Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/164

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150
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

spent in carrying on such investigations in likely equatorial forest regions.

It would be a pity that for want of enterprise a chance, however slight, should be missed of settling a question so vital to anthropology.

While the problem of primitive man thus remains obscure, a somewhat more distinct opinion may be formed on the problem of primitive civilized man. When it is asked what races of mankind first attained to civilization, it may be answered that the earliest nations known to have had the art of writing, the great mark of civilization as distinguished from barbarism, were the Egyptians and Babylonians, who in the remotest ages of history appear as nations advanced to the civilized stage in arts and social organization. The question is, under what races to class them? What the ancient Egyptians were like is well known from the monuments, which show how closely much of the present fellah population, as little changed in features as in climate and life, represent their ancestors of the times of the Pharaohs. Their reddish-brown skin, and features tending toward the negroid, have led Hartmann, the latest anthropologist who has carefully studied them, to adopt the classification of them as belonging to the African rather than the Asiatic peoples, and especially to insist on their connection with the Berber type, a view which seems to have been held by Blumenbach. The contrast of the brown Egyptians with the dark-white Syro-Arabians on their frontiers is strongly marked, and the portraits on the monuments show how distinctly the Egyptian knew himself to be of different race from the Semite. Yet there was mixture between the two races, and, what is most remarkable, there is a deep-seated Semitic element in the Egyptian language, only to be accounted for by some extremely ancient and intimate connection. On the whole, the Egyptians may be a mixed race, mainly of African origin, perhaps from the southern Somauli-land, whence the Egyptian tradition was that the gods came, while their African type may have since been modified by Asiatic admixture. Next, as to the early relations of Babylonia and Media, a different problem presents itself. The languages of these nations, the so-called Akkadian and the early Medic, were certainly not of the same family with either the Assyrian or the Persian which afterward prevailed in their districts. Their connection with the Tartar or Turanian family of languages, asserted twenty years ago by Oppert, has since been further maintained by Lenormant and Sayce, and seems, if not conclusively settled, at any rate to have much evidence for it, not depending merely on similarity of words, such as the term for "god," Akkadian dingira, being like the Tartar tengri, but also on the similarity of pronouns and grammatical structure by post-positions. Now language, though not a conclusive argument as to race, always proves more or less as to connection. The comparison of the Akkadian language to that of the Tartar family is at any rate prima facie evidence