, to reach some
buried channel of former times. These sections passed down to
the hard slate rock, passing through the surface, and the
underlying drift, composed of sand, gravel, and bowlders.
"During one of these excavations, at a depth of nine feet below
the surface, commingled with the gravels and bowlders of the
drift, and just above the rocky substratum upon which the
deposit rested, were found three [Paleolithic] flint
He adds that, "in materials, manners of construction, and in
general appearance, so nearly do they resemble some of the
rough, so-called flint hatchets, belonging to the drift type, as
described by M. Boucher De Perthes, that they might very readily
be mistaken, the one for the other." "They are as emphatically
drift implements, as any that have appeared in the diluvial
matrix of France." On the surface soil, above the flints, are
found the ordinary relics of the Indians. The works of the Mound
Builders are also to be seen. Judging from their position, the
Paleolithics must be greatly older than any of the surface
remains. Many centuries must go by to account for the formation
of the vegetable soil above them.
Speculating on their age, Mr. Jones eloquently says, "If we are
ignorant of the time when the Chattahooche first sought a
highway to the Gulf; if we know not the age of the artificial
tumuli which still grace its banks; if we are uncertain when the
red Nomads who, in fear and wonder, carried the burdens of the
adventurous DeSoto, as he conducted his followers through
primeval forests, and, by the sides of their softly mingling
streams, first became dwellers here, how shall we answer the
question as to the age in which these rude drift implements were
fashioned and used by these primitive people?"<45>
The examples we have quoted, even though the case of California
be not considered, are all suggestive of a great antiquity for
man, taking us back in time to when the glaciers still "shone in
frigid splendor" over the northern part of the United States.
When European savants had established the science of
Archaeology, and shown the existence of separate stages of
culture, it was but natural that those interested in the matter
on this side of the Atlantic should turn with renewed energy to
investigate the archaeology of this country, to see if here,
too, they could find evidence of a Paleolithic Age. But the
scholar in this country is confronted with a peculiar
difficulty. Owing to the very multiplicity and variety of relics
of prehistoric times, it is difficult to properly classify and
understand them. The field is of great extent, the time of study
has been short, and the explorers few; so it is not strange that
but few localities have been thoroughly searched. But, until this
is done, we can not hope to reach definite conclusions.
The peculiar culture of the Indians, prevailing among them at
the time of the discovery, proved a hindrance, rather than a
help, in this matter. The Indians are certainly not Paleolithic,
many of their implements being finely wrought and polished;
but their arrow-heads, hatchets, and celts were sufficiently
rude to spread the conviction that all weapons and implements of
stone should be referred to them. This belief has done much to
hinder real progress. It is not to be wondered at that some
difference of opinion has prevailed, among our scholars, whether
the different stages of culture, discovered in Europe, have any
On one hand, it is denied that different stages can be detected.
Says Prof. Whitney: "It is evident that there has been no
unfolding of the intellectual faculties of the human race on
this continent similar to that which has taken place in Central
Europe. We can recognize no Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, or
Iron Ages."<46> Others assure us, that if present, the ages
stand in reverse order. "The relics last used were by far the
rudest, and the historic races, which are the survivors of the
prehistoric, are the wildest of the two; the lower status
remaining, while the higher has passed away."<47> In still
another place we read: "The Neolithic and Bronze Ages preceded
the Paleolithic, at least in the Mississippi basin."<48>
Notwithstanding these quotations, we think it will yet be shown
that in this country, as in Europe, there was a true Paleolithic
Age, and that there was no such inversion as is here spoken of.
In some places sedentary tribes may have been driven away and
their territory occupied by more war-like, but less highly
cultivated tribes. But take the whole Indian race, and they were
steadily advancing through the Neolithic stage of culture.
They were acquainted with copper, and were drawing near to the
discovery of bronze and metals, and, indeed, the discovery had
been made of bronze in the far south. But lying back of the true
Indian Age, long preceding it in time, to which probably belong
the relics mentioned in the preceding discoveries, is a true
We are indebted for the facts on which the above conclusion
rests more to the writings of Dr. C. C. Abbott, of Trenton, New
Jersey, than any other individual, and his results are based on
an extensive study of the relics themselves and the position in
which found. In a collection of stone implements of this country
arranged in a cabinet, we find rude and unpolished specimens, as
well as those of a finely wrought Neolithic type. Now the
Indians, when first discovered, frequently made use of very
rudely formed implements, and from a knowledge of this fact, it
came about that but little attention was paid to the position in
which the relics were discovered. They were all classified as
Indian relics. But the greatest and most valuable discoveries in
science have occurred as a result of the attention paid to
little things; in this case by carefully scrutinizing the
position in which they occurred.
