Primitive Man

Primitive Man
Catalog # SKU3896
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Louis Figuier
ISBN 10: 0000000000
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Primitive Man


Louis Figuier

Forty years have scarcely elapsed since scientific men first began to attribute to the human race an antiquity more remote than that which is assigned to them by history and tradition. Down to a comparatively recent time, the appearance of primitive man was not dated back beyond a period of 6000 to 7000 years.



This historical chronology was a little unsettled by the researches made among various eastern nations-the Chinese, the Egyptians, and the Indians. The savants who studied these ancient systems of civilisation found themselves unable to limit them to the 6000 years of the standard chronology, and extended back for some thousands of years the antiquity of the eastern races.

This idea, however, never made its way beyond the narrow circle of oriental scholars, and did nothing towards any alteration in the general opinion, which allowed only 6000 years since the creation of the human species.

This opinion was confirmed, and, to some extent, rendered sacred by an erroneous interpretation of Holy Writ. It was thought that the Old Testament stated that man was created 6000 years ago. Now, the fact is, nothing of the kind can be found in the Book of Genesis. It is only the commentators and the compilers of chronological systems who have put forward this date as that of the first appearance of the human race. M. Edouard Lartet, who was called, in 1869, to the chair of paleontology in the Museum of Natural History of Paris, reminds us, in the following passage taken from one of his elegant dissertations, that it is the chronologists alone who have propounded this idea, and that they have, in this respect, very wrongly interpreted the statements of the Bible:

"In Genesis," says M. Lartet, "no date can be found which sets a limit to the time at which primitive mankind may have made its first appearance. Chronologists, however, for fifteen centuries have been endeavouring to make Biblical facts fall in with the preconcerted arrangements of their systems. Thus, we find that more than 140 opinions have been brought forward as to the date of the creation alone, and that, between the varying extremes, there is a difference of 3194 years-a difference which only applies to the period between the commencement of the world and the birth of Jesus Christ. This disagreement turns chiefly on those portions of the interval which are in closest proximity to the creation.

"From the moment when it becomes a recognised fact that the origin of mankind is a question independent of all subordination to dogma, this question will assume its proper position as a scientific thesis, and will be accessible to any kind of discussion, and capable, in every point of view, of receiving the solution which best harmonises with the known facts and experimental demonstrations."


In the following paragraphs we give some of the principal means of examination and study which have directed the efforts of savants in this class of investigation, and have enabled them to create a science of the antiquity of the human species.

If man existed at any very remote epoch, he must have left traces of his presence in the spots which he inhabited and on the soil which he trod under his feet. However savage his state may be assumed to have been, primitive man must have possessed some implements of fishing and hunting-some weapons wherewith to strike down any prey which was stronger or more agile than himself. All human beings have been in possession of some scrap of clothing; and they have had at their command certain implements more or less rough in their character, be they only a shell in which to draw water or a tool for cleaving wood and constructing some place of shelter, a knife to cut their food, and a lump of stone to break the bones of the animals which served for their nutriment. Never has man existed who was not in possession of some kind of defensive weapon. These implements and these weapons have been patiently sought for, and they have also been found. They have been found in certain strata of the earth, the age of which is known by geologists; some of these strata precede and others are subsequent to the cataclysm of the European deluge of the quaternary epoch.

The fact has thus been proved that a race of men lived upon the earth at the epoch settled by the geological age of these strata-that is, during the quaternary epoch.

When this class of evidence of man's presence-that is, the vestiges of his primitive industry-fails us, a state of things, however, which comparatively seldom occurs, his existence is sometimes revealed by the presence of human bones buried in the earth and preserved through long ages by means of the deposits of calcareous salts which have petrified or rather fossilised them. Sometimes, in fact, the remains of human bones have been found in quaternary rocks, which are, consequently, considerably anterior to those of the present geological epoch.

This means of proof is, however, more difficult to bring forward than the preceding class of evidence; because human bones are very liable to decay when they are buried at shallow depths, and require for any length of preservation a concurrence of circumstances which is but rarely met with; because also the tribes of primitive man often burnt their dead bodies; and, lastly, because the human race then formed but a very scanty population.

Another excellent proof, which demonstrates the existence of man at a geological epoch anterior to the present era, is to be deduced from the intermixture of human bones with those of antediluvian animals. It is evident that if we meet with the bones of the mammoth, the cave-bear, the cave-tiger, &c.,-animals which lived only in the quaternary epoch and are now extinct-in conjunction with the bones of man or the relics of his industry, such as weapons, implements, utensils, &c., we can assert with some degree of certainty that our species was contemporaneous with the above-named animals. Now this intermixture has often been met with under the ground in caves, or deeply buried in the earth.

400 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 11 point font

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