Copyright
Bertram Coghill Alan Windle.

The church and science online

. (page 22 of 38)
Online LibraryBertram Coghill Alan WindleThe church and science → online text (page 22 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


A. THE STONE AGE OR NON-METALLIC PERIOD
during which stone, wood, bone, horn, were the raw
materials from which implements were made.

a. The Pro-Palaeolithic Period, assumed but at present un-
proved. Eoliths and the like, if really artefacts, would
belong to this time. It may be looked upon as being the
period prior to that in which undoubted stone implements
were constructed, the period in which the unworked or
scarcely worked stone was used for the purpose for which
more highly finished tools were afterwards constructed.

b. The Palaeolithic Period.

c. The Mesolithic Period, or period of transition from the
older to the newer Stone Age.

d. The Neolithic Period.

229



230 THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

B. THE ^NEOLITHIC PERIOD, during which copper
came into use ; the period of transition between the Stone
and the Metallic periods.

C. THE METALLIC PERIOD.

a. The Bronze Period: b. The Iron Period.

These periods are full of interest to the archaeologist :
with the majority of them we, however, have here no
special concern. 1 Our interest is in the earliest men, their
advent on the earth, their physical and mental character-
istics, their supposed relationship to lower mammals and
matters of that kind ; and for this reason we may confine our
attention to the people of the Palaeolithic Age and mainly
to those at the very beginning of that period.

Let us see how they have been classified. The classical
names are those devised by Mortillet and adapted from
the names of places in France where remains of the races
in question 2 have been first or chiefly found, or with which
they are in some way or other very definitely associated.

Mortillet 's classification is as follows : —

Chellean, from Chelles, a place a few miles east of Paris.

Mousterian, from the cave of Le Moustier on the river
Vezere in Dordogne.

Solutrean, from the cave of Solutre near Macon.

Magdalenian, from the rock-shelter 3 of La Madelaine in
Dordogne.

1 Those desirous of reading a brief account of these periods as they
were in England may be referred to a work by the present writer entitled
" Remains of the Prehistoric Age in England," published by Messrs.
Methuen.

* It may be well once more to insist that the term " race," as used here,
does not necessarily mean that the persons belonging to it were as distinct
from another so-called " race " as — say — a Swede is from a Chinese. It
may be that this actually was the case or it may be that there was no more
difference between them than exists between the varieties of Englishmen
who might be described as Georgians or Victorians. The eighteenth and
the twentieth century Englishmen differ from one another anatomically
in no kind of way, though culturally they do. In the case of some of the
prehistoric " races " there are very distinct anatomical differences such,
for example, as exist to-day between Australian and European skulls. The
use of the words " zone of civilisation " might make matters clearer and
these have been employed sometimes in these pages. But after what has
been said in this note the meaning of the term " race " will no longer be
ambiguous.

* A rock-shelter is a place of habitation under an overhanging rock :
a kind of cave without side- walls. It was a favourite place of habitation,
at any rate during the later palaeolithic times.



THE PALEOLITHIC PERIOD 231

Whilst in its main outlines this classification remains
accurate, and most probably always will do so, it is neces-
sary, in view of numerous discoveries which have of late
come to light, that it should be extended and sub-divided.
The following classification of the Palaeolithic Period, taken
very largely but not entirely from Sollas, will serve to show
the present state of opinion and will be followed in the
next chapter.

LOWER OR OLDER PALEOLITHIC:—

Mesvinian, Strepyan : these are accepted as definite
periods by Sollas but are included in the next by most
authorities.

Chellean: this and the next make up what Mortillet
named the Chellean. There is no doubt that the imple-
ments assigned to this period were artefacts, and those
found with the Piltdown skull are claimed to belong to
this zone.

Acheulian.

MIDDLE PALEOLITHIC:—

Mousterian : Implements and bodily remains well known.

Interment at Chapelle-aux-Saints.

UPPER OR YOUNGER PALEOLITHIC :—
Aurignacian, Solutrean, Magdalenian : All well known both
as regards implements and bodily remains.

