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Until a decade or two ago, our knowledge of town-houses in ancient Italy had been obtained almost entirely by digging at Pompeii, and the dwellings uncovered in that town were regarded without question as typical of ancient Roman houses in general. The houses which thus came to be accepted as the pattern, and are still represented as such in English text-books, consisted down to the 2nd century B.C. of rooms arranged round a central atrium, and later, when Hellenistic influences had become paramount in Italy, of a combination of atrium and peristyle, the latter being added in imitation of the άυλή of a Greek house. Of late years, however, the view that these houses were typical of all Italian towns in antiquity has been challenged. The systematic excavation which is going on at Ostia, the ancient port of Rome, has revealed houses very different from those of Pompeii, comprising, not an atrium and peristyle, but many-storeyed blocks of flats, built around a central cortile, in the manner of the casamenti of modern Rome. As a result of these discoveries the pendulum tended to swing to the other extreme and the view gained ground that, if we wish to find a house representative of large cities in antiquity, it is to Ostia rather than to Pompeii that we must look. Confirmation of this view was seen in the discovery of a house of the Ostian type, dating from the 2nd century A.D., on the slope of the Capitol in Rome.
During the last few years archaeological research has revealed a remarkable, though not altogether unexpected, view of Stone Age man in Kenya; and at the same time it has been realized that there existed at some period between the Stone Age and medieval times a civilization which has left traces over a large part of East Africa. This civilization appears to be quite distinct from the Stone Age cultures, and there is so far no evidence to connect the two, nor is there any similarity between them. For the Stone Age men lived in caves and unbuilt habitations: while the men whose civilization I shall try to describe built substantial enclosures of stone, dug hut-circles and revetted the walls, made properly engineered roads, and possessed the art of irrigation. This civilization I propose to call ‘Azanian’ in order to distinguish it from the Stone Age cultures and from the Islamic ruins found in certain parts of East Africa. It has been claimed that traces of this civilization, in the shape of roads and irrigation works, occur in Abyssinia, Uganda, Tanganyika and North Rhodesia as well as in Kenya. But the stone enclosure and hut-circle, which to my mind are the distinctive features, have so far been reported only from Kenya and Gala-land (South Abyssinia); though for the present we may assume that the Tanganyika remains also belong to it.
There were two main sources of supply of flint available to early man,–superficial deposits whether in the form of river gravels, sea or lake beaches, or nodules incorporated in surface soils, and deposits beneath the surface of the ground for which it was necessary to mine or quarry. While it is generally true to say that mined flint was of superior quality and more easily worked than the superficial variety it must not be forgotten that the magnificent honey-coloured flint of Grand Pressigny, which in the dawn of the first age of metal was traded to Switzerland, North France, Brittany, Belgium and even Wessex, occurs naturally in the form of surface nodules. In passing it may be observed that the so-called livres de beurre, the most typical product of these Chalcolithic workshops, are technically no more nor less than elongated tortoise-cores from which were struck long flakes with faceted butts. In view of the play that has been made with the presence of ‘Mousterian’ technique in our British mines this is not without its significance.
Any child provided with his first pair of compasses essays a row of tangential circles: if he adds a second row touching the first and maybe a third row, he has constructed the geometric basis of the classical Guilloche. The term is sometimes used to cover not only circular bands but crossing ones as well, and interlaced ornament generally.
While the engravers of La Madeleine were working on their bones, and the women sewing skins together with their bone needles, in Egypt and Western Asia the decorative arts were being perfected. Fig. I is a sketch of a motive on the gold-foil covering of a flint knife from a grave of the predynastic period. In Elam this can be matched on a seal with a pair of lions, ‘sejant rampant regardant’, their tails intertwined (fig. 2). A non-representational treatment is seen on an early Sumerian votive plaque (fig. 3). Disregarding its symbolic content, the strictly geometric construction may be noted. This ‘twist’, as a single row of circular bands is termed here, occurs in Cretan art of the 16th century B.C., and later, in Assyrian art. It may be surmised that, with other motives, as the rosette, lotus and palmette (but not the fret), the twist was handed on to the Greeks from the East. It reached Scandinavia, where it is found on hanging bowls, and is seen inlaid in coral at the base of the Gaulish flagon in the British Museum. The lip of that vessel bears a very rare variety of the twist, an angular one.
The Caucasus is by no means a homogeneous region. It consists of a very high mountain-chain, the main parts of which reach to a height of over 5000 metres, with others of 1000–1600 metres. Forming an isthmus between two seas, the Asiatic Caspian and the Mediterranean Black Sea, it is open to both eastern and western influence. There is no distinct boundary between its northern part and the endless Eurasiatic grasslands, and in the south it is connected with the Armenian and Anatolian highlands. South of the mountain-chain the Caucasus has a Mediterranean climate: vines, rice and tea are cultivated and it is rich in metals. North of the mountain-range also the soil is very fertile, especially in the valley of the Kuban river. There, in the northeast corner of the Euxine, prehistoric culture flourished very early and reached a high level. I shall here give an outline sketch of its character, and especially of the so-called Kuban culture of the Early Bronze Age, which takes its name from the Kuban river. This river flows into the Black Sea, but its upper course lies in the high mountains not far from the Elbruz. It has many tributaries, especially on the left, the Caucasian, side. Among these the Laba, the Belaya and the Abin may be mentioned.
Few people know of this, possibly the most primitive dance in Europe. We find scanty records therefore, the earliest dating only from the 17th century. Robert Plot, in his Natural History of Staffordshire, 1686, p. 434, says:–
At Abbots, or now rather Pagets Bromley, they had also within memory, a sort of sport, which they celebrated at Christmas (on New-Year and Twelft-day) call'd the Hobby-horse dance, from a person that carryed the image of a horse between his leggs, made of thin boards, and in his hand a bow and arrow, which passing through a hole in the bow, and stopping upon a sholder it had in it, he made a snapping noise as he drew it to and fro, keeping time with the Musick: with this Man danced 6 others, carrying on their shoulders as many Rain deers heads, 3 of them painted white, and 3 red, with the Armes of the cheif families (viz.) of Paget, Bagot, and Wells) to whom the revenews of the Town cheifly belonged, depicted on the palms of them, with which they danced the Hays, and other Country dances. To this Hobbyhorse dance there also belong'd a pot, which was kept by turnes, by 4 or 5 of the cheif of the Town, whom they call'd Reeves, who provided Cakes and Ale to put in this pot; all people who had any kindness for the good intent of the Institution of the sport, giving pence a piece for themselves and families; and so forraigners too, that came to see it: with which Mony (the charge of the Cakes and Ale being defrayed) they not only repaired their Church but kept their poore too: which charges are not now perhaps so cheerfully boarn.
Why Plot says ‘within memory’ it is difficult to understand, unless there was a temporary cessation of the rite. He might easily have learnt whether the sport still lived or no, but from this and various internal points I suspect the Doctor never went to see for himself. Like too great a number of folklorists he preferred keeping his nose in a book to embarking on ‘field work’. The pot into which they put the feast has now disappeared, and so far from repairing the church and keeping the poor, the few shillings gained hardly pay the dancers for the loss of a day's work.