Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER XII.

THE ARGUMENT FROM GEOLOGY.

Lyell's “Geological Evidences.” – Alleged Facts proving a Re

mote Antiquity for the Race. — 1. Fragments of Brick and Pottery from Egypt. — The Data not verified. — Changes in the Nile Valley. — Burnt Brick unknown to the Ancient Egyptians. — 2. Human Fossil in Mississippi Valley. - 3. Skeleton found near New Orleans. — 4. Remains in the Florida Coral Reefs. – 5. Flint Implements in the Valley of the Somme. — Diagram of the Valley. - Its assumed Geological History. - The Association of Human and Animal Remains no Proof that they were contemporaneous. - If contemporaneous, no proof of extreme Antiquity. – Opinion of Westminster Review. - Opinion of Professor Rogers. — Alleged Geological Changes in the Somme Valley. — Assumed to be wrought by existing Agencies. — Uniformitarians. — Testimony of President Hitchcock. – Of Professor Duns. -. Of Sir R. Murchison. – Of Professor Wilson. - Of Elie de Beaumont. — Of Professor Rogers. — 6. Human Remains in Peat-bogs, Shell-mounds, and Lakes. — The Stone, the Bronze, and the Iron Age. — All pertaining to the Celtic Race. – Opinion of Dr. Keller. – Of Troyon. -- Conclusion.

I PROPOSE now to pass under review the leading facts presented us in Geology, which are relied on .

by many to prove a very high antiquity. They are taken chiefly from the elaborate work of Sir Charles Lyell, entitled, " The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man” (Am. edition, 1863). In that volume the distinguished author has collected all the important facts furnished by his favorite science, whether brought to light by himself or by the labors of others. The work may be regarded as exhaustive on that side of the question.

1. The first case that I will notice of alleged geological discoveries, which are supposed to prove the very remote antiquity of our race, is that of the fragments of brick and pottery dug up from the valley of the Nile. This case is the more important, as it is cited by almost every author who avowedly opposes the Bible chronology.

In the year 1851, the Royal Society of London instituted a series of borings in the sediment of the Nile valley, under the care of Mr. Leonard Horner, the expense of which was partly sustained by the viceroy. Sixty workmen, with several engineers, were employed for this purpose — men accustomed to the climate, and capable of pursuing the work during the hot months, after the annual inundation was passed." The results,"

[ocr errors]

says Sir Charles Lyell, " of chief importance were obtained from two sets of shafts and borings, sunk at intervals in lines crossing the great valley from east to west. One of these consisted of no less than fifty-one pits and artesian perforations made where the valley is sixteen miles wide from side to side, between the Arabian and Libyan deserts, in the latitude of Heliopolis, about eight miles above the apex of the delta. The other line of. borings and pits, twenty-seven in number, was in the parallel of Memphis, where the valley is only five miles broad. . . .

"In some instances the excavations were on a large scale for the first sixteen or twenty-four feet, in which cases jars, vases, pots, and a small human figure in burnt clay, a copper knife, and other entire articles were dug up; but when water, soaking through from the Nile, was reached, the boring instrument used was too small to allow of more than fragments of works of art being brought up. Picces of burnt brick and pottery were extracted almost everywhere, and from all depths, even where they sank sixty feet below the surface toward the central parts of the valley. In none of these cases did they get to the bottom of the alluvial soil.” *

The mode in which these pieces of brick and pol

* Geological Evidences, etc., pp. 34, 36.

tery are made to testify to the antiquity of man, is by estimating the length of time requisite for their burial at the alleged depth under the sediment deposited by the overflow of the Nile. "M. Girard, of the French expedition to Egypt, supposed the average rate of the increase of Nile mud in the plain between Assouan and Cairo to be five English inches in a century. This conclusion, according to Mr. Horner, is very vague, and founded on insufficient data ; the amount of matter thrown down by the waters in different parts of the plain varying so. much that to strike an average with any approach to accuracy must be most difficult. Were we to assume six inches in a century, the burnt brick met with at a depth of sixty feet would be 12,000 years old.

" Another fragment of red brick was found by. Linant Bey in a boring seventy-two feet deep, being two or three feet below the level of the Mediterranean, in the parallel of the apex of the delta, 200 metres distant from the river, on the Libyan side of the Rosetta branch. M. Rosière, in the great French work on Egypt,* has estimated the mean rate of deposit of sediment in the delta at two inches and three lines in a century. Were we to take two and a half inches, a work of art seventy* * Description de l’Egypt (Histoire Naturelle, tom. ii. p. 494).

says Sir Charles Lyell, " of chief importance were obtained from two sets of shafts and borings, sunk at intervals in lines crossing the great valley from east to west. One of these consisted of no less than fifty-one pits and artesian perforations made where the valley is sixteen miles wide from side: to side, between the Arabian and Libyan deserts, in the latitude of Heliopolis, about eight miles above the apex of the delta. The other line of. borings and pits, twenty-seven in number, was in the parallel of Memphis, where the valley is only five miles broad....

" In some instances the excavations were on a large scale for the first sixteen or twenty-four feet, in which cases jars, vases, pots, and a small human figure in burnt clay, a copper knife, and other entire articles were dug up; but when water, soaking through from the Nile, was reached, the boring instrument used was too small to allow of more than fragments of works of art being brought up. Pieces of burnt brick and pottery were extracted almost everywhere, and from all depths, even where they sank sixty feet below the surface toward the central parts of the valley. In none of these cases did they get to the bottom of the alluvial soil.” * The mode in which these pieces of brick and pot

* Geological Evidences, etc., pp. 34, 36.

« PreviousContinue »