Dr. Abbott commenced by gathering a very extensive collection,
carefully searching his section of country and gathering all
specimens of artificially shaped stones. These must have existed
there in considerable quantities, as, in three years' time, he
collected over nine thousand specimens,<49> carefully examining
them as they came from the soil.<50> As a result of this
extensive and careful research he is able to present us some
general conclusions. The surface specimens, including in this
classification also those specimens turned up by the plow,<51>
are characteristically Indian. The material is jasper and
quartz, and they are generally carefully made. They used other
varieties of stone as well. Like the Neolithic people of Europe,
they sought the best varieties of stone for their purpose.
But his collection also included rude Paleolithic forms, and he
found by taking the history of each specimen separately, that
just in proportion as the relics were rude in manufacture and
primitive in type the deeper were they buried in the soil.<52>
Writing in 1875, he says: "We have never met a jasper (flint)
arrow-head in or below an undisturbed stratum of sand or gravel,
and we have seldom met with a rude implement of the general
character of European drift implements on the surface of the
These are not theoretical opinions, but are deductions drawn
from a very extensive experience. From figured specimens of
these rudest formed implements, we see they are veritable
Paleolithic forms, resembling in a remarkable manner the rude
implements of the old world, whether collected in France or in
India. We learned that the Paleolithic people of Europe utilized
the easiest attainable stone for their implements.
They contented themselves with such pieces of flint as they
could gather in their immediate vicinity. The easiest attainable
rock in the valley of the Delaware is not flint, but argillite,
and such is the material of which the Paleolithic implements are
formed. Thus it is shown that the first appearance of a
stone-using folk in the valley of the Delaware was in the
Paleolithic stage of their culture. Judging from the depths of
their buried implements, this long preceded the Neolithic stage.
Illustration of Spear-shaped Paleolithic Implement.-----
These conclusions have been sustained in a very marked manner by
late discoveries in the valley of the Delaware, to which we will
now refer. After reaching the conclusion that the relics of the
Stone Age in New Jersey clearly pointed to a Paleolithic
beginning, when argillite, the most easily attainable stone, was
utilized in the manufacture of weapons and implements, Dr.
Abbott made the further discovery that in the ancient gravels of
the Delaware River Paleolithic implements only were to be found.
We must remember that it was in the gravels of European rivers
that the first discoveries were made which have since resulted
in so wonderfully extending our knowledge of the past of man.
The city of Trenton, New Jersey, is built on a gravel terrace
whose surface is between forty and fifty feet above the flood
plain of the Delaware. We are told that this gravel is clearly a
river deposit, and must have been laid down by the Delaware at
some former time in its history. It is in this gravel deposit
that quite a large number of Paleolithic implements have
Illustration of Paleolithic Implement, Argillite.--------
This cut is a representation of one of them, found under such
circumstances that there can be no question about its antiquity.
We are told it was taken from the face of the bluff fronting the
river. Owing to heavy rains, a large section off of the front of
the bluff became detached just the day before this specimen was
discovered. It was found in the fresh surface thus exposed,
twenty-one feet from the surface, almost at the bottom of the
gravel. Immediately above it, and in contact with it, was a
bowlder estimated to weigh over one hundred pounds.
Immediately above this last was a second and much larger
bowlder. It is manifest the implements could never have gotten
in the place found after the gravel had been deposited.<54>
This is only one of the many examples that could be given.
