Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/877

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

of the Amardian group, a group which also includes the Akkadian and its dialect, the Susian and Kossian languages. The vocabulary of the ancient language, as may be shown by citations of hundreds of words, connects it with the Akkadian and Susian dialects; but it has certain "very marked grammatical affinities" with the Ugro-Finnish tongues. The resemblances of the ancient Chaldean and Chinese hieroglyphics are very strong; and one point to be noticed is that, in both systems, the images are drawn full-face instead of in profile, as in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Further evidence of the connection thus suggested is given in the facts that certain parts of the Yh King are only lists of meanings that pointedly recall the Akkadian cuneiform syllabaries; that Hoang-ti, the first of the five Chinese emperors who reigned at the dawn of history, was in the ancient language Nak-kon-ti, suggesting a correspondence with the Susian god Nakhunta and King Kudur Nakhuta; and in numerous cases of at least apparent correspondence in the most ancient titles, customs, and allusions of the Chinese and the Susians. Resemblances have also been pointed out between many Western features and those of the Chinese. A part of these, M. Terrien admits, is owing to the progress of the Chinese, to communication, and later changes; but another part, he maintains, "perhaps the earliest and most important, traces its origin to the first establishment in ancient China of a part of that Akkado-Chaldean culture, to which our modern civilizations are indirectly so referable."


Curious Discovery of a Murder.—A story of a remarkable discovery of a murder comes from Bermuda. A handsome and decent mulatto woman suddenly disappeared in October, 1878, and her husband was suspected of having murdered her, but no trace of her could be found, and it seemed probable that the crime would not be detected. A week afterward, while anxiety on the subject was still at its height, some boatmen, looking out toward the sea, were struck by observing in the Long Bay Channel, the surface of which was ruffled by a slight breeze, a long streak of calm, such as a cask of oil usually diffuses around it when in the water. A connection with the disappearance of the woman was at once suggested; a search was shortly afterward made at the place for the body; the skeleton was found held down by weights, and the fragments of flesh remaining upon it were in such a condition as to show that it had not lain long in the water. Identification was established by means of portions of clothing. The man, who was a fisherman, had calculated that the fish, which were numerous in the channel, would soon destroy all means of identification of the body, but it never occurred to him that their ravages as they did so would set free the matter which was to write the traces of his crime upon the surface water. The peculiar feature of the calm seems to be a novel one, not mentioned in works on medical jurisprudence and outside the experience of doctors.


The Climate and Meteorology of Zanzibar.—Considerable interest is attached to the climate and meteorology of Zanzibar, since that island is the starting-point of most of the expeditions which proceed into the interior of East Africa. Observations taken by Dr. John Robb, of the Indian army, during the five years from 1874 to 1878, show that the average rainfall, which they give at not more than sixty-one inches, or double that of England, has very materially decreased since the-time when Dr. Christie and Captain Burton made their observations; and it is suggested that the decrease may be due to the destruction of the trees over the whole island by a cyclone which swept it in 1872. The average number of rainy days is one hundred and twenty in the year. The double seasons, which are of unequal duration, are marked out by the prevailing winds, and are less exactly determined by the so-called greater and lesser rains. The rainy seasons begin when the sun crosses the zenith of Zanzibar in passing to its northern and southern declinations, March 4th and October 9th. The greater rains fall in March, April, and May, the lesser rains from the middle of October to the end of the year. The driest month is September. The mean temperature of the five years was 80·6°, the hottest months being February and March, with a mean temperature of 83·1° and 80·4° respectively, the cooler are July and August,