MYTHS OF CRETE & PRE-HELLENIC EUROPE
By DONALD A. MACKENZIE
THE GRESHAM PUBLISHING COMPANY LIMITED
66 CHANDOS STREET COVENT GARDEN LONDON
Primitive Europeans of the Glacial and Inter-glacial Periods
Geological and Mythical Ages of the World--Myths as Products of Environment--The Deluge and Great Winter Legends--New World Cataclysms--Doctrines of Decadence and Evolution in World's Ages Myths--Sages of the "Wandering Jew" Type--The Monsters of Geology and Mythology--Story of the Pleistocene Age--First Glacial Period--Mauer (Heidelberg) Man--Second Glacial Period--The Age of Chellean Culture--The Piltdown Skull--Acheulian Culture Stage--Third Glacial Period and Mousterian Man--Cro--Magnon Race and Grimaldi "Bushmen"--Aurignacian Cave Pictures and Beliefs--Solutrean Culture--Fourth Glacial Period and Magdalenian Man--The Problem of Eoliths--Approximate Duration of Palćolithic Age.
THE system which obtains among modern scientists, of dividing the history of the earth into geological epochs and the pre-history of man into cultural periods, was anticipated by the priestly theorists of ancient civilizations, who established the doctrine of the mythical Ages of the World. These early teachers were:, no doubt, as greatly concerned about justifying their own pretensions and the tenets of their cults as in gratifying the growing thirst for knowledge among the educated classes. When they undertook to reveal the process of creation and throw light on the origin and purpose of mankind, they exalted local deities in opposition to those regarded supreme at rival centres of culture and political influence. Many rival systems of a national religion were thus perpetuated. But the various city priesthoods of a particular country found it necessary to deal also with problems of common concern. Among other things, they had to account for the various races of whom they had knowledge and to give divine sanction to existing social conditions; nor could they overlook the accidental discoveries which were occasionally made of the relics of elder and unknown peoples and the bones of extinct animals.
These mythology-makers, of course, possessed but meager knowledge of their country's past, and were accordingly compelled to draw freely upon their imaginations; but they should not be regarded on that account as merely dreamers of dreams and inventors of miraculous stories. Indications are forthcoming which show that they were not wholly devoid of the scientific spirit. They were close observers of natural phenomena, and sometimes made deductions which, considering the narrowness of areas available to them for investigation, were not unworthy of thinking men. It seemed perfectly reasonable to the Babylonian and Egyptian scientists, who saw land growing from accumulations of river-borne silt, and desert wastes rendered cultivable by irrigation, to conclude, for instance, that water was the primary element and the source of all that existed.
This doctrine, which holds that the Universe is derived from one particular form of matter, has been called "Materialistic Monism". Ultimately, when mind was exalted above matter, the belief obtained that the inanimate forces of nature were subject to the control of the supreme Mind, which was the First Cause. This later doctrine is known as "Idealistic Monism". It was embraced by various cults in Babylonia, India, and Egypt. In the latter country, for instance, the great god of Memphis was addressed:
Ptah, the great, is the mind and tongue of the gods. . . .
It (the mind) is the one which bringeth forth every successful issue. . . .
It was the fashioner of all gods.
At a time when every divine word
Came into existence by the thought of the mind
And the command of the tongue. 1
In Egypt and Babylonia, where inundations of river valleys were of periodic occurrence, and where, at rare intervals, floods of excessive volume caused great destruction and loss of life, and even brought about political changes, it was concluded that the old Ages were ended and new Ages inaugurated by world-devastating deluges.
The deductions of the early scientists in northern Europe were similarly drawn from the evidence afforded by environment, and similarly influenced by persistent modes of thought. They saw shoals formed and beaches overlaid by sand washed up by the sea from, as it appeared, some sand-creating source, and conceived that on the floor of ocean there stood a great "World Mill" propelled by giantesses, which ground the bodies of primeval world-giants into earth meal. "'Tis said", a saga author set forth, "that far out, off yonder ness, the Nine Maids of the Island mill stir amain the host-cruel skerry-quern--they who in ages past ground Hamlet's meal. The good chieftain furrows the hull's lair with his ship's beaked prow." 2
In the Elder Edda the god of the mill, who appears to be identical with Frey and the original Hamlet, is called Mundlefore, "the handle-mover":
The Mover of the Handle is father of Moon
And the father eke of Sun.
This "World Mill" caused the heavens to revolve round a fixed point marked by the polar star, which was called veraldar nagli, the "world-spike".
Believing that sun and moon rose from the ocean, and that therefore light came from darkness, they concluded that winter preceded summer at the beginning.
