Popular Science Monthly/Volume 38/January 1891/The Aryan Question and Prehistoric Man I

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1196305Popular Science Monthly Volume 38 January 1891 — The Aryan Question and Prehistoric Man I1891Thomas Henry Huxley


By Prof. T. H. HUXLEY.

THE rapid increase of natural knowledge, which is the chief characteristic of our age, is effected in various ways. The main army of science moves to the conquest of new worlds slowly and surely, nor ever cedes an inch of the territory gained. But the advance is covered and facilitated by the ceaseless activity of clouds of light troops provided with a weapon—always efficient, if not always an arm of precision—the scientific imagination. It is the business of these enfants perdus of science to make raids into the realm of ignorance wherever they see, or think they see, a chance; and cheerfully to accept defeat, or it may be annihilation, as the reward of error. Unfortunately, the public, which watches the progress of the campaign, too often mistakes a dashing incursion of the Uhlans for a forward movement of the main body; fondly imagining that the strategic movement to the rear, which occasionally follows, indicates a battle lost by science. And it must be confessed that the error is too often justified by the effects of the irrepressible tendency which men of science share with all other sorts of men known to me, to be impatient of that most wholesome state of mind—suspended judgment; to assume the objective truth of speculations which, from the nature of the evidence in their favor, can have no claim to be more than working hypotheses.

The history of the "Aryan question" affords a striking illustration of these general remarks.

About a century ago, Sir William Jones pointed out the close alliance of the chief European languages with Sanskrit and its derivative dialects now spoken in India. Brilliant and laborious philologists, in long succession, enlarged and strengthened this position until the truth that Sanskrit, Zend, Armenian, Greek, Latin, Lithuanian, Slavonian, German, Celtic, and so on, stand to one another in the relation of descendants from a common stock became firmly established, and thenceforward formed part of the permanent acquisitions of science. Moreover, the term "Aryan" is very generally, if not universally, accepted as a name for the group of languages thus allied. Hence, when one speaks of "Aryan languages," no hypothetical assumptions are involved. It is a matter of fact that such languages exist, that they present certain substantial and formal relations, and that convention sanctions the name applied to them. But the close connection of these widely differentiated languages remains altogether inexplicable, unless it is admitted that they are modifications of an original relatively undifferentiated tongue; just as the intimate affinities of the Romance languages—French, Italian, Spanish, and the rest—would be incomprehensible if there were no Latin. The original or "primitive Aryan" tongue, thus postulated, unfortunately no longer exists. It is a hypothetical entity, which corresponds with the "primitive stock" of generic and higher groups among plants and animals; and the acknowledgment of its former existence, and of the process of evolution which has brought about the present state of things philological, is forced upon us by deductive reasoning of similar cogency to that employed about things biological.

Thus, the former existence of a body of relatively uniform dialects, which may be called primitive Aryan, may be added to the stock of definitely acquired truths. But it is obvious that, in the absence of writing or of phonographs, the existence of a language implies that of speakers. If there were primitive Aryan dialects, there must have been primitive Aryan people who used them; and these people must have resided somewhere or other on the earth's surface. Hence philology, without stepping beyond its legitimate bounds and keeping speculation within the limits of bare necessity, arrives, not only at the conceptions of Aryan languages and of a primitive Aryan language, but of a primitive Aryan people and of a primitive Aryan home, or country occupied by them.

