ABOUT 7000 B.C. we enter an entirely new period in the
history of man, the Neolithic or New Stone Age, when
the flint implements were polished and not merely chipped.
Early as is this date in European culture, we are not
far from the beginnings of an elaborate civilization
in parts of Asia. The earliest organized states, so
far as our present knowledge goes, were the Mesopotamian
empires of Accad and Sumer-though they may have been
preceded by the Chinese civilization, whose origin
remains a mystery, nor can we trace any connection
between it and western Asia. Balkh, the ancient Bactra,
the mother of cities, is located where the trade routes
between China, India, and Mesopotamia converged, and
it is in this neighborhood that careful and thorough
excavations will probably find their greatest rewards.|
However, we are not dealing with Asia, but with Europe only, and our knowledge is confined to the fact that the various cultural advances at the end of the Paleolithic and the beginning of the Neolithic correspond with the arrival of new races.
The transition from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic was formerly considered as revolutionary, an abrupt change of both race and culture, but a period more or less transitory, known as the Campignian, now appears to bridge over this gap. This is but what should be expected, since in human archaeology as in geology the more detailed our knowledge becomes, the more gradually we find one period or horizon merges into its successor.
For a long time after the opening of the Neolithic the old fashioned chipped weapons and implements remain the predominant type, and the polished flints so characteristic of the Neolithic appear at first only sporadically, then increase in number, until finally they entirely replace the rougher designs of the preceding Old Stone Age.
So in turn these Neolithic polished stone implements which ultimately became both varied and effective as weapons and tools continued in use long after metallurgy developed. In the Bronze Period, of course, metal armor and weapons were for ages of the greatest value. So they were necessarily in the possession of the military and ruling classes only, while the unfortunate serf or common soldier who followed his master to war did the best he could with leather shield and stone weapons. In the ring that clustered around Harold for the last stand on Senlac Hill many of the English thanes died with their Saxon king, armed solely with the stone battle-axes of their ancestors.
In Italy also there was a long period known to the Italian archaeologists as the Eneolithic Period, when good flint tools existed side by side with very poor copper and bronze implements; so that, while the Neolithic lasted in western Europe four or five thousand years, it is, at its commencement, without clear definition from the preceding Paleolithic, and at its end it merged gradually into the succeeding ages of metals.
After the opening Campignian phase there followed a long period typical of the Neolithic, known as the Robenhausian, or Age of the Swiss Lake Dwellers, which reached its height about 5000 B. C. The lake dwellings seem to have been the work exclusively of the round skull Alpine races and are found in numbers throughout the region of the Alps and their foothills and along the Danube valley.
These Robenhausian pile built villages were in Europe the earliest known form of fixed habitation, and the culture found in association with them was a great advance on that of the preceding Paleolithic. This type of permanent habitation flourished through the entire Upper Neolithic and the succeeding Bronze Age. Pile villages end in Switzerland with the first appearance of iron, but elsewhere, as in the upper Danube, they still existed in the days of Herodotus.
Domesticated animals and agriculture, as well as rough pottery, appear during the Robenhausian for the first time. The chase, supplemented by trapping and fishing, was still common, but it probably was more for clothing than for food. Of course, a permanent site is the basis of an agricultural community, and involves at least a partial abandonment of the chase, because only nomads can follow the game in its seasonal migrations, and hunted animals soon leave the neighborhood of settlements.
The Terramara Period of northern Italy was a later phase of culture contemporaneous with the Upper Robenhausian, and was typical of the Bronze Age. During the Terramara Period fortified and moated stations in swamps or close to the banks of rivers became the favorite resorts instead of pile villages built in lakes. The first traces of copper are found during this period. The earliest human remains in the Terramara deposits are long skulled, but round skulls soon appear in association with bronze implements. This indicates an original population of Mediterranean affinities swamped later by Alpines.
Neolithic culture also Nourished in the north of Europe and particularly in Scandinavia, now free from ice. The coasts of the Baltic were apparently occupied for the first time at the very beginning of this period, as no trace of Paleolithic industry has been found there, other than the Maglemose, which represents only the very latest phase of the Old Stone Age. The kitchen middens, or refuse heaps, of Sweden, and more particularly of Denmark, date from the early Neolithic, and thus are somewhat earlier than the lake dwellers. No trace of agriculture has been found in them, and the dog seems to have been the only domesticated animal.