Untold winters ere Earth was fashioned
Roaring Bergelm was born;
His father was Thrudgelm of Mighty Voice,
Loud-sounding Ymer his grandsire. 3
In the north it was observed also that growth was promoted when the ice melted, and the teachers reasoned that the first being, Ymer, came into existence when sparks from the southland, or "poison drops from the sea", fell upon the primeval icebergs, and caused drops of trickling water to fertilize the clay.
From Stormy-billow sprang poison drops
Which waxed into Jotun form.
The Babylonians, on the other hand, who were familiar with the part played by reeds in accumulating mud and binding river-banks, taught that-
Marduk (Merodach) laid a reed upon the face of the waters.
He formed dust and poured it out beside the reed. . . .
He formed mankind. 4
It may be, too, that the ancient teachers, who framed creation myths and expounded local forms of the doctrine of the World's Ages, mingled at times with their pseudoscientific deductions and brilliant imaginings dim and confused racial traditions of early migrations and varied experiences in different areas of settlement. Some of these traditions may have had origin before the dawn of the Neolithic or Late Stone Age. As will be shown, certain customs, which are familiar to students of ancient civilizations, were prevalent among primitive peoples in the vast Palćolithic or Early Stone Age. With these customs may have survived in localities legends associated with or based upon them. The possibility remains, therefore, that in Persian mythology there are memories not only of an area of settlement among the mountains where severe winters were as greatly dreaded as exceptional floods in river valleys, but even of one of the last recurring phases of the Ice Age. A poetic narrative relates that the patriarch Yima, who afterwards became Lord of the Dead, constructed a shelter to afford safe protection for mankind and their domesticated animals during the "evil winter", with its "hard, killing frost". He had been forwarned of this approaching world-disaster by the supreme god Ahura Mazda (Ormuzd). Perhaps the "shelter" was a southern valley to which the proto-Persians were compelled to migrate on account of the growing severity of successive winters and the lowering of the perpetual snow-line around mountain-fringed plateaus they were accustomed to inhabit. It is related in the Avesta, one of the Persian sacred books, that "before the winter the land had meadows. . . . The water was wont to flow over it and the snow to melt." A similar prolonged winter is foretold in Icelandic mythology. According to the Prose Edda, which is a patchwork of fragmentary legends of uncertain origin and antiquity, it will precede the destruction of the universe by the giants of frost and fire (lightning). "In the first place will come the winter, called Fimbul winter, during which snow will fall from the four corners of the world; the frosts will be very severe, the wind piercing, the weather tempestuous, and the sun impart no gladness." 5
From the Voluspa poem of the Elder Edda we gather details of--
A Sword Age, Axe Age--shields are cloven,
A Wind Age, Wolf Age, ere the world sinks.
Then, after describing a period of universal destruction, the soothsayer proceeds:
I see uprising a second time
Earth from the ocean, green anew:
The waters fall, on high the eagle
Flies o'er the fell and catches fish. 6
Various accounts of universal cataclysms come from the New World. Representative of these are the legends of the Arawaks of North Brazil regarding periods of flood, storm, and darkness, and those of the Mexicans, which deal with the destruction of early races by deluges caused by several succeeding suns perishing from lack of sustenance.
The most highly developed doctrinal systems of World Ages which have survived from antiquity are found, however, in the Mythologies of India, Greece, and Ireland. There is more than one account in Aryo-Indian literature of the periodic Ages called Yugas. These are embraced in longer Ages of sufficient duration to satisfy the requirements of modern geologists. Four Yugas extend over a period of "divine years" equal to 4,320,000 years of mortals, and a thousand of the combined Yugas comprise a "Day of Brahma", the individualized "World Soul". The Yugas begin with the Krita or Perfect Age, which is White, and decline from that to the Treta, which is Red, and the Dwápara, which is Yellow, to Kali Yuga, "the Black or Iron Age".
Hesiod, in his Work and Days, begins the Greek system with the perfect Golden Age, which is followed by the Silver and Bronze Ages, and the two Ages of Heroes and Iron, which may have been local subdivisions of the fourth Age, represented in India by Kali Yuga.
Both in India and Greece, man it will be noted, was believed to have relapsed from a primitive state of perfection. The system found in Ireland, which was probably imported from Gaul with the doctrine of transmigration of souls and the custom of widow-burning or slaying, follows, on the other hand, an evolutionary process. The first Irish Age, that of Partholon and his race, is an Age of folly. It is followed by Nemed's Age, which was distinguished for cruelty, and the Age of the Fir Bolgs, in which the power of evil was supreme. Then comes the Danann Age of benevolent deities and heroes, who are the reputed "ancestors of the men of learning in Erin". The last Age is the Milesian, and during it St. Patrick reached Ireland and preached Christianity.