But where was this home of the Aryans? When the labors of modern philologists began, Sanskrit was the most archaic of all the Aryan languages known to them. It appeared to present the qualifications required in the parental or primitive Aryan. Brilliant Uhlans made a charge at this opening. The scientific imagination seated the primitive Aryans in the valley of the Ganges; and showed, as in a vision, the successive columns, guided by enterprising Brahmans, which set out thence to people the regions of the Western world with Greeks and Celts and Germans. But the progress of philology itself sufficed to show that this Balaclava charge, however magnificent, was not profitable warfare. The internal evidence of the Vedas proved that their composers had not reached the Ganges. On the other hand, the comparison of Zend with Sanskrit left no alternative open to the assumption that these languages were modifications of an original Indo-Iranian tongue, spoken by a people of whom the Aryans of India and those of Persia were offshoots, and who could therefore be hardly lodged elsewhere than on the frontiers of both Persia and India—that is to say, somewhere in the region which is at present known under the names of Turkistan, Afghanistan, and Kafiristan. Thus far, it can hardly be doubted that we are well within the ground of which science has taken enduring possession. But the Uhlans were not content to remain within the lines of this surely won position. For some reason, which is not quite clear to me, they thought fit to restrict the home of the primitive Aryans to a particular part of the region in question; to lodge them amid the bleak heights of the long range of the Hindoo Koosh and on the inhospitable plateau of Pamir. From their hives in these secluded valleys and wind-swept wastes, successive swarms of Celts and Greco-Latins, Teutons and Slavs, were thrown off to settle, after long wanderings, in distant Europe. The Hindoo-KooshPamir theory, once enunciated, gradually hardened into a sort of dogma; and there have not been wanting theorists who laid down the routes of the successive bands of emigrants with as much confidence as if they had access to the records of the office of a primitive Aryan quartermaster-general. It is really singular to observe the deference which has been shown, and is yet sometimes shown, to a speculation which can, at best, claim to be regarded as nothing better than a somewhat risky working hypothesis.

Forty years ago, the credit of the Hindoo-Koosh-Pamir theory had risen almost to that of an axiom. The first person to instill doubt of its value into my mind was the late Robert Gordon Latham, a man of great learning and singular originality, whose attacks upon the Hindoo-Kooshite doctrine could scarcely have failed as completely as they did, if his great powers had been bestowed upon making his books not only worthy of being read, but readable. The impression left upon my mind, at that time, by various conversations about the "Sarmatian hypothesis" which my friend wished to subsitute for the Hindoo-Koosh-Pamir speculation, was that the one and the other rested pretty much upon a like foundation of guess-work. That there was no sufficient reason for planting the primitive Aryans in the Hindoo Koosh, or in Pamir, seemed plain enough; but that there was little better ground, on the evidence then adduced, for settling them in the region at present occupied by western Russia, or Podolia, appeared to me to be not less plain. The most I thought Latham proved was, that the Aryan people of Indo-Iranian speech were just as likely to have come from Europe, as the Aryan people of Greek, or Teutonic, or Celtic speech from Asia. Of late years, Latham's views, so long neglected, or mentioned merely as an example of insular eccentricity, have been taken up and advocated with much ability in Germany as well as in this country—principally by philologists. Indeed, the glory of Hindoo-Koosh-Pamir seems altogether to have departed. Prof. Max Müller, to whom Aryan philology owes so much, will not say more now, than that he holds by the conviction that the seat of the primitive Aryans was "somewhere in Asia." Dr. Schrader sums up in favor of European Russia; while Herr Penka would have us transplant the home of the primitive Aryans from Pamir in the far East to the Scandinavian Peninsula in the far West.

I must refer those who desire to acquaint themselves with the philological arguments on which these conclusions are based to the recently published works of Dr. Schrader and Canon Taylor;[1] and to Penka's Die Herkunft der Arier, which, in spite of the strong spice of the Uhlan which runs through it, I have found extremely well worth study. I do not pretend to be able to look at the Aryan question under any but the biological aspect; to which I now turn.