>From these two centres, the Alps and the North, an elaborate and variegated Neolithic culture spread through western Europe, and an autochthonous development took place little influenced by trade intercourse with Asia after the first immigrations of the new races.
We may assume that the distribution of races during the Neolithic was roughly as follows: The Mediterranean basin and western Europe, including Spain, Italy, Gaul, Britain, and the western portions of Germany, populated by Mediterranean long heads; the Alps and the territories immediately surrounding, except the valley of the Po, together with much of the Balkans, inhabited by Alpine types. These Alpines extended northward until they came in touch in eastern Germany and Poland with the southernmost Nordics, but as the Carpathians at a much later date, namely from the fourth to the eighth century A. D., were the centre of radiation of the Alpine Slavs, it is very possible that during the Neolithic the early Nordics lay farther north and east.
North of the Alpines and occupying the shores of the Baltic and Scandinavia, together with eastern Germany, Poland, and Russia, were located the Nordics. At the very base of the Neolithic, and perhaps still earlier, this race occupied Scandinavia, and Sweden became the nursery of the Teutonic subdivision of the Nordic race. It was in that country that the peculiar characters of stature and blondness became most accentuated, and it is there that we find them to-day in their greatest purity. During the Neolithic the remnants of early Paleolithic man must have been numerous, but later they were either exterminated or absorbed by the existing European races.
During all this Neolithic Period Mesopotamia and Egypt were thousands of years in advance of Europe, but only a small amount of culture from these sources seems to have trickled westward up the valley of the Danube, then and long afterward the main route of intercourse between western Asia and the heart of Europe. Some trade also passed from the Black Sea up the Russian rivers to the Baltic coasts. Along these latter routes there came from the north to the Mediterranean world the amber of the Baltic, a fossil resin greatly prized by early man for its magic electrical qualities.
Gold was probably the first metal to attract the attention of primitive man, but, of course, could only be used for purposes of ornamentation. Copper, which is often found in a pure state, was also one of the earliest metals known, and probably came first either from the mines of Cyprus or of the Sinai Peninsula. These latter mines are known to have been worked before 3800 B. C. by systematic mining operations, and much earlier the metal must have been obtained by primitive methods from surface ore. It is, therefore, probable that copper was known and used, at first for ornament and later for implements, in Egypt before 5000 B. C., and probably even earlier in the Mesopotamian regions.
With the use of copper the Neolithic fades to its end and the Bronze Age commences soon thereafter. This next step in advance was made apparently about 4000 B. C., when some unknown genius discovered that an amalgam of nine parts of copper to one part of tin would produce the metal we now call bronze, which has a texture and strength suitable for weapons and tools. The discovery revolutionized the world. The new knowledge was a long time spreading and weapons of this material were of fabulous value, especially in countries where there were no native mines, and where spears and swords could only be obtained through trade or conquest. The esteem in which these bronze weapons, and still more the later weapons of iron, were held, is indicated by the innumerable legends and myths concerning magic swords and armor, the possession of which made the owner well-nigh invulnerable and invincible.
The necessity of obtaining tin for this amalgam led to the early voyages of the Phoenicians, who from the cities of Tyre and Sidon, and their daughter, Carthage, traversed the entire length of the Mediterranean, founded colonies in Spain to work the Spanish tin mines, passed the Pillars of Hercules, and finally voyaged through the stormy Atlantic to the Cassiterides, the Tin Isles of Ultima Thule. There, on the coasts of Cornwall, they traded with the native British, of kindred Mediterranean race, for the precious tin. These dangerous and costly voyages become explicable only if the value of this metal for the composition of bronze be taken into consideration.
After these bronze weapons were elaborated in Egypt, the knowledge of their manufacture and use was extended through conquest into Palestine, and about 3000 B. C. northward into Asia Minor.
