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13-05-2015, 13:38

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

Close of the first cycle—Neolithic culture connected with the present—No links between the two ages—Long lapse of time between the two ages—Swiss lake villages—This form of villages widely scattered—Irish cranogs—Fortified villages—Implements and weapons of Neolithic times—Possessed of pottery—Neolithic agriculture—Possessed of domestic animals—Danish shell-heaps— Importance of flint—The art of navigation—Neolithic clothing— Their modes of burial—The question of race—Possible remnants— Connection with the Turanian race—Arrival of the Celts.

THE preceding chapters we have sought to learn what we could of the Paleolithic Age. We have seen what strange people and animals occupied the land, and have caught some glimpses of a past that has been recovered to us out of the very night of time. From under the ashes of Vesuvius archæologists have brought to light an ancient city. We gaze on it with great interest, for we there see illustrated the state of society two thousand years ago. But other cities of that time are still in existence, and not only by the aid of tradition and song, but from the pages of history, we can learn of the civilization of the Roman people at the time of the destruction of Pompei; so that, in this case, our knowledge of the past is not confined to one source of information. But no voice of history or tradition, or of existing institutions, speaks to us of the Paleolithic Age. Of that remote time, the morning time of human life, we learn only from the labors of geologists and archæologists. We are virtually dealing with a past geological age. The long term of years thus defined drew to its close amidst scenes of almost Arctic sterility. In all probability, glaciers reflected the sun's rays from all the considerable hills and mountains of Central and Northern Europe, though forming, perhaps, but a remnant of the great glaciers of the Ice Age. The neighboring seas must have been whitened by the glistening sails of numerous icebergs. Such was the closing scene of Paleolithic life.

The first great cycle of human life, as far as we know it now, was concluded in Europe. We do not mean to say that it terminated all over the world. In other regions it survived to far later times. But, in Europe, Paleolithic animals and men had worked out their mission, and we have now to record the arrival and spread of a new race, bringing with them domestic animals, a knowledge of rude husbandry, and many simple arts and industries of which their Paleolithic predecessors were ignorant.

We recall, that the men of the Paleolithic Age seemed incapable of advancement;2 or their progress was so slow that we scarcely notice it. But we can trace the lines of advancement from the Neolithic culture to that of the present. We have, however, to deal with people and times far removed from the light of history.

We have before us, then, a new culture and a new people. On the one hand is Paleolithic man, with his rude stone implements, merely chipped into shape—surrounded by many animals which have since vanished from the theater of life—inhabiting a country which, at its close at least, was more like Greenland of to-day than England or France. The scene completely changes, when the misty curtain of the past again rises and allows us to continue our investigations into primitive times.

We would naturally expect to find everywhere, connecting links between these two ages—the culture of the one gradually changing into the culture of the other. This, however, is not the case. The line of demarkation between the ages is everywhere plainly drawn; and, furthermore, we are learning that a very long time elapsed between the departure, or disappearance, of the Paleolithic tribes, and the arrival of their Neolithic successors. This is shown in a great many ways, and we will notice some of them. We learn that Neolithic man occasionally used caves as a place of habitation. In such cases there is nearly always a thick layer of stalagmite between the strata containing the Paleolithic implements and the Neolithic strata —though this stalagmite is unmistakable evidence of the lapse of many years, we can not determine how many, as we do not know the rate of formation.

This lapse of time is shown very plainly when we come to consider the changes wrought in the surface features of the country by the action of running water. We know that rain, running water, and frost, constituting what we call denuding forces, are constantly at work changing the surface of a country. We know that, in general, this change is slow. But great changes have been wrought between these two ages.

In the British Islands, we know that the rivers had time to very materially change the surface features of the land. The important rivers of Scotland had carved out channels one hundred feet deep in places; and along their courses, especially near their mouths, had plowed out and removed great quantities of glacial material—forming broad flats which became densely wooded before Neolithic man made his appearance on the scene. In some cases the entire surface of the land had been removed, leaving only knolls and hills of the old land surface. Examples of this occur on the east coast of England, and in what is known as the Fen-lands. The final retreat of the glaciers must have left the country covered with débris. After this had been largely denuded, the country became densely wooded. It was not until these changes had taken place, that Neolithic man wandered into Europe.3

But still another ground exists for claiming a long interval between these two ages, namely, the great changes that took place in the animal world of Europe during these two epochs. Many different species of animals characteristic of the Paleolithic Age vanished as completely from Europe as the rude tribes that hunted them, before the appearance of Neolithic tribes. But little change in the fauna of England has taken place in the last two thousand years. So it is obvious that the great change above-mentioned demands many centuries for its accomplishment. Huge animals of the elephant kind, such as the mammoth, no longer crashed through the underbrush, or wallowed in the lakes. The roars of lions and tigers, that haunted the caves of early Europe, were no longer heard.4 In short, there had disappeared forever from Europe the distinctly southern animals that diversified the fauna of Paleolithic times. Even the Arctic animals were banished to northern latitudes, or mountain heights.

We have dwelt to some length on the proofs of a long-extended time between these two ages. The more we reflect on these instances the more impressed are we with a sense of duration vast and profound, in which the great forests and grassy plains of Europe supported herds of wild animals all unvexed by the presence of man. We will only mention one more point and then pass on.

