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was a flat slab of stone. One such house measures 33 feet by 23, and is divided into two rooms by a partition. Others are 20 feet by 12, or 27 feet by 22. Even the smallest of them could give points as regards size to many a dwelling in civilized countries at the present time. The space between the dwellings was usually about three feet, and sometimes this was occupied by the stalls of cattle. Where the settlement was not connected by a gangway with the shore it was reached by canoes hollowed out of a single tree-trunk with the aid of fire by the chisel implements called celts.
In the smaller lakes a deep layer of peat moss has often been formed, in which the more perishable objects have been preserved. The remains found on the sites of Swiss lake-settlements occupied in the Stone Age show that the domestic animals possessed by man were still few; oxen were numerous, but the horse, sheep, dog, and pig were rare. Among the wild animals of the region were the urus, bison, elk, bear, stag, beaver, fox, and hare.
The lake-dwellers did not depend alone upon hunting for their food. They cultivated wheat, barley, and millet, and made a coarse kind of bread, and had as fruits the raspberry, blackberry, pear, and apple. Their clothing still consisted largely of skins, but they grew flax and could spin and weave, and they produced both linen and woollen cloth. Many earthenware vessels, some covered with soot, have been found, showing that the potter's art had made great progress, though the potter's wheel was still unknown.
Among the implements that have come to light are polished stone axe-heads with hafting of stag's horn and wood, flint flakes, arrow-heads and saws, barbed harpoons of stag's horn, awls, chisels, bone needles
and fish-hooks, and a skate made of the leg bone of a horse.
The lake-settlements reveal a mode of life that was neither unhealthy nor too straitened, and that had reached a reasonable stage of civilization.
Cromlechs, or circles of great standing stones, such
as those of Avebury and Stonehenge, are characteristic of the New Stone Age and have, we can scarcely doubt, a religious significance. What the beliefs of primitive men of the Stone Age were we are hardly likely to discover, except by analogy with those of primitive men of to-day, but it has been argued with some probability that the stone circles have a connexion with sunworship
USERS OF STONE IN MODERN TIMES
FTER the first and all-important invention of
fire-making in the infancy of the human race
a discovery which established once for all the supremacy of man over the lower animals—the most important step in the evolution of civilized man was the beginning, at very different times in different parts of the earth, of metal-working. More than one primitive people had found out that copper, which often occurs in large metallic masses in the ore, can be fashioned into implements by hammering. This discovery alone did not lead to very much. It was the employment of fire in the reduction of metals that marks the striking advance in human knowledge that caused the abandonment of stone implements in region after region as the invention reached it. Those on the highways of intercourse naturally received it first. Countries which were inaccessible or remote from the metal-working districts passed from their Stone Age to the Age of Metals thousands of years after those more favourably placed. Stone tools were being used in Northern Europe and the British Isles at least three thousand years after copper was in use in ancient Egypt; with the exception of Mexico and Peru, which were already acquainted with copper and bronze, the two Americas went through the transition from stone to metal considerably after the voyage of Columbus in 1492. The majority of American Indians passed out of the Stone Age with the settlement on the continent of the English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Yet even at the present day the more backward Indians of the Amazon basin and many of the Eskimo tribes of the extreme North are in a stage of civilization similar to that which ended in the British Isles about 2000 B.C., while the natives of Tierra del Fuego and tribes such as the Seri Indians living on an island in the Gulf of California, who use shells for knives, cups, and dishes, and natural pebbles for hammers, and who place their dead in simple pits with the objects that belonged to them in life, are in at least as primitive a stage as the men of the Old Stone Age. We can find similar conditions still existing in many other parts of the world.
It is customary to term such primitive peoples of the present AN UNFINISHED STONE day savages, and to look upon
AXE-HEAD FROM AN
ABORIGINAL WORK. them as entirely different from
SHOP, QUEENSLAND civilized men--as being lacking in certain qualities or capacities, and, on the other hand, as endowed with instincts which are useful, no doubt, but make them more akin to the lower animals. Those who have lived among them with open eyes, however, tell us that on a closer acquaintance the word savage ceases to have a meaning ; they perceive that the so-called savage, like the civilized man, is the product of his environment, which is responsible for the fact that he is in some respects their inferior, in others their superior. They discover that it is not instinct that guides an Eskimo over an apparently trackless expanse of snow, or an Indian over a featureless plain, but observation, such as enables a civilized man to find his way home round corners and down streets that to an unaccustomed eye look all alike. They find among savages affection, honour, religion, manifesting themselves differently perhaps, but essentially the same feelings as they are in themselves, and, we may well believe, the same, even in many of their manifestations, as they were in our prehistoric ancestors of the Stone Age.
Some of the beliefs of these predecessors of ours we can almost certainly trace in literature and compare
with those of primitive men of to-day. Take the invention of fire—the first great step in man's conquest of his material environment. Nobly enshrined in Greek literature we have the story of the titan Prometheus, the benefactor of the human race, who stole fire from heaven and thereby incurred the jealous anger and vengeance of the Father of the Gods. As told by Æschylus, it is a highly civilized rendering of some much more ancient fire myth, the germ of which is the theft of the great secret from some one unwilling to share the advantages derived from it. Some such fire myth appears to form part of the folklore of every primitive tribe of to-day.
This is one Australian version of a tale which has a different rendering in almost every tribe.