This ancient doctrine of the World's Ages, which may be traced in Egypt and Babylonia, where certain gods lived for periods upon earth as human. kings, was adapted to suit the needs of different cults in different areas of localization. In India the four great castes were each connected with a Yuga: the Brahmans had origin in the White Age, the Kshatriyas (military aristocrats) in the Red Age, the Vaisyas (traders and agriculturists) in the Yellow Age, and the Sudras (Dravidians and pre-Dravidians) in the Black Age. In Greece an Age was devoted to the Trojan heroes, and in Ireland the Fir Bolgs, Dananns, and Milesians were identified with existing racial types whom St. Patrick found there.
One of the versions of the Indian legend of Mythical Ages is related by the deathless sage Markandeya, who lived through all the Yugas, and was protected during the Deluge by the child-god Narayana. The Irish account was put into the mouth of Tuan MacCarell. He had been a contemporary of Partholon, and afterwards existed for periods as a stag, a boar, a vulture or eagle, and a salmon. In the end his salmon form was devoured by the wife of King Carell, with the result that he was reborn as her son. Another sage of this class is the famous Mágus of the Icelandic Bragda Mágus saga, who renewed his youth periodically by casting his skin. He also figures in the Charlemagne romances.
If the ancient teachers, who professed to have received revelations from sages like the "Wandering Jew", had been acquainted with the scientific data which is now available, their narratives of past Ages would have described greater changes than ever they conceived of. Nor would these be lacking either in picturesqueness or imaginative appeal. The priestly sages would have no cause to lament with the poet:
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof and texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Even greater and more ferocious monsters than were dreamt of in their philosophy might have figured in their wonder-compelling and fearsome legends. Instead of the composite demons of Egypt and Babylonia, the Eur-Asian dragons, the flying serpents of the Nile valley, and the great snakes of ocean, they could have told of the gigantic reptiles of the Triassic and Jurassic systems, the great mammals of the Tertiary Period, and those contemporaries of man in the Pleistocene Age, the hairy mammoths, bulky with fat and fur, the fierce woolly rhinoceroses, the huge cave-bears, and the immense sabre-toothed tigers. No ancient legend of fabled monsters surpasses the modern scientist's account of extinct gigantic fauna. Nor can the creation-myths on Egyptian papyri, Babylonian bricks, or Indian palm-leaf books approach in grandness and charm the dramatic story of the four great geological Ages of the World.
The author of the Tuan MacCarell legend would in our day begin his narrative with the dawn of the Pleistocene Age, which endured for at least 620,000 years, and was yet much shorter than any of the four Tertiary Ages--the Eocene, Oligocene, Miocene, or Pliocene.
In the post-Pliocene, or early Pleistocene period, Tuan, let it be supposed, awakens from magic sleep in Europe. He gazes with wonder on forests of strange and mighty trees. Monstrous wild animals come and go. Several resemble elephants, and the greatest of these is the long-tusked mastodon of colossal bulk. Hippopotami snort in the rivers, on the banks of which crouch, basking in sunshine, ponderous Dinotheriums, resembling sea-cows, with downward-curving tusks and short trunks. Across verdurous plains gallop herds of little horses with divided hoofs. The dreaded sabre-toothed tiger crouches in the jungle ready to pounce upon its prey.
Tuan, who alternately sleeps for long centuries and wanders about the earth like the legendary Jew, continues his narrative. "When next I awoke", he tells, "I found that Europe had been completely transformed. No great forests flourished on its central plains; bare stretches of frozen ground extended far and near. From northern Germany to the Pole, valleys and rivers were shrouded by ice and seas were frozen over. Great mountain-peaks towered grimly above curving glaciers like rocky islands in a foam-white ocean. Icebergs drifted down the Atlantic past the coast of Spain. This was the First Glacial Period.
