It has been the tendency of certain anthropologists, of most popular writers, and of most artists in Europe and America to represent the men of the Old Stone Age as scarcely raised above the level of the brutes. I have protested against this point of view on what I believe to be very good grounds, namely, that modern man could not have ascended from a group of brutes. There must have been from the very first, along the various lines of human ascent, a premium on the qualities of mind, on the rudiments of human character, and on the refined tendencies of the best of men as we know them to-day. Such a sprinkling of fine characteristics is observed by travelers who study the most primitive races of mankind with a sympathetic attitude of mind; many are discovered among the Malays, despite their head-hunting propensities, and delightful traits of character are found among the Polynesians, despite their occasional cannibalism.
It is in this sympathetic also appreciative state of mind that the author of the present work approaches his subject, the Mousterians, a very ancient and primitive branch of the human race. The environment in which these people lived was certainly very crude and the conditions were very, hard, nevertheless it is reasonable to presume that they possessed many desirable although rudimentary qualities of mind and character. The present author may idealize these primitive men as, James Fenimore Cooper idealized the Indians, but I believe he would be nearer the truth than if he brutalized them.
If it is clearly understood that the work of Mr. Langford is an interpretation of prehistoric human nature, an interpretation based on a certain class of facts, a working hypothesis as to the qualities of the Mousterian people which may be contrasted with other working hypotheses and developed with the progress of discovery, then this work is well worth while and may be read and enjoyed in the same way that we enjoy the painted restorations of these people, of their life and times.HENRY FAIRFIELD OSBORN.New York, February 7,1920.
Some thirty or forty thousand years ago western Europe was inhabited by a race of human beings now extinct, the Mousterians who differed so much from modern men that they are classed as a distinct species. They were cave-dwellers and flint-workers, living amid hordes of prehistoric beasts; the Hairy Mammoth Elephant, Woolly Rhinoceros, Cave Lion, Cave Bear, Hyena and many others.
The Mousterians were the last of the ancient Neanderthal race whose advent in Europe may have dated to two-hundred thousand years or more B.C. It is my interest in them that I seek to share intimately with my patient readers and my endeavor has been to restore in these pages the men and animal characters of those prehistoric days. Their activities and the circumstances surrounding them are inspired by the following discoveries, now of historic and scientific record:
Mousterian Civilization. First recognized in 1863 near Le Moustier, Dordogne Dep't, southwestern France. Beneath caves in the cliffs, rudely fashioned flints of distinctive pattern lay buried with bones of the Mammoth, Woolly Rhinoceros and other prehistoric animals. Similar discoveries were made later in the Seine, Somme and Thames River Valleys and many other localities in western Europe.
The Neanderthal Man. Fossil skeleton accidentally discovered in 1856 in a grotto near the River Dussel, Westphalia, western Germany. The skull-cap with its low forehead and massive eye-ridges, caused a sensation in Europe, it being the first evidence that a primitive species of human being preceded modern Man in western Europe.
The Boy of Le Moustier. Skeleton unearthed in 1908 near one of the Moustier caves; a young man. The low forehead, massive eye-ridges and chinless jaw were primitive features, known by this time as characteristics of the Neanderthal race. The skeleton lay amid remains of prehistoric animals with head resting upon a pile of flint-flakes. A fine flint hand-ax was near the right hand.
The Man of La Chapelle-aux-Saintes. Complete skeleton of an aged man found buried in 1908 in a grotto near the village of La Chapelle-aux-Saintes, Correze Dept., France. This fine skeleton showed conclusively that the Mousterian differed from modern Man in almost every bone of his body. This discovery is considered as an intentional burial most ancient record of man's care for his dead and recognition of an after life. The body lay amid Mousterian flints and bones of prehistoric animals.
The Maid of La Ferrassie. Part of one skeleton a female exhumed from a rock-shelter near Le Moustier in 1909 and another in 1910. Both were Mousterians and not to be confused with other discoveries of less ancient people of the Old Stone Age.
Prehistoric Animals. Remains of the Hairy Mammoth, Woolly Rhinoceros, Cave Lion, Cave Bear, Hyena, Irish Elk, Long-horned Ox, Bison, Reindeer and a host of others have been and are yet frequently discovered in association with Mousterian flint and skeleton relics. Of these brutes, none were more imposing, none more remarkable than the Mammoth and Rhinoceros. Friends? Why, of course. Who can deny it and who would begrudge them their fun while it lasted?
It is my earnest endeavor to portray intimately the prehistoric life of western Europe as it was during the "Mousterian" Period of 50000-25000 B.C. Mankind's primitive pioneers cannot fail to win the respect of those who choose to understand them. My characters men and beasts were real individuals; their activities, my free translation of the evidence presented by stone relics and fossil bones. Such evidence collected by the world's leading anthropologists, is ably summarized in Prof. Henry Fairfield Osborn's immortal work, "Men of the Old Stone Age" which has been of material aid to me in the writing of this book.GEORGE LANGFORD.Joliet, Illinois,
March 1, 1920.