Implements Of The Stone Age A Primitive Demarcation Between Man And Other Animals -- By: Joseph P. Thompson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 034:133 (Jan 1877)
Article: Implements Of The Stone Age A Primitive Demarcation Between Man And Other Animals
Author: Joseph P. Thompson


Implements Of The Stone Age A Primitive Demarcation Between Man And Other Animals1

Joseph P. Thompson

Wherever on the face of the globe there is found an implement of any sort, we say, at once, Man has been here. It may be that, as in the caves in the Dordogne, there are rude sketches of art to associate the flint and bone implements with the handiwork of man; or, as in the lake findings in Switzerland, there may be traces of human habitations to identify the stone utensils with the building of the pile-dwellings; or, as in the shell-mounds (Kjokkenmöddings) of Denmark, a ruined hearth-stone and the bones of birds and animals of the chase, skilfully opened for their marrow, may point to man as the maker and user of the implements found in these heaps of refuse; and it may even happen that sometimes in the same place of deposit with the primitive implements of stone is found an indubitable relic of man himself, in a small fragment of the human skeleton. Yet in all these cases the implement itself, apart from its accessories, is an argument for the presence of man. The implement certifies the man as really as the man certifies the implement. This no one would think of disputing; but I give emphasis to the unanimity of science on this point, because of its bearing upon the primitive differentia of man as a species. We say, If man was indeed contemporary with these wild denizens of the caves, then these are the weapons with which he slew them, the implements with which he prepared them for his food; and the finding of the implements imbedded with the animal remains is evidence that man was contemporary with such animals.

If we go back to the river-drift gravels, as, for instance, in the valley of the Somme, where we have no trace of human habitations or other works, and perhaps no authentic specimen of a human bone, but simply compare one stone with another, we say, again: Man was here at the remote period of this formation; for these flints are shapen, adapted to a use, and are no longer stones, but implements. We may raise the question whether the findings are genuine or forgeries, whether “the flint implements are of the same age as the beds in which they are found,” or have come there by accident, or have sifted down from some later deposit; but if they are genuine, and of the same age with the drift, we hold them for conclusive proof that man was there in that age.

But in making this decision, do we not unconsciously impose upon ourselves with the tacit presumption that only man is capable of making and using an implement? Science cannot admit a presumption, except as a tentative hypothesis; she must rest all her conclusions on the known...

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