We have seen that the highest rank we can assign to Paleolithic man in the scale of civilization is Upper Savagism. But when Neolithic man appeared, he was in the middle status of Barbarism. The time, therefore, between the disappearance of Paleolithic man and the arrival of Neolithic man was long enough to enable primitive man to pass one entire ethnical period, that of Lower Barbarism. But this requires a very long period of time, probably several times as long as the entire series of years since Civilization first appeared, which is supposed to be in the neighborhood of five thousand years ago.5

We must now turn our attention to Neolithic man himself and learn what we can of his culture, and discover, if possible, what race it was that spread over Europe after it had been for so long a time an uninhabitable country. A few remarks by way of introduction will not be considered amiss.

We are learning that tribal organization, implying communism in living, is characteristic of prehistoric people.6 Tribal organization sufficed to advance man to the very confines of civilization. We have no doubt but that this was the state of society amongst the Neolithic people. But this implies living in communities or villages. We need not picture to ourselves a country dotted with houses, the abodes of single families; such did not exist, but here and there were fortified villages.

Still another consequence follows from this tribal state of society. There was no such thing as a strong central government. Each tribe obeyed its own chief, and a state of war nearly always existed between different tribes. Such we know was the state of things among the Indian tribes of America. Travelers tell us that it is so to-day in Africa. Each tribe stood ready to defend itself or to make war on its neighbors. One great point, therefore, in constructing a village, was to secure a place that could be easily defended.

Bearing these principles in mind, let us see what we can learn of their habitations. Owing to a protracted drouth, the water in the Swiss lakes was unusually low in the Winter of 1854, and the inhabitants of Meilen, on the Lake Zürich, took advantage of this state of affairs to throw up embankments some distance out from the old shore, and thus gain a strip of land along the coast. In carrying out this design, they found in the mud at the bottom of the lake a number of piles, some thrown down and others upright, fragments of rough pottery, bone and stone instruments, and various other relics.

Dr. Keller, president of the Zürich Antiquarian Society, was apprised of this discovery, and proceeded at once to examine the collection made and the place of discovery. He was not long in determining the prehistoric nature of the relics, and the true intent of the pile remains. He proved them to be supports for platforms, on which were erected rude dwellings, the platforms being above the surface of the water, and at some distance from the shore, with which they were connected by a narrow bridge.

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This was the first of a series of many interesting discoveries from which we have learned many facts as to Neolithic, times. The out we have introduced is an ideal restoration of one of these Swiss lake villages. It needs but a glance to show how admirably placed it was for purposes of defense. Unless an enemy was provided with boats, the only way of approach was over the bridge. But the very fact that they resorted to lakes, where at the expense of great labor they erected their villages, is a striking illustration of the insecurity of the times.

This discovery once made, it is surprising what numbers of these ancient lake villages have been discovered. Switzerland abounds in large and small lakes, and in former times they must have been still more numerous, but in the course of years they have become filled up, and now exist only as peat bogs. But we now know that during the Neolithic Age the country was quite thickly inhabited, and these lakes were the sites of villages. Over two hundred have been found in Switzerland alone. Fishermen had known of the existence of these piles long before their meaning was understood. Lake Geneva is one of the most famous of the Swiss lakes. Though in the main it is deep, yet around the shore there is a fringe of shallow water.

It was in this shallow belt that the villages were built. The sites of twenty-four settlements are known. We are told that on "calm days, when the surface of the water is unruffled, the piles are plainly visible. Few of them now project more than two feet from the bottom, eaten away by the incessant action of the water. Lying among them are objects of bone, horn, pottery, and frequently even of bronze. So fresh are they, and so unaltered, they look as if they were only things of yesterday, and it seems hard to believe that they can have remained there for centuries."7

A lake settlement represents an immense amount of work for a people destitute of metallic tools. After settling on the locality, the first step would be to obtain the timbers. The piles were generally composed of the trunks of small-sized trees at that time flourishing in Switzerland. But to cut down a tree with a stone hatchet is no slight undertaking. They probably used fire to help them. After the tree was felled it had to be cut off again at the right length, the branches lopped off, and one end rudely sharpened. It was then taken to the place and driven into the mud of the lake bottom. For this purpose they used heavy wooden mallets. It has been estimated that one of the settlements on Lake Constance required forty thousand piles in its construction.8

The platform which rested on these piles was elevated several feet above the surface of the water, so as to allow for the swash of the waves. It was composed of branches and trunks of trees banded together, the whole covered with clay. Sometimes they split the trees with wedges so as to make thick slabs. In some instances wooden pegs were used to fasten portions of the platform to the pilework.

As to the houses which were erected on these platforms, though they have utterly vanished, yet from a few remains we can judge something as to the mode of construction. They seem to have been formed of trunks of trees placed upright, one by the side of the other, and bound together by interwoven branches. This was then covered on both sides with two or three inches of clay. A plaster of clay and gravel formed the floor, and a few slabs of sandstone did duty for a fire-place. The roof was of bark, straw, or rushes. There does not seem to have been much of a plan used in laying out a settlement. As population increased other piles were added, and thus the village gradually extended. No one village would be likely to contain a great number of inhabitants. Calculations based on the area of one of the largest settlements in Lake Geneva, gives as a result a population of thirteen hundred, but manifestly nothing definite is known.

This brief description gives us an idea of a method of constructing villages which, as we shall soon see, extended all over Europe, though varied somewhat in detail. The condition of the remains indicate that these settlements were often destroyed by fire. At such times quantities of arms, implements, and household industries would have been lost in the water, and so preserved for our inspection.