Any biologist who studies the history of the Aryan question, and, taking the philological facts on trust, regards it exclusively from the point of view of anthropology, will observe that, very early, the purely biological conception of "race" illegitimately mixed itself up with the ideas derived from pure philology. It is quite proper to speak of Aryan "people," because, as we have seen, the existence of the language implies that of a people who speak it; it might be equally permissible to call Latin people all those who speak Romance dialects. But, just as the application of the term Latin "race" to the divers people who speak Romance languages, at the present day, is none the less absurd because it is common; so it is quite possible that it may be equally wrong to call the people who spoke the primitive Aryan dialects and inhabited the primitive home, the Aryan race. "Aryan" is properly a term of classification used in philology. "Race" is the name of a subdivision of one of those groups of living things which are called "species" in the technical language of zoology and botany; and the term connotes the possession of characters distinct from those of the other members of the species, which have a strong tendency to appear in the progeny of all members of the races. Such race-characters may be either bodily or mental, though in practice, the latter, as less easy of observation and definition, can rarely be taken into account. Language is rooted half in the bodily and half in the mental nature of man. The vocal sounds which form the raw materials of language could not be produced without a peculiar conformation of the organs of speech; the enunciation of duly accented syllables would be impossible without the nicest co-ordination of the action of the muscles which move these organs; and such co-ordination depends on the mechanism of certain portions of the nervous system. It is therefore conceivable that the structure of this highly complex speaking apparatus should determine a man's linguistic potentiality; that is to say, should enable him to use a language of one class and not another. It is further conceivable that a particular linguistic potentiality should be inherited and become as good a race-mark as any other. As a matter of fact, it is not proved that the linguistic potentialities of all men are the same. It is affirmed, for example, that, in the United States, the enunciation and the timbre of the voice of an American-born negro, however thoroughly he may have learned English, can be readily distinguished from that of a white man. But, even admitting that differences may obtain among the various races of men, to this extent, I do not think that there is any good ground for the supposition that an infant of any race would be unable to learn, and to use with ease, the language of any other race of men among whom it might be brought up. History abundantly proves the transmission of languages from some races to others; and there is no evidence, that I know of, to show that any race is incapable of substituting a foreign idiom for its native tongue.

From these considerations it follows that community of language is no proof of unity of race, is not even presumptive evidence of racial identity.[2] All that it does prove is that, at some time or other, free and prolonged intercourse has taken place between the speakers of the same language. Philology, therefore, while it may have a perfect right to postulate the existence of a primitive Aryan "people," has no business to substitute "race" for "people." The speakers of primitive Aryan may have been a mixture of two or more races, just as are the speakers of English and of French at the present time.

The older philological ethnologists felt the difficulty which arose out of their identification of linguistic with racial affinity, but were not dismayed by it. Strong in the prestige of their great discovery of the unity of the Aryan tongues, they were quite prepared to make the philological and the biological categories fit, by the exercise of a little pressure on that about which they knew less. And their judgment was often unconsciously warped by strong monogenistic proclivities, which at bottom, however respectable and philanthropic their origin, had nothing to do with science. So the patent fact that men of Aryan speech presented widely diverse racial characters was explained away by maintaining that the physical differentiation was post-Aryan; to put it broadly, that the Aryans in Hindoo-Koosh-Pamir were truly of one race; but that, while one colony, subjected to the sweltering heat of the Gangetic plains, had fined down and darkened into the Bengalee, another had bleached and shot up, under the cool and misty skies of the north, into the semblance of Pomeranian grenadiers; or of blue-eyed, fair-skinned, six-foot Scotch Highlanders. I do not know that any of the Uhlans who fought so vigorously under this flag are left now. I doubt if any one is prepared to say that he believes that the influence of external conditions, alone, accounts for the wide physical differences between Englishmen and Bengalese. So far as India is concerned, the internal evidence of the old literature sufficiently proves that the Aryan invaders were "white" men. It is hardly to be doubted that they intermixed with the dark Dravidian aborigines; and that the high-caste Hindoos are what they are in virtue of the Aryan blood which they have inherited,[3] and of the selective influence of their surroundings operating on the mixture.

The assumption that, as there must have been a primitive Aryan people, in the philological sense, so that people must have constituted a race in the biological sense, is pretty generally made in modern discussions of the Aryan problem. But whether the men of the primitive Aryan race were blonds or brunets, whether they had long or round heads, were tall or were short, are hotly debated questions, into the discussion of which considerations quite foreign to science are sometimes imported. The combination of swarthiness with stature above the average and a long skull, confer upon me the serene impartiality of a mongrel; and, having given this pledge of fair dealing, I proceed to state the case for the hypothesis I am inclined to adopt. In doing so, I am aware that I deliberately take the shilling of the recruiting sergeant of the Light Brigade, and I warn all and sundry that such is the case.