"When next I awoke the ice was vanishing, the rivers surged from the melting glaciers) many valleys were flooded, and vegetation flourished. In the years that followed I saw the forests extending northward from the Mediterranean coast, and the ocean ebbing gradually farther and farther away, owing to the widespread elevation of land, until great islands became uplands in vast plains, and continents linked with continents around the world. I must describe Europe as it appeared to me before I next fell asleep. The Mediterranean Sea was divided into two great lakes when Italy became attached to a triangular plain which jutted out from the north African coast. The Strait of Gibraltar was closed, and a broad valley united Spain with Morocco. Corsica and Sardinia formed a promontory when the Gulf of Genoa vanished, and the Balearic Isles were mountains on a finger of land attached to western Spain. The Baltic Sea became a shrunken inland lake, the English Channel and the North Sea had disappeared. The British Isles were then joined to the Continent, and the plains which enclosed them extended far westward beyond Land's End, the western coast-line of Ireland and that of the Scottish Hebrides, and stretched north-eastward beyond the Shetland Isles to the coast of Norway. A "land-bridge", which shrank to a narrow neck 100 miles north-west of Cape Wrath, united Scotland and Iceland) and narrowed again ere it met the extended coast of Greenland. The Rivers Elbe and Rhine drained the broad valley which had been the North Sea, and were united about 150 miles eastward from the Aberdeenshire coast after the Rhine had received the waters of the Forth and Tay. The Conon poured through the valley which had been the Moray Firth, and, sweeping eastward past the Orkney and Shetland Islands, entered the sea 20 miles westward from the mouth of the Elbe. The Seine cut through the valley of the English Channel, and the Severn united, 100 miles westward from Land's End, with a river flowing from a long narrow loch which divided Ireland from Scotland, and extended southward to Carnsore Point in Wexford.
"Over the Eur-African land-bridges came many of the great animals which I saw during the first period of the Pleistocene Age. Attracted by the genial temperature, even the rhinoceros came north, and with the sabre-toothed tiger prowled on the upland plains of England, where I saw also the giant sloth, the hippopotamus, the mastodon, the triple-toed horse, great tortoises, the giant fallow deer, the well-armoured glyptodon, 7 as big as an ox, and numerous great snakes and nimble apes.
"For a long period I searched in vain for traces of mankind, but at length I discovered a tribe of most primitive savages at Mauer, on the banks of the River Neckar, then very broad and deep, near where Heidelberg now stands. They hunted down the horse and the elk, and dreaded greatly the rhinoceros and the cave-lion. Their homes were among the branches of high trees. In aspect they were extremely repulsive: they had low, sharply-retreating foreheads, squat noses, big bulging mouths, and chinless jaws. 8 I never saw these savages except in this First Interglacial Period.
"When next I awoke from the slumber of centuries I found that Europe had once more been transformed. The Mediterranean Sea had snapped the Italian land-bridge and flowed through the Dardanelles to the Black Sea; a blue strait separated Gibraltar from Morocco. The British Islands were entirely isolated. Roaring tides swept up and down the English Channel, and the broad North Sea, overswept by foam-churning tempest, was dotted over by innumerable icebergs. Each succeeding winter the ocean encroached farther and farther inland, burying in deep sand-banks the great trunks of forest trees, creeping up river valleys and forming stony beaches where wild flowers had bloomed and birds had carolled and built their nests. At length the advancing billows shaped out a rough shore-line round the island coasts over 40 feet above their present level. In time the land was re-elevated and the sea shrank back again.
"The snow-line of Scottish mountains crept down gradually lower and lower, and glaciers appeared once more. Ultimately vast fields of ice jutted across the North Sea, and the Baltic remained frozen during the months of summer. Icebergs were stranded on Dogger Bank and drifted down the English Channel in early summer through veils of white fog into the Bay of Biscay and round Cape Finisterre.
"Ere I went to sleep again the ice-fields had obliterated Holland and Belgium and crept up the Elbe valley almost to the plain of Bohemia, where the climate was sub-arctic and tundra conditions prevailed as in northern Siberia at the present time. Scotland, Ireland, and Wales were ice-locked, and England was covered over as far south as Essex on the east and Gloucester on the west, except where the battling glaciers left bare patches in the middle districts and in the East Riding of Yorkshire. This was the Second Glacial Period. When it had reached its maximum, I wandered southward through France, then a dreary waste, and saw herds of musk-oxen and reindeer, lumbering woolly rhinoceroses, and fat mammoths with great recurving tusks and shaggy red manes.
"I had sought shelter from a blinding dust-storm in a cave on a bare hill-side, and slept there. When next I awoke and crept forth, I found myself in a deep shady forest. It was a fragrant morning of bright sunshine, and although it seemed to be midsummer, the sweet spring season had not yet spent itself. The rivers at this, the dawn of the Second Inter-glacial Period, ran broad and deep, swollen by the melting glaciers, but they shrank gradually as weeks of heat and dryness went past. Wide shallow lakes grew smaller each succeeding summer until they vanished entirely, and their dark beds grew verdant with long grasses. When I went northward I found that the British Isles were once again a part of the Continent. The African hippopotamus snorted in the Thames, the rhinoceros lumbered along the plains of the English Channel, and through the forests of the North Sea valley herds of elephants ranged as far north as the banks of the Forth. I saw many tribes of human beings. I first met them at Chelles, on the banks of the Seine, 8 miles eastward from the site of Paris. The Chellean men were of higher type than the grotesque tree-dwellers of Mauer. Their dark skins bespoke their southern origin, and they resembled certain tribes of Australian savages. They were entirely devoid of clothing. The men carried long staves, which were sharpened to points, with which they speared fish and hunted the little wild horse. I saw them chipping flint and shaping "hand-axes", 9 which they used for a variety of purposes-cutting branches from trees, skinning and dividing animals, and weapons. They also made small flint scrapers and small flint daggers with rough curved hefts.