This mode of building found such favor among the early inhabitants of Europe that it continued in use through the Neolithic Age, that of Bronze, and even into the age of Iron. Passages here and there in ancient histories evidently refer to them. Though they have long since passed away in Switzerland, the Spaniards found them in Mexico, and they are still to be seen in some of the isles of the Pacific. Remembering this, we need not be surprised if we find in one small lake settlements belonging to widely different ages. Here one of the Stone Age, there one of the Bronze, or even a confused mingling of what seems to be several ages in one settlement.9

There is scarcely a country in Europe that does not contain examples of lake villages. From their wide distribution we infer that a common race spread over the land. We will now mention some differences in construction discovered at some places, where, from the rocky nature of the bed of the lake, it was impossible to drive piles so as to form a firm foundation. They sometimes packed quantities of stone around the piles to serve as supports in a manner as here indicated. "In all probability the stones used were conveyed to the required spot by means of canoes, made of hollowed out trunks of trees. Several of these canoes may still be seen at the bottom of Lake Bienne, and one, indeed, laden with pebbles, which leads us to think it must have foundered with its cargo."10

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In some cases these heaps of stone and sticks rise to the surface of the water or even above it, the piles in such cases serving more to hold the mass together than as a support to the platform on which the huts were erected. This mode of construction could only be employed in small lakes. This makes in reality an artificial island, and seems to have been the favorite method of procedure in the British Islands. In Ireland and Scotland immense numbers of these structures are known. They are called crannogs. This cut represents a section of one in Ireland. Though they date back to the Neolithic Age, yet they so exactly meet the wants of a rude people that they were occupied down to historic times.

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The advantage of forming settlements where they could only be approached on one side were so great that other places than lakes were resorted to. Peat-bogs furnished nearly as secure a place of retreat as do lakes. These have been well studied in Northern Italy. They do not present many new features. They were constructed like the lake villages, only they were surrounded by a marsh, and not by a lake. In some of the Irish bogs they first covered the surface of the bog with a layer of hazel bushes, and that by a layer of sand, and thus secured a firm surface.11 In this case the villages were still further defended by a breastwork of rough spars, about five feet high. One of the houses of this group was found still in position, though it had been completely buried in peat. No metal had been used in its construction. The timbers had been cut with a stone ax, and the explorer was even so fortunate as to find an ax, which exactly fitted many of the cuts observed on the timbers.

But we are not to suppose that lakes and bogs afforded the only sites of villages. They are found scattered all over the surface of the country, and, as we shall soon see, they show the same painstaking care to secure strong, easily defended positions. They have been generally spoken of as forts, to which the inhabitants resorted only in times of danger. We think, however, they were locations of villages, the customary places of abode. For this is in strict accordance with what we find to be the early condition of savage life in every part of the world.

Traces of these settlements on the main-land have been mostly obliterated by the cultivation of the soil during the many years that have elapsed since their Neolithic founders occupied them. In Switzerland the location of five of these villages are known. In all instances they occupied places very difficult of approach—generally precipitous sides on all but one or two. On the accessible sides ramparts defended them. The relics obtained are in all respects similar to those from the lake villages.12

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Fortified inclosures have been described in Belgium. We are told, "They are generally established on points overhanging valleys, on a mass of rocks forming a kind of headland, which is united to the rest of the country by a narrow neck of land. A wide ditch was dug across this narrow tongue of land, and the whole camp was surrounded by a thick wall of stone, simply piled one upon another, without either mortar or cement." "One of these walls, when described, was ten feet thick, and the same in height." These intrenched positions were so well chosen that most of them continued to be occupied during the ages which followed. The Romans occasionally utilized them for their camps. Over the whole inclosure of these ancient camps worked flints and remains of pottery have been found.13 These fortified places have been well studied in the south of England.

What is known as the South-Downs in Sussex is a range of hills of a general height of seven hundred feet. This section is about five miles wide and fifty miles long. Four rivers flow through these downs to the sea. In olden times their lower courses must have been deep inlets of the sea, thus dividing those hills into five groups, each separated from the other by a wide extent of water and marsh land. To the north of these hills was a vast expanse of densely wooded country. It is not strange, then, to find traces of numerous settlements among these hills. As the surface soil is very thin, old embankments can still be traced. The cut given is a representation of Cissbury, one of the largest of these camps. It incloses nearly sixty acres. The rampart varies according to the slope of the hill. Where the ascent was at all easy it was made double. Fortified camps are very numerous throughout the hill country. They vary, of course, in size, but the situation was always well chosen.14

As for the buildings themselves, or huts of the Neolithic people, we know but little. They were probably built much the same as the houses in the lake settlements. We meet with some strange modifications in England. Frequently within these ramparts we find circular pits or depressions in the ground. They are regarded as vestiges of habitations, and they must have been mainly under ground. "They occur singly and in groups, and are carried down to a depth of from seven to ten feet through the superficial gravel into the chalk, each pit, or cluster of pits, having a circular shaft for an entrance. At the bottom they vary from five to seven feet in diameter, and gradually narrow to two and a half or three feet in diameter in the upper part. The floors were of chalk, sometimes raised in the center, and the roof had been formed of interlaced sticks, coated with clay imperfectly burned."15

In the north of Scotland, instead of putting them under ground, they built them on the natural surface, and then built a mound over them all. In appearance this was scarcely distinguishable from a mound, but on digging in we discover a series of large chambers, built generally with stones of considerable size, and converging toward the center, where an opening appears to have been left for light and ventilation. In some instances the mound was omitted, and we have simply a cluster of joining huts, with dry, thick walls. These have been appropriately named "Bee-hive Houses."16

We can form a very good idea of Neolithic Europe from what we have learned as to their habitations. A well-wooded country, abounding in lakes and marshes, quite thickly settled, but by a savage people, divided into many tribes, independent of and hostile to each other. The lakes were fringed with their peculiar settlements; they are to be noticed in the marshes, and on commanding heights are still others. The people were largely hunters and fishers, but, as we shall soon see, they practised a rude husbandry and had a few domestic animals. Such was the condition of Europe long before the Greek and Latin tribes lit the beacon fires of civilization in the south.