The characteristic Chellean implement, usually called a
coup-de-poing, 1 may be looked upon as a kind of rude stone
hand-axe. By this is meant an axe-head never intended
to be affixed to a haft in any way, but to be held with its
more or less rounded butt in the palm of the hand. It
might be thought that this would be but an ineffective
weapon, but let any person of that opinion take one in his
hand and remember that he is going to use it in a conflict
with an adversary armed in the same manner and half
naked like himself : he will feel that for a hand-to-hand
conflict he might be much worse armed. Against wild

1 Sollas's term of bouchev — from Boucher des Perthes, the first to make
these implements generally recognised — has not received general recog-
nition.



232 THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

animals, and especially against the huge beasts with whom
the man of the period had to contend, it is less easy to see
how he was able to defend himself ; but that he did so, and
successfully, is sufficiently obvious. Moreover, that very
fact is decisive as to his intellectual faculties, for it can only
have been by superior cunning and thought that he was
able to get the best of it in a conflict with animals capable
of destroying — had physical force alone entered into the
case— whole hecatombs of such defenceless creatures as
these early men must have been. If the Heidelberg mandible
and the Piltdown remains belong to this period, as we may
at least tentatively suppose, we can say something about
the man of this early period in addition to what has been
stated in a previous chapter. Keith, who assumes the
evolution of man from some simian form, says of the Pilt-
down remains and of the Heidelberg mandible : " The jaws
of these early human beings were primitive enough, but
certainly not simian. At even this early stage the simian
condition was long past." Certainly, if Keith is right, as
now seems to be clear, and the Piltdown cranial capacity
was 1500 c.c, there is no doubt that his skull was as roomy
as that of the most intellectual races of to-day, nor is there
any reason to suppose that his intellectual potentialities
were inferior to theirs.

At any rate man comes before us first of all as man
anatomically and as nothing else.

The Acheulian civilisation is a sub-division of that
called Chellean by Mortillet. It is distinguished from the
former by the lighter and smaller implements which char-
acterise it. We have no knowledge of any skeletal remains
which might be associated with this period.

The Mousterian civilisation corresponds with the Middle
Palaeolithic era and is, for the moment, perhaps the most
interesting for us. A great deal concerning the earlier races
is, and perhaps must always remain, surmise, but of the
Mousterian man we know now a great deal. What is more,
we can now with reason say that we know of him as a race ;
that is, we have a sufficient number of relics of this period
to construct a picture of a group of men, not merely
of an isolated example. Mousterian man had given up or



MOUSTERIAN CIVILISATION 233

nearly given up — some would say entirely given up — the
use of the coup-de-poing, hitherto the characteristic stone
implement, and in its place used broad and thick flakes
worked on one side, together with scrapers 1 and points,
i.e. sharpened fragments of flint for use in the hand. Of
skeletal remains of this race we have a large number, in-
cluding the Neanderthal skull, once a storm-centre of
debate. These remains prove the race to have possessed
roomy skulls ; they were a large-brained people and hence,
it may be argued, a people with at least as consider-
able potentialities of intellectual advance as we possess
to-day. They were a people with the capable hands of
artificers, as is proved by the beautiful implements which
those skilful hands turned out. They were a people with a
reverent feeling for their dead and a belief in the survival
of the individual in another world, as is proved by what we
have learnt from their interments. In a word, physically,
intellectually, and psychologically they were men and
women indistinguishable from those now inhabiting the
earth.

The Younger Palaeolithic includes four zones, or three
zones and one of transition. Nothing need be said about
the skeletal characters of the men of any of these,
for there is nothing to distinguish them from those of
modern races ; but a few words may be bestowed upon
some of their other characteristics and particularly on
the art which forms so very distinctive a feature of this
time.

This is very markedly the case in the Aurignacian epoch,
for the people of that time, as has recently been shown,
displayed a most astonishing love for and skill in art, as
illustrated by the perfectly wonderful series of cave paint-
ings which have been discovered in various parts of Europe —
notably, for example, at the caves of Altamira and Pair-



1 " Scrapers " — implements for cleaning away fat and other fleshy
remains from the inside of skins in order to render them suitable for
wearing purposes — are amongst the commonest objects in the list of stone
implements. They are of several kinds : those named in the text have
the scraping edge at the side of a long fragment of flint, not at the
end of a long or short piece as is the case with the common scrapers of the
later palaeolithic and of the neolithic ages.



