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have been four times as great, even though the signs of man's existence have not yet been traced down to the lowest or amorphous stratum. As to the shell-mounds, they correspond in date to the older portion of the peaty record, or to the earliest part of the age of stone as known in Denmark.”
To suppose the presence in Europe of people speaking Aryan languages at so early a period in the history of the world, is opposed to the ordinarily received notions as to the advent of the Aryan race on the soil of Europe. Yet, if we ask ourselves, we shall have to confess that these notions themselves rest on no genuine evidence, nor is there for these early periods any available measure of time, except what may be read in the geological annals of the post-tertiary period. The presence of human life during the fir period or the stone age seems to be proved. The question whether the races then living were Aryan or Turanian can be settled by language only. Skulls may help to determine the physical character, but they can in no way clear up our doubts as to the language of the earliest inhabitants of Europe. Now, if we find in the dialects of Aryan speech spoken in Europe, if we find in Greek, Latin, and German, changes of meaning running parallel with the changes of vegetation just described, may we not admit, though as an hypothesis, and as an hypothesis only, that such changes of meaning were as the shadows cast on language by passing events?
Let us look for analogies. A word like book, the German Buch, being originally identical with beech, the German Buche, is sufficient evidence to prove that German was spoken before parchment and paper superseded wooden tablets. If we knew the time when tablets made of beech-wood ceased to be einployed as the common writing-material, that date would be a minimum date for the existence of that language in which a book is called book, and not either volumen, or liber, or biblos.
Old words, we know, are constantly transferred to new things. People speak of an engine-driver, because they had before spoken of the driver of horses. They speak of a steel-pen and a pen-holder, because they had before spoken of a pen, penna. When hawks were supplanted by fire-arms, the names of the birds of prey, formerly used in hawking, were transferred to the new weapons. Mosquet, the name of a sparrow-hawk, so called on account of its dappled (muscatus) plumage, became the name of the French mousquet, a musket. Faucon, hawk, was the name given to a heavier sort of artillery. Sicre in French and saker in English, mean both hawk and gun; and the Italian terzeruolo, a small pistol, is closely connected with terzuolo, a hawk. The English expression “to let fly at a thing" suggests a similar explanation. In all these cases, if we knew the date when hawking went out and firearms came in, we should be able to measure by that date the antiquity of the language in which fire-arms were called by names originally the names of hawks.
The Mexicans called their own copper or bronze tepuzili, which is said to have meant originally hatchet. The same word is now used for iron, with which the Mexicans first became acquainted through their intercourse with the Spaniards. Tepuztli then became a general name for metal, and when copper had to be distinguished from iron, the former was called red, the latter black tepuztli. The conclusion: which we may draw from this, viz., that Mexican was spoken before the introduction of iron into Mexico, is one of no great value, because we know it from other sources.
But let us apply the same line of reasoning to Greek. Here, too, chalkós, which at first meant copper,2 came afterwards to mean metal in general, and chalkeús, originally a coppersmith, occurs in the “ Odyssey” (ix. 391) in the sense of blacksmith, or a worker of iron (sidéreús). What does this prove? It proves that Greek was spoken before the discovery of iron, and it shows that if we knew the exact date of that discovery, which certainly took place before the Homeric poems were finished, we should have in it a minimum date for the antiquity of the Greek language. Though the use of iron was known before the composition of the Homeric poems, it certainly was not known, as we shall see presently, previous to the breaking up of the Aryan family. Even in Greek poetry there is a distinct recollection of an age in which copper was the only metal used for weapons, armor, and tools. Hesiod 8 speaks of the third generation of men, “who had
1 Anahuac; or, Mexico and the Mexicans, by Edward B. Tylor. 1861,
3 Gladstone, Homer and the Homeric Age, iii. p. 499.
Τοις δ' ήν χάλκεα μεν τεύχεα, χάλκεοι δέ τε οίκου,
Cf. Lucretias, 5, 1286
arms of copper, houses of copper, who ploughed with copper, and the black iron did not exist." In the Homeric poems, knives, spear-points, and armor were still made of copper, and we can hardly doubt that the ancients knew a process of hardening that pliant metal, most likely by repeated smelting and inmersion in water. The discovery of iron marks a period in the history of the world. Iron is not, like gold, silver, and copper, found in a pure state; the iron ore has to be searched for, and the process of extracting from it the pure metal is by no means easy.
What makes it likely that iron was not known previous to the separation of the Aryan nations is the fact that its names vary in every one of their languages. It is true that chalkós, too, in the sense of copper, occurs in Greek only, for it cannot be compared phonetically with Sanskrit hrîku, which is said to mean tin. But there is another name for copper, which is shared in common by Latin and the Teutonic languages, æs, eris, Gothic ais, Old High-German êr, Modern German Er-z, AngloSaxon ár, English ore. Like chalkós, which originally meant copper, but came to mean metal in general, bronze or brass, the Latin æs, too, changed from the former to the latter meaning; and we can watch the same transition in the corresponding words of the Teutonic languages. Æs, in fact, like Gothic aiz, meant the one metal which, with the exception of gold and silver, was largely used of old for practical purposes. It meant copper, whether in its pure state, or alloyed, as in later times, with zin (bronze) and zinc (brass). But neither es in Latin nor aiz in Gothic ever came to mean gold, silver, or iron. It is all the more curious, therefore, that the Sanskrit ayas, which is the same word as @s and aiz, should in Sanskrit have assumed the almost exclusive meaning of iron. I suspect, however, that in Sanskrit, too, ayas meant originally the metal, i. e. copper, and that as iron took the place of copper, the meaning of ayas was changed and specified. In passages of the “ Atharva Veda” (xi. 3, 1, 7), and the “ Vâjasaneyi-sanhitâ” (xviii. 13), a distinction is made between śyamam ayas, dark-brown metal, and loham or lohitam ayas, bright metal, the former meaning copper, the latter iron. The flesh of an animal is likened to copper, its blood to iron. This shows that the exclusive meaning of ayas as iron was of later growth, and renders it more than probable that the Hindus, like the Romans and Germans, attached originally to ayas (@s and aiz), the meaning of the metal par excellence, i.e. copper. In Greek, ayas would have dwindled to ēs, and was replaced by chalkós; while, to distinguish the new from the old metals, iron was called by Homer sideros. In Latin, different kinds of es were distinguished by adjectives, the best known being the
1 See J. P. Rossignol, Membre de l'Institut, Les Métaux dans l'Antiquité, Paris, 1863, pp. 215, 237. Proclus says, with regard to the passage in Hesiod, και το χαλκό προς τούτο έχρώντο, ώς το σιδήρο προς γεωργίαν, diú Tivos Baộns tòv takòv oTEMPOTOLOŪVTES. In Strabo, xiii. p. 610, the process of making the alloy of copper and zinc is described, and if yevdúpy, upos is zinc, the result of its mixture with copper can only be brass.
Rossignol, l. c. p. 216. Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, article du Fer, and article du Cuirre. Horner calls irou nohí nginios cionpos.