Looking at the discussions which have taken place from a purely anthropological point of view, the first point which has struck me is that the problem is far more complicated and difficult than many of the disputants appear to imagine; and the second, that the data upon which we have to go are grievously insufficient in extent and in precision. Our historical records cover such an infinitesimally small extent of the past life of humanity, that we obtain little help from them. Even so late as 1500 b. c., northern Eurasia lies in historical darkness, except for such glimmer of light as may be thrown here and there by the literature of Egypt and of Babylonia. Yet, at that time, it is probable that Sanskrit, Zend, and Greek, to say nothing of other Aryan tongues, had long been differentiated from primitive Aryan. Even a thousand years later, little enough accurate information is to be had about the racial characters of the European and Asiatic tribes known to the Greeks. We are thrown upon such resources as archaeology and human paleontology have to offer, and, notwithstanding the remarkable progress made of late years, they are still meager. Nevertheless, it strikes me that, from the purely anthropological side, there is a good deal to be said in favor of the two propositions maintained by the new school of philologists: first, that the people who spoke "primitive Aryan" were a distinct and well-marked race of mankind; and, secondly, that the area of the distribution of this race, in primeval times, lay in Europe, rather than in Asia.

For the last two thousand years, at least, the southern half of Scandinavia and the opposite or southern shores of the Baltic have been occupied by a race of mankind possessed of very definite

characters. Typical specimens have tall and massive frames, fair complexions, blue eyes, and yellow or reddish hair—that is to say, they are pronounced blonds. Their skulls are long, in the sense that the breadth is usually less, often much less, than four fifths of the length, and they are usually tolerably high. But in this last respect they vary. Men of this blond, long-headed race abound from eastern Prussia to northern Belgium; they are met with in northern France and are common in some parts of our own islands. The people of Teutonic speech, Goths, Saxons, Alemanni, and Franks, who poured forth out of the regions bordering the North Sea and the Baltic, to the destruction of the Roman Empire, were men of this race; and the accounts of the ancient historians of the incursions of the Gauls into Italy and Greece, between the fifth and the second centuries b. c., leave little doubt that their hordes were largely, if not wholly, composed of similar men. The contents of numerous interments in southern Scandinavia prove that, as far back as archæology takes us into the so-called Neolithic age, the great majority of the inhabitants had the same stature and cranial peculiarities as at present, though their bony fabric bears marks of somewhat greater ruggedness and savagery. There is no evidence that the country was occupied by men before the advent of these tall, blond long-heads. But there is proof of the presence, along with the latter, of a small percentage of people with broad skulls—skulls, that is, the breadth of which is more, often very much more, than four fifths of the length.

At the present day, in whatever direction we travel inland from the continental area occupied by the blond long-heads, whether southwest, into central France; south, through the Walloon provinces of Belgium into eastern France; into Switzerland, south Germany, and the Tyrol; or southeast, into Poland and Russia; or north, into Finland and Lapland, broad-heads make their appearance, in force, among the long-heads. And, eventually, we find ourselves among people who are as regularly broad-headed as the Swedes and North Germans are long-headed. As a general rule, in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and south Germany, the increase in the proportion of broad skulls is accompanied by the appearance of a larger and larger proportion of men of brunet complexion and of a lower stature; until, in central France and thence eastward, through the Cevennes and the Alps of Dauphiny, Savoy, and Piedmont, to the western plains of north Italy, the tall blond long-heads[4] practically disappear, and are replaced by short brunet broad-heads. The ordinary Savoyard may be described in terms the converse of those which apply to. the ordinary Swede. He is short, swarthy, dark-eyed, dark-haired, and his skull is very broad. Between the two extreme types, the one seated on the shores of the North Sea and the Baltic, and the other on those of the Mediterranean, there are all sorts of intermediate forms, in which breadth of skull may be found in tall and in short blond men, and in tall brunet men.

