BEFORE considering the living populations of Europe,
we must give consideration to the extinct peoples that
The science of anthropology is very recent-in its present form less than fifty years old-but it has already revolutionized our knowledge of the past and extended prehistory so that it is now measured not by thousands but by tens of thousands of years.
The history of man prior to the period of metals has been divided into ten or more subdivisions, many of them longer than the time covered by written records. Man has struggled up through the ages, to revert again and again into savagery and barbarism, but apparently retaining each time something gained by the travail of his ancestors.
So long as there is in the world a freely breeding stock or race that has in it an inherent capacity for development and growth, mankind will continue to ascend until, possibly through the selection and regulation of breeding as intelligently applied as in the case of domestic animals, he will control his own destiny and attain moral heights as yet unimagined.
The impulse upward, however, is supplied by a very small number of nations, and by a very small portion of the population in such nations. The section of any community that produces leaders or genius of any sort is only a minute percentage. To invent new processes, to establish new principles, to elucidate and unravel the laws of nature, calls for genius. To imitate or to adopt what others have invented is not genius but mimicry.
This something which we call "genius" is not a matter of family, but of stock or strain, and is inherited in precisely the same manner as are the purely physical characters. It may be latent through several generations of obscurity, and then flare up when the opportunity comes. Of this we have many examples in America. This is what education or opportunity does for a community; it permits in these rare cases fair play for development, but it is race, always race, that produces genius.
This genius producing type is slow breeding, and there is real danger of its loss to mankind. Some idea of the value of these small strains can be gained from the recent statistics which demonstrate that Massachusetts produces more than fifty times as much genius per hundred thousand whites as does Georgia, Alabama, or Mississippi, although apparently the race, religion, and environment, other than climatic conditions, are much the same, except for the numbing presence in the South of a large stationary negro population.
The more thorough the study of European prehistory becomes, the more we realize how many advances of culture have been made and then lost. Our parents were accustomed to regard the overthrow of ancient civilization in the Dark Ages as the greatest catastrophe of mankind, but we now know that the classic period of Greece was preceded by similar dark ages caused by the Dorian invasions, which overthrew the Homeric-Mycenaean culture, which in its turn had flourished after the destruction of its parent, the Minoan culture of Crete. Still earlier, some twelve thousand years ago, the Azilian period of poverty and retrogression succeeded the wonderful achievements of the hunter-artists of the Upper Paleolithic.
The progress of civilization becomes evident only when immense periods are studied and compared, but the lesson is always the same, namely, that race is everything. Without race there can be nothing except the slave wearing his master's clothes, stealing his master's proud name, adopting his master's tongue, and living in the crumbling ruins of his master's palace. Everywhere on the sites of ancient civilization the Turk, the Kurd, and the Bedouin camp; and Americans might well pause and consider the fate of this country which they, and they alone, founded and nourished with their blood. The immigrant ditch diggers and the railroad navvies were to our fathers what their slaves were to the Romans, and the same transfer of political power from master to servant is taking place to-day.
Man's place of origin was undoubtedly Asia. Europe is only a peninsula of the Eurasiatic continent, and although the extent of its land area during the Pleistocene was much greater than at present, it is certain, from the distribution of the various species of man, that the main races evolved in Asia long before the centre of that continent was reduced to deserts by progressive desiccation.
Evidence of the location of the early evolution of man in Asia and the geologically recent submerged area toward the southeast is afforded by the fossil deposits in the Siwalik hills of northern India, where have been found the remains of primates which were either ancestral or closely related to the four genera of living anthropoids; and by the discovery in Java, which in Pliocene times was connected with the mainland over what is now the South China Sea, of the earliest known form of erect primate, the Pithecanthropus. This apelike man is practically the "missing link," being intermediate between man and the anthropoids. Pithecanthropus is generally believed to have been contemporary with the Gunz glaciation of some 500,000 years ago, the first of the four great glacial advances in Europe.
One or two forms of fossil anthropoid apes have been discovered in the Miocene of Europe which may possibly have been remotely related to the ancestors of man, but when the archaeological exploration of Asia shall be as complete and intensive as that of Europe, it is probable that more forms of fossil anthropoids and new species of man will be found there.
Man existed in Europe during the second and third interglacial periods, if not earlier. We have his artifacts in the form of eoliths, at least as early as the second interglacial stage, the Mindel-Riss, of some 300,000 years ago. A single jaw found near Heidelberg is referred to this period and is the earliest skeletal evidence of man in Europe. From certain remarkable characters in this jaw, it has been assigned to a new species, Homo heidelbergensis.
Then follows a long period of scanty industrial relics and no known skeletal remains. Man was slowly and painfully struggling up from an eolithic culture phase, where chance flints served his temporary purpose. This in turn was succeeded by a stage of human development where slight chipping and retouching of flints for man's increasing needs led, after vast intervals of time, to the deliberate manufacture of tools. This period is known as the Eolithic, and is necessarily extremely hazy and uncertain. Whether or not certain chipped or broken flints, called eoliths, or dawn stones, were really human artifacts or were the products of natural forces is really immaterial because man must have passed through such an eolithic stage.
The further back we go toward the commencement of such an eolithic culture, the more and more unrecognizable the flints necessarily become until they finally cannot be distinguished from natural stone fragments, because at the beginning the earliest man merely picked up a convenient stone, used it once and flung it away, precisely as an anthropoid ape would act to-day if he wanted to break in the shell of a tortoise or crack an ostrich egg.
Man must have experienced the following phases of development in the transition from the prehuman to the human stage: first, the utilization of chance stones and sticks; second, the casual adaptation of flints by a minimum amount of chipping; third, the deliberate manufacture of the simplest implements from flint nodules; and fourth, the invention of new forms of weapons and tools in ever increasing variety.
Of the last two stages we have an extensive and clear record. Of the second stage we have in the eoliths intermediate forms ranging from flints that are evidently results of natural causes to flints that are clearly artifacts. The first and earliest stage, of course, could leave behind it no definite record and must always rest on hypothesis.