The Etruscan Man.
NVLLI NOTA POETAE
ILLA FVIT TELLVS, IACVIT SINE CARMINE SACRO.
[Jeff Hill's footnote: This quotation is not sourced by Mr. Burton to a writer, nor could I find the author of these hexameters. It is aptly chosen for this chapter: Known to no poet was the Earth Goddess, Without a sacred song She slept.]
The Etruscan Man.
We have now seen the arts and industry, the temporary abodes and the eternal homes of the Circumpadan Etrurians: it remains only to interview what is left of the man himself. Here, again, a short preparatory course is advisable, a glance at the early geological history of Italy, especially at the central regions in their long career of adaptation for humanity. The palaeontological field has been admirably worked by the writers of the Peninsula: amongst them we may single out Senator Ponzi (Atti della R. Acad. dei Lincei, 1871, and many other publications), who offered to the Congress of Bologna (pages 49‑72) a synoptic table and a résumé of the five great periods belonging to the annals of our kind. He shall tell his own tale of cataclysms and convulsions, although modern belief prefers attributing to the normal activity of the present day, prolonged through unnumbered ages, what was
formerly held to be the work of paroxysmal epochs. [Footnote 1: The following table shows at a glance the four periods (A, B, C, and D) of the greatest eccentricity during the last million years; and the several glacial epochs which resulted from it: --
.] But the last of the catastrophists has not yet gone his ways: the mantle of Murchison seems to have fallen upon the shoulders of Prestwich.
I. The Lower Pliocene of the Tertiary Age, when the nummulitic strata are being laid, is a period of calm and of subtropical temperature, represented by the calcareous formations of Macco. The presence of Pliocene man in Italy is still disputed. Professor Nicolucci, of whom more presently, would place him in the centre of the Peninsula (Congrès, page 234). The Jury of the Congress (page 520) opines that man existed during the uppermost Tertiary [footnote 2: Mr. Frank Calvert, of the Dardanelles, declares that he has found traces of Miocene (Tertiary) man. From a cliff face composed of strata dating from that period, at a geological depth of 800 feet, he extracted a fragment of the joint of a bone of either a dinotherium or a mastodon, on the convex sides of which is deeply incised the unmistakeable figure of a horned quadruped. He also exhumed a flint flake and bones of animals longitudinally fractured, probably to extract the marrow. The discovery has set at rest all the doubts of Sir John Lubbock (Prehistoric Times) and M. L. Figuier (Primitive Man)] or the
oldest Quaternary or Post Tertiary Age. [Footnote 1: The term Pleistocene was proposed, on palaeontological grounds, by Lyell, to demark beds later than the latest Tertiary, and older than the deposits of the recent period.] In the Newer Pliocene subdivision the sub Apennine sea beats upon the mountains, depositing yellow silex in the shape of extensive sandbeds which, however, Nicolucci would attribute to a later age. The cold, presently extending from the Poles towards the Equator, causes a general and secular, as opposed to a seasonal, emigration of the fauna both from higher to lower latitudes, and from the uplands to the netherlands.
II. Follows the Diluvial Epoch at the end of the Tertiary period and at the opening of the Post Tertiary Age: it is synchronous in the Apennines with the Alpine diluvium. The temperature, falling still, produces terrible meteoric convulsions. The condensation of vapours precipitates masses of water in successive deluges and whirlpools, accompanied by incessant electrical discharges. The
resulting torrents sweep towards the ocean, which still breaks against the Apennines, enormous burdens of debris breached from the ancient rocks; and thus thick beds of conglomerates, breccias, and amygdaloids, showing the turmoil of the waters, are deposited upon the yellow Tertiary sands. The aspect of the Peninsula remains that of a complicated archipelago, and the emerged lands are covered, as their fossilised remnants prove, with dense forests of oak, pine, and other tall trees. The fauna continues to be the same, but the tempests and deluges compel it to seek shelter in the caves.
