Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/79

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
61
STONE, BRONZE, AND IRON AGES.

inference from the past, he propounded what is now a tenet of archæology, the succession of the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages:

'Arma antiqua manus ungues dentesque fuerunt, Et lapides et item silvarum fragmina rami

Posterius ferri vis est ærisque reperta, Et prior æris erat quam ferri cognitus usus.'[1]

Troughout the various topics of Prehistoric Archæology, the force and convergence of its testimony upon the development of culture are overpowering. The relics discovered in gravel-beds, caves, shell-mounds, terramares, lake-dwellings, earthworks, the results of an exploration of the superficial soil in many countries, the comparison of geological evidence, of historical documents, of modern savage life, corroborate and explain one another. The megalithic structures, menhirs, cromlechs, dolmens, and the like, only known to England, France, Algeria, as the work of races of the mysterious past, have been kept up as matters of modern construction and recognized purpose among the ruder indigenous tribes of India. The series of ancient lake-settlements which must represent so many centuries of successive population fringing the shores of the Swiss lakes, have their surviving representatives among the rude tribes of the East Indies, Africa, and South America. Outlying savages are still heaping up shell-mounds like those of far-past Scandinavian antiquity. The burial mounds still to be seen in civilized countries have served at once as museums of early culture and as proofs of its savage or barbaric type. It is enough, without entering farther here into subjects fully discussed in modern special works, to claim the general support given to the development-theory of culture by Prehistoric Archæology. It was with a true appreciation of the bearings of this science that one of its founders, the venerable Professor Sven Nilsson, declared in 1843 in the

1 Lucret. De Rerum Natura, v. 1281.

  1. 1