John S. (John Shertzer) Hittell.

A history of the mental growth of mankind in ancient times (Volume 1) online

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This book is due on the last date stamped below.

Book Slii)-25(n-9,'59(A4772s4)4280











334 &G

Copyright, 1889, 1893,



^ 4-0



_. A good record of the mental growth of mankind

^ would comprehend all the highly important lessons of

~^ human experience, and would be the most valuable of

^ all histories ; but as it would be precious, so it is difficult

-^ of composition. Many authors have undertaken it;

many others may undertake it before one produces a

work worthy of the subject; and as failure may help to

\ clear the track for success, I venture to offer my contri-

(i bution in this matter to the public. According to my

_i conception of the history of culture, it should give solu-

*^ tions to such queries as these: —

"* Is man the direct product of natural evolution or of
supernatural creation? Are all men descendants of one
primary human stock ? Were the first men black, yellow,
or white? In what part of the earth and in what

geological period did they make their appearance? Is
N — : the intellectual development of man a necessary result of
^- "his nature in such an environment as that in which he
^ exists and has existed in historical times? Has his
s" progress been continuous? Has it shown itself in all
the departments of life? Has it been governed exclu-
sively by natural causes and uniform law? Has it always



been beneficent? What are its main branches ? How
has each of them advanced in different ages and coun-
tries? How has each of them affected the general wel-
fare? Into what categories should we divide the mental
growth of mankind for the purpose of getting the clear-
est and most correct conceptions of its advances ?

What are the most important branches of industry?
How did the arts of kindling fire, cooking and preserv-
ing food, chipping stone into edge tools, shaping spears,
bows, and arrows, tanning leather, weaving cloth, burn-
ing pottery, plaiting baskets, building huts and boats,
tilling land, domesticating herbivorous animals, smelting,
casting, and forging metals, — how did these arts begin
and advance? How did edge tools of stone, bronze, and
iron become characteristic features of certain stages in
human culture? How, when, and where did the great
inventions have their origin and development, and
what influence did they exert on human society? How,
and to what extent, has the productive power of industry
increased? Has the increase added to the comfort of
man and to what extent? Has any one of the main
branches of industry ever made much progress without
stimulating many of the others? Do increasing wealth,
abundant machinery, and cheap transportation contribute
to the greatest good of the greatest number?

What were the social customs of the earliest times
and how did they change into those of the present age ?
How did phrases of salutation and forms of obeisance


and prostration begin ? Was dress first used for orna-
ment, for comfort, or for the gratification of modesty
and what changes has it undergone? What matrimonial
system existed among the earliest men ? Did promiscuity
ever prevail extensively? When, where, and how did
polygyny, polyandry, and monogamy begin and spread?

Is articulate speech of natural or supernatural origin ?
Were its first forms simple or complex? How have
words been changed in length and in inflection ? What
relations do figurative bear to literal meanings, and
abstract to concrete terms in the various conditions of
speech ? What are the main classes of language, and
how have they arisen ? What are the causes of simplicity
and complexity in grammatical construction ? How did
the art of writing begin? How did it advance from
signs for ideas to others for words, for syllables, and for
letters? How did printing commence, and how has it

How was education, by the aid of books, established?
What are its main branches? How has it been affected
by general progress ? What nations have taken the lead
in it? What places in it have been occupied in various
centuries, by law, medicine, surgery, physical science,
engineering, mathematics, metaphysical philosophy, the-
ology, philology, history, ethnology, and ancient and
modern literature ?

When religion first appeared on the earth, was it a
complete system of supernatural revelation, needing no


modification in creed or discipline to adapt it to the
wants of men in all ages and countries? Or, like other
branches of culture, did it appear at first in mere rudi-
ments, and did it grow gradually into many complex
and highly differentiated forms ? How did low savages
come to adopt the belief that the spirits of their relatives
continue to live after the death of the body, with the
same needs, passions, and occupations as in the corporeal
life, demanding offerings to preserve their favor? How
did this belief lead to the erection of shelters over graves,
and to the construction of temples, to the establishment
of periodical sacrifices, and to the installation and endow-
ment of priests, and how did the divine ancestor of a
family become the partial god of a tribe, and then of a
nation, and finally the impartial god of all mankind?
What are the main features of the leading religious sys-
tems of past and present times, and what are and have
been their influences on mankind ?