There is much reason to believe that the brunet broad-heads, now met with in central France and in the west central European highlands, have inhabited the same region, not only throughout the historical period, but long before it commenced; and it is probable that their area of occupation was formerly more extensive. For, if we leave aside the comparatively late incursions of the Asiatic races, the center of eruption of the invaders of the southern moiety of Europe has been situated in the north and west. In the case of the Teutonic inroads upon the empire of Rome, it undoubtedly lay in the area now occupied by the blond long-heads; and, in that of the antecedent Gaulish invasions, the physical characters ascribed to the leading tribes point to the same conclusion. Whatever the causes which led to the breaking out of bounds of the blond long-heads, in mass, at particular epochs, the natural increase in numbers of a vigorous and fertile race must always have impelled them to press upon their neighbors, and thereby afford abundant occasions for intermixture. If, at any given prehistoric time, we suppose the lowlands verging on the Baltic and the North Sea to have been inhabited by pure blond long-heads, while the central highlands were occupied by pure brunet short-heads the two would certainly meet and intermix in course of time, in spite of the vast belt of dense forest which extended, almost uninterruptedly, from the Carpathians to the Ardennes; and the result would be such an irregular gradation of the one type into the other as we do, in fact, meet with.

On the southeast, east, and northeast, throughout what was once the kingdom of Poland, and in Finland, the preponderance of broad-heads goes along with a wide prevalence of blond complexion and of good stature. In the extreme north, on the other hand, marked broad-headedness is combined with low stature, swarthiness, and more or less strongly Mongolian features, in the

Lapps. And it is to be observed that this type prevails increasingly to the eastward, among the central Asiatic populations.

The population of the British Islands, at the present time, offers the two extremes of the tall blond and the short brunet types. The tall blond long-heads resemble those of the continent; but our short brunet race is long-headed. Brunet broad-heads, such as those met with in the central European highlands, do not exist among us. This absence of any considerable number of distinctly broad-headed people (say with the cephalic index above 81 or 82) in the modern population of the United Kingdom is the more remarkable, since the investigations of the late Dr. Thurnam, and others, proved the existence of a large proportion of, tall broad-heads among the people interred in British tumuli of the Neolithic age. It would seem that these broad-skulled immigrants have been absorbed by an older long-skulled population; just as, in south Germany, the long-headed Alemanni have been absorbed by the older broad-heads. The short brunet long-heads are not peculiar to our islands. On the contrary, they abound in western France and in Spain, while they predominate in Sardinia, Corsica, and south Italy, and, it may be, occupied a much larger area in ancient times.

Thus, in the area which has been under consideration, there are evidences of the existence of four races of men: (1) blond longheads of tall stature, (2) brunet broad-heads of short stature, (3) Mongoloid brunet broad-heads of short stature, (4) brunet longheads of short stature. The regions in which these races appear with least admixture are—(1) Scandinavia, north Germany, and parts of the British Islands; (2) central France, the central European highlands, and Piedmont; (3) arctic and eastern Europe, central Asia; (4) the western parts of the British Islands and of France; Spain, south Italy. And the inhabitants of the regions which lie between these foci present the intermediate gradations, such as short blond long-heads, and tall brunet short-heads and long-heads which might be expected to result from their intermixture. The evidence at present extant is consistent with the supposition that the blond long-heads, the brunet broad-heads, and the brunet long-heads have existed in Europe throughout historic times, and very far back into prehistoric times. There is no proof of any migration of Asiatics into Europe, west of the basin of the Dnieper, down to the time of Attila. On the contrary, the first great movements of the European population of which there is any conclusive evidence is that series of Gaulish invasions of the east and south, which ultimately extended from north Italy as far as Galatia in Asia Minor.

It is now time to consider the relations between the phenomena of racial distribution, as thus defined, and those of the distribution of languages. The "blond long-heads of Europe speak, or have spoken, Lithuanian, Teutonic, or Celtic dialects, and they are not known to have ever used any but these Aryan languages. A large proportion of the "brunet broad-heads once spoke the Ligurian and the Rhætic dialects, which are believed to have been non-Aryan. But, when the Romans made acquaintance with Transalpine Gaul, the inhabitants of that country between the Garonne and the Seine (Cæsar's Celtica) seem, at any rate for the most part, to have spoken Celtic dialects. The brunet long-heads of Spain and of France appear to have used a non-Aryan language, that Euskarian which still lives on the shores of the Bay of Biscay. In Britain there is no certain knowledge of their use of any but Celtic tongues. What they spoke in the Mediterranean islands and in south Italy does not appear.

