MYTHS OF CRETE & PRE-HELLENIC EUROPE
By DONALD A. MACKENZIE
THE GRESHAM PUBLISHING COMPANY LIMITED
66 CHANDOS STREET COVENT GARDEN LONDON
IN relating how Crete has risen into prominence as the seat of a great and ancient civilization, one is reminded of the fairy story of Cinderella. The archæological narrative begins with the discovery made by Schliemann of traces of a distinctive and high pre-Hellenic culture amidst the ruins of the Peloponnesian cities of Tiryns and Mycenæ, which he assigned to the Homeric Age. Evidence was soon forthcoming that this culture was not of indigenous character, but had been imported from some unknown area after it had reached its highest development and was beginning to show signs of decadence -a sure indication of its great antiquity. A dramatic search followed for the centre of origin and diffusion. The wonderful slipper had been found, but where was Cinderella? In the end, after several claims had been urged, the last comer was proved to be the missing princess of culture, and the last comer was Crete. Research on that island had been long postponed on account of the disturbed political conditions that prevailed under the Turkish regime.
A new first chapter has since been added to the history of European civilization. We no longer begin with Hellenic Greece, or believe that Hellenic culture sprang full-grown into being like the fabled deity who leapt from her parent's head. In this volume it is shown that the myths and legends preserved in the works of various classical writers regarding the sources of Grecian culture were well founded, and that the traditions of the "Heroic Age" did not have origin in the imaginations of poets and dramatists. But, wise as we chance to be, after the event, we need not regard with scorn the historians of a past generation who hesitated to sift and utilize such elusive myths as the Cretan origins of Zeus and Demeter, and the semi-historical references to Crete, in the works of Homer, Thucydides, and others, to find a sure basis for a convincing narrative worthy of the name of history.
It is only within recent years that the necessary archaeological data have been available which enables students of ancient civilization to draw with some degree of confidence upon the abundant but confused contents of the storehouse of folk memory.
The discovery that Crete was the birth-place of Ægean civilization, which radiated in the pre-Hellenic times throughout Europe--"the little leaven that leavened the whole lump"--does not, however, set a limit to the work of research, or solve all the problems which are involved. Although it has been demonstrated that the Cretan leaven was in existence and at work at the dawn of the Egyptian Dynastic Age, and when the Sumerians were achieving their earliest triumphs in the Tigro-Euphratean valley, we are still confronted with the problem of remote origin. The earliest settlers in Crete had, as their artifacts demonstrate, already obtained a comparatively high degree of Neolithic culture. Houses were built of stone as well as of wattles daubed with clay, a sea trade was in existence, for obsidian was imported from Melos, and a section of the community had adopted the agricultural mode of life. Withal, beliefs were well developed and had assumed a fixity which remained until they were merged in the accumulated mass of Grecian inheritance, and suffered, as a result, for long ages, complete loss of identity. The earliest settlement of people at Knossos has been assigned to about 10,000 B.C., an approximate dating which is based on the evidence of the archaeological strata.
But the earliest traces of an artistic culture in Europe belong to a still more remote age. Although during the vast periods of the Neolithic, or Late Stone Age, there existed savage communities, just as happens to be the case at the present day in various parts of the world, there were also, as in Crete, Egypt, and Babylonia, refined and progressive peoples who were already "heirs of all the Ages"--the Ages when ancient Europe passed through stages of climatic oscillations of such pronounced character that the remains of mankind are found in strata yielding alternately tropical, temperate, and Arctic flora and fauna. The period in question, the lengthiest in the history of civilization, is the archaeological Palæolithic, or Early Stone Age. Towards its close, for which the minimum dating is 20,000 B.C., there existed in Europe at least two races, whose cultures are referred to as Aurignacian and Magdalenian. A stage called Azilian links the Palæolithic with the Neolithic Age, and the continuity of culture from the earliest times is now generally regarded as an established fact.
The story of Cretan civilization may constitute, as has been said, the first chapter of European history. But the "Introduction" is derived from the Palæolithic Age, before and during the Fourth Glacial Epoch of the geologists.
Our introductory data are obtained from the famous Palæolithic cave-dwellings of France and Spain, which are dealt with in Chapters I and II. No definite traces are yet obtainable, among the scanty human remains that have been discovered, of racial types resembling those of early Egypt or early Crete, but remarkable evidence has been forthcoming which not only establishes the great antiquity of certain artistic motifs -of finished artistic skill and even of certain customs that afterwards appeared on the Island of Minos and in the Nilotic and Tigro-Euphratean areas.
The links with Crete are so close and suggestive that writers like Angelo Mosso have expressed the belief in the Neolithic and Cretan origin of Aurignacian and Magdalenian art. But the geologists have established beyond a shadow of doubt that the civilization of which this art is an eloquent expression must be assigned to the latter part of the Pleistocene period, when the reindeer roamed through the valleys of France.
Those ancient Palæolithic hunters were skilled artists and carvers of bone and ivory. They painted and engraved on cave roofs the figures of animals with a realism and freedom which were never surpassed in Greece; they also carved ivory female figurines in the round which are worthy of comparison with similar artistic products of Egypt, and not always to their disadvantage.
"The resemblances", writes Mosso, "between the most ancient female figures in France and the Neolithic figures of Crete and Egypt are very striking." Among the rock pictures of women he sees "the girdle and the Egyptian mode of hairdressing". Describing a Palæolithic painting, he writes: "The women's hair flows down upon their shoulders like that of the Minoan women; the bosom is uncovered and the breasts much developed. The triangular shape of the heads indicates a hood or a kind of mitre. Two of them wear a bracelet on the upper arm near the elbow, and all have a very slender waist, with the body shaped like an hour-glass." He also comments in another instance on the skirts, which were also characteristic of Crete. 1
Comparisons between the Cretan frescoes and the Palæolithic cave-paintings of Spain and France have likewise been made by the Abbé Breuil, Don Juan Cabre Aguila, and other Continental archæologists.
One of the racial types which existed during the Aurignacian and Magdalenian periods, or stages of culture, was the Cro-Magnon. It can still be traced in Europe, especially in the French Dordogne valley, and among the Berbers in North Africa, as Dr. Collignon has shown. 2 Evidence of Cro-Magnon migration in Late Pleistocene times has also been forthcoming from Belgium, while traces of their burial customs have been found in Moravia and elsewhere. How and by what route Aurignacian influence reached Crete, after the lapse of thousands of years, we have as yet no means of knowing. It seems reasonable to assume that this civilization did not end without leaving heirs somewhere. The Greeks were heirs of Crete, and yet it is but quite recently that this fact has been fully demonstrated.