Have all men accepted the same ideas of ethical obli-
gation? Have they believed that slavery, retaliation, des-
potic government, superior political privilege of a small
class, torture, and religious persecution were right, and
if various ethical theories have prevailed in different times
and countries, have the differences been marked by con-
tinuous improvement? Have they been affected, and in
what manner, by the changes in industrial and political
conditions? Is our moral code the product of intuitive
perception, or of experience guided by reason ?


What nations have excelled in war, and how did they
attain superiority ? What influence have they exerted
on the world ? What were the main characteristics of
their militar>' systems ? How has the military art been
changed by the introduction of metallic weapons, gun-
powder, and other developments in the industrial arts ?
How did political organization begin and advance from
the small group without a chief, to the tribe with a chief,
to the kingdom with a hereditary sovereign, to the city
with an aristocratic government, and to the nation which
grants equal civil and political rights to all its adult male
residents born on its soil? What have been the main
steps in the development of constitutional, civil, criminal,
international, and parliamentary law?

What have been the most important contributions to
culture, and to what ages, continents, and races are we
indebted for them ? What do we owe to the Egyptians,
Phoenicians, Chaldeans, Hindoos, Chinese, Greeks,
Romans, Jews, Arabs, Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards,
Portuguese, Germans, Hollanders, Scandinavians, Slavs,
English, Scotch, and Americans ? What geographical
conditions are most favorable to culture, and in what
countries has it reached its highest developments ?

Is it because of inherent capacity or of peculiar envi-
ronment that different peoples have excelled in certain
departments of culture? If, at the age of five years, a
thousand Athenian boys had been adopted in Spartan
families, trained in the Spartan system, and in every


manner treated as if they had been the children of their
foster parents, would they have acquired the Spartan
characteristics? If an equal number of Spartan boys
had been brought up in Athens as the children of Athe-
nian parents, would they have grown to be like the native
Athenians? Is one Euraryan nationality more compe-
tent than the others, to excel, in either the fine arts,
poetry, science, philosophy, industry, polity or war?
Has the Celt any natural fitness for free government?
Is he superior to the Teuton in delicacy of sentiment?
Are the nations of Southern Europe superior to those of
the North in artistic genius? Are those of the North
superior in mental and physical energy?

To these questions, which have never been answered
satisfactorily, I shall offer replies, which, however weak
they may be in many points, will yet, I hope, contribute
a little to the stock of historical truth. I shall try to
throw light on human nature as it is, by showing some-
thing of what it has been,^ and to trace in the remote
past the origins of some of our present institutions.^ I
believe that continuous progress has prevailed through-
out the past ; and that the irrepressible progressiveness
of humanity is one of the great facts, or laws in nature,
deserving to be classed with the inherence of force in
matter, the definiteness of chemical proportions, cosmic
evolution, biological evolution, the conservation of en-
ergy, and the invaluable correlation of the physical and
psychical forces.


I expect to follow up this book with other volumes in
which the course of human progress will be traced down
to the present time.

Besides giving information as full and correct as I can
about my subject, I shall call attention to the ablest
authors who have written about various branches of
culture, and wherever I can find material suitable for my
purpose, I shall quote their language for the purpose of
enlivening my work with their brilliancy and stimulating
the reader to examine their books.

Several words of my own coinage occur in this book;
others used here are not defined clearly in the dictionaries,
or are not accepted by uniform usage in the meanings
in which I employ them, and it seems proper that I
should give definitions in such cases.