The blond broad-heads of Poland and west Russia form part of a people who, when they first made their appearance in history, occupied the marshy plains imperfectly drained by the Vistula on the west, the Duna on the north, and the Dnieper and Bug on the south. They were known to their neighbors as Wends, and among themselves as Serbs and Slavs. The Slavonic languages spoken by these people are said to be most closely allied to that of the Lithuanians, who lay upon their northern border. The Slavs resemble the south Germans in the predominance of broad-heads among them, while stature and complexion vary from the, often tall, blonds who prevail in Poland and Great Russia to the, often short, brunets common elsewhere. There is certainly nothing in the history of the Slav people to interfere with the supposition that, from very early times, they have been a mixed race. For their country lies between that of the tall blond long-heads on the north, that of the short brunet broad-heads of the European type on the west, and that of the short brunet broad-heads of the Asiatic type on the east: and throughout their history they have either thrust themselves among their neighbors, or have been overrun and trampled down by them. Gauls and Goths have traversed their country, on their way to the east and south: Finno-Tataric people, on their way to the west, have not only done the like, but have held them in subjection for centuries. On the other hand, there have been times when their western frontier advanced beyond the Elbe; indeed, it is asserted that they have sent colonies to Holland and even as far as southern England. A large part of eastern Germany; Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary; the lower valley of the Danube and the Balkan Peninsula, have been largely or completely Slavonized; and the Slavonic rule and language, which once had trouble to hold their own in west Russia and Little Russia, have now extended their sway over all the Finno-Tataric populations of Great Russia; while they are advancing, among those of central Asia, up to the frontiers of India on the south and to the Pacific on the extreme east. Thus it is hardly possible that fewer than three races should have contributed to the formation of the Slavonic people; namely, the blond longheads, the European brunet broad-heads, and the Asiatic brunet broad-heads. And, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is certainly permissible to suppose that it is the first race which has furnished the blond complexion and the stature observable in so many, especially of the northern Slavs, and that the brunet complexion and the broad skulls must be attributed to the other two. But, if that supposition is permissible, then the Aryan form and substance of the Slavonic languages may also be fairly supposed to have proceeded from the blond long-heads. They could not have come from the Asiatic brunet broad-heads, who all speak non-Aryan languages; and the presumption is against their coming from the brunet broad-heads of the central European highlands, among whom an apparently non-Aryan language was largely spoken, even in historical times.

In the same way, the tall blond tribes among the Finns may be accounted for as the product of admixture. The great majority of the Finno-Tataric people are brunet broad-heads of the Asiatic type. But that the Finns proper have long been in contact with the Aryans is evidenced by the many words borrowed from Aryan which their language contains. Hence there has been abundant opportunity for the mixture of races, and for the transference to some of the Finns of more or fewer of the physical characters of the Aryans, and vice versa. On any hypothesis, the frontier between Aryan and Finno-Tataric people must have extended across west-central Asia for a very long period; and at any point of this frontier, it has been possible that mixed races of blond Finns or of brunet Aryans should be formed.

