Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/61

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time not far remote. A narrow band of the Miocene beds of the Gallipoli peninsula extends along the eastern coast of the Dardanelles. The lower Devonian strata and igneous flows of the European side of the Bosporus reappear on its Asiatic shores. In both straits the land-splitting fracture which gave rise to watery channels is an event of late geological times. Originally gorges of rivers flowing from northeast to southwest, the straits assumed their present geographical form as a result of depression. As one stands on the Sheitler hill midway between the Black Sea and Marmora entrances of the Bosporus the correspondence of promontory to bay and bay to promontory is discernible in the entire range of vision swept by the eye to right or left. A similar relation between opposite shores recurs in the Dardanelles with the only difference of size of landforms for, in the longer strait, the headlands are bolder while the bays attain deeper and wider proportions.

The importance of the region as a fording place can be gathered from the distribution of the larger cities within its boundaries. Setus, Abydos and Madytus on the Hellespont grew on the site of the nearest convergence of the European and Asiatic land-masses. The same is true of Byzantium, with the added circumstance that the promontory on which it was founded afforded an admirable strategic site. Ilium, at the southwestern entrance of the waterways, also owed its importance during antiquity to commanding position. Its disappearance as a center of urban life was the result of geographical disadvantages. The ancient city lacked a convenient harbor, above all. Land communication with Asia Minor was arduous on account of the mountainous character of the country extending beyond the city walls. Byzantium, however, at the opposite extremity of the straits had been provided by nature with the very facilities for intercourse which had been denied Troy. The economic conditions which were responsible for the passing of the latter city determined the survival and increasing importance of the Byzantine capital.

The narrowness of the Eurasian waterways permitted continuity of travel over this intercontinental route while the very existence of the straits allowed uninterrupted maritime travel from Black Sea harbors to the farthest known seaports of the western world. Modern railway communications have been benefited by the former circumstance. The sea commerce of medieval days thrived on the latter. In fact, the configuration and location of the region has always affected humanity.

Assumption of the wandering of Alpine brachycephals from the Hindu Kush to as far west as Brittany appears to be substantiated by the distribution of the type. The connecting link between members of the race in western Europe and their Asiatic prototypes is found in the Armenoid group of Asia Minor.[1] Probably the earliest fording of

  1. Ripley, "The Races of Europe," New York, Appletons, 1899, p. 448.