Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/363

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347
ARTS IN THE STONE AGE.

subject are found in a very confused and dislocated condition, it is a work of no small labor to classify and arrange them in order of date, or rather of sequence, and thus none but a rough and wide scheme of classification is possible. The Danish and French authors, as well as many of our own, usually divide the stone-implement period into two principal stages only, the paleolithic and neolithic—unpolished and polished; placing them both before what has been called the Bronze age. This arrangement, however, although found convenient for popular use, and in that sense adopted by Mr. Evans, can hardly be regarded as scientifically accurate; as he has himself observed, there are blanks in the chronology of stone implements, which it is hard to fill up. The classification may be, and indeed is, too wide in one respect, and too limited in another. While, on the one hand, the drift and the cave implement periods, which are usually bracketed together as paleolithic, are characterized by very various conditions, both paleontological and geological, and, indeed, technological also—conditions which may indicate their separation by a vast interval of time; so, on the other hand, as Mr. Evans has shown at the close of the fourth chapter, some of the unpolished stones, chipped or rough-hewn celts, were probably of a date not earlier than some that were ground and polished; and, in Great Britain, at least, there are not wanting indications that the use of bronze was coeval with the polished-stone period, if not, indeed, with one or two exceptions (which were probably imports) anterior to it.

One of the most perplexing questions suggested by the discovery of the drift-implements relates to the means by which they came into their present position. They are often met with at a depth of twenty or even thirty feet, usually at or near the base of thick beds of coarse flint-gravel, which in its turn is overlain by masses, more or less thick, of brick-earth or loess. Occasionally, and indeed not rarely, they occur entirely beneath the gravels, and on the surface of the subjacent rock, whatever it may chance to be. Mr. Evans deals with them merely as constituent portions of the beds of sand, gravel, and clay, in which they occur, and so indeed they now are, but they are something more. Although of the drift, drifty, each has its own separate history; for each has been held and fashioned by hands guided by an intelligent will, and thus we are led irresistibly to inquire when, and why, and how did they come where we now see them, and why are they never found on the surface, nor under any other conditions?

To a certain extent this inquiry is involved in the far larger question of the forces by means of which the superficial gravels, of which the implements are as it were but the accidents, became dispersed—a subject which does not necessarily come within the scope of a work designed to be technological rather than geological. Mr. Evans has, however, very judiciously devoted one of his chapters to it; and, as it is one of great interest, and is still involved in much obscurity, we