Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Neolithic Man

Ages passed away during which the climate became more temperate, and the earth's surface in these regions sank to a lower level. The seas afterwards known as the North Sea and the English Channel flowed over the depression; and an island was thus formed out of land which had once been part of the continent. After this process had taken place, a third race appeared, which must have crossed the sea in rafts or canoes, and which took the place of the Palæolithic men. They are known as Neolithic, or men of the new stone age, because their stone implements were of a newer kind, being polished and more efficient than those of their predecessors. They had, therefore, the advantage of superior weapons, and perhaps of superior strength, and were able to overpower those whom they found in the island. With their stone axes they made clearings in the woods in which to place their settlements. They brought with them domestic animals, sheep and goats, dogs and pigs. They spun thread with spindle and distaff, and wove it into cloth upon a loom. They grew corn and manufactured a rude kind of pottery.

Each tribe lived in a state of war with its neighbours. A tribe when attacked in force took shelter on the hills in places of refuge, which were surrounded by lofty mounds and ditches. Many of these places of refuge are still to be seen, as, for instance, the one which bears the name of Maiden Castle, near Dorchester. On the open hills, too, are still to be found the long barrows which the Neolithic men raised over the dead. There is little doubt that these men, whose way of life was so superior to that of their Eskimo-like predecessors, were of the race now known (p. 005) as Iberian, which at one time inhabited a great part of Western Europe, but which has since mingled with other races. The Basques of the Pyrenees are the only Iberians who still preserve anything like purity of descent, though even the Basques have in them blood the origin of which is not Iberian.

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