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The archaeology of Palestine, though far less spectacular than that of its neighbours, Egypt and Iraq, can always rely on a certain public outside the circle of specialists. Even the most uninspiring potsherds, if they are dug up in Jericho or Samaria, are invested with a certain glamour by their association with Joshua or Ahab, and the hope of unearthing the Ark of the Covenant or the tomb of David has inspired more than one forlorn venture. Until recent years, however, the Stone Age of Palestine, which receives no adventitious help from association with the Bible, has suffered from neglect. It is true that a considerable amount of surface material was collected, and the names of Pére Germer-Durand, Pére Vincent, Pére Mallon and Dr Paul Karge stand out as pioneers of prehistoric studies in this region, but until 1925 no systematic excavation had taken place. Ten years ago an article on the prehistory of Palestine would have been a very brief affair; today it is difficult to compress into a limited space all there is to say, so rich has this small country proved in the short time that excavation has been carried out.
Praxiteles worked from perhaps about 370 B.C. to about 330 B.C. : he was a prolific sculptor, both in bronze and marble. To him was ascribed the chief part in the introduction of a psychological interest into Greek statues, whereby they became individual rather than typical : he exaggerated the slimness and the curvature of the human body, and employed in a certain measure the technique of impressionism. These general characteristics were long recognized in a number of copies of his works, which were much appreciated by the Romans.
About A.D. 174 Pausanias, compiling his guide-book to Greece, visited Olympia and saw there in the Heraeum a marble group which he described as a ‘Hermes carrying the infant Dionysos : the work of Praxiteles’. This is the only reference in ancient literature to such a work by that sculptor.
Columba was the virtual founder of the Church of Scotland, and the life by his successor Adamnan has almost the authority of a contemporary document. The author naturally extols the prowess of his hero ; and it is by no means easy to discern the real man through the hagiographical haze that now surrounds him. Opinions have differed widely, but all are agreed that he was quick-tempered. ‘Primitive Irish ecclesiastics, and especially the superior class, commonly known as Saints, were very impatient of contradiction, and very resentful of injury. Excommunication, fasting against, and cursing, were in frequent employment, and inanimate as well as animate objects are represented as the subject of their maledictions. St. Columba, who seems to have inherited the high bearing of his race, was not disposed to receive injuries, or even afionts, in silence. Adamnan relates (Lib. 11, cap. 22) how he pursued a plunderer with curses, following the retiring boat into the sea until the water reached to his knees. We have an account (Lib. 11, cap. 20) also of his cursing a miser who neglected to extend hospitality to him.
It is not often that lost works of two famous writers can be recovered simultaneously, and recognized without mention of the name of either on the monument they adorned. But in Hesperia, the Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (II.4, 1933, p. 480 ff.), Dr James H. Oliver has made out a good case for the identification of epigrams composed by Simonides and by Aeschylus to commemorate those Athenians who fell at Marathon.
As long ago as 1855 the Greek scholar A. R. Rhangabé published a fragmentary inscription found in a courtyard off Hadrian Street. There were four lines of verse, two at the top of the dressed front of the block, two engraved subsequently across the panel of pecked dressing, which had been smoothed away to receive them : the letters were however in the same style, though rather rougher, so the additional lines must have been cut very soon after the stone was erected. As the word ‘Persians’ occurred in the later inscription (and, as now seems possible, also in the earlier) the monument must have belonged to the period of the Persian Wars, and with this date the style of the letters agrees.
When Tasmania was first settled in 1803, the English found a Primitive race with an early Palaeolithic civilization living there. Within forty years these aborigines were practically exterminated, and a race, the study of which would have thrown much interesting light upon prehistoric man, was allowed to pass away with barely a comment, and with a singular lack of observation by the settlers.
There has always been considerable doubt whether this race expressed themselves pictorially before the advent of Europeans. Ling Roth, indeed, in The Aborzgines of Tasmania, after citing most of the evidence that exists, goes so far as to say that the question of the existence of drawings before the coming of Europeans ‘is practically an open one, for the evidence is not satisfactory’. But in the last three or four years the discovery of rock-carvings in two distinct and widely separated districts has produced evidence that is conclusive.
It would seem that the Anglo-Saxon invasion of a great part of eastern Britain in the fifth century radiated fan-wise from the gateway of the Wash and of the Fenland Gulf. If this is true, it is not surprising. The position of the continental base of the Anglo-Saxons made the area a natural entry into the Midland plain; and the invaders, with the Wash behind them, gazed upon no unfamiliar scene. The region into which they came may not have been so different from their former homeland on the flats of northern Germany, the homeland which Bede tells us they had so completely deserted. They penetrated by way of the Fenland rivers, up the Nene, the Welland, the Ouse, and the Witham, and this big spread was supplemented to the north and to the south by the smaller river entrances, the Bure, the Yare, the Waveney, the Humber and so on. The archaeological finds, as plotted by Mr Thurlow Leeds, are located along the courses of navigable streams and their tributaries, and are disposed concentrically around the Fenland. Dr Cyril Fox has moreover indicated affinities, during the earlier Saxon period, between the opposite shores of this marshy gulf. All had changed, however, when the tribes emerged into the light of history. The Fenland basin, characterized at an earlier epoch by a certain cultural unity, had now become a frontier region, separating peoples and exercising a repelling action revealed in the making of the Anglo-Saxon States. Kingdoms, finding their limits here, partitioned the marshy wastes between them, and the barrier of the Fens became a permanent feature in the political geography of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy.