Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/408

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.
400
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

found but few perfect ones, and it is slated that some French officers had wantonly destroyed them.

In 1867 Dr. Bourguignat, the well-known conchologist and archeol- ogist of Paris, visited this necropolis, camped on it, and his account is the only complete one. He put the number of dolmens remaining in his time at fifteen hundred, and estimated the total number formerly existing at several thousand. He regarded this vast assemblage of megalithic sepulchers as a colossal cemetery.

In the following year General Faidherbe, in a paper published in the 'Annales de l'Academie de Bone,' attributed these sepulchers to the troglodyte Libyans, whose actual descendants were, he states, the Kabyles and Berbers.

The people living in this vicinity, and, presumably, the builders of these sepulchers, were of a later date than the neolithic or later stone epoch, for the art-objects excavated by Bourguignat from the interior were bronze rings or bracelets, amulets and rings of silver gilded with gold; and earthern vases. According to the well-known anthropologist, Pruner-Bey, the human skeletons contained in the tombs were those of Aryans, of negroes, Egyptians and Kabyles, with hybrids between the negro and Kabyle women. The Aryans occupied the large sepulchers; their cranial type resembled that of ancient Italy.

The dominant race, according to French statements, had imposed on the other peoples its mode of burial and its religious beliefs, since the eastward orientation of the sepulchers of Eoknia is identical with the traditional position made sacred by Aryan customs.

The remains of the men were distinguished by an earthen vase placed near the head, but the women were not considered worthy of the honor of a funeral vase.

The question arises as to the exact age of these dolmens and their builders. Were they contemporaneous with the early Egyptians, and was the bronze age of northern Africa of the same or of an earlier date than the bronze epoch in Egypt?

Dr. Collignon has, more recently, thrown much light on the affinities of the builders of these dolmens, who, he suggests, were Berbers, and perhaps of the same race as the dolmen-builders of France and the Cromagnon family whose remains were found at Les Eyzies, in Dor- dogne, France. Of the races of the sedentary population now living in Tunisia, where also occur numerous dolmens, especially at Ellez (which is situated about 100 miles east of Eoknia), there are five types of Berbers. "One of these types reaches its greatest purity in the neighborhood of Ellez and its area of distribution almost exactly covers the area of distribution of dolmens. Moreover, this race presents plainly the special anatomical characters of the bones found in the dol- mens of France, notably at Sordes and at Homme-Mort, i. e., a feeble