234 THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

non-Pair, in Spain and France respectively. In these and
other caves bisons are represented as single individuals
and in herds, as well as many other animals then co-existing
with Aurignacian man.

One of the most extraordinary and incomprehensible
features of these pictures is that they are found in places
to which the light of day never penetrates. They are very
often coloured with red ochre and other simple pigments,
and they display in spirit and drawing a skill and sureness
of touch which would do credit to any artist of to-day.

While on the subject of art it may be well to finish with
this matter, as it concerns all the peoples of the younger
palaeolithic epoch. It was not merely pictorial art which
they practised ; they etched pictures — for example, the well-
known illustrations of mammoths and elephants to be
found in all books on the prehistoric age. 1 Thus we
have an entire gallery of zoological illustrations of the
animals of that far-off date, drawn by contemporary artists
and without doubt most faithful representations. We shall
shortly see that we know exactly what the mammoth was
like, having seen him in a preserved condition : we should
have had an almost equally good idea of his appearance
from the different contemporary pictures of him which have
been discovered. It perhaps hardly needs to be said that
the preservation of these works of art is due to the fact
that they were not executed on canvas nor on panels of
wood (or if any such there were, then they must long ago
have perished) but on stone and on bone : one of the pic-
tures of the mammoth, for example, is executed on a frag-
ment of his own tusk. Bone, ivory, and horn were, during
the younger palaeolithic period, favourite materials for the
construction of implements, and these implements were
quite generally ornamented : in other words, applied art
had its birth at this time as well as purely pictorial art.

1 Apart from the ordinary text-books on the subject of the prehistoric
age and the large monographs which have been published about the
discoveries in the caves, attention may be called to a work by Spearing,
entitled " The Childhood of Art," published by Kegan Paul in 191 2, in
which, besides an account of the objects in question, there will be found a
large number of representations, coloured and otherwise, of the pictures of
these bygone races ; also Parkyn, " Prehistoric Art," Longmans, 1915.



APPLIED ART 235

This ornamentation was sometimes only of an incised char-
acter, sometimes it was in relief, sometimes in the full round.
It was applied to various objects, such as those curious
holed pieces of reindeer horn called in most of the books
" batons de commandement," which may possibly have
been used as dress-fasteners. It is also applied to poignards
or daggers of horn. One of the most remarkable examples
is that of a long dagger of reindeer horn the handle of which
forms one piece with the blade. This handle represents a
reindeer in full flight : his fore-legs are tucked away under
him so that they do not interfere with the grip, nor do his
hind-legs, which are stretched out behind him, whilst his
crupper makes an excellent pommel for the support of the
hand. The carving is in the full round, and the weapon is
not only beautiful but was probably also serviceable. In
fact, when one considers the sharpened pieces of flint which
were the only tools of the artist, we have in this example
a piece of work which any atelier of to-day might be proud
to turn out.

One curious feature remains to be pointed out, and it
is one which in itself illustrates the similarity between these
early savages and the savages of to-day or of yesterday
— this is their unskilful treatment of the human form.
In this respect the history of the race seems to repeat
the history of the individual ; for it is known to all that
children who may make quite efficient attempts to represent
other objects, fail, as a rule, completely when they attack
the problem of representing the human form. Such certainly
is also the case with all primitive races. Still the people of
this remote age did try to represent the human form, both
in outline and in figurines, and we gather from these that
their physical conformation was like that of some African
races, notably the Hottentots. Rude as the representations
are, this fact is sufficiently obvious, and it forms a link in a
chain of argument as to the modern representatives of these
peoples on which a few words must shortly be said.

Two deductions maybe drawn from the extraordinary out-
burst of art to which we have been calling attention. First of
all it exemplifies the high intellectual characteristics of the
people, and that point scarcely requires to be emphasised.



236 THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

But it also shows that to some extent at least the struggle
for existence must have become less intense. When man is
engaged every moment of his life in a deadly fight for life
he cannot find time to ornament the tools with which he
makes existence possible. The fact that he can spare time
for this, points to a certain relaxation in the extreme
struggle for existence.