So much for the European people who now speak Celtic, or Teutonic, or Slavonian, or Lithuanian tongues; or who are known to have spoken them before the supersession of so many of the early native dialects by the Romance modifications of the language of Rome. With respect to the original speakers of Greek and Latin, the unraveling of the tangled ethnology of the Balkan Peninsula and the ordering of the chaos of that of Italy are enterprises upon which I do not propose to enter. In regard to the first, however, there are a few tolerably satisfactory data. The ancient Thracians were proverbially blue-eyed and fair-haired. Tall blonds were common among the ancient Greeks, who were a long-headed people; and the Sphakiots of Crete, probably the purest repre. sentatives of the old Hellenes in existence, are tall and blondBut considering that Greek colonization was taking place on a great scale in the eighth century b. c., and that, centuries earlier and later, the restless Hellene had been fighting, trading, plundering, and kidnapping, on both sides of the Ægean, and perhaps as far as the shores of Syria and of Egypt, it is probable that, even at the dawn of history, the maritime Greeks were a very mixed race. On the other hand, the Dorians may well have preserved the original type; and their famous migration may be the earliest known example of those movements of the Aryan race which were, in later times, to change the face of Europe. Analogy perhaps justifies a guess that those ethnological shadows, the Pelasgi, may have been an earlier mixed population, like that of western Gaul and of Britain before the Teutonic invasion. At any rate, the tall blond long-heads are so well represented in the oldest history of the Balkan Peninsula that they may be credited with the Aryan languages spoken there. And it may be that the tradition which peopled Phrygia with Thracians represents a real movement of the Aryan race into Asia Minor, such as that which in after-years carried the Gauls thither.

The difficulties in the way of a probable identification of the people among whom the various dialects of the Latin group developed themselves, with any race traceable in Italy in historical times, are very great. In addition to the ItaMc "aborigines" northern Italy was peopled by Ligurian brunet broad-heads; with Gauls, probably, to a large extent, blond long-heads; with Illyrians, about whom nothing is known. Besides these, there were those perplexing people the Etruscans, who. seem to have been, originally, brunet long-heads. South Italy and Sicily present a contingent of "Sikels," Phœnicians and Greeks; while over all, in comparatively modern times, follows a wash of Teutonic blood. The Latin dialects arose, no one knows how, among the tribes of central Italy, encompassed on all sides by people of the most various physical characters, who were gradually absorbed into the eternally widening maw of Rome, and there, by dint of using the same speech, became the first example of that wonderful ethnological hotch-potch miscalled the Latin race. The only trustworthy guide here is archæological investigation. A great advance will have been made when the race characters of the prehistoric people of the terremare (who are identified by Helbig[5]

with the primitive Umbrians) become fully known.

I can not learn that the ancient literatures of India and of Persia give any definite information about the complexion of the Lido-Iranians, beyond conveying the impression that they were what we vaguely call white men. But it is important to note that tall blond people make their appearance sporadically among the Tadjiks of Persia and of Turkistan; that the Siah-posh and Galtchas of the mountainous barrier between Turkistan and India are such; and that the same characters obtain largely among the Kurds on the western frontier of Persia at the present day. The Kurds and the Galtchas are generally broad-headed, the others are long-headed. These people and the ancient Alans thus form a series of stepping-stones between the blond Aryans of Europe and those of Asia, standing up amid the flood of Finno-Tataric people which has inundated the rest of the interval between the sources of the Dnieper and those of the Oxus. If only more was known about the Sarmatians and the Scythians of the oldest historians, it is not improbable, I think, that we should discover that, even in historical times, the area occupied by the blond long-heads of Aryan speech has been, at least temporarily, continuous from the shores of the North Sea to central Asia.

Suppose it to be admitted, as a fair working hypothesis, that the blond long-heads once extended without a break over this vast area, and that all the Aryan tongues have been developed out of their original speech, the question respecting the home of the race when the various families of Aryan speech were in the condition of inceptive dialects remains open. For all that, at first, appears to the contrary, it may have been in the West, or in the East, or anywhere between the two. In seeking for a solution of this obscure problem, it is an important preliminary to grasp the truth that the Aryan race must be much older than the primitive Aryan speech. It is not to be seriously imagined that the latter sprang suddenly into existence, by the act of a jealous Deity, apparently unaware of the strength of man's native tendency toward confusion of speech. But if all the diverse languages of men were not brought suddenly into existence, in order to frustrate the plans of the audacious bricklayers of the plain of Shinar; if this professedly historical statement is only another "type," and primitive Aryan, like all other languages, was built up by a secular process of development, the blond long-heads, among whom it grew into shape, must for ages have been, philologically speaking, non-Aryans, or perhaps one should say, "pro-Aryans." I suppose it may be safely assumed that Sanskrit and Zend and Greek were fully differentiated in the year 1500 b. c. If so, how much further back must the existence of the primitive Aryan, from which these proceeded, be dated? And how much further yet, that real juventus mundi (so far as man is concerned) when primitive Aryan was in course of formation? And how much further still the differentiation of the nascent Aryan blond long-head race from the primitive stock of mankind?