I use culture only in the sense of the mental growth
of mankind; culturestep from the G&xxnzw kulhu'stufe , as
a grade of culture;^ and culture-historical from the Ger-
man kulturhistoriscli as relating to the history of culture.*

I divide culture into three main culturesteps, — sav-
agism, barbarism, and civilization. Savagism is the con-
dition of the North American Indians, the Australians,
the natives of the Pacific Islands, and the negroes gener-
ally. They have not risen to city life and national
organization. Barbarism is the condition of the Aztecs,
Quichuans, ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians,
Persians, and Hindoos, the Chinese and the Mohammedan
nations. They have cities and natural governments, but


lack a high intellectual life. Civilization is limited to the
ancient Greeks, and Romans, and the modern Christian

To the Aryans in Europe — that is the Celts, Greeks,
Latins, Slavs, and Teutons — and their descendants in
other parts of the world, I give the name Euraryans.
The best word to comprehend productive toil of all
kinds, — commerce, transportation of passengers and
freight, banking, agriculture, mining, metallurgy, and
manufactures, — is industry.* Since the word polygamy
means plural marriage, and may indicate the marriage of
one woman to several men, or of several women to one
man, polygyny is here preferred to signify a matrimonial
system in which one husband has several wives.

John S. Hittell.

San Francisco^ September p, i8gj.


Section. Page.

1. !Man's Antiquity... 17

2. Simian Relations 20

3. Size, etc 23

4. Acute senses 24

5. Vitality 25

6. Habits 27

7. Savagism disappearing 27

8. Savage history 29


9. Races 32

10. Australians, etc 34

11. Negroes, etc 35

12. Malays 35

13. Polynesians 36

14. Americans 37

15. Mound-builders 3S

16. Aleut Mounds 40

17. Pleistocene Europeans 44

18. Danish Mounds 46

19. Swiss Pile Dwellers 47


20. Fire 51

21. Non-tilling culture 52

22. Tilling savagism 54

23. Spear, bow, etc 56



Section. Page.

24. Clubs, etc 58

25. Omnivorous 61

26. Bread and meat 62

27. Daintiness 64

28. Salt and clay 65

29. Cannibalism 66

30. Cooking 70

31. Meals 73

32. Grinding 73

33. Water and milk 74

34. Beer, etc 75

35. Narcotics 77

36. Hunting 79

37. Birds 80

38. Fishing 81

39. Bees 85

40. Villages 85

41. Huts 87

42. Furniture 90

43. Baskets and mats 92

44. Dogs 93

45- Pigs 94

46. Tillage 95

47. Implements 98

48. Milk-yielders 99

49. Boats 100

50. Pottery 104

51. Thread, cloth, etc 105

52. Leather 107

53. Traffic 108

54. Metals 109

55. Industrial achievements no

56. Industrial development 118

57. Natural progress "8



Section. Page.