But it is to be noticed that implements of the Neolithic type do
not occur in the gravel, except on the surface. Dr. Abbott is
not the only one who has found those implements. Many of our
best American scholars have visited the locality and secured
specimens, amongst others, Prof. Boyd Dawkins, of England, who
is so familiar with this class of relics in Europe. We may
consider it proven, then, that in this country there was also a
Paleolithic Age. Our present information in regard to it is only
Since this interesting discovery was made in New Jersey we have
received news of similar discoveries in Minnesota. A lady, Miss
Frank Babbitt, has found in the modified drift of the
Mississippi River, at Little Falls, Minnesota, evidence of the
existence of Paleolithic man. The implements are made of quartz,
and not argillite, but closely resemble implements made of this
later material as described by Dr. Abbott. It is, to say the
least, an interesting coincidence that one of a very few flint
implements found in the Trenton gravel by Dr. Abbott should be
identical in shape with some of the flint implements
This point being determined, others at once spring up asking
solution. Among the very first is the question of age. The river
terrace on which Trenton is built is a geological formation, and
if we can determine its age we shall also determine at least one
point in the antiquity of man, for we know the implements are as
old as the gravels. It is not necessary for our purpose to give
more than the results of the careful labors of others in this
direction. We may be sure that this question has been carefully
studied. When the implements were first discovered, the gravels
were considered of glacial origin, and to that period they were
assigned by Dr. Abbott. Subsequently Prof. Lewis, a member of
the Pennsylvania State survey, decided that they were
essentially post-glacial--that is, more recent in time than the
Glacial Age.<56> Still more recently Prof. Wright, of Oberlin,
but also of the State survey of Pennsylvania, concludes that
they are, after all, a deposit made at the very close of the
He thinks the sequence of events were about as follows: When the
ice of the Glacial Age reached its greatest development, and
came to a pause in its southward march, it extended in an
unbroken wall across the northern part of New Jersey, crossing
the Delaware about sixty-five miles above Trenton. In front of
it was accumulated the great terminal morain--a long range of
gravelly hills still marking its former presence.
It is certain that the close of the Glacial Age was
comparatively sudden, and marked by floods far exceeding any
thing we are acquainted with at the present day. For, when the
formation of the ice ceased, we must bear in mind that the
country to the north of the terminal morain was covered with a
great glacier, in some places exceeding a mile in thickness.
When glacial conditions were passing away, and the ice commenced
to melt faster than it was produced, the thaw would naturally go
on over the entire field at an increasing rate, and hence would
result floods in all the rivers.
He considers the gravels in question to have been deposited near
the close of this flooded period, when the land stood at about
its present level and the glaciers had retreated perhaps to the
Catskill Mountains. The rivers were still swollen and would be
heavily charged with coarse gravel brought from the morains and
lying exposed on the surface of the ground vacated by the
Probably but few geologists will take exceptions to these views.
Thus we have very satisfactory reasons for connecting these
Paleolithic people with the close of the Glacial Age--a
conclusion to which the scattering discoveries mentioned in the
preceding pages also points. But as regards Dr. Abbott's
discoveries, they are on such a scale, and vouched for by so
many eminent observers, that we need no longer hesitate to
accept them, or complain of the scattering nature of the finds.
But we might inquire whether this is the earliest period to
which the presence of man can be ascribed in this country?
Excepting, of course, California, we do not know of any well
established fact on which to base a greater antiquity for man.
However, this subject is very far from being as closely studied
as in Europe. Believing that in Europe man was living before the
Glacial Age, and that in all probability he was living in
California at the same early time, we would naturally expect to
find some evidence of his presence in the Mississippi Basin and
along the Atlantic seaboard. But no explorer has yet been
fortunate enough to make such discoveries.<59>
It is scarcely necessary to point out that we have only the
relative age of these gravel deposits. We have not yet arrived
at an answer in years. This we are not able to do. As we have
several times remarked, our American scholars, as a rule, do not
think many thousands of years have elapsed since the Glacial
Age, and yet they are not all agreed on that point. From the
depths in the gravel and loess deposits that the stone relics
are found, we may suppose that man was present during the entire
series of years their formation represents. Prof. Aughey, to
whose discoveries in loess deposits in Nebraska we have
referred, estimates the length of time necessary to produce
those deposits as between nineteen and twenty thousand years,
and this he considers a low estimate. So we see that, at any
rate, the date of man's first appearance in America was
certainly very far in the past.
In forming a mental picture of the conditions of life at that
early time, it is not necessary to imagine a dreary scene of
Arctic sterility. This is not true of the time when the Glacial
Age was at its greatest severity. But at the time we are now
considering, the glaciers had retreated over a large part of the
country, though they still lingered in northern and mountainous
regions. Great lakes and majestic rivers were the features of
the country. The St. Lawrence was still choked with ice, and the
great lakes must have discharged their waters southward.<60>
The Mississippi, gathering in one mighty stream the drainage of
the Central Basin, sped onward to the Gulf, doubtless many times
larger than its present representative. The animals then living
included several species that have since become extinct.