Not only has the antiquity of European art been established; the Palæolithic data which have been accumulated emphasize also the remote beginnings of certain magical and religious beliefs and practices. The suggestion is thus rendered plausible that some of the widespread myths and folk-tales may be as old as the French and Spanish cave-paintings and ivory carvings. Who will venture, for instance, to date the origin of that far-travelled tale about the lovers who escape from the giant's den and throw down pebbles which become mountains and twigs which create forests, to delay their angry pursuer? The late Mr. Andrew Lang has shown that it is found in Zulu, Gaelic, Norse. Malagasy, Russian, Italian, and Japanese folk-literatures. The author "will never", he wrote, "be known to fame", although, among storytellers, he has achieved "the widest circulation in the world". 3
A now popular hypothesis, first urged by Hugh Miller, is usually held to offer a conclusive explanation for the wonderful resemblances between certain legends collected in various parts of the world. "I have seen", Miller wrote about eighty years ago, "in the museum of the Northern Institution (Inverness) a very complete collection of stone battle-axes. some of which have been formed little earlier than the last age. by the rude natives of America and the South Sea Islands, while others, which have been dug out of the cairns and tumuli of our own country, bear witness to the unrecorded feuds and forgotten battle-fields of twenty centuries ago. I was a good deal struck by the resemblance which they bear to each other; a resemblance so complete, that the most practised eye can hardly distinguish between the weapons of the old Scot and the New Zealander. . . . Man in a savage state is the same animal everywhere, and his constructive powers, whether employed in the formation of a legendary story or of a battle-axe, seem to expatiate almost everywhere in the same ragged track of invention. For even the traditions of this first stage may be identified., like his weapons of war, all the world over." 4
Since Miller's day experts have become so familiar with the stone implements and weapons of primitive men that they experience no difficulty, not only in distinguishing between the characteristic products of various countries, but also of the various ages, or stages of culture, in one particular area. We find ourselves, however, on less sure ground when we deal with traditional tales. Miller's hypothesis in regard to these must still receive acceptance but with certain qualifications. It certainly accounts for striking resemblances, although not for equally striking differences. If it were to be urged in every instance, the work of research would be stultified and rendered somewhat barren. "There is a well-known tendency", as Mr. Hogarth reminds us, "to find one formula to explain all things, and an equally notorious one to overwork the latest formula." 5
The intensive study of the mythology of a particular civilization, like that of Crete or Egypt, for instance, reveals marked local divergencies which are not easily accounted for. It is an extremely risky proceeding, therefore, when we find a fragment of a legend, or a clue to some archaic religious custom, in a cultural centre like Crete, to undertake the work of reconstruction by selecting something from Australia, adding a Chinese idea, and completing the whole with contributions from Russia, Greenland, or Mexico. We may find similar symbols in different countries, but it does not follow that they had originally all the same significance; similar alphabetical signs have not always the same phonetic values. The human mind is not like a mould which produces automatically the same shapes for the same purposes, or the same ideas to account for the same problems, in every part of the world.
Myths are products of beliefs, and beliefs are products of experiences. They are also pictorial records of natural phenomena. Mankind have not had the same experiences everywhere, nor have they found the world lacking in variety of contour and climate. Certain peoples, for instance, have achieved progress in civilizations based on the agricultural mode of life. Their beliefs have consequently been influenced by their agricultural experiences, and their myths have been given an agricultural significance. Before the Calendar was invented, the farmer who profited from the experiences of his ancestors, and handed on his knowledge to posterity, did not speak about "ploughing in spring" and "reaping in autumn", or explain the futility of sowing seed, say, in December and expecting crops in April. He framed instead a system of myths which guided the agricultural operations of his kin for long centuries. In India, which suffers at one season from great heat and drought, he conceived the Drought Demon which imprisoned the fertilizing waters in a mountain cave. just when the world is about to perish, the god Indra comes to its rescue armed with his thunderbolt. He attacks and slays the demon, exclaiming:
I am the hurler of the bolt of thunder;
For man flow freely now the gleaming waters.
After this thunder-battle, rain descends in torrents, the withered grass sprouts luxuriantly, and the rice harvest follows.
In Babylonia the demon is the water-monster Tiamat, who enters the Euphrates and causes it to flood. She is slain and cut up by Merodach, who thus sets the world in order. Then the farmer sows his seeds. In Egypt the inundation of the Nile is brought about by Ra, who, having undertaken to destroy his human enemies, relents and withdraws the waters, so that seeds may be cast in the fertilized soil and the harvest gathered in season. Pious worshippers of the deities who controlled the forces of nature were expected to perform ceremonies and offer sacrifices to assist or propitiate them. Thus the local forms of religion were shaped by local phenomena of which the myths are reflections.
Peoples who lived among the mountains and followed the pastoral mode of life had different experiences from those who found their food-supply in river valleys. In districts where the rainfall was regular and abundant they knew nothing of India's droughts, or Egypt's floods. On the other hand, they might have experiences of binding frost, fierce blizzards, and snow-blocked passes, which forced them to migrate to districts where they could winter their flocks and herds. Their myths were consequently based on experiences and natural phenomena which contrasted sharply with those of the Nilotic and Tigro-Euphratean peoples, with the result that their systems of religious beliefs developed upon different lines. Similarly, peoples who dwelt upon islands and along sea-coasts and gathered the harvest of the deep, and forest-dwellers who lived on fruits and trophies of the chase, formulated and perpetuated modes of thought which were products of their particular modes of life in different environments. It is obvious, therefore, that the mind of man did not everywhere follow "the same rugged track of invention". In different districts and at different periods sections of mankind achieved independent development on sharply differentiated lines, with the result that religious conceptions, like outstanding racial types, had their areas of characterization.
Consideration should next be given to cultural influence resulting from contact. The oscillations of climate which followed the last glacial epoch caused widespread migrations of peoples. Racial types which are still recognizable were already fixed; mankind at the dawn of the Neolithic or Late Stone Age had attained full mental 6 and physical development. Races were distributed far and wide, and settlers favoured those areas which were suitable for their habits of life. The barriers of ice and snow which had separated peoples for thousands of years vanished before the warm sun, and as the various races prospered and increased they came into contact with one another. Let us picture a pastoral tribe issuing from a region of steppe lands and entering a valley occupied by agriculturists. They come with a heritage of beliefs and customs as alien as their language to those who rear crops and dwell in villages. The small farmers regard them as demons, and go out to battle to conquer or be conquered. If the invaders prevail, they remain in the district and in time fuse with the conquered. Then the beliefs of the mingled peoples are fused also. The result is a compromise between the distinctive religions. In the valley the earlier faith secures ascendancy because the invaders have no agricultural religion and no words even for "corn" and "furrow" and "plough". But a portion of the conquerors follow their old habits of life as pastoralists and hunters, and occupy the grazing-lands round the valley and among the hills, where they find a new Olympus for their gods. In time a pantheon is formed which embraces the deities of conquered and conquerors.
Trade springs up between various communities and the influence of culture flows along the trade routes. The knowledge of how to grow corn passes from tribe to tribe. But the isolated hunters in a northern valley who become agriculturists do not simply import implements and seeds; those who instruct them how to till the soil instruct them also regarding the ceremonies which are necessary to ensure growth and the harvest.
So the agricultural religion of Egypt or Babylon passes through Europe and Asia, and is adopted by peoples who mix with it their own peculiar local practices inherited for untold generations from their remote ancestors.
