Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/689

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
671
PREHISTORIC JASPER MINES.

son's mouth to Oregon, and while the Niagara River yet tumbled its cataract into Lake Ontario at the site of Lewiston.

At first, as we take up these shapes from the quarry (Fig. 5), rude as the rudest from Trenton, yet geologically an affair of yesterday, doubts assail us on all sides. What if the Trenton specimens, after all, are modern too? Did they slip downward into the drift through the fissures of earthquakes, root-holes, the cavities left by upheaved trees, or by the deceptive readjustments of strata that sometimes puzzle geologists on the face of bluffs and banks? The supposed lapse of ages between them and the Trenton implements seems to fade away. We are almost startled. The doors of archæology's wonder chamber have been thrown open, its treasures displaced, and the strange form of palæolithic man, slipping out of our grasp, seems ready to vanish into the limbo of chimeras.

But pondering long over the work of the quarries, and comparing it diligently with the workshop refuse on the pebbly shores of the Delaware and Susquehanna (see Fig. 8), where argillite "turtlebacks" (Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 5) are often found at Indian village sites, ideas suggest themselves that may well efface all bias from our minds, and effectually disincline us for a premature conclusion.

What if these modern stones (Fig. 5) do resemble "palæoliths?" What if the Trenton forms like these were only steps in the process of fashioning blades not yet found? What if the Trenton "palæolith" were not a finished implement, as has been declared?

What if glacial man, in a word, was not a "palæolithic" man at all, ignorant of the art of stone-polishing, but the equal in cultivation of even the modern Indian?

Is he any the less old? Is he any the less interesting because we can no longer pick up a stone, like the American specimens in Fig, 8, on the surface and say, "This is a palæolith"? Is he any the less a glacial inhabitant because modern Indians have duplicated one of his stone relics, and we are obliged to reform our American definition of the word "palæolithic"?[1]

As we tread the rough, hilly roads and clamber the rocky slopes that often lead to the jasper mines, nothing strikes us more forcibly than that man must have been a long time a dweller in the Delaware Valley before he discovered them, and that his first


  1. We speak in America of "palæoliths" and "true palæolithic implements," as if the terms could mean nothing but the rude forms here discussed. But the cave men of France, who, it is said, did not polish stone, though they polished bone and produced realistic animal carvings superior to anything done in the bronze age, were no less palæolithic than the drift savage who made Fig. 8, No. 1. And if Sir John Lubbock's definition means anything, the delicate blades of chipped flint from Solutré and the caves of Laugerie Haute, Gorge d'Enfer, Grotte de l'Eglise, etc., skillfully worked as the beautiful obsidian knives of California, Tennessee, and Mexico, are true "palæoliths." (See De Mortillet, Musée Prehistorique, classification.)