It is evident that the builders of the lake settlements and the fortified villages were an intelligent and industrious people, though their scale in civilization was yet low. Their various implements of bone, horn, and stone display considerable advance over the rude articles of the Drift.

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One of the most important implements was the ax. The Paleolithic hatchet, we remember, was rude, massive, and only roughly chipped into shape, and was intended to be held in the hand. The Neolithic ax was a much better made one, and was furnished with a handle. They were enabled to accomplish a great deal with such axes. "Before it, aided by fire, the trees of the forest fell to make room for the tiller of the ground, and by its sharp edge wood became useful for the manufacture of various articles and implements indispensable for the advancement of mankind in culture."17 These axes vary in size and finish. As a general thing they are ground to a sharp, smooth edge, but not always, nor were they always furnished with a handle.

Some axes are found with a hole bored in them, through which to pass a handle. These perforated axes are found in considerable numbers, and some have denied that they could be produced without the aid of metal. It is almost self-evident that the perforated axes are later in date than the solid ones, and probably many of them are no earlier in time than the Age of Metals. There is, however, nothing to show that all belong to so late a time. Besides, experiments have amply shown that even the hardest kind of flint can be drilled without the aid of metals.18

Warlike implements are, of course, quite common. Many of the axes found are probably war axes. Then besides we have arrowheads, spears, and daggers. These are considered to be "marvels of skill in flint chipping."19 Stone was used for a great many other purposes, such as scrapers, sling-stones, hammers, saws, and so on. Flint was generally the kind of stone used. Our civilization owes a great deal to this variety of stone. It is not only hard, but its cleavage is such that it was of the greatest use to primitive man. In a general way the Neolithic stone implements are seen to be better adapted to the object in view than the Paleolithic specimens. They are also generally polished.

Wood was largely used in their common household implements. But it is only in exceptional cases that it has been preserved to us. They have been recovered, however, in peat-bogs and in the remains of lake settlements. These wooden utensils consist of bowls, ladles, knives, tubs, etc. They used fire to hollow them out, and the blows of the flint hatchet used to remove the charred portions, are still to be observed in some specimens.

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The Neolithic people had learned how to manufacture pottery, though not of a very superior quality. It is all hand-made: so the potter's wheel had not yet been introduced. The material is clay mixed with gravel or pounded shells. Very often they ornamented their clay vessels with lines and dots. The bowls or jars were evidently suspended by cords, for the bottom was made too rounding for them to stand erect. Besides, we find the holes for the cords, and in some places handles.

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No notice of Neolithic tools would be complete without mentioning the use made of horn and bone. One peculiar use for which they employed horn was as a socket for holding other implements. Thus this figure shows us an ax in a socket of horn. The middle of the socket is generally perforated with a round or oval hole, intended to receive a handle of oak, birch, or some other kind of wood adapted for such a use. The cut below represents a hatchet of this kind. A number of these sockets have been found, which were provided at the end opposite to the stone hatchet with a strong and pointed tooth. These are boars' tusks, firmly buried in the stag's horn. These instruments, therefore, fulfilled double purposes: they cut or crushed with one end and pierced with the other. Sockets are also found which are not only provided with the boars' tusks, but are hollowed out at each end, so as to hold two flint hatchets at once, as is seen in our next figure. Chisels and gouges were also sometimes placed in bone handles. Portions of horn probably at times did duty as hoes. We give a representation of such an implement.20 We must now seek some information as to how the men of the Neolithic Age supported life.

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From the remains of fish at all the lake settlements it is evident they formed no inconsiderable portion of their food. Fishing nets and hooks have been discovered. They were successful hunters as well. But the men of this age were no longer dependent on the chase for a livelihood. We have mentioned several times that they were acquainted with agriculture. This implies a great advance over the primitive hunters of the early Stone Age.

On the shores of the lakes which furnished them with a place of habitation they raised many of our present species of grain. Owing to a cause of which we have already spoken—that is, destruction of the lake settlements by fire—the carbonized remains of these cereals have been preserved to us. There were four varieties of wheat raised, none exactly like our common wheat. In addition to this they raised barley and millet, several varieties of each. Nor were the fruits neglected. Apples and pears were dried and laid away for use in the Winter. Seeds of the common berries were found in abundance, showing that these primitive people were fully alive to their value.

From this it follows that the Neolithic people were not only tillers of the soil, but horticulturists as well. According to Dr. Keller, the vegetable kingdom furnished their principal supply of food. Hazelnuts, beechnuts, and chestnuts were found in such quantities as to show they had been gathered for use. Neither hemp, oats, nor rye were known. Not only do we find the remains of the grains, fruits, seeds, etc., from which the above conclusions are drawn, but, farther than this, pieces of bread have been found in a carbonized state, and thus as effectually preserved as the bread of a far later date found in the ovens of Pompeii. According to Figuier, the peasant classes of Tuscany now bake bread, after merely bruising the grain, by pouring the batter on glowing stones and then covering it with ashes. As this ancient prehistoric bread is of similar shape, it was probably baked in an equally primitive fashion.21

Aside from the natural interest we feel in these evidences as to ancient industry, a study of the remains of plants cultivated by the Neolithic people reveals to us two curious and suggestive facts. It has been found that the wild plants then growing in Switzerland are in all respects like the wild plants now growing there. But the cultivated plants—wheat, millet, etc.—differ from all existing varieties, and invariably have smaller seeds or fruits.22 This shows us that man has evidently been able to effect considerable change by cultivation, in the common grains, during the course of the many centuries which separate the Neolithic times from our own age. But if this rate of change be adopted as a measure of time, what shall we say is to the antiquity demanded to explain the origin of cultivated grain from the wild grasses of their first form?