"I saw these men hunting in England and in Central and Western Europe. They crossed over to Africa by the Italian land-bridge, round the rock of Gibraltar, and along the Palestinian coast., and they were numerous in Persia and India. Ere I fell asleep I was transported round the world, and saw thousands of human beings following the edible animals over the northern land-bridge from Asia to Canada, and down the western sea-coast to South America. Then I slumbered again.
"Long centuries went past as I slept. When next I awoke I found that Europe had once again become changed. The sea was washing round the shores of the British Isles, and the Italian land-bridge to Africa had been severed. Crete was no longer a part of the main land, and the green mountains which had towered on the well-watered valley connecting Greece with Asia Minor were islands in the Ćgean Sea. The temperature had suffered decline. Summer was shorter and winter longer and of growing severity. During the warm weather the southern animals wandered through France, and, when the snow began to fall, the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, and the reindeer came down from the north in search of food. I saw new types of humanity which had arrived from Asia. They mingled with Chellean men in some localities, and in others fought with them for possession of hunting-grounds. Many tribes were isolated in Britain when the land was lowered and the sea advanced. There were Asiatics in Sussex, and I saw some camping on the banks of the Ouse at Piltdown, near Uckfield. 10 During the winter these people sought shelter in caves.
"The change of climate had intensified the struggle for existence) and sharpened the wits of men. At St. Acheul, at Amiens, in the Somme valley, I found the flint-workers displaying increased skill and producing several new implements which the altered conditions of life had made necessary. Acheulian man had achieved a considerable degree of progress in other directions. Those tribes which remained in western and central Europe, owing to the winter season found it necessary to provide themselves with skin clothing, but the great majority migrated to genial climes, and these continued their old habits of life. I fell asleep at the close of this the Second Interglacial Period, which was longer and more genial than any of the others.
"The Third Glacial Epoch was well advanced when next I set forth a wanderer through the valleys of Europe. It was less widespread than the second. Two-thirds of England and about a fourth of Ireland were clear of ice, nor was the Zuyder Zee frozen during summer. The site of Berlin, however, was well within the glacial area, as was also that of Warsaw. The Alpine snow-line had crept down over 3000 feet. Yet although Europe resembled in some parts Greenland and in others North Siberia in the present Age, I saw numerous tribes of human beings. They were of small stature but muscular and active. Their heads were narrow but of great size, and their faces, although not devoid of intelligence, were exceedingly rugged; their big dark eyes were overshadowed by enormous brow ridges, they had broad flattened noses, projecting mouths, and chinless jaws. 11 They made their homes in caves, and in these they lit fires, round which they sat to chip their flints and fashion their skin garments.
"I will describe what I saw when I sought shelter with a tribe of these people at Le Moustier, in the valley of Dordogne, in south-western France. The River Vézčre then flowed go feet higher than in modern times. I entered a cave on a damp and chilly summer day. Haunches of venison were being roasted on a fire-place constructed of upright stones, and near it several workmen were busily engaged chipping flints. They constructed a greater variety of implements than the men of the Chellean and Acheulean Periods, and showed greater skill in economizing their material: flakes were removed at a single blow and utilized for smaller artifacts, and when an implement was given form it was carefully dressed with minute chipping until it became an artistic product, exceedingly pleasing to the eye. Men took delight in their work and rivalled one another to gain the praises of their fellows. The tailors cut the dried skins with their sharp hand-axes. Then they squatted with crossed legs to sew the pieces together into not unshapely garments. They made holes, through which to thrust their dried thongs, with little flint awls. In the evening a company of hunters returned from the chase, dragging on a skin sledge the carcass of a musk-ox; and when they had feasted heavily, I heard them tell of battles with the cave-bear, of escapes from the cave-lion and the dreaded woolly rhinoceros, of the slaying
EXAMPLES OF PALĆOLITHIC ART
The objects include: handles of knives and daggers carved in ivory and bone, line drawings of wild animals, faces of men or demons, of animal-headed demon or deity with arms uplifted (compare Egyptian "Ka" attitude of adoration), of wild horses on perforated "arrow straightener", of men stalking a bison, of seal, cow, reindeer, cave bear, and perforated amulets of a great mammoth, and of how they guarded their food-supplies against the ravages of prowling hyenas, gluttons, and arctic foxes. Meanwhile the women busily engaged themselves at the mouth of the cave cutting up the body of the musk-ox and cleaning the skin with flint scrapers. Ere night fell, the chief announced that on the morrow they would go eastward to hunt reindeer. I gathered that these people migrated northward during the summer, and returned again, on the approach of cold weather, to their southern caves. Not infrequently they had to fight with other tribes who took possession of their winter homes.