Mastodons and elephants must have been numerous, as their
remains are frequently found in loess deposits.<61> They have
also been found in the gravels of New Jersey, in connection with
the rude implements already mentioned. Probably keeping close to
the retreating glaciers were such animals as the moose,
reindeer, and musk-ox, while the walrus disported itself in the
waters off the coast. At any rate those animals now only found
in high northern latitudes were living during Glacial times as
far south as Kentucky and New Jersey.<62>
A good deal of interest is connected with the finding of one
mastodon's tooth. It was found in the gravel deposit, about
fourteen feet beneath the surface. It must have been washed to
the position where found when the great floods from the melting
glacier, with their burden of sand and gravel, were rolling down
the valley. We can either conclude that the climate was such as
to permit the existence of such animals, or that the animal to
which it belonged lived in some far away pre-glacial time.
But our interest suddenly increases when we learn that, but a
few feet away, under exactly similar circumstances, was found
the wisdom tooth of a human being. It, too, was rolled,
scratched, and polished, and had evidently been swept along by
the tumultuous flood. "The same agency that brought the one from
the Upper Valley of the Delaware brought the other, and, after
long years, they come again to light, and jointly testify that,
in that undetermined long ago, the creatures to which they
respectively belonged were living together in the valley of
We must now consider the question of race. Who were the men that
fashioned the implements? Were they Indians? or were they a
different people? As far as we know the Indians, they were
Neolithic. Their implements and weapons are often polished,
pecked, and finely wrought; and, as before remarked, they
employed the best kind of stone for their purpose. Dr. Abbott,
who speaks from a very extensive personal experience, tells us,
that it is not practical to trace any connection between the
well-known Indian forms and the Paleolithic implements of the
river gravels: "The wide gap that exists between a full series
of each of the two forms is readily recognized when the two are
brought together."<64> Besides this difference in form, there is
also a difference in material. The ruder forms not being of
jasper and allied minerals, but are almost exclusively of
argillite.<65> In addition to the foregoing, we must consider
the different positions they occupy--the former being found only
on or near the surface, the latter deeply buried within.
These different reasons all point to the same conclusion:
that is, that the Indians were preceded in this country by some
other people, who manufactured the Paleolithic specimens
In Europe, Prof. Dawkins, as we have seen, maintains that the
Cave-men were the predecessors of the Eskimos. This may serve us
as a point of departure in the inquiry as to who the
pre-Indian people were? It is manifest, however, that we must
have some ground on which to base this theory. The Eskimo seem
to belong to the Arctic region, as naturally as the white bear
and the walrus. At the early time we are considering in America,
glaciers had not retreated very far. So his climatic
surroundings must have been much the same as at present. But the
Eskimo may not live where he does now by choice: we may behold
in him a people driven from a fairer heritage, who found the
ice-fields of the North more endurable than the savage enemy who
envied him his possession. It seems very reasonable to suppose
that the Eskimos long inhabited this country before the arrival
of the Indians, if it was not, in fact, their original home.
Mention has been made of the Eskimo traits still to be observed
among the tribes of California. Prof. Putnam thinks that this
fact can best be explained on the supposition that these tribes
came in contact with primitive Eskimo people.<66> Dr. Rink, from
investigation of the language and traditions of the different
Eskimo tribes, thinks they are of American origin, and must once
have lived much farther south.<67> He says, "The Eskimos appear
to have been the last wave of an aboriginal American race, which
has spread over the continent from more genial regions--
following principally the rivers and water-courses, and
continually yielding to the pressure of the tribes behind them
until they have at last peopled the sea-coasts."<68> Mr. Dall,
in his explorations of the Aleutian Islands, comes to the same
conclusion as Dr. Rink. He says his own conclusions are, "that
the Eskimos were once inhabitants of the interior of North
America--have much the same distribution as the walrus, namely,
as far south as New Jersey."<69>
All this tends to prove that the Paleolithic people of New
Jersey were ancestors of the Eskimos. This becomes highly
probable when we pursue the subject a little farther. Dr. Abbott
has shown, from the similarity of implements, position in which
found, and so forth, that the Paleolithic people continued to
occupy the country down to comparatively recent times, when
Indian relics took their place.<70> This is such an important
point that we must give his reasons more in detail.
Remember that Dr. Abbott speaks from the experience gained by
gathering over twenty thousand specimens of stone implements,
and paying especial attention to the position in which they were
found. The surface soil of that section of New Jersey, where he
made his explorations, was formed by the slow decomposition of
vegetable and forest growth. In this layer he found great
numbers of undoubted Indian implements. The number, however,
rapidly decreases the deeper we go in this stratum. This would
show that the Indians were late arrivals. Below this surface
soil is a stratum of sand, overlying the gravelly beds below and
passing into the surface soil just mentioned. In this layer were
found great numbers of implements inferior to the Indian types
found on the surface, but superior to the Paleolithic specimens
described. They are not only inferior in finish to the Indian
specimens, but are of different material. They are always formed
of argillite. It was further noticed that the number of these
rapidly decreased in the layer of surface soil, and are but
rarely found on the surface.
