Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/137

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113
NEOLITHIC MAN IN EUROPE

roughly hand-made pottery and not the shapely product of the potter's wheel. They eked out this food supply by hunting. They killed and ate red deer and roe deer, bison and wild boar. And they ate the fox, a rather high-flavoured meat, and not what any one would eat in a world of plenty. Oddly enough, they do not seem to have eaten the hare, although it was available as food. They are supposed to have avoided eating it, as some savages are said to avoid eating it to this day, because they feared that the flesh of so timid a creature might make them, by a sort of infection, cowardly.[1]

Of their agricultural methods we know very little. No ploughs and no hoes have been found. They were of wood and have perished. Neolithic men cultivated and ate wheat, barley, and millet, but they knew nothing of oats or rye. Their grain they roasted, ground between stones and stored in pots, to be eaten when needed. And they made exceedingly solid and heavy bread, because round flat slabs of it have been got out of these deposits. Apparently they had no yeast. If they had no yeast, then they had no fermented drink. One sort of barley that they had is the sort that was cultivated by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, and they also had an Egyptian variety of wheat, showing that their ancestors had brought or derived this cultivation from the south-east. The centre of diffusion of wheat was somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean region. A wild form is still found in the neighbourhood of Mt. Hermon (see footnote to Ch. XVI, § 1). When the lake dwellers sowed their little patches of wheat in Switzerland, they were already following the immemorial practice of mankind. The seed must have been brought age by age from that distant centre of diffusion. In the ancestral lands of the south-east men had already been sowing wheat perhaps for thousands of years.[2] Those lake dwellers also ate peas, and crab-apples—the only apples that then existed in the world. Cultivation and selection had not yet produced the apple of to-day.

  1. Caesar de Bello Gallico says the Britons tabooed hare, fowl and goose. — G. Wh.
  2. All Old World peoples who had entered upon the Neolithic stage grew and ate wheat, but the American Indians must have developed agriculture independently in America after their separation from the Old World populations. They never had wheat. Their cultivation was maize, Indian corn, a new-world grain.