In Denmark the northern huntsman and fisherman came into contact with the little farmers from the south, or tribes who had acquired the southern art of agriculture. They learned to sow the seed in sorrow and to beat their breasts when they cut the corn, and thus slew the corn spirit, and to return rejoicing carrying the sheaves. Magical ceremonies were considered to be as essential to agricultural success as ploughs and reaping-hooks, Consequently they adopted the magical ceremonies that had origin somewhere on the shores of the Mediterranean or in the Nile valley. So we find in Denmark the myth of Scef, the child god, who comes over the sea with the first sheaf of corn, which so closely resembles the Babylonian myth of Tammuz, who comes as a child from the Underworld and the Deep every new year.
The non-agricultural mountain-folk, who migrated hither and thither, knew naught of the corn-child. They conceived of a god who shaped the mountains with his hammer, the thunderbolt; each blow was a peal of thunder. He also hammered the sky into shape. Meteorites which fell from the sky were found to be of iron; it was consequently believed that the sky was formed of iron, which became known as "the metal of heaven". Iron was regarded as a protective charm. It was associated with the great deity who slew demons. A mortal had only to "touch iron" to drive demons away, for by doing so he established a magical connection between himself and the hammer deity.
Worshippers of the mountain-god went northward and called him Thor. In Asia Minor he was Tarku and Teshub; in India, Indra, son of Dyaus; in Greece, Zeus. Those worshippers who reached Palestine called him Pathach (the Hebrew name), and those who settled in Egypt knew him as Ptah, and, although thunderstorms are rare in Egypt, the Memphites never forgot the hammer of Ptah and the heaven of iron which he had beaten into shape. In time Ptah acquired new attributes. As the artisan-god he was credited with the invention of the Egyptian potter's wheel, on which he shaped the sun and moon, and the first man and woman. He was thus localized. Yet he ever remained distinctive among the deities of Egypt.
Tradition dies hard. Once an idea became impressed on the human mind it remained there, and new ideas were superimposed upon it. The Egyptians achieved great progress as thinkers and artisans, yet they dung to beliefs and customs of savage origin. So did the Greeks, who never forgot Cronos, the bloodthirsty god who swallowed his children and had to be murdered by his heir. It does not follow, however, that this tendency to conserve ancient beliefs and modes of thought was opposed to the growth of culture, or that men and women who perpetuated them were as ignorant and bloodthirsty as their primitive ancestors. In our own day an individual with a university degree may dread to spill salt, regard a black cat as lucky, and refuse to occupy a hotel bedroom numbered 13. Motor-cars and flying-machines carry mascots, as did the galleys of ancient Egypt, Crete, and Phnicia. The writer has seen a Girton girl perpetuating a religious custom of her remote ancestors by attaching a rag to a tree that overhangs a "wishing well", and wishing silently her wish quite as fervently as do less highly cultured members of her sex in places as far removed as the Scottish Highlands and the Island of Crete.
Superstitious practices which are familiar in our everyday lives have a long history. They have survived nearly two thousand years of Christian influence. Who will undertake to date their origins? They may go back to the Bronze Age, the Late Stone Age, and even to the interglacial periods of the Palæolithic Age. The following comparative notes will serve to illustrate the antiquity of at least one remarkable folk-belief.
In Upper Egypt discovery has been made of bodies which were buried in hot dry sands about sixty centuries ago. Not only have the bones, skin, hair, muscles, and eyes been preserved, but even the internal organs. The contents of stomachs and intestines have been examined by Dr. Netolitzky, the Russian scientist, who ascertained in this way what food the ancient people ate. "The occasional presence of the remains of mice in the alimentary canals of children, under circumstances which prove that the small rodent had been eaten after being skinned, is", writes Professor Elliot Smith, "a discovery of very great interest, for Dr. Netolitzky informs me that the body of a mouse was the last resort of medical practitioners in the East several millennia later as the remedy for children in extremis." 7 Until comparatively recently the liver of a mouse was in the Scottish Highlands the "old wife's cure" for children dangerously ill. The writer was informed regarding it in more than one locality, long before the Egyptian discovery was made, by women who professed to have had experience of the efficacy of the mouse cure.
The ashes of a mouse baked alive used to be a cure for rheumatism in Suffolk. In Lincolnshire fried mice were given to children suffering from whooping-cough and quinsy. According to Henderson 8 a whooping-cough patient in the northern counties had to be seated on a donkey, with face towards the tail, when the mouse was being eaten. The custom of entombing a live mouse in an ash-tree, to cure children or charm cattle against attack, prevailed in Leicestershire. 9 A similar custom obtained in Scotland, where the shrew-mouse was believed to paralyse a limb it chanced to creep over. 10 The traditional fear of mice among women is of interest in this connection. Roasted mouse was, in the north-eastern counties of Scotland, a cure for cold or sore throat.
In Egypt the mouse was associated with the lunar god Thoth, who cured Horus when he was bitten by the scorpion, restored the sight of his eye which was blinded by the black Set pig, and assisted in uniting the fragments of the body of Osiris. The mouse crouches at the base of his rod of destiny, on which he measured out the lives of men. 11 In Greece the mouse was associated with Apollo. This god was identified by the Romans with the sun, but Homer knew him as Smintheus Apollo, "Mouse Apollo", who struck down the Greeks with his arrows of pestilence. 12 According to Strabo, there were many places which bore the Apollo mouse name. 13 Mouse feasts were held at Rhodes, Gela, Lesbos, and Crete. According to a Trojan story, the settlement took place in Anatolia of Cretans who were advised by an oracle to select the first place where they were attacked by the children of the soil. At Hamaxitus, in the Troad, a swarm of mice ate their bow-strings and the leather of their armour, and they decided to make that place their home. 14 In India the mouse was associated with Rudra, to whom the poet prayed:
Give unto me of thy medicines, Rudra,
So that my years may reach to a hundred. 15
Rudra, like Apollo, sent diseases, and was therefore able to prevent and cure them.
The mouse feasts referred to by ancient writers may have been held to ensure long life among those who, like the Egyptians, connected the mouse with the moon, the source of fertility and growth and the measurer of the days of man. The Egyptian lunar god Khonsu was the divine physician and the love-god. All fertility deities, indeed, cured diseases. The King of Mitanni sent the image of Ishtar to Thebes when Pharaoh Amenhotep III was ill. Isaiah refers to the mouse-eating practice: "They that sanctify themselves and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord." 16 When the Philistines, who came from Crete, were stricken by a pestilence, they placed five golden mice in the ark and sent it back to the Israelites. 17 Thus we find the Highland mouse-cure belief going back for 6000 years and reaching to the remotest areas settled by representatives of the Mediterranean race. Other superstitions may be as old, or older. The ancient Egyptians, like our own people, inherited beliefs from their savage ancestors.
