Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/33

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23
THE ORIGIN OF EUROPEAN CULTURE.

clear, we have reproduced one of the Olympian breastplates, ornamented with figures, which at once suggest those upon the situla from Watsch above described. This design is doubly interesting. It shows us a slightly higher stage of the art of figural representation, as well as of conventional design. Not only the men and horses, but the borders, are far better drawn. More than this, we begin to detect a distinctly Oriental motive in other details. The bulls and the lions—lions are not indigenous to Europe nowadays—at once remind us of their Babylonian and Assyrian prototypes. We have entered the sphere of Asiatic artistic influence, albeit very indistinctly. This design here represented, it should be said, is rather above the average of the Olympian finds of the earlier epoch. Many of the other objects, especially the little votive figures of beasts and men, are much more crude, although always characteristic and rudely artistic in many ways. Through this Olympian stage of culture we pass transitionally on to the Mycenæan, which brings us into the full bloom of the classic Greek.

The Oriental affinities of the Hallstatt culture have been especially emphasized by recent archaeological discoveries at Koban, in the Caucasus Mountains. A stage of culture transitional between bronze and iron, almost exactly equivalent to that of the eastern Alps, is revealed. Similarities in little objects, like fibulæ, might easily be accounted for as having passed in trade, but the relationship is too intimate to be thus explained. Hungary forms the connecting link between the two. In many respects its bronze age is different from that of Halstatt, notably in that the latter seems to have acquired the knowledge of iron and of bronze at about the same time.

PSM V55 D033 Hungarian bronze vessel.png
Hungarian Bronze Vessel. (After Hampel, 1876.)

In Hungary the pure bronze age lasted a longtime, and attained a full maturity. A characteristic piece is represented herewith. In respect of the representation of figures of animals such as these, Hallstatt, Hungary, and Koban are quite alike.

Have we proved that bronze culture came from Asia by reason of these recent finds in the Caucasus? Great stress has been laid upon them in the discussion of European origins. Are we justified in agreeing with Chantre that two currents of culture have swept from Asia into Europe—one by the Caucasus north of the Black