Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/303

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

JULY, 1890.


 

NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

IX. THE ANTIQUITY OF MAN AND PREHISTORIC ARCHÆOLOGY.

By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL. D., L. H. D.,

EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.

WHILE the view of chronology based upon the literal acceptance of Scripture texts was thus shaken by researches in Egypt, another line of observation and thought was slowly developed, even more fatal to the theological view.

From a very early period there had been dug from the earth, in various parts of the world, strangely shaped masses of stone, some rudely chipped, some polished; in ancient times these were generally considered as thunderbolts, and known as "thunder-stones." This idea was carried into the middle ages, and we find in the eleventh century an emperor of the East sending to the Emperor Henry IV, of Germany, a "heaven axe"; and, in the twelfth century, a Bishop of Rennes asserting the value of thunder-stones as a divinely appointed means of securing success in battle, safety on the sea, security against thunder, and immunity from unpleasant dreams: even as late as the seventeenth century a French ambassador brought a stone hatchet, which still exists in the museum at Nancy, as a present to the Prince-Bishop of Verdun, and claimed for it health-giving virtues.

Yet, as early as the latter part of the sixteenth century, Michael Mercati tried to prove that the "thunder-stones" were weapons or implements of early races of men, though from some cause his book was not published until the following century, when other thinking men had begun to take up the same idea.

But early in the eighteenth century a fact of great importance was quietly established: in the year 1715 a large pointed weapon of black flint was found in contact with the bones of an elephant,