The evidence summarized in this volume (Chapter II) regarding Palæolithic customs and beliefs tends to emphasize that, while mankind everywhere may arrive at similar conclusions under similar circumstances, some conceptions were handed down by tradition and distributed over wide areas by wandering peoples long before the dawn of the Neolithic period in Europe and Egypt. If the mouse cure can be traced back for sixty centuries it may well have been known for a further sixty centuries. In Palæolithic times, at least 20,000 years ago, the spine of a fish was laid on the corpse when it was entombed, just as the "ded" amulet, which was the symbol of the backbone of Osiris, was laid on the neck of the Egyptian mummy. Anthropologists have favoured the theory that the animal-headed deities of Egypt are links between animal and anthropomorphic deities. Animal-headed deities with arms uplifted in the Egyptian attitude of adoration figure in Palæolithic cave-drawings. The process of change, if such it was, must therefore have commenced thousands of years before the Dynastic Egyptians became supreme in the Nile valley. It used to be urged that the Phnicians were the inventors of alphabetic script, but linearized signs "of curiously alphabetic aspect--at times even in groups--are seen engraved on reindeer horns or ivory, or on the surface of the rock itself", which were the work of Palæolithic folk in the Fourth Glacial Period. "Certain signs", says Sir Arthur Evans, from whom we quote, "carved on a fragment of reindeer horn, are specially interesting from the primitive anticipation that they present of the Phnician alef. . . . It is interesting to observe that among the existing peoples of the extreme north of Europe, whose conditions most nearly represent those of the old Reindeer folk, the relics of pure pictography were preserved to modern times. . . . These Lapp pictographs themselves belong to a widely diffused primitive group--illustrated by the paintings and carvings on rocks and other materials--which extends across the whole Fenno-Tataric region from the White Sea to the Urals and throughout Siberia to the borders of China.
Terra-cotta Disk from Phæstos, with pictographic script which reads from the centre outwards, but has not been deciphered. It is believed to have come from Lycia, Asia Minor. Heads with feather head-dress similar to that worn by the Philistines appear on the disk.
INSCRIBED TABLETS FOUND IN CRETE
It was probably from an early offshoot of this great family of pictorial signs that the elaborate characters of the Chinese writing were ultimately evolved." Similar pictographs are found in Scandinavia, Ireland, Brittany, Portugal, Spain, North-West Africa, the Canaries, in the Maritime Alps, the Vosges, Dalmatia, in Transylvania, and on early Trojan artifacts. 18
In addition to the pictographs there also passed from the Palæolithic into the Neolithic and Bronze Ages certain burial customs, decorative designs developed from animal drawings, the custom of shaping figurines of the mother goddess with female characteristics emphasized, and the bell-shaped skirt which found favour in Crete. Palæolithic pottery found in Belgium has Neolithic characteristics. It has also been demonstrated, as stated, that what is known as the Azilian stage of culture links the cultures of the Early and Late Stone Ages. After the close of the Fourth Glacial Period the early pioneers of the Mediterranean race came into contact in Europe with the remnants of the Palæoliths and mingled with them in localities. Among a large number of skulls taken recently from an old Glasgow graveyard, into which an Infirmary extension intruded, were a considerable sprinkling of Palæolithic types. The interments at this part were made during the 18th century and the early part of the 19th century. Apparently there were descendants of the Palæoliths among the makers of modern Glasgow.
Certain beliefs and customs and folk-tales appear also to have survived with the peoples of the Reindeer Period, among whom they were prevalent. And as the culture of that period (the Fourth Glacial Epoch) developed from the cultures of the earlier periods, it is possible that some surviving modes of thought may have obtained for 40,000 years. The Chellean hand-axe of the Second Interglacial Period in France was distributed far and wide; it travelled across the Italian land-bridge to Africa and penetrated as far as Cape Colony; it was imitated in Asia and passed across the Behring Straits land-bridge to America. and reached the utmost southern limits of South America. It never reached Australia. Perhaps Mr. Lang's "far-travelled tale" was similarly given widespread distribution at a remote period in the history of the human races. The culture of a particular people reached remote corners of the globe to which descendants of its originators may never have penetrated. We are familiar with this phenomenon even at the present day. It should be borne in mind, therefore, that although the mind of man may have in primitive times conceived similar ideas and invented similar tales in various regions widely separated, the masses of humanity on the whole have also been more prone to conserve what they have acquired than to welcome something new. Nothing impresses the student of comparative mythology more than the barrenness of the primitive mind. New ideas are the exception rather than the rule. Changes in religious ideas were forced upon ancient peoples either by intruding aliens or by the influence exercised by physical phenomena in new areas of settlement. Even when a change occurred the past was not entirely cut off. Rather a fusion was effected of the new ideas with the old.
In dealing with a mythology like that of Crete, which has not yet been rendered articulate, for the script has still to be deciphered, we expect to find traces of more than one stage of development in religious ideas, and also of the ideas of settlers on the island of peoples from different cultural centres. Certain relics suggest Egyptian influence and others point to an intimate connection with archaic Grecian beliefs. No doubt Crete inherited much from Egypt; and certain Greek States in which Cretan colonists settled borrowed much from Crete. It remains to be proved, however, that the Cretans, after settling on their island, developed on the same lines as primitive peoples elsewhere, or even that they previously passed through the different stages of religious culture regarding which evidence has been gleaned from various parts of the world.
It is sometimes assumed that the religious history of the human race is marked by well--defined layers of thought--Naturalism or Naturism, Totemism, Animism, Demonology, Tribal Monotheism which with the fusion of tribes leads to Polytheism, and then ultimately sole Monotheism. All these stages may be traced in a particular area. But we must not expect to find them everywhere. Human thought has not accumulated strata of ideas in regular sequence, like geological or archaeological strata. Sonic peoples, for instance, have never conceived of a personal god, or even of distinctive animistic spirit groups. Mr. Risley has shown that the jungle-dwellers of Chota Nagpur fear and attempt to propitiate "not a person at all in any sense of the word. If one must state the case in positive terms," he adds, "I should say that the idea which lies at the root of their religion is that of Power, or rather of many Powers. . . . Closer than this he does not seek to define the object to which he offers his victim, or whose symbol he daubs with vermilion at the appointed season. Some sort of Power is there, and that is enough for him. . . . All over Chota Nagpur we find sacred groves, the abode of equally indeterminate things, who are represented by no symbols and of whose form and function no one can give an intelligible account. They have not yet been clothed with individual attributes; they linger on as survivals of the impersonal stage of religion." 19 The Australian natives, on the other hand, and even those who are more primitive than the Chota Nagpur jungle-dwellers, have a god whose voice is imitated by the "bull roarer". Palæolithic man of the Reindeer Age, as has been said, had animal-headed deities and shaped, in ivory, figurines of the mother goddess. In Egypt and Babylonia there were composite deities, half animal and half human, from the earliest times of which we have knowledge. The Chinese have deities also, but have specialized as ancestor-worshippers. Argue as we may regarding well-defined "mental processes", it must be recognized that religious phenomena all over the world cannot be explained by a single hypothesis, and that we are not justified in assuming that the same stages, or all the recognized stages, of development can be traced everywhere. There may have been Totemic beliefs in Crete and Greece and there may not. Until definite proof is forthcoming that there were, the problem must remain an open one. Similarly, we should hesitate to accept the hypotheses that patriarchal conditions were preceded by matriarchal and that goddesses preceded gods everywhere. In India the gods were prominent in the Vedic period; during the post-Vedic period goddesses ceased to be vague and became outstanding personalities as "Great Mothers". 20
This brings us to an interesting phase of Cretan religious and social life. From the evidence afforded by idols, pictorial art, symbols, and traditions it would appear that the goddess cult was supreme on the island, Priestesses were as prominent as they were at Dodona. In fact, women appear to have taken a leading part in religious ceremonies, as Jeremiah found was the case in Jerusalem, where women baked cakes which were offered to the "Queen of Heaven", the Eastern mother-goddess. "Probably in Minoan Crete", writes Mr. Hall, "women played a greater part than they did even in Egypt, and it may eventually appear that religious matters, perhaps even the government of the State itself as well, were largely controlled by women. It is certain they must have lived on a footing of greater equality with the men than in any other ancient civilization, and we see in the frescoes of Knossos conclusive indications of an open and easy association of men and women, corresponding to our idea of 'Society', at the Minoan Court unparalleled till our own day." 21 Among the goddess worshippers of Sumeria women enjoyed a high social status also. But among the Semites of the god cult this was not the case. Women were not depicted in Assyria as in Crete. It was when Babylonian influences entered the Assyrian Court that Queen Sammu-ramat--the Semiramis of tradition-rose into prominence. Professor Sayce has drawn attention to the significant fact that when the Semites translated the Sumerian hymns they transposed "women and men" (equivalent to our "ladies and gentlemen") into "men and women". The law of descent by the female line which obtained in Egypt and elsewhere among peoples of the Mediterranean race was probably a relic of customs which had a religious significance.
