Persistent identifier:
image: of 194
Catalogue of ffijrbtbtts.
I__Relics of Prehistoric Times.
The science of Prehistoric Archaeology is one whose birth is comparatively recent. Its object is to throw light upon the story of mans presence on the earth in those times which history does not reach, and on which monuments or inscriptions throw no light. Its aim is to study the rude stone erections, and the burying places of men of whom nothing is known, and more especially to devote attention to the various forms of tools and implements which such men made for war. the chase or domestic purposes. Man has always been a defenceless creature, and his first care was to find out how to make things to provide his food or defend himself against wild beasts or his fellow men. bo it happens that the earliest races of men, who have left evidence of their life on earth, are known to us in no other way than by the stone toois they made.
Research has established the fact that before men had obtained sufficient skill to smelt metal from the pre and make cutting instruments of iron and steel, they passed through three distinct stages of progress First they used only tools of the hardest stone they could find wrought into shape by simple chipping ; then they discovered the art of not only chipping stone but of rubbing it by means of sand and water to a sharp cutting edge. Thirdly, having found copper and tin in a comparatively pure state, without requiring to be separated from the ore, they melted the two together in the proportion of about nine to one, and produced effective cutting tools of bronze. These three periods are known as the Paleolithic Age, the Neolithic Age, and the Bronze Age. They were not synchronous all over the world, for when Britain, and probably Europe was in its Age of Stone, the men of the East had attained great skill in Metallurgy. But in all parts of the world it has been established that these three ages existed, marked by implements of kindred form, and analogous material wherever found.
Hampshire is rich in memorials of the three ages referred to A vast sheet of gravel extends all round Southampton, which yields Paleolithic implements in great abundance and variety. The gravel was deposited bv big rivers of which the Itchen and Test are puny descendants J he Solent is also the relic of another great river, which ran along by Barton and Christchurch, when the English Channel did not exist. In association with the implements are found occasionally the large bones and teeth, of extinct Mammalia, as witnessed by the teeth of the Mammoth, or Elephas primigenius from the gravel at Nursling, lent by the Hal tley
^The bones of man are never found, or any creature so small as man. Only those who have studied Geology, and know the time which it takes to carve out a river valley—to deposit strata of gravel 15 feet thick, and for the big Mammalia to become extinct, can realise how great is the measure of time, which separates the Paleolithic Age from our own.
Neolithic and Bronze Implements are also frequently found near Southampton in the surface soil and from one to two feet deep. These two periods piobably merged the one into the other, but a great gap separates the Paleolithic from the Neolithic age. 1 his gap IS partially bridged over in other places by the discovery of the relics of cave men, who belonged to a later stage of the Paleolithic period and have eft, besides their implements, carvings and etchings on bone, preserved by the stalagmite of the cave.
Facebook Twitter Stumbleupon Delicious Digg RSS