We learn, in the second place, that the cultivated plants are all immigrants from the south-east—their native home being in South-eastern Europe and Asia Minor. We shall afterward see that this is true of the domestic animals also. There can be but one explanation for this. The ancient inhabitants of Europe must have come from that direction, and brought with them the plants they had cultivated in their eastern homes, and the animals they had reduced to their service. The traces of agriculture thus found in Switzerland are by no means confined to that country. In other countries of Europe, such as England and France, we also find proofs that men cultivated the earth. In localities where we do not find the grain itself, we find their rude mills, or mealing stones, which as plainly indicate a knowledge of the agricultural art as the presence of the cereals themselves.23

As we have stated, Neolithic man in Europe possessed domestic animals. He was not only a cultivator of the soil, but he was a herdsman as well; and he kept herds of oxen, sheep, and goats. Droves of hogs fattened on the nuts of the forest, and the dog associated with man in keeping and protecting these domestic animals. We know that the Swiss Lake inhabitants built little stalls by the sides of their houses, in which they kept their cattle at night. But these domestic animals were not descendants of the wild animals that roamed the forests of Europe. Like the plants, they are immigrants from the south-east. Our best authorities consider they were brought into Europe by the invading Neolithic tribes.

The knowledge of husbandry, though rude, and the possession of domestic animals, though of a few species only, strikingly indicate the advance over the Paleolithic tribes. They also had fixed places of living. This culture spread all over Europe. That it was substantially the same everywhere there is no doubt. Certain refuse heaps in Denmark, Scotland, and indeed in all the sea-coast countries, have been thought to support a different conclusion. Those of Denmark have been very carefully studied, and so we will refer to them. All along the Baltic coast, but especially in Denmark, have been discovered great numbers of mounds, which were found to consist "almost entirely of shells, especially of the oyster, broken bones of animals, remains of birds and fishes, and, lastly, some wrought flints." The first supposition in regard to those shell-heaps was that they were of marine formation, accumulated beneath the sea, and elevated to the surface along with the gradual rise of the land. But they are now known to be nothing more or less than the sites of ancient settlements. The location of the rude cabins can still be traced. The ancient hearths are still in place. "Tribes once existed here who subsisted on the products of hunting and fishing, and threw out around their cabins the remains of their meals, consisting especially of the débris of shell- fish." These heaps gradually accumulated around their rude dwellings, and now constitute the refuse heaps in question.24

The careful investigation of their contents has failed to disclose any evidence of a knowledge of agriculture, and the only domestic animal found is the dog. The implements are altogether of stone and horn. No trace of metal has yet been obtained. As a rule, they are rudely made and finished. Though of the Neolithic type, they are not polished except in a few instances. The principal interest turns on the question of age of these refuse heaps. Some think they were accumulated at the very beginning of the Neolithic Age—that these tribes preceded by many years the men of the Swiss Lakes. Others think they were tribes of the same great people, living at the same time. On such a point as this, only those who have carefully studied the deposits are entitled to speak.

Some few facts stand out quite prominently. The size of the mounds25 indicate long-continued residence—showing that these people had permanent places of abode. As they are not confined to Denmark, but are found generally throughout Europe, it would seem to imply that the Neolithic people preferred to live as fishers and hunters wherever the surroundings were such that they could by these means obtain an abundant supply of food. Some shell-heaps in Scotland were still forming at the commencement of the Bronze Age; and Mr. Geikie, on geological grounds, assigns the shell-heaps of Denmark to a late epoch of the Stone Age.

It seems to us quite natural that isolated tribes, living where game was abundant, and where fishing met with a rich reward, should turn in disgust from the agricultural life of their brother tribes, and, resuming the life of mere hunters and fishers, speedily lose somewhat of their hardly won culture—for civilization is the product of labor. Whenever a people from necessity or choice abandon one form of labor for another demanding less skill to triumph over nature, a retrogression in culture is inevitable.26

From what we have stated as to the use of flint we can readily see that it was a valuable material. Sections where it was found in abundance would as certainly become thickly populated as the iron and gold regions of our own day. In Paleolithic times the supply of flint was mostly obtained from the surface and in the gravel of rivers. In Neolithic times men had learned to mine for flint. Flint occurs in nodules in the chalk. Near Brandon, England, was discovered a series of these workings. They consist of shafts connected together by galleries. These pits vary in size from twenty to sixty feet in diameter, and in some cases were as much as thirty feet deep. From the bottom of these shafts they would excavate as far as they dared to the sides. They made no use of timbers to support the roof, and so these side excavations were not of great extent. In these old workings the miners sometimes left behind them their tools. The principal one was a pick made of deer's horn, as is here represented. Besides these, they had chisels of bone and antler. The marks of stone hatchets on the sides of the gallery are visible.
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In one instance the roof had caved in, evidently during the night, and on clearing out the gallery near the end where the roof stood firm, there were found the implements of the workmen, just as they were left at the close of the day's work; and in one place on the pick, covered with chalk dust, was still to be seen the marks of the workman's hand. How many years, crowded with strange scenes, have swept over England since that chalky impression was made! The surface of the earth is a palimpsest, on which each stage of culture has been written over the faint, almost obliterated, records of the past. Not only the living man, who has left there the impression of his hand has passed away, but also his people and his culture. And now it is only here and there that we catch a faint tracing underlying our later civilization, by which we reconstruct the history of these far-away times.