The effect of the possession of these new weapons on the Alpine populations of western Asia was magical, and resulted in an intensive and final expansion of round skulls into Europe. This invasion came through Asia Minor, the Balkans, and the valley of the Danube, poured into Italy from the north, introduced bronze among the earlier Alpine lake dwellers of Switzerland, and among the Mediterraneans of the Terramara stations of the valley of the Po, and at a later date reached as far west as Britain and as far north as Holland and Norway.
The simultaneous appearance of bronze about 3000 or 2800 B.C. in the south as well as in the north of Italy can probably be attributed to a wave of this same invasion which reached Tunis and Sicily, passing through Egypt, where it left behind the so-called Giza round skulls. With the first knowledge of metals begins the Eneolithic Period of the Italians.
The introduction into England and into Scandinavia of bronze may be safely dated about one thousand years later, around 1800 B.C. The fact that the Alpines only barely reached Ireland, and that the invasion of Britain itself was not sufficiently intensive to leave any substantial record of its passing in the skulls of the existing population, indicates that at this time Ireland was severed from England, and that the land connection between England and France had been broken. The computation of the foregoing dates, of course, is somewhat hypothetical, but the fixed fact remains that this last expansion of the Alpines brought the knowledge of bronze to western and northern Europe and to the Mediterranean and Nordic peoples living there.
The effect of the introduction of bronze in the areas occupied chiefly by the Mediterranean race along the Atlantic coast and in Britain, as well as in North Africa from Tunis to Morocco, is seen in the wide distribution of the megalithic funeral monuments, which appear to have been erected, not by Alpines, but by the dolichocephs. The occurrence of bronze tools and weapons in the interments shows clearly that the megaliths date from this Bronze Age. But their construction and use continued at least until the very earliest trace of iron appeared, and in fact mound burials among the Vikings were common until the introduction of Christianity.
The knowledge of iron as well as bronze in Europe, centres around the area occupied by the Alpines in the eastern Alps and its earliest phase is known as the Hallstatt culture, from a little town in the Tyrol where it was first discovered. This Hallstatt iron culture flourished about 1500 B. C. Whether or not the Alpines introduced from Asia or invented in Europe the smelting of iron, it was the Nordics who benefited by its use. Bronze weapons and the later iron ones proved in the hands of these northern barbarians to be of terrible effectiveness, and were first of all turned against their Alpine teachers. With these metal swords in their grasp, the Nordics first conquered the Alpines of central Europe and then suddenly entered the ancient world as raiders and destroyers of cities, and the classic civilizations of the north coasts of the Mediterranean Sea fell, one after another, before the "Furor Normanorum," just as two thousand years later the provinces of Rome were devastated by the last wave of the men of the north, the Teutonic tribes.
The first Nordics to appear in European history are tribes speaking Aryan tongues, in the form of the various Celtic and related dialects in the west, of Umbrian in Italy and of Thracian in the Balkans, and these tribes, pouring down from the north, swept with them large numbers of Alpines, whom they had already thoroughly Nordicized. The process of conquering and assimilating these Alpines must have gone on for long centuries before our first historic records, and the work was so thoroughly done that the very existence of this Alpine race as a separate subspecies of man was actually forgotten for thousands of years by themselves and by the world at large, until it was revealed in our own day by the science of skull measurements.
The Hallstatt iron culture did not extend into western Europe, and the smelting and extensive use of iron in south Britain and northwest Europe are of much later date and occur in what is known as the La Tene Period, usually assigned to the fifth and fourth century B. C. Iron weapons were known in England much earlier, perhaps as far back as 800 or 1OOO B.C., but were very rare and were probably importations from the Continent.
The spread of this La Tene culture is associated with the Cymry, who constituted the last wave of Celtic-speaking invaders into western Europe, while the earlier Nordic Gauls and Goidels had arrived in Gaul and Britain equipped with bronze only.
In Roman times, which follow the La Tene Period, the three main races of Europe occupied the relative positions which they had held during the whole Neolithic Period and which they hold today, with the exception that the Nordic species was less extensively represented in western Europe than when, a few hundred years later, the Teutonic tribes flooded these countries; but on the other hand, the Nordics occupied large areas in eastern Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Russia now occupied by the Slavs of Alpine race, and many countries also in central Europe were in Roman times inhabited by fair haired, blue eyed barbarians, where now the population is preponderantly brunet and becoming yearly more so.