58. Promiscuous group 121

59. Relationship Nomenclature 124

60. Feminine clan 126

61. Totem 128

62. Australian Exogamy 130

63. Feminine clan survivals 132

64. Masculine clan 136

65. Capture 138

66. Polyandry 139

67. Polygyny 141

68. Girl's position 142

69. Wife's position 142

70. Marriage, etc 145

71. Brother adoption 147

72. Couvade 149

73. Infancy..... 147

74. Son-in-law shyness 151

75. Womanhood 152

76. Modesty 152

77. Nudity 153

78. Clothing 154

79. Ornaments 156

80. Hair-dressing 157

81. Oil and paint 159

82. Tattoo 160

83. Mutilation 162

84. Social d(^vdopnient... 168



Section. Page,

85. Capacity 170

86. Preponderant present 175

87. Early maturity 176

88. Jollity 176

89. Politeness 178

90. Salutations 179

91. Education 182

92. Morality 184

93. Amusements 186

94. Poetry 187

95. Music 189

96. Medicine, etc 193

97. Vocabulary 195 >(<'

98. Sounds and si^jns 199

99. Grammar 203

100. Rapid chang^e 204

loi. Intellectual development 205


102. Headless group 207

103. Freedom 207

104. Unstable headship 210

105. Stable headships 211

106. Industrial chiefs 212

107. Assemblies, etc 212

108. Confederacies. 213

109. Retaliation 215

lie. Retaliation restricted 218

111. Despotic chiefs 220

112. Succession 221

113. Ordeals 222

114. Property 224

115. Slavery 226

116. Nobility 228

117. Political development 229



Section. Page.
iiS. War 231

119. Battle 233

120. Trophies 236

121. Fortifications 237

122. Initiation 239


123. Spirits 245

124. Imaginary world 247

125. Devout fear 250

126. Next life 254

327. Burial, etc 257

21S. Mourning 259

129. Soul worship 262

130. Totemism 265

131. Fetishism 266

132. Ancestor worship 269

133. Offerings 270

134. Sacrifices 272

135. Human sacrifices 273

136. Gods 278

137. Idolatry 282

138. Divine intercourse 284

139. Worship 287

140. Priests 291

141. Sensitives, etc 295

142. Sorcerers 297

143. Sacerdotal functions 300

144. Areoi 302

145. Revenue, etc 304

146. Taboo 305

147. Omens 309

148. Temples 311

149. Religious development 316




150. Culture services 319

151. Grades of culture 320

152. Some characteristics 322

153. Departmental relations 325

154. Queer customs 328

155. Benefits of war 330

156. Benefits of slavery, etc 333

157. Benefits of religion 334

158. Uses of evil 336


Notes .. 339

List of authorities 373




Section i . Man's Antiquity. — Man has existed on the
earth certainly forty thousand and perhaps two hundred
thousand years/ In the pleistocene era, when periods of
subtropical warmth, continuing each for thousands of
years, alternated with others of glacial cold in central
Europe, he dwelt there. In the last of at least four
warm intcrglacial periods of that era, the climate of the
Northern Hemisphere was so mild that the vegetation in
latitude 75° N. was about the same as that now found
twenty degrees nearer to the equator; and the lion, the
hippopotamus, the kafifir cat, the hyena, and many plants
of subtropical character lived as far north as England.
The woolly elephant or mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros
and the sabre-toothed tiger were also there, but these
animals, now extinct, may have been able to endure the
severe winters of the northern temperate zone. The era
or the last era of the subtropical mammals in northwest-
ern Europe was followed by the reapi)carance of the
great ice sheet, at which time the land there had a con-



siderably higher elevation than now ; and then the land
sank, the climate became milder and the ice melted, but
the elephant, the hippopotamus, the rhinoceros, the lion,
and the tiger did not return. Another subsidence of the
land occurred and in the midst of this era, man, with pol-
ished stone tools and presumably with tillage, made his
appearance. Again the land in England rose, this time
to an elevation about fifty feet above its present level,
and numerous small glaciers appeared in the British and
Scandinavian mountains. Still later the land sank to
thirty feet below its present level, and then Europe took
its present shape, but this occurred so long before our
time that no record or tradition of the changes in the
form and area of the continent has been preserved among
its people.

Geikie, Croll, Lyell, and other learned and able schol-
ars who have written about the antiquity of mankind,
believe that our species has existed on the earth at least
two hundred thousand years. Some authorities who
have investigated the history of oriental nations tell us
that presumably not more than fifteen thousand and per-
haps not more than ten thousand years have elapsed
since the introduction of bronze tools began to lift men
from savagism into barbarism. Not three thousand
years have passed since some of the Greek states
emerged from barbarism into civilization. All mankind
spent perhaps one hundred and eighty thousand years in
savagism ; and during part of the last twenty thousand
years, a small proportion of our race has been in
higher conditions of culture. The development of tilling
from non-tilling culture was an achievement of greater
difficulty and demanded more time than that of barbar-
ism from savagism.


The earliest traces of men hav^e been found in Europe
and North America, because in those continents there
has been the greatest amount of mining and excavation,
under the inspection of highly educated men ; but it does
not follow that the earliest men lived in those continents.
On the contrary, there is reason to believe that the human
race first appeared in the torrid portions of Africa or
Malaysia,* where the black race, the nearest human rela-
tiv^es of the highest brutes, the anthropoid apes — and pre-
sumably older than the more highly developed yellow
and white races, are indigenous. Reasoning from the
changes observed in later ages, we infer that these primi-
tive black men were smaller in body and brain, and more
ape-like in their forms and faces, than the Africans of
modern times.

Of the men who lived more than twenty thousand
years ago, it may be said that we know nothing save
that they lived and had edge-tools of stone. We find
their bones, their arrowheads, their flint knives or scrap-
ers, and the marks of their tools or weapons on fossil
wood or bone, and very little more. These remains fur-
nish much material for remark to the archaeologist, but
little for the historian.