Let us note, in concluding this brief account of the art
of the Palaeolithic period, the puzzling fact that in the
Neolithic period which succeeded to it, though after a gap
as to which something will be said in the next chapter,
there is no trace of any kind of art . It is curious, but there
is no greater fallacy than that which attributes to the
human race always and everywhere a continuous tendency
to progress.

The Solutrean period, which is sometimes included in
that which has just been under consideration, is by others
separated from it for this amongst other reasons — that the
working of stone, so far as the Palaeolithic Age goes, here
attained its maximum : indeed some of the implements of
this period are perfect marvels of craft manship.

The Magdalenian period marks a decline in the working
of stone, though great skill was still exhibited in that direc-
tion. But it is par excellence the period of skilful work in
horn and in bone, the horn of the reindeer being used for
a variety of purposes. Further, it may be said also to have
seen the high-water mark of art ; for many of the best
examples, notably the reindeer-dagger described above,
belong to this period, as well as a number of the etchings of
animals which show a vivid appreciation of nature.

The Tourassian period may be looked upon as the end
of the Palaeolithic Age, or the commencement of the transi-
tion to the Neolithic. Whichever theory one adopts it is
certain that workmanship in stone very much declined.
Further, it would seem that the reindeer was deserting the
districts over which he had up to then roamed and that
his place was being taken by the red deer. The result of
this is to change fundamentally the type of horn implement.

The reindeer has a solid horn which can be shaped into
tools of various kinds, just as a solid stick can be whittled



HORN IMPLEMENTS 237

into a small flat shovel or a pointed shaft. But the red-deer
horn is hollow, so that only the side of it can be employed
for the manufacture of flat or very slightly curved imple-
ments. There is the same difference between the two that
there is between a length of elm or oak and a length of
bamboo, and the difference between the two is reflected in
the difference of the implements constructed. The most
characteristic amongst these are harpoons barbed on one
or both sides and formed from a piece of reindeer's horn,
with which the capture of fish was effected.

Having now considered the various finds whether skele-
tons or implements, and the diverse zones of civilisation
met with during the Palaeolithic period, we need not follow
any further the history of man on the earth.

We may now with advantage turn to the consideration
of the relation of the races with which we have been dealing
to the Glacial Period, the account of that period having been
deferred, it will be remembered, until it could be linked up
with the history of the men who belonged to it. But
before passing to this part of our subject there are one 01
two matters which may be cleared up. In the first place, it
may reasonably be asked what became of these early races.
Did one zone fade or develop into another, or did one group
disappear before another took its place ? If so, what
became of these disappearing peoples, and where did they
disappear to ? Were they wiped off the face of the earth
or did they desert their former homes to seek refuge else-
where ? It is not possible to do more than touch upon these
complicated and most difficult questions here. They will
be found to be discussed in Sollas's "Ancient Hunters," a
book from which quotation has already often been made
in these pages. His views are thus summarised by himself :
" If the views we have expressed in this and preceding
chapters are well founded," he says, " it would appear that
the surviving races which represent the vanished Palaeolithic
hunters have succeeded one another over Europe in the
order of their intelligence ; each has yielded in turn to a
more highly developed and more highly gifted form of man.
From what is now the focus of civilisation they have been
one by one expelled and driven to the uttermost parts of



238 THE CHURCH AND SCIENCE

the earth : the Mousterians survive in the remotely related
Australians at the Antipodes, the Solutreans 1 are represented
by the Bushmen of the southern extremity of Africa, the
Magdalenians by the- Eskimo on the frozen margin of the
North American continent, and as well perhaps by the Red
Indians." 2

The greater part of what has been said in this and the pre-
ceding chapters, and indeed of what will be said in the next,
relates chiefly to discoveries made and theories relating to
Europe. This must necessarily be the case, since at present at
any rate the discoveries made there are more considerable
than those which have so far emerged elsewhere, and the
zones of civilisation are more numerous and better denned.
But we must not pass from the subject without a few words
as to some discoveries on the other side of the Atlantic. 3 Of
these it would appear as if the " Nebraska loess men " have
the best claim to antiquity, and they are probably much
later than many of the remains which have been discovered
in Europe. According to Dr. Hrdlicka the features of this
race differed in no way from those still to be found amongst
Indian tribes. The Lansing (Kansas) skull appears to be-
long to the same period. The celebrated Calaveras skull is
of modern type and Mongolian in character. It is utterly

1 With whom must, of course, be taken the Aurignacians, who seem to
be linked by their cave-art, as well as by the female physical characteristics
exemplified in their figurines, with modern African races.