"I went to sleep during this period, and when next I awoke I found that the Third Inter-glacial Period had dawned. The glaciers melted and again there were great floods in the valleys, and the ice retreated from the lowlands of Scotland. The summers in Central Europe were exceedingly pleasant, but never so warm as during the Chellean Age, and dust-storms were of frequent occurrence. Forests were once again flourishing, and I saw in the midst of them many southern animals which were migrating farther and farther northward. During winter the mammoth and woolly rhinoceros came as far south as Prussia. Mousterian man was able to pursue the hunt high among the mountains, where he found caves in which to shelter himself from wild animals by night. He returned to the valleys when the blizzards of winter drove southward the fierce and numerous beasts of prey he dreaded most.
"I saw new types of mankind. In the Dordogne valley were tribes of slender-limbed human giants who were fearless warriors and mighty huntsmen. Some were 6 feet 6 inches in height. But it was not only in stature that they contrasted sharply with the vanishing
Mousterians, who were rarely higher than 5 feet 3 inches. They had big long heads and broad faces, high foreheads, deep-set brown eyes, prominent cheek-bones, sharply curved lips, and well-formed chins. They resembled modern Europeans more closely than any human beings I had yet met with. Their faces, tanned by wind and sun, were alert and keen, and, although rugged, were greatly softened when their ready smile laid bare their white gleaming teeth. I observed that the young men showed great respect for their elders. It was of common occurrence to see many gathered round a cave entrance listening to the counsel of some white-haired sage. An old man, who had achieved widespread renown as an explorer and leader of men, lived in a cave at Cro-Magnon, and was often approached to settle disputes and give advice regarding great undertakings; he was also skilled as a healer of wounds and a curer of disease. These men had greater regard for their dead than obtained among their Mousterian predecessors. I once saw them laying to rest a slain warrior in his family burial-grotto at Aurignac. He was clad in his skin robe. His headdress was adorned with a string of sea-shells and round his neck was a collar of the perforated teeth of a reindeer, the skeleton of the salmon of wisdom was laid on his breast, and the whole body was sprinkled with magic pigment. A fire was lit, and the warriors danced round the grave with slow, measured steps, while a sage recited the mighty deeds performed by the dead man. Women knelt near at hand, wailing a chorus of sorrow. Beside the warrior they laid his weapons and implements as well as food which had been cooked for him and water for refreshment; then the grotto was closed up with a large slab of limestone. Aurignacian man of Cro-Magnon type was a lover of his kind. saw other tribes which had entered southern France at this period from Africa. At a Grimaldi cave near Mentone I dwelt for a space with a family of dark-skinned people with broad noses and protruding mouths. They resembled somewhat the modern Bushmen of South Africa and were similarly of short stature, but their heads were larger and their faces more intelligent. Middle-aged women had enormous development of fatty tissue; their steatopygous figures were invariably exceedingly grotesque, but were yet greatly admired. 12
"These Aurignacian peoples worshipped the mother-goddess, and there were among them clever artists who carved out of ivory and bone, limestone and steatite, female figures to represent their deity. Sometimes they depicted the slim-waisted, long-haired Cro-Magnon women, and sometimes the woolly-haired bulging forms of Grimaldi type. In those districts where the Bushmen-like people were the slaves of the tall huntsmen a steatopygous woman was sometimes selected at religious ceremonies to represent the mother-goddess.
The Aurignacian artists were wont to decorate their caverns with figures of wild animals, which they sketched in outline with pointed flints, and often coloured with crayons of red ochre or painted with pigment which they carried in bone tubes. In the deep cave of Altamira, in Spain, I saw a great picture-gallery in which various artists had exhibited their skill. One part of the vaulted roof was covered with lifelike representations of edible animals, including wild horses, deer, and boars, and elsewhere I saw artistic productions of similarly high merit. In some caves, which were constantly inhabited, were impressions of human hands. These were intended to avert the influences of the evil eye and the attacks of demons. Huntsmen left records of their experiences in summer hunting districts by inscribing symbols on cave walls, so that those who came nigh might know how they were likely to fare there. They also depicted the forms of monstrous demons that had to be propitiated.