The view has been strongly advocated that in all primitive communities matriarchal conditions preceded patriarchal conditions, and goddess worship the worship of gods. It is not now generally accepted, however: some peoples seem to have been worshippers of male deities and others of female deities from the earliest times. The fusion of the god and goddess cults in Egypt and Babylonia and elsewhere was probably one of the results of the fusion of peoples. In some countries, where patriarchal peoples formed military aristocracies, they may have ordered succession by the male line. But there is also evidence to show that they adopted the wiser method of marrying the heiresses of estates and thrones to win the allegiance of the masses. "Mother-right" prevailed in Egypt, for instance, until the end. The problem involved is too complex to be accounted for by a single hypothesis.
It would appear that the activities of the Cretan women were chiefly confined to indoor life. As in Egypt, they were depicted by painters with white skins, while the men were, with the exception of princes, given red skins. Women were also more elaborately attired and bejewelled than men.
In dealing with ancient civilizations it is of importance to take note of burial customs. There can be little doubt that these have been ever closely associated with religious beliefs. What are known to archæologists as "ceremonial burials" must have been performed, it is reasonable to suppose, with some degree of ceremony with purpose either to promote the welfare of the deceased or to secure the protection of the living. The Dynastic Egyptians, for instance, mummified their dead because they believed that the soul could not continue to exist in the Otherworld unless the body were preserved intact in the tomb. On the other hand, the Homeric Achæans burned their dead, so that the soul might be transferred by fire to Hades, from which it would never again return. 22 In pre-Dynastic Egypt the body was laid in a shallow grave in crouched position, with food-vessels, implements, and weapons beside it. A similar custom prevailed in Babylonia and throughout Europe in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Dwellers on the northern sea-coast of Europe set their dead adrift in boats, as was Balder in the Eddic legend and Sceaf in the Beowulf poem. Others buried their dead in caves, threw them to wild beasts, or ate them.
In some cases it would appear that the beliefs connected with burial were suggested by local phenomena. In Upper Egypt bodies are naturally mummified in the hot dry sands. It is possible, therefore, that the custom of embalming the dead may have grown up among that section of the Egyptian people whose religious beliefs were formulated in the area where the corpse was naturally preserved. They may have been horrified to find that bodies did not remain intact in new districts to which they migrated. But the custom of burning the dead cannot be explained in this way.
Burial customs may not always afford us definite clues regarding religious beliefs. It does not follow that the pre-Dynastic Egyptians, the Babylonian Sumerians, and the Neolithic Europeans who favoured crouched burials had all the same ideas regarding the destiny of men, or the same beliefs regarding the Otherworld. Different conceptions might be prevalent in a single country. It is found that in Wales, for instance, ideas about the future state varied considerably. Folk-lore and mediæval poetry have references to an Underworld in which the dead continue to live in organized communities and work and fight as they were accustomed to do upon earth, to happy islands situated far out to sea, to fairy dwellings below rivers and lakes where souls exist like fairies, and to the woods of Caledonia where shades wander about as did the ancestors of the people who migrated from Caledonia to Wales. In one Welsh poem the Otherworld is referred to as "the cruel prison of the earth, the abode of death, the loveless land". 23 The Babylonian Hades was similarly gloomy and was similarly dreaded. Ishtar descends to--
The house out of which there is no exit . . .
The house from whose entrance the light is taken,
The place where dust is their (the souls') nourishment and their food mud.
Its chiefs are like birds covered with feathers.
But in pre-Dynastic Egypt the worshippers of Osiris, like a section of the Welsh folks, believed that the Otherworld was a land of plenty in which corn was sowed and crops reaped in season. A similar Paradise was believed in as far north as Scotland. It is referred to in a Perthshire fairy story. A midwife is taken to a fairy mound to nurse a fairy child, and is given a green fluid with which to anoint the eyes of the little one. The fairy woman moistens the right eye of the midwife with this fluid, and bids her look. "She looked", the narrative proceeds, and saw several of her friends and acquaintances at work, reaping the corn and gathering the fruit. 'This', said the fairy, 'is the punishment of evil deeds.'" 24 In ancient Egypt the fairy would have said it was "the reward of good deeds".
Burial customs afford us no exact evidence regarding these varying beliefs, which grew up in localities and were imported from one country to another. In Egypt the adherents of the cults of Osiris and Ra who believed in different Paradises mummified their dead, although, in the one case, happiness in the after state was believed to be the reward of good conduct n this life, and, in the other, of those who by performing ceremonies obtained knowledge of the formulæ which were the "Open Sesames" required by departed souls to secure admission to the boat of the sun.
Similarly, it does not follow that the cremation custom had the same significance at all periods. In the Iliad the ghost of Patroklos declares that he will never again return from Hades when he has received his meed of fire. Modern Hindus burn their dead, 25 but the soul may either depart to Paradise or continue its round through other existences on this earth. In Sanskrit literature the fire-god, Agni, "the corpse devourer", conducts souls to the "land of the fathers". The Persian fire-worshippers do not cremate their dead, although they may have done so at one time, but expose them to be devoured by wild birds. Of special interest is the practice of the Mongolian Buriats. The bodies of those who die in autumn and winter are piled up in a log-house in the midst of a forest. When the cuckoo begins to call, in May, this house is set on fire and the accumulated bodies are cremated together. Persons who die during the summer are burned immediately. 26 That the Aryo-Indians had knowledge at one time of the belief involved is suggested by a reference in the Mahabharata. Describing the heaven of Yama, the sage Narada says that he saw there "all sinners among human beings as also (those) that have died during the winter solstice". 27 The explanation may be that there were lucky and unlucky hours, days, and months for death as for birth. The omens at birth which foretold an individual's fate were supposed to give indication of his manner of death. One of the Scottish midwife prophecies runs:
Full moon, full sea,
Great man shalt thou be,
But ill deith shalt thou dee. 28
Omens at death threw light on his fate in the after life. The Buriat custom has evidently a long history behind it. Perhaps it was originally believed that those who died in winter were doomed to exist ever afterwards in cold and darkness. Such a belief imported into India would in time cease to have any significance. The new country had new terrors which supplanted the old, and influenced the development of religious beliefs.
