Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/720

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kept their dwellings carefully shut against such intruders. But what were the means employed to keep them out? In sepulchral caves we find the entrance closed by a stone slab; but a dwelling-place would require a door more easily opened and shut than that. Besides, we find no trace whatsoever of stone doors, and therefore it is supposed that the Troglodytes barricaded their door-ways with hurdles.

They lived by the chase, and by fishing. But, did they use vegetable food? We cannot find any evidence that they did. There have been discovered, it is true, in the caves of Les Eyzies, Laugerie-Basse, and La Madelaine, a number of stones—granite, freestone and quartzite—worn round and smooth by rubbing, which exhibit on one side a pretty regular depression, in the form of a cupule, and not unlike a small mortar (Fig. 1). Some have supposed that this cupule might have been intended to receive the end of a piece of dry wood, which would then be whirled between the hands to produce fire, according to the well-known process in use among the ancient Aryans, and among some savage tribes of the present day. But the depression is too shallow, considering its diameter, to have served such a purpose, and hence we take these stones to have been mortars, while other round stones, of dimensions answering to the cupules, would serve as pestles. Hence came the supposition that the Troglodytes brayed grain for food: but every thing goes to show that they were unacquainted with agriculture. It is far more probable that they used the mortars to pound fish, or to grind pigments.

Their chief occupation and their principal resource was the chase. The remnants of bones accumulated in the soil forming the floor of the caves, show that they hunted animals of every size, from the little bird to the mammoth. That old giant of the early Quaternary period still survived, but had now become rare. For a long time it was supposed that the mammoth became extinct about the middle of that period; and when it was announced that several teeth of that animal and sundry pieces of wrought ivory had been discovered in the most recent Troglodytic stations of the Vézère, many persons were of opinion that these remains must have come down from an earlier period, and been gathered by our Troglodytes, just as the inhabitants of Siberia do at present. But it must be remembered that the carcasses of mammoths found in Siberia have been preserved by the extreme cold, and consequently their flesh and ivory are still fresh, whereas, fossil ivory is so cracked and foliated as to be useless for the purposes of art. Now, the climate of France in the Reindeer Age, though still frigid, had long ceased to be glacial; and, even though the men of that period had been accustomed to dig the earth—and they were not—the fossil ivory they might have found would have been unserviceable. Therefore, the mammoths, whose ivory they wrought, must have been contemporary with themselves. Of this conclusion we have a decisive proof in the plate of ivory discovered at the La Madelaine, in 1864, by