The hunters of the Aurignacian Age were the first I saw using bows and arrows. In preparing the arrow-shafts they utilized perforated bone straighteners. 13 Their flint implements were worked with skill far surpassing that of the Mousterian Age.
"How long I slept during this period I cannot tell. When next I woke up I found that the temperature had suffered sharp decline. Cro-Magnon man still inhabited a great portion of southern France, 14 but I observed also other types which were new to me. At Solutre, Saone-et-Loire, where tall and short types gave evidence of race intermixture, I fell in with highly-skilled artisans who shaped flint lance-heads of laurel-leaf and willow-leaf shape, and accomplished delicate secondary flaking by pressure with bone implements. They also made comfortable skin clothing, which they sewed with bone needles which had perforated eyes. 15 The winters grew gradually longer and more severe, and the men of the Solutrean Age achieved rapid progress in their conflict with the elements. Huntsmen favoured the horse, but slew also the reindeer.
"The Fourth Glacial Period followed, and it was suffering decline when I next went out to explore those districts that had seen so many changes. I awoke at La Madelaine, on the right bank of the Vézčre, which then flowed higher
PALEOLITHIC ART: REPRESENTATIVE PAINTINGS OF BISON AND DEER, FROM THE CAVE OF ALTAMIRA, NEAR SANTANDER, SPAIN
The bison was evidently painted during summer, after it had rubbed its shaggy winter coat off the greater part of its body than at the present day.
In this district the tall men of Cro-Magnon type were less numerous than the stumpy intruders of this Magdalenian Age, who had some resemblance to the present-day Esquimaux. Half-breeds, however, were not uncommon. The little men had much more refined and intelligent faces than the Mousterians; their foreheads were large and their chins prominent, and they were clad in closely-fitting skin garments to resist the sub-arctic climate. Like the cave-dwellers of the Aurignacian Age, they were skilled artists and artisans. The Grimaldi folks had migrated southward, and ivory carvings of the mother goddess were modelled on the slim-waisted female type. Artists continued to decorate the caves with paintings of animals, and they also engraved their implements and weapons, and even stones and pieces of slate. The bison and the wild horse were often depicted, but the most favoured models were the northern animals of this cold European Age. Mammoths were growing scarce, for men had acquired skill in trapping them, and the artists engraved ivory charms with their bulky forms, and numerous were their studies of reindeer grazing on snowy plains, crouched up at bay, or panting in rapid flight to escape the dogs and arrows of the huntsmen. The Magdalenian artists also drew the snarling cave-bear, the double-horned and snouted head of the woolly rhinoceros, the antelope and the chamois, and the scampering wolf with gaping jaws. Among birds they were familiar with the goose and the swan, and, as they were accomplished fishermen, they could carve in many characteristic attitudes the graceful salmon and the keen-eyed seal. Many huntsmen had the handles of their daggers fashioned to represent the animals they were wont to stalk and slay.
"During this period flint-working declined somewhat, for the fashion became prevalent of pointing lances and arrows with ivory and bone and reindeer horn. A great inventor equipped huntsmen with a new weapon-the barbed harpoon-and another provided for it a thrower made from reindeer horn, so that it could be thrown farther and directed with surer aim. A long cord was attached to the harpoon, which was utilized to catch salmon and seals. This wonderful invention was the means of increasing greatly the food-supply. It thus rendered the struggle for existence less arduous, especially when the tribes increased in number.
"Great changes took place when the Fourth Glacial Period began to decline, and more genial conditions became prevalent. The Magdalenian huntsmen migrated farther and farther northward as the ice area shrank in dimensions, because the reindeer deserted those districts which failed to yield them in sufficient abundance the lichens upon which they fed."
In the Gaelic legend of the Irish Ages it is stated that, when Tuan ended, "the auditors thanked him. . . . They remained a whole week talking with him." But his modern narrative deals with problems which are not likely to be solved In so brief a space of time. It touches the fringes of not a few controversies which have been waged vigorously for a number of years, and are likely to be continued indefinitely. In this volume, however, which deals mainly with the intellectual life of early peoples, it is unnecessary to state in detail the various conflicting views regarding the geological periods and the earliest traces of man in Europe; but a brief summary of the results of modern research may be given, so that the general reader may be familiarized with one particular phase of the subject which is pregnant with human interest.
In Tuan's references to early man in Europe, six stages of development, or levels of culture, have been referred to.