Nothing would be more natural than that where flint was found in abundance a regular manufactory of implements would be established. Such was the case at Cissbury, which we have already mentioned as one of the early British towns. Mines had been dug within the walls inclosing the town. The surface of the ground near the old mines at this place is literally covered by splinters of flint in every stage of manufacture, "from the nodule of flint fresh out of the chalk, spoilt by an unlucky blow, to the article nearly finished and accidentally broken."27 Here the flint was mined and chipped into rudimentary shape, but carried away to be perfected and polished.

A very important place in Neolithic manufactures was noticed near Tours, France. Here was an abundant supply of flint, and very easily obtained, and the evidence is conclusive that here existed real manufactories. Of one stretch of ground, having an area of twelve or fourteen acres, we are told: "It is impossible to walk a single step without treading on some of these objects." Here we find "hatchets in all stages of manufacture, from the roughest attempt up to a perfectly polished weapon. We find, also, long flakes or flint-knives cleft off with a single blow with astonishing skill."

But in all these objects there is a defect; so it is concluded that these specimens were refuse thrown aside in the process of manufacture. As at Cissbury, very few polished flints are found, so we may conclude the majority of weapons were carried elsewhere for completion. But some weapons were completed here. In the neighborhood have been found the stones used as polishers. This cut shows us one used in polishing the axes. The workmen would take one of the rough-hewn instruments, and, rubbing it back and forth on such a stone as this, gradually produced a smooth surface and a sharpened edge.28

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

We have suggested that our civilization owes a great deal to flint. If we will consider the surroundings of their manufacturing sites, we will see the force of this remark. It must have taxed to the utmost the powers of these primitive men to sink the shafts and run the galleries to secure a supply of this valuable stone. In short, they had to invent the art of quarrying and working mines. This would lead to the division of labor, for while one body of men would become experts as miners, others would become skillful in chipping out the implements, and still others would do the finishing and polishing. A system of barter or trade would also arise, for the workmen at the mines and factories would have to depend on others for food and clothing, and in payment for the same would furnish them implements. As localities where flint could be obtained in suitable quantities are but few, we can see how trade between widely scattered tribes would arise. This kind of traffic is shown to have extended over wide distances in Neolithic times. For instance, there was been found scattered over Europe axes made of varieties of stone known as nephrite and jade. They were highly valued by primitive tribes, being very hard and of a beautiful green color. They are thought to have been employed in the observance of superstitious rites. But quarries of these varieties of stone do not occur in Europe. An immense amount of labor has been expended in finding their native home. This is now known to be in Asia.29 Manufactured in Asia, axes of these materials may have drifted into Europe and finally arrived in England.

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

Trade between different tribes must have been greatly facilitated by means of canoes, which Neolithic man knew well how to make. The art of navigation was probably well advanced. The canoes were formed of the trunks of large trees. In most cases they were hollowed out by means of the ax and fire combined. Sometimes the ends were partially rounded or pointed, but often cut nearly square across—rather a difficult shape to propel fast or to guide properly. These ancient boats have been found in nearly all the principal rivers of Europe, and in many cases, no doubt, come down to much later date than the Neolithic Age. From the remains of fish found in their refuse heaps we are confident that in some such a shaped boat as this they trusted themselves far out at sea. They served to transport them from the shores of Europe to England, and at a later date to Ireland.

The clothing of the men of the Neolithic Age doubtless consisted largely of the prepared skins of the animals, and some fragments of leather have been found in the lake settlements. But a very important step in advance was the invention of spinning and weaving, both of which processes were known at this time. The cloth which is here represented is formed of twists of interwoven flax, of rough workmanship, it is true, but none the less remarkable, considering the epoch in which it was manufactured. Balls of thread and twine have also been found.30 This cut is a spindle-whorl. These have been discovered very often. They were made sometimes of stone and at other times of pottery and bone. The threads were made of flax, and the combs which were used for pushing the threads of the warp into the weft show that it was woven into linen on some kind of a loom. Several figures of the loom have been given, but we have no certainty of their correctness.31

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE
THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

Let us now see if we can gather anything as to the religious belief of Neolithic man. On this point we can at best only indulge in vague conjectures. Yet some light seems thrown on this difficult subject by examination of the burial mounds. This introduces us to a subject of much interest which, in our hurried review, we can but glance at.

Scattered over Europe are found numbers of mysterious monuments of the past. Some of them we have mentioned already as the embankments surrounding ancient villages. But aside from these are other monuments, such as burial mounds, rude dolmens, and great standing stones, sometimes arranged in circles, sometimes in rows, and sometimes standing singly. Many of these remains may be of a far later date than the Neolithic Age, still it is extremely difficult to draw a dividing line between the monuments of different ages.