If any one maintains that the blond long-headed people, among whom, by the hypothesis, the primitive Aryan language was generated, may have formed a separate race as far back as the Pleistocene epoch, when the first unquestionable records of man make their appearance, I do not see that he goes beyond possibility—though, of course, that is a very different thing from proving his case. But, if the blond long-heads are thus ancient, the problem of their primitive seat puts on an altogether new aspect. Speculation must take into account climatal and geographical conditions widely different from those which obtain in northern Eurasia at the present day. During much of the vast length of the Pleistocene period, it would seem that men could no more have lived either in Britain north of the Thames, or in Scandinavia, or in northern Germany, or in northern Russia, than they can live now in the interior of Greenland, seeing that the land was covered by a great ice sheet like that which at present shrouds the latter country. At that epoch, the blond long-heads can not reasonably be supposed to have occupied the regions in which we meet with them in the oldest times of which history has kept a record.

But even if we are content to assume a vastly less antiquity for the Aryan race; if we only make the assumption, for which there is considerable positive warranty, that it has existed in Europe ever since the end of the Pleistocene period—when the fauna and flora assumed approximately their present condition and the state of things called Recent by geologists set in—we have to reckon with a distribution of land and water, not only very different from that which at present obtains in northern Eurasia, but of such a nature that it can hardly fail to have exerted a great influence on the development and the distribution of the races of mankind.—Nineteenth Century.

[To be continued.]

  1. Schrader, Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples. Translated by F. B. Jevons, M. A., 1890. Taylor, The Origin of the Aryans, 1890.
  2. Canon Taylor (Origin of the Aryans, p. 31) states that "Cuno... was the first to insist on what is now looked on as an axiom in ethnology that race is not coextensive with language," in a work published in 1871. I may be permitted to quote a passage from a lecture delivered on the 9th of January, 1870, which brought me into a great deal of trouble. "Physical, mental, and moral peculiarities go with blood and not with language.
  3. In the United States the negroes have spoken English for generations; but no one on that ground would call them Englishmen, or expect them to differ physically, mentally, or morally from other negroes." (Pall Mall Gazette, January 10, 1870.) But the "axiom in ethnology" had been implied, if not enunciated, before my time; for example, by Ecker in 1865.
    I am unable to discover good grounds for the severity of the criticism, in the name of "the anthropologists," with which Prof. Max Müller's assertion that the same blood runs in the veins of English soldiers "as in the veins of the dark Bengalese," and that there is "a legitimate relationship between Hindoo, Greek, and Teuton," has been visited. So far as I know anything about anthropology, I should say that these statements may be correct literally, and probably arc so substantially. I do not know of any good reason for the physical differences between a high-caste Hindoo and a Dravidian, except the Aryan blood in the veins of the former; and the strength of the infusion is probably quite as great in some Hindoos as in some English soldiers.
  4. I may plead the precedent of the good English words "block-head" and "thickhead" for "broad-head" and "long-head," but I can not say that they are elegant. I might have employed the technical terms brachycephali and dolichocephali. But it can not be said that they are much more graceful; and, moreover, they are sometimes employed in senses different from that which I have given in the definition of broad-heads and long-heads. The cephalic index is a number which expresses the relation of the breadth to the length of a skull, taking the latter as 100. Therefore, "broad-heads" have the cephalic index above 80 and "long-heads" have it below SO. The physiological value of the difference is unknown; its morphological value depends upon the observed fact of the constancy of the occurrence of either long skulls or broad skulls among large bodies of mankind.
  5. Die Italiker in der Poebene, 1879. See, for much valuable information respecting the races of the Balkan and Italic Peninsulæ, Zampa's essay, Vergleiehende anthropologische Ethnographie von Apulien, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, xviii, 1886.