1. The Chellean, in the Second Inter-glacial Period.
2. The Acheulian, a late phase of the Chellean.
3. The Mousterian, in the Third Glacial Period and later.
4. The Aurignacian, in the Third Inter-glacial Period and later.
5. The Solutrean, in the late Third Inter-glacial Period and later.
6. The Magdalenian, in the Fourth Glacial Period.
Some archćologists place before the Chellean, Stage 1 the Mesvinian, and 2, the Strepyan, but others regard them as earlier phases of the Chellean. A still earlier stage, called the Mafflian, with which the Galley Hill (Kent) skeleton and implements were associated, has been taken down to the Strepyan Period of Chellean man. The various stages have been subdivided into Upper, Middle, and Lower Periods.
Of late years certain scientists have sought to establish a pre-Palćolithic Age called the Eolithic. They thus place the appearance of man in the geological Tertiary system, not only in the Pliocene Age, which preceded the Pleistocene, but also back through the Miocene and Oligocene Ages to the Eocene. The Tertiary stages of culture are called Reutelian, and are as follows:--
1. Eocene Age, Duan (Reutelian).
2. Oligocene Age, Fagnian (Reutelian).
3. Miocene Age, Cantalian (Reutelian).
4. Pliocene Age, Kentian (Reutelian).
5. Early Pleistocene, Thames basin (Reutelian).
Then follow the Mesvinian and Strepyan phases of early Chellean culture.
Professor James Geikie confesses he is "staggered" by the theory that man existed in the Tertiary system of Ages. "Since the Eocene Period, which must date back", he says, "several millions of years, the whole mammalian fauna has undergone modifications and changes, continuous evolution having resulted in the more or less complete transformation of numerous types, while many others have long been extinct. And yet, if we accept the eoliths as proofs of man's existence in Eocene and Oligocene times, we must admit that in this case--and in this case alone--evolution must have been at a standstill during a prodigiously extended period. For it must be understood that the eoliths of the older Tertiary formations cannot be distinguished from those met with in the Miocene, Pliocene, and even Pleistocene deposits. 16
These "eoliths" are chipped flints which were either flaked by man or by natural causes--the movements of strata settling under pressure or the action of water. The problem is a difficult one. "The unprejudiced", says Professor Duckworth, "will maintain an open mind, pending the advent of more conclusive evidence than has been adduced hitherto." 17 Professor Sollas, on the other hand, is convinced that not a trace of unquestionable evidence of man's existence has been found in strata admittedly older than the Pleistocene. 18
Estimates of the approximate duration of the Pleistocene Age vary considerably. Geikie, following Penck, gives 620,000 years as a minimum; Rutot confines it to 139,000 years, and thus reduces greatly the age of his "eoliths", while Sturge estimates that a single period of it lasted for 700,000 years. The majority of leading scientists, however, have of late inclined to favour Penck's system of dating, and to allow 400,000 years as a minimum for the Palćolithic or Early Stone Age, which begins with the first stages of Chellean culture. The dawn of the Neolithic, or Late Stone Age, is dated in southern Europe and Palestine at roughly 10,000 B.C.
In the next chapter consideration will be given to those traces which survive of the religious and magical beliefs of the Palćolithic peoples, and it will be shown that the evidence accumulated has an important bearing on the problems raised by Cretan and pre-Hellenic discoveries, as well as upon the study of the myths and legends of Babylonia and Egypt, and those of peoples less renowned but no less important from the point of view of the student of comparative mythology.
1 Breasted's History of Egypt, p. 357.
2 Translated from Amlodi Saga, by F. York Powell.
3 Bergelm and Thrudgelm, nature-giants, and Ymer, the primeval world-giant. The Elder Edda, O. Bray, pp. 471 49; and Teutonic Myth and Legend, pp. 1 et seq.
4 The Seven Tablets of Creation, L. W. King, p. 129.
5 Mallet's Northern Antiquities, p. 451.
6 The Elder Edda, O. Bray, pp. 291, 295.
7 Resembling the armadillo.
8 The jaw-bone of the earliest European was found in a Mauer sand-pit, 78 feet from the surface. Sollas holds that this primitive German belonged to none of the existing races of mankind. The jaw-bone has Simian characteristics.
9 The so-called coup-de-poing of the French archćologists; also named "bouchers", after M. Boucher de Perthes, who half a century ago identified them as primitive artifacts of human contemporaries of extinct wild animals.
10 The Piltdown skull of a broad-headed woman was discovered in 1913.
11 The Neanderthal-Spy type.
12 Two Grimaldi skulls which have been discovered have distinct negroid characteristics: the jaw protrudes sharply.
13 This implement has also been called a "sceptre"; it was more probably an "arrow straightener".
14 And is still found there, as ethnologists have demonstrated.
15 The bone needle with perforated eye is an invention of this period.
16 Antiquity of Man in Europe, p. 5 (1914.).
17 Prehistoric Man, pp. 106-21 (1912).
18 Ancient Hunters, pp. 67, 69 (1911).