All men belong to one species. All races of humanity
are indefinitely fertile in their crosses with one another.
In all tribes and nations and in all stages of culture, man
has the same general features of physical form and men-
tal character. He has the same number of pulse beats
and of inhalations in a minute, the same average temper-
ature, the same wants, the same passions.* In his most
primitive condition he contained the potentialities of
speech, industry, society, polity and religion, as they now
appear. He was a struggling, toiling, reasoning animal,


with a capacity for and an irresistible impulse towards con-
tinuous and unlimited mental progress. He was so con-
stituted that he could enjoy keen pleasures and endure
bitter sorrows ; that his days should be fringed with
smiles and tears ; that life should be dear to him ; and
that his attachment to it should increase as his genera-
tions multiplied.

By his physical and intellectual qualities, man is
enabled to obtain his food, to preserve his life, and to
make his permanent home in every zone, and in every
continent. He can live where ether boils and where
mercury freezes in the open air. The land animals, the
birds, the aquatic mammals, and the fishes of every zone
furnish food nutritious to him. He can reach all parts
of the earth's surface save those within a few detrrees of
the poles. He dominates over the globe, occupies most
of it, and it is by his sufferance that many of the other
occupants are permitted to live.

Sec. 2. Simian Relations. — The negro's skeleton is
relatively heavier than that of the white man ; his skull
is thicker, and sometimes in Uahomy has no sutures.^
In fighting, black men often butt each other like rams,
and they break a stick over the head rather than over
the knee. The swords of the Spaniards were often
broken on the heads of the aborigines in Jamaica.^ The
Australians break sticks over their heads,^ and they have
duels, in which the combatants exchange alternate blows
on the head with stout clubs, each standing still in his
turn to give his enemy a fair chance, until one is stun-
ned. Every blow would disable if not kill a European.
The tibia and fibula in the shin are sometimes united into
one bone through tlicir whole length in the black and
more rarely in the yellow man, as they always are in the


ape, Sif/i/a troglodytes. The arch of the negro's instep is
low and his foot flat, resembhng the foot of the ape and
suggesting the exaggeration of the burlesque song, " The
hollow of his foot makes a hole in the ground." His
heel projects more than the white man's, so that he needs
a different shoe.* Often when standing, instead of throw-
ing his weight squarely on his flat sole, he rests on the
outer edges of his feet, as do the large apes.* The sesa-
moidal bones at the joints of the thumb and great toe
are found rarely in Europeans and often in negroes.**

The legs are shorter relatively in the savage than in
the civilized man ;^ and in the African the lower arm and
hand are longer. When standing upright he can touch
his knee-cap with the point of his middle finger, while
the white man cannot come within two inches of it.*
In the civilized man the tibia is round ; in many savages,
including Michigan mound-builders ^ and European cave
dwellers,'" it is flat or platecnymic. The perforation of
the lower end of the humerus for the passage of the
great nerve is found in all the quadrumana, in one-third
of the Europeans of the reindeer period, and in one per
cent, of the modern Europeans."

While the finger bones are longer in the negro, the
fingers down to the separation between them are shorter,
the flesh or skin e.xtending fartlier from the knuckles,'"'
and one of the most strongly marked lines of the P'uro-
pean hand, that of the last three fingers, is wanting in the
blacks, and is slightly marked in the yellow and red

In the narrowness of the pelvis'* and in the breadth and
arched form of the chest, the negro occupies an interme-
diate position between the white man and the apc."^ A
comparison of the profiles of the heads of different races


shows that in prognathism or projection of the lower
part of the face, the black man is nearest to, and the white
man farthest from the ape, with the yellow in the inter-
mediate position. Flatness of nose and projection of
teeth accompany general prognathism. The negro's
occiput, instead of projecting beyond his thick neck, is
on a line with it, and the same peculiarity is found in
some Polynesians. The flat nasal bones are ossified with
the adjacent bones in some Africans as they are in apes.^^

The women of the Bushmen tribe have a remarkable
development of fit on the hips which in some cases pro-
jects out backwards six inches or more, with a nearly

Online LibraryJohn S. (John Shertzer) HittellA history of the mental growth of mankind in ancient times (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 29)