Now it might be said that these rude forms were fashioned by
Indians when in a rude state of culture, and, as they became
more advanced, they learned the superior qualities of flint, and
so dropped the use of argillite. But it so happens that we have
found several places where were veritable manufactories of
Indian implements. It is very significant that we never find one
where the workman used both flint and argillite. He always used
flint alone. Every thing seems to point to the fact, that the
tribes who fashioned the argillite implements were different
from the Indian tribes who made the flint implements. It is
Dr. Abbott's conclusions that the former, the descendants of the
Paleolithic tribes, were the Eskimos, who, according to these
views, must have inhabited the eastern portion of the United
States to comparatively recent times.
In further support of these views, we think we have grounds for
asserting that we have veritable historical accounts of the
Eskimo people slowly retiring before the aggressions of their
Indian foes. It is no longer doubted but that Norsemen, as early
as the year 1000, made voyages of discovery along the coast of
North America, as far south as Rhode Island: they called the
country Vineland. It is true that the Icelandic accounts of
these expeditions contain some foolish and improbable
statements; but so do the writings of Cotton Mather, made many
These accounts refer but very briefly to the inhabitants they
saw, but enough is given to show that the people were not
Indians, but Eskimos. The language used is: "The men were small
of stature and fierce, having a bushy head of hair, and very
great eyes, and wide cheeks."<71> Their small size is frequently
referred to, which would surely not be the case if they were
describing the Algonkins that the English colonists found in the
same section of country many years later. To the same effect is
the assertion that the Eskimos did not reach Greenland until the
middle of the fourteenth century.<72> The traditions of the
Tuscarawas Indians that place their arrival on the Atlantic
coast in the year 1300, also refer to a tribe of people that
were at least much like the Eskimos.<73>
Thus we are led, step by step, to the recognition of a
Paleolithic Age in America, and finally to the belief that the
descendants of these people were Eskimos. We at once notice the
coincidence of these results with some of the conclusions of
Prof. Dawkins, of England, and it is desirable to trace a little
farther the points of resemblance and difference between this
age in America and in Europe. In this latter country we have
seen the Paleolithic Age can be divided into two stages, or
epochs, during which different races inhabited the country.
The first, or the epoch of the men of the River Drift, long
preceded the epoch of the Cave-men. It was those latter tribes
only that Mr. Dawkins connects with the Eskimos.
We have not yet found evidence in this country that points to
such a division of the Paleolithic Age. We have no relics of
Cave-men as distinguished from the men of the River Drift. It is
true, we are not lacking evidence of the use of caves by various
tribes,<74> but there is nothing to show that such use was very
ancient, or that the people were properly Paleolithic. We can
not say what future discoveries will unfold, but as yet we have
only implements of the River Drift type, and these are the men
Dr. Abbott considers to be the ancestors of the Eskimos. In this
country, then, we have shown the existence of but one race of
men in the same stage of culture as the men of the River Drift,
but of the same race as the men of the Cave. These results may
be cited as an argument in favor of those scholars who think
that the men of the River Drift and the men of the Cave were in
reality the same people.<75>
In Europe there was apparently a long lapse of time between the
disappearance of the Paleolithic tribes and the arrival of the
Neolithic people, but we have no evidence of such a period in
America. The Paleolithic people remained in possession until
driven away by the Neolithic ones. All evidence of Paleolithic
man in Europe terminated with the Glacial Age, and there is
little doubt but what they date from preglacial times.
