Recent Works On Prehistoric Archaeology -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 030:118 (Apr 1873)
Article: Recent Works On Prehistoric Archaeology
Author: G. Frederick Wright


Recent Works On Prehistoric Archaeology1

Rev. G. Frederick Wright

The subject of Prehistoric Archaeology still suffers from two embarrassments; first, from the reckless haste with which many of the uniformitarian school in geology jump to extreme conclusions concerning the early date of man’s introduction upon the earth; secondly, the too reverent pertinacity with which some Christian scholars hold to the current schemes of biblical chronology.

The two works mentioned below represent the latest phases of the inquiries relating to man’s antiquity, and are in the main moderate and judicious in their tone, especially the work of Mr. Evans. Since the publication of Lyell’s Antiquity of Man much progress has been made, both in adding new facts and in sifting the evidence on which previously discovered facts had been accepted. The human bones found in the cave at Aurignac, in France, and those from the caves of Engis and the Neanderthal, in Belgium, are spoken of now with far less confidence than

formerly as to their very great antiquity, and will probably disappear wholly from future works on the age of our race. Less stress is laid, also, than formerly, upon the relics of the iron, the bronze, and the polished-stone periods in Europe as evidence of great antiquity.

But between the polished-stone period (or Neolithic, according to Lubbock’s classification) and the Palaeolithic period, or the period in which flint implements show no signs of having been ground, there is a wide separation, which no student of the subject can fail to recognize as of great significance. It is the evidence of the great antiquity of the Palaeolithic period that now attracts the principal attention of students of this subject. And in this department of investigation it must be confessed that the accumulating evidence is mainly in one direction, viz. that of lengthening the antiquity of man.

The further explorations by a committee of scientific men — of whom Mr. Evans and Sir John Lubbock are members — of, among others, Kent’s cavern, in Torquay, England, fully substantiate the evidence that had been before adduced in proof of the fact that the cave was inhabited by men of the Palaeolithic period at a time when the mammoth (elephas primigenius), the wooly rhinoceros, the cave bear, the cave hyaena, the reindeer, and many other extinct gigantic mammalia, abounded in England, These remains are separated from later species and more recent marks of man’s presence above them by a continuous layer of stalagmite, from one to three feet thick; and bones of existing species are “conspicuous for their absence “from t...

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