Among certain peoples who did not believe, like the Achæans, the Aryo-Indians, and others, that the soul was transferred to Paradise through the medium of fire, burning was a punishment. Erring wives in ancient Egyptian and Scottish folk-tales are burned at the stake. 29 Similarly, witches were burned alive. Sir Arthur Evans has brought together interesting evidence regarding "the revival of cremation in Europe in mediæval and modern times to get rid of vampires". 30 Bodies of persons whose ghosts had become vampires, which attacked sleepers and sucked the life-blood from their veins, were taken from tombs and publicly burned. The vampires were thus prevented from doing further harm. Herodotus tells that when Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, caused the mummy of Pharaoh Amasis to be burned, he displeased both the Persians and the Egyptians. "The Persians", he says, "hold fire to be a god, and never by any chance burn their dead. Indeed, this practice is unlawful, both with them and with the Egyptians--with them for the reason above mentioned, since they deem it wrong to give the corpse of a man to a god; and with the Egyptians, because they believe fire to be a live animal, which eats whatever it can seize, and then, glutted with the food, dies with the matter which it feeds upon. Now, to give a man's body to be devoured by beasts is in no wise agreeable to their customs, and, indeed, this is the very reason why they embalm their dead, namely, to prevent them from being eaten in the grave by worms." 31
The evidence afforded by the Cretan burial customs is of special significance. From the earliest times until the close of the Bronze Age the dead were buried. Then cremation was introduced by invaders, who are believed to have been identical with the Achæans of Homer. The new custom had, in this instance, not only a religious but an ethnic significance.
Like certain of the Palæolithic tribes in western Europe, the early Cretans buried their dead in caves and rock shelters. As caves were dwellings, this was a form of house-burial. House-tombs have been found in Cretan as in Babylonian towns. The custom is referred to in the Ethiopic version of the mythical life of Alexander the Great. That hero was reputed to have "asked one of the Brahmans, saying: 'Have ye no tombs wherein to bury any man among you who may die?' And an interpreter made answer to him, saying: 'Man and woman and child grow up, and arrive at maturity and become old, and when any one (of them) dieth we bury him in the place wherein he lived; thus our graves are our houses. And our God knoweth that we desire this more than the lust for food and meat which all men have; this is our life and manner of dwelling in the darkness of our tombs.'" 32 This conversation can never have taken place in. India, but it is of interest in so far as it reflects a belief with which the author was familiar.
In Palæolithic times a cave was deserted after the head of the family was buried in it. There were also, however, burial-caves. The Cro-Magnon people, for instance, sometimes deposited whole families, or the members of tribes, in one of these. One cave has yielded no fewer than seventeen skeletons. Caves and rock-shelters were similarly utilized in Crete. It became customary, however, to construct chamber-tombs, which may have been imitations of caves. One at Aghia Triadha, near Phæstos, in south-central Crete, is some 30 feet in diameter. The remains of no fewer than 200 skeletons of men, women, and children were found in it. Other chambers adjoining added fifty to this number. Family tombs of this kind, which were entered by narrow passages, were sometimes circular, and developed into the beehive style of tomb found in Mycenæ and Tiryns. They date back to early Minoan times (C. 2800 B.C.). Others were of rectangular shape, like those found near Knossos. The Cretans also buried their dead in terracotta chests, in which the bodies Jay in crouched position as in the pre-Dynastic graves of Egypt. These larnakes or sarcophagi were probably of Egyptian origin. They have also been found in Sicily and Italy. Sometimes the Cretan sarcophagi were profusely decorated. Like the tombs, they contained vessels, seals, daggers, amulets.
The Cretans were worshippers of the Great Mother goddess who inhabited the abode of the buried dead. She was the Earth Mother. Caves were entrances to the Underworld over which she presided. In Crete,
LIMESTONE SARCOPHAGUS, SHAPED LIKE A CHEST, FOUND AT AGHIA TRIADHA
The thin plaster covering is painted with scenes connected with the cult of the dead. (See pages 289-290)
where no temples were erected, votive offerings were deposited in caves, the most famous of which were those on Mount Dicte and Mount Ida. According to Greek legend, the mother-goddess Rhea gave birth to Zeus in a Cretan cave. The ferocious mother-goddesses of England and Scotland, as is shown (Chapter III), were cave-dwellers. Palæolithic artists drew and painted their magical figures of animals in the depths of great caves.
Demeter of the Grecian Phigalia--the Black Ceres--lived in a cave, which is still regarded as sacred. This deity, who is believed to be a form of the Cretan Great Mother, was also associated with stone circles. Pausanias, writing of the town of Hermione in the Peloponnese, says that near it "there is a circle of huge unhewn stones, and inside this circle they perform the sacred rites of Demeter". 33
Stone circles, single standing-stones, and groups of stones like those at Carnac in Brittany were erected at burial-places. Offerings were made to the dead whose spirits had become associated with the Earth Mother. These spirits might be summoned from their tombs to make revelations. When Odin visited the Underworld to consult the Vala (witch or prophetess) regarding Balder's fate--
Round he rode to a door on the eastward
Where he knew was a witch's grave,
He sang there spells of the dead to the Vala,
Needs she must rise-a corpse-and answer. 34
Folk-memories of the ancient custom of summoning the spirit of the dead still survive in rural districts. An archæologist who recently conducted investigations at a stone circle in northern Scotland asked a ploughman if he knew anything regarding it. The answer was to this effect: "It is said that if you walk round it three times against the sun at midnight, you will raise the devil." Our demonology is the last stage of pagan mythology. The summoning of the devil, or the spirits of the Underworld, was a ceremony performed for purposes of divination, or to compel the aid of infernal beings. As only one grave is sometimes found in stone circles, it may be that a circle was erected when a great chief, or great priest or priestess, died, so that the ghost might be propitiated and called up to assist his or her kinsfolk in times of need. A patriarch or teacher would thus be worshipped after death like a god, and especially as a guide to the spirit world. The Babylonian Gilgamesh was a hero who first entered the cave which led to Paradise. So was the Indian Yama; he was the first man to "find the path for many", and he became god of the dead. Osiris, as Apuatu, was "opener of the ways", and similarly reigned in Hades. The Cretan Minos is in the Odyssey a lawgiver, like Osiris, of the Underworld. In Greek mythology the guide of travellers, who conducts the soul on his last journey, is Hermes. His name appears to be derived from herma, which signifies a cairn or a standing-stone. The Thracian "square Hermes" was a pillar surmounted by a human head--a form which is evidently a link between a standing-stone and the statue of an anthropomorphic deity. It may be that some of the anthropomorphic deities were simply deified ancestors, priests, or priestesses.
The Great Mother, who was worshipped by the Cretans and other pre-Hellenic peoples in south-eastern Europe, was the goddess of birth and death, of fertility and fate. As the ancestress of mankind she gathered to her abode in the Underworld the ghosts of her progeny.