Our present knowledge does not carry us any farther back in this
country than the close of Glacial times. If we consider that the
Glacial Age in America coincides in time with the same age in
Europe, then the last statements would imply that the
Paleolithic Age here was later than in Europe; in fact, that
Paleolithic man had run his course in Europe before he appeared
in America, and some might even go further, and say that he
migrated from Europe to America. There are, however, no good
grounds for such conclusions. We believe that future discoveries
will show that in America also Paleolithic man was living in
Glacial and preglacial times.<76>
We feel that we have done but scant justice to this subject, but
we assure our readers that this question has been but little
studied in this country. Referring all relics of stone to the
Indians, our scholars have been slow to recognize traces of an
earlier race in America. Our sources of information are as yet
but few, and much remains to be done in this field. In Europe as
in America, scholars are still hard at work on the Paleolithic
Age, and we are to hold ourselves in readiness to modify our
opinions, or to reject them entirely and adopt new ones as our
There is one thought that occurs to us. From the combined
investigations of both European and American scholars, the
Eskimo is seen to be one of the oldest (if not the oldest) races
of men now living. They afford a striking illustration of the
fact that a race may early reach a limit of culture beyond
which, as a race, they can not pass. Should the American
discoveries establish the fact that the River Drift tribes are
also Eskimos, then we are fairly entitled to consider them the
remnant of a people who once held possession of all the globe,
but who have been driven to the inhospitable regions of the
North by the pressure of later people. What changes have come
over the earth since that early time? In the long lapse of years
that have gone by newer races, advancing by slow degrees, have
at last achieved civilization. The fiat of Omnipotent power
could have created the world in a perfected form for the use of
man, but instead of so doing, Infinite Wisdom allowed
slow-acting causes, working through infinite years, to develop
the globe from a nebulous mass. Man could, indeed, have been
created a civilized being, but instead of this, his
starting-point was certainly very low. He was granted capacities
in virtue of which he has risen. We are not to say what the end
shall be, but we think it yet far off.
Illustration of Stone Implement.----------
(1) The manuscript of this chapter was submitted to Dr. C. C.
Abbott, of Trenton, New Jersey, for criticism.
(2) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 735, et seq.
(3) Ibid., p. 753.
(4) Whitney's "Geology of California," Vol. I.
(5) Whitney's "Geological Survey of California," Vol. I.
(6) Dr. Newbury’s "Geological Survey of California."
(7) Whitney's "Auriferous Gravels of California," p. 283.
(8) Cambridge Lecture, 1878.
(9) Cambridge Lecture, 1878.
(10) "Native Races," Vol. IV, p. 698.
(11) In general, all about Sonora, in the auriferous gravels,
are found bones of extinct animals, and, associated with them,
many relics of the works of human hands. These are found at
various depths down to one hundred feet. (Whitney's "Auriferous
Gravels," p. 263.)
(12) American Journal of Science, Vol. XIX, p. 176, 1880.
(13) "Auriferous Gravels," p. 279.
(14) Wright's "Studies in Science and Religion," p. 289.
(15) Dawkins, in Southall's "Pliocene Man," p. 18.
(16) Southall's "Pliocene Man," p. 19.
(17) Schoolcraft's "Archaeology," Vol. I, p. 105.
(18) As bearing on the question of Pliocene man, we might refer
to the impression of human (?) foot-prints in the sand-stone
quarry of the State prison at Nevada. At one time this area was
the bottom of a lake, and we can plainly see the tracks of
various animals that came down to drink. A huge mammoth visited
the place; so also did horses and other animals. Among these is
one series of tracks evidently made by a biped. Some think they
are the sandaled foot of a human being. This question is still
(19) "Geographical Survey West of the 100th Meridian," Vol. VII,
(20) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 583.
(21) Putnam, in "Geographical Survey West of the 100th
Meridian," Vol. VII, p. 11.
(22) Ibid., p. 18.
(23) "Geographical Survey West of the 100th Meridian," Vol. VII,
(24) "Prehistoric Times," p. 436.
(25) "Human Species," p. 147.
(26) The researches of Mr. Dall in the Aleutian Islands
demonstrate the long-continued occupation of them by a savage
people, and a gradual advance of the same in culture--though
this apparent advance may have been simply the inroads of more
advanced tribes. U.S. Geographical Survey W. of 100th M., p. 12.
(27) Wright's "Studies in Science and Religion," p. 292.
(28) Morgan's "Ancient Society," p. 108, note.
(29) "Geographical Survey West of the 100th Meridian," Vol. VII,
(30) Bancroft's "Native Races," Vol. III, pp. 646, 647.
(31) "U.S. Geographical Survey West of the 100th Meridian," Vol.
VII, p. 12.
(32) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 591.
(33) LeConte's "Elements of Geology."
(34) Prof. Winchell, in his last work, "World Life," p. 363,
et seq., goes over the entire subject. As might be
expected, no decisive results are obtained. He sums up the
arguments to show that in this country the close of the Glacial
Age is not more than seven thousand years ago (p. 375).