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

Burial mounds are found everywhere, many in Europe going back to the Neolithic Age, though some are of a very recent construction. The Egyptian Pyramids are burial mounds on the grandest scale. The first cut represents a Danish Tumulus, or burial mound, of this Age. The openings lead to the center of the mound, where they connect with chambers in which the bodies were formerly placed. There are, of course, various modifications of this tumulus. Often the gallery was omitted, a rude chamber was erected, and a mound reared over it. Sometimes, indeed, no chamber was made, but simply a mound placed over the body.

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

There have been found in England a great many stones arranged as in the preceding cut, though generally not built with such regularity as is there represented. They are named Dolmens, a word meaning stone tables. They were more generally made of rough stones, rudely arranged. This cut represents one found in France. In early times these were supposed to have been rude altars used by the mysterious Druids in celebrating their rites. They are now known to be the tombs of the Neolithic Age. They are, in fact, the chambers above mentioned. The mound of earth has since disappeared and left its chamber standing exposed to the air. Traces of the old passage way are still met. Whether all Dolmens were once covered with earth or not, is not yet known. In the majority of cases they probably were. In the last cut portions of stone are still buried in the earth. We are told that in India the people in some places still erect Dolmens similar to those of Neolithic times.32

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

Aside from the tombs themselves, there are other arrangements of great stones which must have once possessed great significance to their builders, but their meaning is now lost. Of this nature are the blocks of rough stone set up in the ground generally in the vicinity of tombs. These are the standing stones, or menhirs, which, as we have stated, are arranged in various forms. When arranged in circles, they are generally regarded as tombs. When placed in long parallel rows, as at Carnac, in France, we are not sure of their meaning. We are told that the Hill tribes of India to this day erect combinations of gigantic stones into all the shapes we have here described.33

The peculiar shape of the burial mounds, with a passage way conducting us to an interior chamber, or series of chambers, probably arose from the belief entertained by many savage people, that the dead continue to live an existence much like that when alive, and consequently the same surroundings were deemed necessary for their comfort. So the tomb was made similar to the house of the living. The ordinary Winter huts of the Laplander are very similar in shape and size to the burial tumuli, and amongst some people, as the inhabitants of New Zealand, the house itself is made the grave. It was closed up and painted red, and afterward considered sacred.

THE NEOLITHIC AGE IN EUROPE

So it may quite well be that the Neolithic inhabitants of Denmark, "unable to imagine a future altogether different from the present, or a world quite unlike our own, showed their respect and affection for the dead by burying with them those things which in life they had valued most; with women, their ornaments, with warriors, their weapons. They buried the house with its owner, and the grave was literally the dwelling of the dead. When a great man died he was placed on his favorite seat, food and drink was arranged before him, his weapons were placed by his side, his house was closed, and the door covered up, sometimes, however, to be opened again when his wife or children joined him in the land of spirits."

That they believed in a life beyond the grave is shown by the objects they buried with the individuals. These are implements of various kinds, flakes, arrow-heads, scrapers, celts, and pottery, doubtless intended to be of service to the deceased. We know this to be a very common proceeding amongst all barbarous people. In some cases it would appear as if they realized that the material things themselves could be of no service to the departed, but imagined that in some vague way the spirits of things might be of service to the spirits of men, and so they would purposely break the flints and throw the fragments into the grave. Sometimes they may have buried only models of the objects they wished to give to the dead, imagining that in this way the spirits of the objects represented would accompany and be of service to the spirits of the departed. To this day the Eskimos bury small models of boats, spears, etc., rather than the objects themselves. The ancient Etruscans buried jewelry, but made it so thin and fragile that it could not have been of service to the living. In China this is carried still further, and paper cuttings or drawings of horses, money, etc., are burned at the grave.

These remarks may explain the absence of remains so often noticed in Neolithic burials in England. But other evidence can be given to show this belief in future life. The mounds were of course often erected over noted chiefs, and we are not without evidence that he was not allowed to go unattended into the other world. It has been noted that often skeletons have been met with having the skull, cleft, and in one case, at least, all but one presented that appearance. It is but reasonable to suppose that these skeletons were those of captives or slaves sacrificed to be the attendants of the chief in the spirit world. Funeral feasts were also held in honor of the dead. Thus we may gather from burial mounds something of the religious belief of their occupants.

It is not improbable that ancestor worship, or the worship of the dead, was part of their faith, so that the mounds became temples. On this point we are told "it is impossible not to believe then that the people who made these great, and in some cases elaborately constructed, tombs would continue ever after to regard them as in some sort consecrated to the great chiefs who were buried under them. Each tribe would have its own specially sacred tombs, and perhaps we may here see a germ of that ancestor-worship which may be traced in every variety of religions belief."34

We now approach a difficult part of our inquiry, but, at the same time, one that possesses for us a great interest. Who were these people into whose culture we have been inquiring? While laying the foundation of our present civilization, though being the fountain head from whence many of the arts and industries, which now make our existence comfortable and happy, take their feeble origin, gradually developing and expanding as the time rolls on, have they themselves, as a race, vanished in the mighty past, or are their descendants still to be found in Europe? Who were they? Whence and when? Difficult problems, but we have read to but little purpose if we have not already learned that earnest observers need but the slightest clue to enable them to trace out brilliant results.

In the first place, are there any grounds for supposing the Neolithic people to be the descendants of those who hunted the reindeer along the Vézère? This view has its supporters. M. Quatrefages, a very able scholar indeed, maintains that the Neolithic people were the same race as those who inhabited the caves and found shelter in the rock grottoes of France.35 This, to others, does not seem credible. We must recall the long lapse of time that it is apparent has elapsed between the two ages. We have seen how different were the two cultures; as Mr. Geikie remarks, "So great, indeed, is the difference between the conditions of life that obtained in the two ages of Stone, that we can hardly doubt that the two people came of different stocks."36 The Neolithic people brought with them domestic animals and plants whose native home is in Western Asia. We can hardly account for this fact, if we suppose them to be the descendants of Paleolithic tribes in France.