She was the source of the food-supply, which she might withhold at will by raising storms, causing floods, or sending blight and disease. It was important that account should be taken of her varying moods--that her intentions should be ascertained by means of oracles, so that she might be propitiated, or controlled by the performance of magical ceremonies. She assumed various forms at different seasons and under different circumstances. Now she was the earth serpent, or the serpent of the deep--the Babylonian Tiamat--and anon the raven of death, or the dove of fertility; she might also appear as the mountain hag followed by savage beasts, or as a composite monster in a gloomy cavern, like the horse-headed Demeter of Phigalia. The beautiful northern goddess of the Greek sculptors was a poetic creation of post-Homeric times, when her benevolent character only was remembered. Still, Rhea ever retained her lion, which crouched beside her throne--a faint memory of her ancient savage character.
The Achæan conquerors who burned their dead were worshippers of the sky- and thunder-god, the Great Father. They believed that the souls of the dead ascended to a Paradise above the clouds. Hercules burned himself on a pyre and fled heavenwards as an eagle; the soul of the Roman Emperor ascended from the pyre on which his image was placed, on the back of an eagle. The eagle was the messenger of Zeus, and the god himself may have originally been an eagle. The Zu eagle of Babylonia and the Garuda eagle of India were ancient deities; indeed, Tammuz, in his Nin-girsu form at Lagash was depicted as a lion-headed eagle. Cyrus claimed to be an Achæmenian--that is, a descendant of the patriarchal Akhamanish, who was reputed to have been protected and fed during childhood by an eagle.
The double-headed eagle of the Hittites, which now figures in the royal arms of Russia, was a deity of great antiquity. In Egypt one Paradise was the Underworld of Osiris and the other the Paradise above the sky to which Horus ascended in the form of a falcon. Babylonian mythology makes references to the Paradises of Anu and Bel and Ishtar, to which the patriarch Etana ascends on the back of an eagle, as well as to the island Paradise discovered by Gilgamesh and the gloomy Underworld where souls eat dust and drink muddy water. So do the beliefs of mingled peoples survive in complex mythologies.
The archæological evidence of Crete and Greece shows clearly that the cremation custom had an ethnic significance. Whence then came the Achæans of Homer who were the cremating people, or at any rate were identified with them in tradition? Professor Ridgeway 35 has summarized a mass of important archæological data regarding prehistoric burial customs, and writes: "From this rapid survey it is now clear to the reader that cremation was not developed in the countries lying around the Mediterranean, whilst on the other hand it was already practised in Central Europe, possibly even in the transition period from stone to bronze. But as the Achæans practised it at least 1000 B.C., there is a very high probability that they had come into Greece from Central Europe, where the fair-haired peoples were certainly burning their dead before the end of the Bronze Age, or at least 1200 B.C." He regards with favour the view that the ancestors of the cremating Hindus--the Aryans and Indo-Europeans of the philologists--migrated from Europe into Asia before the Iron Age.
The theory that the Achæans were a Germanic people
VOTIVE OFFERINGS FROM THE DICTEAN CAVE
The three upper rows are bronze objects: those in the two lower, are in made of terra-cotta.
(See page xlv; also Chap. XIII, pages 297-299.)
and that the cremation custom originated in the forests of Germany has not received wide acceptance. Account must be taken of the archaic cremation custom of the Mongolian Buriats which has been referred to. No trace of seasonal burnings have been found in Europe. The Achæan dead might be cremated at any time of the year. Were the ancestors of the Buriats in touch at some remote period with a people among whom cremation was practised before it obtained in Central Europe?
The earliest evidence yet obtained of cremation comes from southern France. M. Verneau, who is the authority on the burial customs of the Palæolithic cave-dwellers of Grimaldi, has found that among the Cro-Magnon peoples of the Third Interglacial Period ceremonial interment by inhumation was the general rule. He found, however, a single instance of cremation. Offerings similar to those found with buried bodies were associated with the burned bones. Of course, we know nothing about the beliefs regarding the destiny of the soul which obtained among the Cro-Magnon peoples. The majority of these, it may be noted, were tall, averaging about 5 feet 10 inches in stature. M. Verneau, however, discovered two skeletons of alien type which he refers to as members of "a new race".
Next in chronological order, but separated by thousands of years, come the Early Neolithic cremating people of Palestine who dwelt in the Gezer caves. "One of the caves", writes Professor Macalister, "had evidently been used by this people as a place for the disposal of the dead. The body, placed at the sill of a chimney-aperture that provided a draught, was burnt, the remains becoming ultimately scattered and trampled over the whole surface of the floor. From one point of view this is unfortunate: the bones were too much destroyed by the action of the fire to make any very extensive examination of their ethnological character possible. All we can say is that we have to deal with a non-Semitic race, of low stature, with thick skulls, and showing evidence of the great muscular strength that is essential to savage life." 36 We have no knowledge of the beliefs connected with the Neolithic cremation custom in Palestine.
Among the Australian natives the body of the dead is sometimes cremated. The ashes are afterwards placed in a skin bag which is carried about. Various other funerary practices, including the eating of the corpse, have been recorded. The belief regarding the soul's destiny, among the Australian cremators, is neither Aryo-Indian nor Achæan in character.
The cremation custom of the Bronze Age had in Europe a precise significance as a ceremony. It was not a punishment, or a safeguard against attack by vampires, but a process whereby the souls of the dead were enabled to pass to another state of existence. The cremating invaders swept westward and north and south and formed military aristocracies. In Sweden only the wealthy people were cremated. The evidence of British archæology shows that cremation and inhumation were practised in some districts simultaneously, and that even one member--perhaps the chief--of a family might be cremated while the others were buried. Ultimately cremation died out altogether in Ancient Britain. The earlier faith prevailed. In southern Europe, however, it lingered on until early Christian times, as did mummification in Egypt. The fact that the Christians were opposed to these distinctive burial customs emphasizes that they had a religious significance.
Dr. Dörpfeld 37 has urged the hypothesis that the Achæans burned their dead only when engaged in distant wars, and practised inhumation in the homeland. He thinks that cremation arose from the custom of scorching bodies prior to burial for hygienic reasons.
No traces of partial burning have been found in the pre-Dynastic graves of Egypt, or in the vast majority of similar graves in Europe. Dr. Dörpfeld refers, however, to charred fragments found in tombs at Mycenæ and elsewhere in support of his theory. Here again the evidence of Crete is of special importance. In the tombs near Knossos have been found, in addition to food vessels, clay chafing-pans and a plaster tripod, filled with charcoal. These may have been portable hearths intended to warm and comfort the dead, or may, on the other hand, have been utilized in connection with magical rites. Deposits of charcoal are often found in Bronze Age graves throughout Europe, and it is suggested that the food intended for the nourishment of the dead was cooked in the grave. On the other hand, the grave fire may have been lit to charm the corpse against the attacks of evil spirits. As a rule, the charcoal deposits are not very considerable. That fires were associated with early burials is suggested by the folk-belief about "death lights" which are seen before a sudden death takes place travelling along a highway, entering a churchyard, and passing over the spot where a grave is to be opened. Early burials took place at night, 38 and the leader may have cast his torch into the open grave so that it might be used by the dead on the journey to the Otherworld. Hermes, the guide of souls, was at one time a god of night and dispensed sleep and dreams.
