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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: September 2011
  • First published in: 1865

CHAPTER IX - THE ANTIQUITY OF MAN

Summary

WHILE we hare been straining our eyes to the East, and eagerly watching excavations in Egypt and Assyria, suddenly a new light has arisen in the midst of us; and the oldest relics of man yet discovered have occurred, not among the ruins of Nineveh or Heliopolis, not on the sandy plains of the Nile or the Euphrates, but in the pleasant valleys of England and France, along the banks of the Seine and the Somme, the Thames and the Waveney.

So unexpected were these discoveries, so irreconcileable with even the greatest antiquity until lately assigned to the human race, that they were long regarded with neglect and suspicion. M. Boucher de Perthes, to whom we are so much indebted for this great step in the history of mankind, observed, as long ago as the year 1841, in some sand containing mammalian remains, at Menchecourt, near Abbeville, a flint, rudely fashioned into a cutting instrument. In the following years other weapons were found under similar circumstances, and especially during the formation of the Champ de Mars at Abbeville, where a large quantity of gravel was moved and many of the so-called “hatchets” were discovered. In the year 1846 M. Boucher de Perthes published his first work on the subject, entitled “De l'lndustrie Primitive, ou les Arts et leur Origine.” In this he announced, that he had found human implements in beds unmistakeably belonging to the age of the drift. In his “Antiquités Celtiques et Antédiluviennes” (1847), he also gave numerous illustrations of these stone weapons, but unfortunately the figures were so small as scarcely to do justice to the originals.