Abandoning, therefore, any attempt to trace lines of connection between the people of the two ages, let us carefully study all the facts connected with the Neolithic people and their culture, to see if we can solve the problem by so doing. We have noticed that substantially the same stage of culture existed throughout Europe from Switzerland to the British Islands. This points to the presence of a common race during at least a portion of the time. But if there was a common race living in Europe they would certainly possess common physical features. As a race they may have been tall in stature, or medium, or short, and portions of the human skeleton would show a uniformity in this regard.

Now one of the means that scientists use to determine the races of men is a comparison of skulls, measured in a systematic manner. The objection has been made that no reliance can be placed on these results, because at the present day skulls of all sorts of shapes and sizes can be obtained among people of the same nationality. But these objections would not apply to people of prehistoric times. Their surroundings would be simple and natural—not artificial and complex, as in modern times. In our times people of different nationality are constantly coming in contact, and intermarriage results; but in prehistoric times this was not liable to occur, and so the comparative purity of blood would certainly produce a much greater uniformity of physical features.37

From a very careful examination of a great number of burial mounds in Great Britain, it has been ascertained that in all of those that date back to Neolithic times, and contain portions of human skeletons, the bones are always those of individuals small in stature, the average height being about five and a half feet. The skulls are of that variety known as long skulls. From this we can at once form a mental picture of the Neolithic inhabitants of Britain. No less important conclusions have been deduced from the study of burial mounds on the continent. We meet with remains of these same small-sized people. "They have left traces of their presence in numerous interments in chambered tombs and caves in Belgium and France, as well as in Spain and Gibraltar. We may therefore conclude that at one period in the Neolithic Age the population of Europe, west of the Rhine and north of the Alps, was uniform in physique and consisted of the same small people as the Neolithic inhabitants of Britain and Ireland."38

We must now inquire whether there are any people living in Europe which might have descended from the original stock. We are in the position of those who, from a few broken down arches, a ruined tower and dismantled wall, would seek to form a mental picture of the stately building that once stood there. If we can here and there discover, by the light of history or exploration, some races or tribes that, owing to their geographical position, have escaped the fate that befell the great body of their countrymen, we may perhaps replace our mental picture by one founded on reality. Nor need we be in doubt where to seek for such scattered remnants of people. Successful invaders always appropriate to their own use the fertile lowlands and the fruitful portions of the country of their helpless foes. But a weak people have often, in the rocky fastnesses of their land, made a successful stand. So, to determine the race, we will examine the people living in such regions, and see if there are any that physically conform to what is already known of the Neolithic people, and so entitled to claim a relationship by descent.

Both slopes of Pyrenees Mountains, between France and Spain, have been occupied from time immemorial by a peculiar race of people known as the Basque. Secure in their mountain homes, they have resisted foreign civilization, and retained their national characteristics as well as their liberties, though they have been nominally vassals to many powers, from the early Carthaginians to the later French and Spanish. From the many invasions they have undergone the Basque language and people are by no meals uniform. But Dr. Broca, one of the most learned anthropologists in Europe, has shown that the original Basques were dark in complexion, with black hair and eyes. In addition to this, the efforts of some of the most eminent scholars in Europe,39 who have made numerous examinations of skulls and skeletons obtained from ancient Basque cemeteries, have conclusively shown that in all physical features the Basques agree with men of Neolithic times.40

The Basques do not belong to the great division of the human family known as Aryans, to which the English-speaking races, as well as the nations of Europe generally, belong. They belong to a far older division of the human family—the Turanian41—and were doubtless in possession of Europe long before the Indo- European nations commenced their westward migrations from Central Asia. They are described as being brave, industrious, and frugal, with patriarchal manners and habits. They scorn authority, except what emanates from themselves, and have but few nobility. They are impetuous, merry, and hospitable, fond of music and dancing.42 Of their warfare we are told they are "not distinguished in open warfare, but unconquerable in guerrilla warfare, and famed for defense of walled cities."43 Such are the Basques of to-day, and many of these traits of character, we doubt not, were the same amongst the Neolithic people.

Mr. Dawkins also thinks that two tribes, living in Northern Italy, in the very earliest historical times, are other remnants of the same people. One of these were the Ligurians. Investigations and traditions show that some time before the dawn of history they had been driven out of the pleasant parts of Southern France, but had made a successful stand in the mountain regions of Northern Italy. They, like the Basques, were strong, active, and warlike. They were small in stature, swarthy in features, and long-headed. To the south of these were the Etruscans. But little is known of them, though the evidence is that long before the Christian Era they were a powerful people. In physical features they resembled those already described. Their sculpture exhibits only short, sturdy figures, with large heads and thick arms. Another possible remnant of these people existed at the very dawn of history in the mountainous regions of Wales. They were known as Silures. but have since become absorbed in the surrounding population. In civilization and physical features they agree with the remnants already described.

In the north of Russia are found the Finns. Their origin and migrations are alike unknown. One thing is certain, they belong to the Turanian family, and so are probably allied to the Basques and Etruscans. It is possible that they also are but a sorry remnant of the once wide-spread Neolithic people. Driven out of the fairer portions of Europe, they hive found an asylum in their present bleak surroundings. Like the people already described, they are short in stature, and dark visaged.44

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