MEN OF THE OLD STONE AGE
THEIR ENVIRONMENT, LIFE AND ART
HITCHCOCK LECTURES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, 1914
Pl. I. Neanderthal man at the station of Le Moustier, overlooking the valley of the Vézère, Dordogne. Drawing by Charles R. Knight, under the direction of the author.
THE OLD STONE AGE
THEIR ENVIRONMENT, LIFE
HENRY FAIRFIELD OSBORN
SC.D. PRINCETON, HON. LL.D. TRINITY, PRINCETON, COLUMBIA, HON. D.SC. CAMBRIDGE
HON. PH.D. CHRISTIANIA
RESEARCH PROFESSOR OF ZOOLOGY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
VERTEBRATE PALÆONTOLOGIST U. S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, CURATOR EMERITUS OF VERTEBRATE
PALÆONTOLOGY IN THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
UPPER PALÆOLITHIC ARTISTS
CHARLES R. KNIGHT, ERWIN S. CHRISTMAN
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Copyright, 1915, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Published November, 1915
MY DISTINGUISHED GUIDES THROUGH THE UPPER
PALÆOLITHIC CAVERNS OF
THE PYRENEES, DORDOGNE, AND THE CANTABRIAN MOUNTAINS OF SPAIN
This volume is the outcome of an ever-memorable tour through the country of the men of the Old Stone Age, guided by three of the distinguished archæologists of France, to whom the work is gratefully dedicated. This Palæolithic tour[A] of three weeks, accompanied as it was by a constant flow of conversation and discussion, made a very profound impression, namely, of the very early evolution of the spirit of man, of the close relation between early human environment and industry and the development of mind, of the remote antiquity of the human powers of observation, of discovery, and of invention. It appears that men with faculties and powers like our own, but in the infancy of education and tradition, were living in this region of Europe at least 25,000 years ago. Back of these intelligent races were others, also of eastern origin but in earlier stages of mental development, all pointing to the very remote ancestry of man from earlier mental and physical stages.
Another great impression from this region is that it is the oldest centre of human habitation of which we have a complete, unbroken record of continuous residence from a period as remote as 100,000 years corresponding with the dawn of human culture, to the hamlets of the modern peasant of France of A. D. 1915. In contrast, Egyptian, Ægean, and Mesopotamian civilizations appear as of yesterday.
The history of this region and its people has been developed chiefly through the genius of French archæologists, beginning with Boucher de Perthes. The more recent discoveries, which have come in rapid and almost bewildering succession since the foundation of the Institut de Paléontologie humaine, have been treated in a number of works recently published by some of the experienced archæologists of England, France, and Germany. I refer especially to the Prehistoric Times of Lord Avebury, to the Ancient Hunters of Professor Sollas, to Der Mensch der Vorzeit of Professor Obermaier, and to Die diluviale Vorzeit Deutschlands of Doctor R. R. Schmidt. Thus, on receiving the invitation from President Wheeler to lecture upon this subject before the University of California, I hesitated from the feeling that it would be difficult to say anything which had not been already as well or better said. On further reflection, however, I accepted the invitation with the purpose of attempting to give this great subject a more strictly historical or chronological treatment than it had previously received within the limits of a popular work in our own language, also to connect the environment, the animal and human life, and the art.
This element of the time in which the various events occurred can only be drawn from a great variety of sources, from the simultaneous consideration of the geography, climate, plants and animals, the mental and bodily development of the various races, and the industries and arts which reflect the relations between the mind and the environment. In more technical terms, I have undertaken in these lectures to make a synthesis of the results of geology, palæontology, anthropology, and archæology, a correlation of environmental and of human events in the European Ice Age. Such a synthesis was begun many years ago in the preparation of my Age of Mammals, but could not be completed until I had gone over the territory myself.
The attempt to place this long chapter of prehistory on a historical basis has many dangers, of which I am fully aware. After weighing the evidence presented by the eminent authorities in these various branches of science, I have presented my conclusions in very definite and positive form rather than in vague or general terms, believing that a positive statement has at least the merit of being positively supported or rebutted by fresh evidence. For example, I have placed the famous Piltdown man, Eoanthropus, in a comparatively recent stage of geologic time, an entirely opposite conclusion to that reached by Doctor A. Smith Woodward, who has taken a leading part in the discovery of this famous race and has concurred with other British geologists in placing it in early Pleistocene times. The difference between early and late Pleistocene times is not a matter of thousands but of hundreds of thousands of years; if so advanced a stage as the Piltdown man should definitely occur in the early Pleistocene, we may well expect to discover man in the Pliocene; on the contrary, in my opinion even in late Pliocene times man had only reached a stage similar to the Pithecanthropus, or prehuman Trinil race of Java; in other words, according to my view, man as such chiefly evolved during the half million years of the Pleistocene Epoch and not during the Pliocene.
This question is closely related to that of the antiquity of the oldest implements shaped by the human hand. Here again I have adopted an opinion opposed by some of the highest authorities, but supported by others, namely, that the earliest of these undoubted handiworks occur relatively late in the Pleistocene, namely, about 125,000 years ago. Since the Piltdown man was found in association with such implements, it is at once seen that the two questions hang together.
This work represents the co-operation of many specialists on a single, very complex problem. I am not in any sense an archæologist, and in this important and highly technical field I have relied chiefly upon the work of