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CHAPTER XIII

THE LATER USERS OF STONE

H

OW the Old Stone Age passed into the New
Stone Age no one can say.

On the sites where New Stone man had his dwelling we find relics denoting a different and more advanced manner of life ; but when or how or where it first replaced the old we have at present no means of knowing. In caves inhabited during both periods we often find the remains separated by deposits that must have taken an immense length of time to form. This is held by many to be a sufficient proof that the Old Stone Age was separated from the New by a great gap-that Old Stone men for some reason vanished altogether, and the new way of living was introduced by a new race. Others maintain that, though many settlements were for unknown reasons deserted, a remnant of the ancient population - dwellers probably not in caves but in the openremained and mingled with the new, handing on to them certain of their physical peculiarities and the traditions of the flint-flaking industry. In Western Europe the moist cold of the early cave period, during which the mammoth flourished, had given place to the dry cold of the later, and that again at the beginning of the New Stone Age had been succeeded by a moist and temperate climate. The mammoth was extinct, and the reindeer and other Arctic animals had migrated north, followed perhaps by the population of the caves, and now that tusk ivory and reindeer antler were no longer available carving in those materials was at an end. Flint-flaking, the first human industry, remained, to assume new forms and to give a name to the second period in the history of the race.

By the time that New Stone man was making his implements of ground and polished stone, change of climate and earth movements had transformed the face of Europe. Great subsidences took place in the northwest. The waters of the Atlantic filled the valley where the English Channel now is, and flowing in on the north divided Scandinavia from the British Isles, formed the shallow North Sea where dry land had been, and at last joined themselves by the Straits of Dover to the long inlet sundering England and France. The ice sheet had gone, except from the highest mountains, leaving behind it rivers and lakes and great stretches of fen, uninhabitable except for swans, geese, herons, and other marsh birds. The mammoth was extinct, the elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, and lion had vanished, the reindeer had wandered away in search of colder climates; but the forests that clothed a great part of the land gave cover to the wild boar, the wolf, and the grizzly bear. In the dry, open, grassy country, such as Salisbury Plain, the Downs, and the Yorkshire Wolds, were the settlements of New Stone man.

The use of polished stone is sometimes regarded as the distinguishing mark of the New Stone Age, but a great many implements and weapons, such as knives, arrow-heads, scrapers, and even axes were frequently finished by chipping alone, without any grinding or polishing. In the case of many implements, such as the rude tools used in agriculture, such operations would have been a mere waste of time. The development in the stone industry lies not only in the grinding and polishing which enabled other stones besides flint to be used, but in the greater variety of forms, and in the hafting which had become general.

It was not, of course, only in the manufacture of weapons and tools that New Stone men advanced beyond their predecessors. They were no longer dependent entirely upon hunting for their food. They practised the art of agriculture, and grew wheat, barley,

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STONE AXE, HAFTED

and millet for food, and flax for clothing, for they had learnt to spin and weave both flax and wool. They tamed the horse and dog, and kept sheep: goats, cows, and pigs to provide milk and meat. The long-bow, a great advance upon javelins, spears, and axes, was in use. Pottery was made; and instead of rude natural shelters houses were often built of wattle and mud, and raised on piles in lakes and rivers to secure them against attack. The importance attached to the burial of the dead, and the raising of great monuments, such as Stonehenge, perhaps indicate the growth of religion and the belief in a future life.

It must not be thought that all over the world the new arts were known and practised at the same time. This was not the case even in Europe, which received them

from tribes migrating from various localities and bringing with them varying customs and degrees of civilization. Those coming from the valleys of the great rivers, which are the natural highways of the world, and consequently the regions which soonest become acquainted with improvements in the arts of life, would be more advanced than those emerging from less favoured districts, and again their further advance in civilization would depend to a great extent upon the natural advantages of their place of settlement.

Just as no definite date can be given for the beginning of the New Stone Age, so no general date can be assigned to its close. It overlapped a fresh epoch in which the use of copper and bronze was to supplant that of stone, but this overlapping began at very different dates in different parts of the world, and is even in some remote regions going on at the present day. In Northern Europe the New Stone Age came to an end about 2000 B.C. ; but as early as 2500 B.C. copper was being worked in Cyprus ; while in Egypt it was in use before 5000 B.C.

On the other hand, long after the discovery of America the Indian tribes continued to use implements such as were made in Europe during the New Stone Age, and savage man at the present time is almost everywhere in the same stage of civilization, and employing the same devices to supply his wants. When we find a primitive people living in conditions of climate and surroundings similar to those of New Stone man in Europe we are pretty safe in believing that their household utensils, clothing, manner of life, and even their ways of thought are much the same; and we can reconstruct, as it were, that part of the existence of primitive man which, from its nature, has been unable to endure in Europe to our day. The natives of New

Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand, the Eskimo of the Arctic region, and the Bushmen of South Africa can teach us a great deal about our own past.

Among a people entirely ignorant of the working of metals, and dependent for all their weapons and tools upon stone, the working of flint would naturally be the most important industry, and regular mining for it was carried on during the New Stone Age. The best flint

MINER'S PICK OF DEER-ANTLER

is found in seams lying at irregular depths in the chalk, and, generally speaking, the finer quality is found at the greater depth. Shafts as much as forty feet deep were sometimes sunk in the chalk, and galleries tunnelled along the flint seams, connecting pit with pit. To light his way along them the miner carried a lamp carved from a lump of chalk. His tools were rough flint implements made on the spot, and pick, punches, and chisels of deer-horn. The shoulder-blades of an ox have been found in one mine, having apparently served as shovels, and on a deer-horn pick from another there is a smear of chalky clay, still keeping the thumbprint of the very miner who wielded it many thousands of years ago. At some flint centres the flint was not only mined but manufactured on the spot, and a regular trade in flint implements carried on with a wide district.

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