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Archaeology, like anthropology, is a very young science, and like anthropology it has grown at a most astonishing rate. In the true sense it is scarcely a hundred years old, for its birth may be placed about the middle of the last century, unless we are willing to give a rather artificial value to that false dawn which came with the occupation of Egypt by Napoleon. I should rather prefer to say that it begins just about 1850. Layard was excavating at Nineveh in 1845. Boucher de Perthes published his first work on stone implements in 1841; and the entire theory was made known in England in 1858, in the same year that Darwin and Wallace read ‘On the Origin of Species’. Keller's work on lake-dwellings appeared in 1854. Lartet and Christy were doing their chief work in 1861,a nd Pigorini from 1862 onwards. Schliemann's excavations of Troy began in 1870.
What particular gadfly drove the Belgae into Britain in the early years of the first century B.C. is hidden from us. The pestiferous Cimbri may have lent their sting; for although, alone of the Gauls, the Belgae had beaten them off along the Seine valley in 103 B.c., these vagabond Teutons and their friends cannot have added to the amenities of a continental existence. Thereafter, at any rate, Belgic ambition turned easily northwards to the familiar and relatively empty coasts of southeastern Britain. With a combined initiative and deliberation that may be imagined to have reflected their mixed Celtic and Teutonic origin, organized Belgic tribes or tribal contingents began to settle along our shores and to penetrate inland along our rivers. When Caesar arrived in 55 B.c., he found them, he tells us, in occupation of ‘the maritime districts’.
During the improvement of the climate of Europe which followed the retreat of the ice at the close of the last glacial period the continent suffered re-invasion by successive waves of immigrating plants at rates determined partly by their natural climatic range and partly by their relative capacity to spread by seeds or by vegetative means. Of this migratory flora the trees are conspicuously important, firstly in that they dominated by their life-form the other components of the vegetation, and secondly in that, being wind-pollinated, they produced vast quantities of pollen which were carried by the wind over wide distances and incorporated in any deposits then forming. In peat and in estuarine and coastal silts particularly, conditions largely inhibited bacterial decay of the spores, the outer membranes of which remain recognizable in microscopic examination. Systematic analysis by the methods introduced by Von Post has now been applied over a large part of Europe and very considerable resemblance is evident in the migratory sequence of forest-types over the whole continent. Since the post-glacial climatic optimum, the climate of the continent has suffered further fluctuations and these are also characterized by regular and well marked changes in the forest-cover of the land as indicated by the fossil pollen-content.
This is not the occasion to discourse of the Art of Lying in general. The subject is too wide for any essay, and the present writer can claim no special competence. Yet, contrary to much generally received opinion, mankind for the most part are extremely bad liars,—not for want of practice, but because of inherent deficiency. This proposition is accepted as axiomatic in the practice of law and in the science of history. Few witnesses can survive a really skilled crossexamination unless they are speaking the truth or a fairly close approximation to it, and the historical witness is in little better case. The difficulties inherent in testimony are immense, but deliberate untruthfulness seldom prevails.
I was first led to question the soundness of ‘the Iron Currency Bar’ theory when investigating the early history of iron-making in the Forest of Dean—the district from which it is generally accepted that these bars emanated. If the ‘Currency Bar’ theory is wellfounded, the inference is unavoidable that the Celtic tribes who used this form of currency were a race endowed with a very low mentalitybut this inference is not supported by recent archaeological research.
Most developments of civilization demand a settled system of agriculture, and are not compatible with nomadic life. The exact connexion between the rise of civilization and the rise of agriculture is possibly uncertain. The cultivation of different plants developed in different places: rice in the East and wheat in the West, for example. The cultivators may have attained only a low level of culture, and thousands of years may have elapsed before they produced a civilization of which the marks have endured. But to know where the different species of cultivated plants originated must help to trace the origins and diffusion of civilizations.