The student who reads these pages and then Mr. Geikie's work,
"Prehistoric Europe," will be sorely puzzled to know what
conclusions to adopt. We can not do better than refer to the
chapter on Antiquity Paleolithic Age.
(35) Dana's Am. Journal of Science, May, 1875.
(36) Foster's "Prehistoric Races," p. 62.
(37) See Lockwood, in Popular Science Monthly for 1883,
for account of beaver dam built on a mastodon skeleton and
evidence of contemporaneity of Indians and mastodons.
(38) "The Missouri was a stream thirty miles wide."
(39) "Hayden," p. 255.
(40) For the facts on which this paragraph rests, see Report of
Samuel Aughey, Ph.D., in "U.S. Survey of the Territories, for
1874," p. 243, et seq.
(41) "American Assoc. Rep.," 1880, p. 720.
(42) "Illinois Geological Reports," Vol. III, p. 123.
(43) "Prehistoric Races," p. 69.
(44) Jones's "Antiquities of the Southern Indians," p. 293.
(45) Jones's "Antiquities of the Southern Indians," p. 295.
(46) Quoted by Abbott's "Primitive Industry," p. 3.
(47) Peet's "Archaeology of Europe and America," p. 11.
(48) Short's "North Americans of Antiquity," p. 27.
(49) Up to the present time (1884) Dr. Abbott has collected over
20,000 specimens of stone implements, and all his more recent
"finds" but confirm the opinion he expressed as to their
significance ten years ago. His collection is at the Peabody
Museum of Archaeology, at Cambridge, Mass. (See last Peabody
(50) "Nature," Vol. XI, p. 215.
(52) "Nature," Vol. XI, p. 215.
(54) "Primitive Industry," Abbott, p. 506.
(55) Seventeenth Report Peabody Museum, p. 354 and note.
(56) "Primitive Industry," p. 551.
(57) "Studies in Science and Religion," p. 324.
(58) Ibid., p. 324.
(59) We believe that similar results will attend the careful
exploration in other sections. As bearing on this subject, it is
interesting to know that Paleolithic implements are reported
from one locality in Mexico. Our information in regard to them
is very slight. (Brit. Assoc. Reports, 1881; Pres. Address,
Count De Saporte, Popular Science Monthly, Sept., 1883.)
(60) Dana's "Manual of Geology," p. 540.
(61) "Geographical and Geological Survey," 1874, p. 254.
(62) Abbott's "Primitive Industry," p. 483.
(63) Abbott: "Proceedings of the Boston Society of Natural
History," Vol. XXII, p. 102.
(64) "Primitive Industry," p. 512.
(65) "Primitive Industry," p. 512.
(66) U.S. survey West of the 100th Meridian," Vol. VII, p. 12.
(67) Abbott's "Primitive Industry," p. 520.
(68) Ibid., p. 519.
(69) U.S. Geographical Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region,"
Vol. I, p. 102, quoted from "Primitive Industry," p. 519.
(70) Popular Science Monthly, Jan., 1883.
(71) DeCosta's "Precolumbian Discovery of America," p. 69.
(72) Winchell's "Preadamites," p. 389.
(73) Brinton's "Myths of the New World," p. 23. Note.
(74) Prof. DeHass's "Paper" read before Am. Assoc., 1882.
(75) See chapter, "Cave-men," p. 113. Note.
(76) See remarks of Prof. Boyd Dawkins quoted earlier.