The Cretan portable fire-vessels were, perhaps, substitutes for torches. Lamps are also found in graves. The few partial burnings in the graves of Mycenæ and elsewhere may have been due to accidents at burials. Of course, it is also possible that the individuals met their deaths in house fires.
It will be seen from the evidence passed under review that the theory of the Germanic origin of the cremation custom is hardly conclusive. Evidence may yet be forthcoming that it persisted somewhere in Europe or Asia from Palæolithic times. The evidence afforded by the Gezer cremation cave is suggestive in this connection. As cremation had during the Bronze Age a distinct religious significance, the theory is possible that it was an essential tenet of a cult formed by some great teacher-like Buddha, Zoroaster, or Mohammed, who welded together his followers by the strongest ties which bind humanity-the ties of a religious faith and organization. The cremating peoples were conquerors. They achieved ascendancy over the tribes of Indo-European speech who had been migrating into northern India for several centuries between 2000 B.C. and 1200 B.C.; they have left traces of their influence in northern Asia to the present day among the Mongolian Buriats, whose earth and air spirits are called Burkans or "masters". In Europe they appear to have subdued a considerable part of the Danubian cultural area, and formed there, as elsewhere, a military aristocracy. It is uncertain whether they owed their successes to superior organization or to the use of iron. The Aryo-Indians, in Rig-Vedic times, used a metal called ayas, a word which may have denoted bronze or iron, or both. In Brahmanic times iron was called syama ayas, "swarthy ayas", or simply syama and also karsnayasa, "black ayas", while copper or bronze was known as lohayasa, "red ayas". 39 The Homeric Achæans used bronze and iron, but the earlier bands of Achæans who drifted into southern Greece and reached Crete used bronze only, and, it is of significance to note, did not cremate their dead. Possibly, therefore, the late Achæans were led by the cremating intruders of Thrace and had adopted their religious beliefs, which they fused with their own. Geometric pottery and iron weapons were introduced into southern Greece when cremation began to be practised there.
The fusion of the various peoples who struggled for supremacy in Greece before and during the early Hellenic period culminated in the growth of its historic civilization. But the influence of its earliest culture, that of Crete, ever remained. It first entered the Peloponnesian peninsula, and although it was overshadowed there and elsewhere during the long period of unrest which followed the Dorian invasion, it continued to develop in contact with alien cultures in the Anatolian colony of Ionia, which in turn proved to be "the little leaven which leavened the whole lump" once again.
So far, nothing has been said regarding the evidence of language, of which so much was made by the scholars of a past generation. But can much really be said with certainty in this connection? The idea that the peoples of Indo-European speech were of common racial origin and inheritors of a common stock of religious beliefs no longer obtains. "Language is shown by experience", as Mr. Hogarth says, "to be changed by conquest more easily than type of civilization. . . . The Turkish conquering minority (of Asia Minor) has imposed its tongue on the aborigines of Ionia, Lydia, Phrygia, and Cappadocia alike.
Yet the type of civilization and the fundamental cult-beliefs of the people are not those of the true Turks." Referring to Greece, he says that "later Greek speech may have been fundamentally mid-European, largely contaminated with Ægean survivals; or it may have been fundamentally Ægean with mid-European intrusions, as our own language is fundamentally Anglo-Saxon largely contaminated by the speech of Norman conquerors". 40
The chapters which follow begin with the Palæolithic Age in Pleistocene times, and the reader is afterwards presented with a popular account of the archaeological discoveries in Crete and Greece which have thrown so much light on the growth of pre-Hellenic civilization. Classical traditions are also drawn upon, and comparisons made between Cretan and Greek deities. Comparative evidence is provided in dealing with the growth and significance of primitive beliefs, and various theories which have been advocated are either indicated or summarized. As environment has ever had a formative influence in the development of religious beliefs and in determining the habits of life of which these are an expression, descriptions of natural scenery in various parts of the Ægean area are given to enable the reader to visualize the conditions of life under which pre-Hellenic civilization grew and flourished. In the historical narrative the chief periods of the contemporary civilizations of Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, and the land of the Hittites are noted, and there are frequent references to early Cretan connections along the trade routes, by land and sea, with the remote ancestors of the peoples of the present day in Central and Western Europe.
1 Dawn of Mediterranean Civilization, Angelo Masso, pp. 175 et sq.
2 Quoted in Ripley's The Races of Europe, pp. 172 et seq.
3 Custom and Myth, pp. 87 et seq.
4 Scenes and Legends, pp. 31-32 (1835).
5 Ionia and the East, p. 107
6 That is, so far as can be indicated by skull capacity.
7 The Ancient Egyptians, p. 43.
8 Folk-lore of Northern Counties, p. 144.
9 Leicester County Folk-lore Series, p. 29. In White's Selborne reference is made to the "shrew ash" in Hampshire.
10 Dalzell's Darker Superstitions of Scotland, pp. 191-2.
11 Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, A. Wiedemann, p. 226.
12 The Iliad, I, 1 et seq.
13 Strabo, XIII, 604.
14 Strabo, XIII, 604, and also Ælian, H. A., XII, 5.
15 Rigveda, II, 33.
16 Isaiah, lxvi, 17.
17 Samuel, i, 5-6.
18 Scripta Minoa, pp. 3, 4, 6.
19 Census of India (1901), Vol. I, Part I, pp. 352 et seq.
20 Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 148 et seq.
21 The Ancient History of the Near East p. 48
22 Iliad, XXIII, 75.
23 Celtic Religion, E. Anwyl, pp. 60 et seq.
24 Graham's Picturesque Sketches of Perthshire.
25 Except, as was the case in Rome (Juvenal, XV, 140), the bodies of infants. Those under eighteen months are in India buried head downwards in jars. Mothers who die in childbed are not cremated either, but buried.
26 A Journey in Southern Siberia, Jeremiah Curtin, p. 101.
27 Sabha Parva, Section VIII (Roy's translation, p. 27).
28 Lamont's Chronicle of Fife, p. 206.
29 Indian Myth and Legend, p. xxxvii, and Egyptian Myth and Legend, p. 143
30 Comptes Rendus du Congrès International d'Archéologie, 1905, Athens, p. 166.
31 Herodotus, III, 16.
32 The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great, E. Wallis Budge, pp. 133-4.
33 Pausanias, II, 34.
34 The Elder Edda, O. Bray, p. 241.
35 Early Age of Greece, Vol. I, pp. 481 et seq.
36 A History of Civilization in Palestine, pp. 15, 16.
37 Melanges Nicole (in honour of Jules Nicole), 1905, Geneva, pp. 95 et seq.
38 For particulars of the custom of using torches and lights at funerals, see Brand's Popular Antiquities, Vol. II, pp. 776 et seq. (1899 ed.).
39 Vedic Index of Names and Subjects, Macdonald and Keith, Vol. I, pp. 3 11 32, and 151.
40 Ionia and the East, pp. 105-7.