Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/72

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fell far short of even the miserably imperfect data now accessible. Criticizing an 18th century ethnologist is like criticizing an 18th century geologist. The older writer may have been far abler than his modern critic, but he had not the same materials. Especially he wanted the guidance of Prehistoric Archæology, a department of research only established on a scientific footing within the last few years. It is essential to gain a clear view of the bearing of this newer knowledge on the old problem.

Chronology, though regarding as more or less fictitious the immense dynastic schemes of the Egyptians, Hindus, and Chinese, passing as they do into mere ciphering-book sums with years for units, nevertheless admits that existing monuments carry back the traces of comparatively high civilization to a distance of above five thousand years. By piecing together Eastern and Western documentary evidence it seems that the great religious divisions of the Aryan race, to which modern Brahmanism, Zarathustrism, and Buddhism are due, belong to a period of remotely ancient history. Even if we cannot hold, with Professor Max Müller, in the preface to his translation of the 'Rig Veda,' that this collection of Aryan hymns 'will take and maintain for ever its position as the most ancient of books in the library of mankind,' and if we do not admit the stringency of his reckonings of its date in centuries B.C., yet we must grant that he shows cause to refer its composition to a very ancient period, where it then proves that a comparatively high barbaric culture already existed. The linguistic argument for the remotely ancient common origin of the Indo-European nations, in a degree as to their bodily descent, and in a greater degree as to their civilization, tends toward the same result. So it is again with Egypt. The calculations of Egyptian dynasties in thousands of years, however disputable in detail, are based on facts which at any rate authorize the reception of a long chronology. To go no further than the identification of two or three Egyptian names mentioned in Biblical and Classical