END OF CHAPTER IX.*******************
The Prehistoric World: or, Vanished Races
by E. A. Allen
Processed by D.R. Thompson
THE MOUND BUILDERS.<1>
Meaning of "Mound Builders"--Location of Mound Building tribes--
All Mounds not the work of men--Altar Mounds--Objects found on
the Altars--Altar Mounds possibly burial Mounds--Burial Mounds--
Mounds not the only Cemeteries of these tribes--Terraced Mounds
--Cahokia Mound--Historical notice of a group of Mounds--The
Etowah group--Signal Mounds--Effigy Mounds--How they represented
different animals--Explanation of the Effigy Mounds--Effigy
Mounds in other localities--Inclosures of the Scioto Valley--At
Newark, Ohio--At Marietta, Ohio--Graded Ways--Fortified
Inclosures--Ft. Ancient, Ohio--Inclosures of Northern Ohio--
Works of unknown import--Ancient Canals in Missouri--Implements
and Weapons of Stone--Their knowledge of Copper--Ancient mining
--Ornamental pipes--Their knowledge of pottery--Of Agriculture--
Government and Religion--Hard to distinguish them from
The past of our race is irradiated here and there by the light
of science sufficiently to enable us to form quite vivid
conceptions of vanished peoples. As the naturalist, from the
inspection of a single bone, is enabled to determine the animal
from which it was derived, though there be no longer a living
representative, so the archaeologist, by the aid of fragmentary
remains, is able to tell us of manners and times now long since
removed. In the words of another: "The scientist to-day passes
up and down the valleys, and among the relics and bones of
vanished people, and as he touches them with the magic wand of
scientific induction, these ancient men stand upon their feet,
revivified, rehabilitated, and proclaim with solemn voice the
story of their nameless tribe or race, the contemporaneous
animals, and physical appearance of the earth during those
We have already learned that the world is full of mysteries, and
though, by the exertion of scholars, we begin to have a clearer
idea of some topics, yet our information is after all but vague
and shadowy. The amount of positive knowledge in regard to the
mysterious tribes of the older Stone Age, or the barbarians of
the Neolithic period, or the struggling civilization of the
early Metallic Ages, is lamentably deficient. On our Western
Continent we have the mysterious remains in the gold-bearing
gravels of the Pacific coast, the significance of which is yet
in dispute. We have the Paleolithic Age of Europe, represented
by the remains found in the gravels of the Delaware at Trenton,
New Jersey. When deposited there, and by what people used, is,
perhaps, still enshrouded in doubt.
Leaving now the past, expressed by geological terms, or by
periods of thousands of years, we draw near to our own tribes,
near, at least, comparatively speaking, and behold, here, also,
we discern evidence that an ancient culture, as marked as that
which built its cities along the fertile water-courses of the
Old World, had its seat on the banks of our great rivers;
that here flourished in full vigor for an unknown length of time
a people whose origin and fate are yet in doubt, though, thanks
to the combined efforts of many able men, we begin to have
clearer ideas of their social organization. We know them only by
reason of their remains, and as these principally are mounds, we
call them the "Mound Builders."
The name is not a distinguishing one in every sense, since
mankind, the world over, have been mound and pyramid builders.
The pyramids of Egypt and the mound-dotted surface of Europe and
Asia bear testimony to this saying, yet nowhere else in the
world are they more plainly divided into classes, or marked with
design than here. In some places fortified hills and eminences
suggest the citadel of a tribe or people. Again, embankments of
earth, mostly circular or square, separate and in combination,
generally inclosing one or more mounds, excite our curiosity,
but fail to satisfy it. Are these fading embankments the
boundaries of sacred inclosures, or the fortification of a camp,
or the foundations on which to build communal houses?
Here graded ways, there parallel embankments raise questions,
but suggest no positive answer. We are equally in doubt as to
the purposes for which many of the mounds were built. Some seem
to have been used as places of sepulcher, some for religious
rites, and others as foundation site of buildings. Some may have
been used as signal mounds, from which warning columns of smoke,
or flaming fires, gave notice of an enemy's approach.
Before coming to details let us, at a glance, examine the
picture as a whole. This country of ours, with its wide plains,
its flowing rivers and great lakes, is said by scholars to have
been the home of a people well advanced in the arts of barbarian
life. What connection, if any, existed between them and the
Indians, is yet unsettled. We are certain that many years before
the Spanish discovery of America they made their settlements
here, developed their religious ideas, and erected their
singular monuments. That they were not unacquainted with war, is
shown by their numerous fortified inclosures. They possessed the
elements of agriculture, and we doubt not were happy and
contented in their homes. We are certain they held possession of
the fairer portions of this country for many years.
We must now seek to gather more particular knowledge of them,
and of the remains of their industry. We must not forget that
these are the antiquities of our own country; that the broken
archaeological fragments we pick up will, when put together,
give us a knowledge of tribes that lived here when civilization
was struggling into being in the East. It should be to us far
more interesting than the history of the land of the Pharaohs,
or of storied Greece. Yet, strange to say, the facts we have
just mentioned are unknown to the mass of our people.
Accustomed to regard this as the New World, they have turned
their attention to Europe and the East when they would learn of
prehistoric times. In a general way, we have regarded the
Indians as a late arrival from Asia, and cared but little for
their early history. It is only recently that we have become
convinced of an extended, past in the history of this country,
and it is only of late that able writers have brought to our
attention the wonders of an ancient culture, and shown us the
footprints of a vanished people.
We must first try and locate the territory occupied by the
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