XI. The First True Men

Almost fifteen or twelve thousand years ago a fresh people drifted into the south of Spain, and left very remarkable drawings of themselves upon exposed rock faces there. These were the Azilians (named from the Mas d'Azil cave). They had the bow; they seem to have worn feather headdresses; they drew vividly; but also they had reduced their drawings to a sort of symbolism-a man for instance would be represented by a vertical dab with two or three horizontal dabs-that suggest the dawn of the writing idea. Against hunting sketches there are often marks like tallies. One drawing shows two men smoking out a bees' nest.

These are the latest of the men that we call Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) because they had only chipped implements. By ten or twelve thousand years a new sort of life has dawned in Europe, men have learnt not only to chip but to polish and grind stone implements, and they have begun cultivation. The Neolithic Age (New Stone Age) was beginning.

It is interesting to note that less than a century ago there still survived in a remote part of the world, in Tasmania, a race of human beings at a lower level of physical and intellectual development than any of these earliest races of mankind who have left traces in Europe. These people had long ago been cut off by geographical changes from the rest of the species, and from stimulation and improvement. They seem to have degenerated rather than developed. They lived a base life subsisting upon shellfish and small game. They had no habitations but only squatting places. They were real men of our species, but they had neither the manual dexterity nor the artistic powers of the first true men.