2 It may be convenient to set down here for purposes of reference
some of the leading sites in England associated with the zones of civilisa-
tion dealt with in this chapter. Chelleo-Mousterian : — Alluvium of the
Thames, Ouse, and Avon ; Kent's Hole Cave, near Torquay in Devon-
hire ; Robin Hood's Cave, near Creswell in Derbyshire ; Brixham Caves

and Wookey Hole in Somerset. Of this last a very complete account has
been published by Mr. Balch (Oxford University Press, 191 4). In an intro-
ductory summary by Professor Boyd Dawkins, which deals with the early
men of this part of England, the writer points out that Mr. Balch's
discoveries have established the fact that the cave-dwellers of Wookey Hole
and the lake-dwellers of Meare and Glastonbury belonged to the same
race and were both of pre-Celtic stock. These statements, which have
not as yet had time to be subjected to full criticism, may have an
important bearing on the Hiatus question which will be discussed in the
next chapter. Aurignacian : Paviland Cave in Gower. Solutrean : Robin
Hood's Cave, Church Hole Cave, both these near Creswell, Kent's
Hole. Magdalenian : Robin Hood's Cave, Church Hole, and Kent's
Hole.

3 For a full account of these the reader may be referred to Dr. Ales
Hrdlicka, " Skeleton Remains of Early Man in North America." Bureau
of American Anthropology, Washington, 1907.



EARLY AMERICAN SKELETONS 239

impossible that it could have belonged to the formation
(Miocene) in which it was found. The man of the Arkansas
loess is of Indian type, with a low forehead sloping back to a
high crown. The oldest type of man found in South America,
during excavations for docks at Buenos Aires, appears to
be identical in character with the Arkansas man.



CHAPTER XXIII
THE GLACIAL PERIOD

THE period of the earth's history which is to be dis-
cussed in this chapter is one of the greatest interest
and importance in relation to the questions raised in this
book, since it is intimately associated with the appearance
of man. Indeed it is only through a consideration of the
problems of time associated with the Glacial Period that it
may be possible, if indeed it ever is possible, to arrive at a
conclusion as to the number of years which have elapsed
since man first came into being. Like many other great
problems of science, what is known about the Glacial Period
is no doubt considerable, but what is still matter of surmise
is far larger. We shall try to point out what is sure and what
is still matter of dispute. 1

In the fir3t place, then, no kind of doubt need be enter-
tained that large parts of the world during the Pleistocene
Era passed through a period or periods of extreme cold,
during which vast tracts of the earth were covered with
enormous glaciers — tracts of the earth which are now en-
joying an ordinary temperate climate or even luxuriating
in still warmer conditions.

It is further quite certain that this period was not one
of continuous and uninterrupted cold, but that it was
diversified by epochs of a milder character, during which

1 This chapter is for the most part drawn from the following, the most
recent works on the subject : Sollas, " Ancient Hunters," Macmillan
London, 191 1 ; G. F. Wright, " Origin and Antiquity of Man," Oberlin,
Ohio, 1912 ; J. Geikie, " Antiquity of Man in Europe," Oliver and Boyd,
Edinburgh, 1914 ; W. B. Wright, " The Quaternary Ice Age," London,
Macmillan, 1914. After this acknowledgement it seems unnecessary to
assign each of the statements in this chapter to the author from whom
quotation is made, save in the cases where there is wide discrepancy of
opinion and where it is therefore advisable that the reader should know
by whom any given view is supported.

240



THE GLACIAL PERIOD 241

the glaciers retreated and areas, formerly frost-bound, be-



Online LibraryBertram Coghill Alan WindleThe church and science → online text (page 22 of 38)