Primitive man, a nomad like his congeners, doubtless occupied at this epoch the higher Apennines, together with the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, cave bear, and hyaena, BOS PRIMIGENIVS, hipparion, and CERVVS ELAPHVS. The necessities of offence and defence taught him the use of stone weapons; and we can hardly be surprised that the invention was not only anterior to history, but was even unknown to the earliest legends. Suetonius (AVG., chapter 72) gives us an interesting detail concerning the Caesar who may be called the Father of protohistoric Anthropology: SVA VERO .....
EXCOLVIT, REBVSQVE VETVSTATE, AC RARITATE NOTABILIBVS; QVALIA SVNT CAPRAEIS IMMANVM BELLVARVM, FERARVMQVE MEMBRA PRAEGRANDIA, QVAE DICVNTVR GIGANTVM OSSA ET ARMA HEROVM. The italics show that the Romans were not so ignorant of palaeontology. Aldovrandi (MVSEVM METALLICVM: BONONIAE, 1648, page 600) calls the fossil sharks' teeth GLOSSOPETRAE, and tells us that others had termed the article LAPIDEM CERAVNIVM, NEMPE FVLMINAREM.
The first undoubted evidence of Italian [footnote 1: I say Italian because Professor Busk has identified with the human FIBVLA a bone found in clay apparently preglacial ‑‑ this would be the earliest relic of the caveman] man appears in the diluvial breccias and upon the Janiculan hill, [footnote 2: Ponzi, Sulle selci tagliati rinvenuti in Roma ad Acquatraversa e Gianicolo: Bulletin Of Corr. Scient. Of Rome, number 3, volume VIII, 1870. Cav. de' Rossi expresses his doubts (Congrès, pages 452‑453)] at Acquatraversa, on the VIA CASSIA, which yielded two silex flakes. As the stone implements are transported, it would, perhaps, be logical to admit the possibility of their preexistence amongst the yellow Tertiary sands, but in these they are yet to be found. The flints show all the characteristics of the rudest palaeolithic age ‑‑ the archaeoliths of the Ponte Molle, the Tor di Quinto, the Monte Sacro, and the Ponte Mammolo are the best proofs. According to Professor W. Boyd‑Dawkins
(Cave Hunting and the rest) these ancientest types of hunting and fishing gear have left their representatives amongst the Eskimos, a people still associated with the fauna of the older Pleistocene or Stone Age, the reindeer and the musk sheep.
III. After the Diluvial sets in the Glacial Epoch, the second period of the Quaternary Age. Under the ever increasing cold the rains become snows; polar ice drifts towards the equator, and the glaciers, Alpine and Apennine, deposit moraine and angular erratic blocks upon the abundant conglomerates of the preceding period. The atmospheric perturbation is accompanied by earthquakes, which open the British and Saint George's Channels, the Straits of Gibraltar, and the Dardanelles; which sever Sicily from its mainland; and which form the Dalmatian Archipelago. Volcanoes, chiefly submarine, begin to discharge lavas, mostly absent from the previous formations. The sub Apennine shallows are gradually elevated into dry land, compelling the Arno to change its course: Monte Pisano sinks, and the central Italian Archipelago becomes a great gulf, in the midst of which the craters of Bolsena, Viterbo, and Bracciano, linearly disposed from northwest to southeast,
vomit the palaeoplutonic tuffs which, in the Roman Campagna and the adjacent parts, overlie the diluvian breccias. The subaërial eruptions partially arrest glacier formation in the Apennines, and allow erratic blocks to be carried beyond the limits of the ice which had stunted and withered the flora, and which had scattered mountain and plain with the corpses of the fauna. A mere remnant of the latter saves itself by emigration; and man, in the acme of his misery, is not wholly destroyed by cold and hunger, those implacable enemies of all life. Wandering in search of shelter he, also, descends to the sub Apennine hills, and he seeks the caloriferous centres where the radiation of plutonian heat defends him against the rigours of the secular winter. His remains are shown in the worked flakes of silex yielded by the volcanic tuffs of the Campagna di Roma. Shell implements, carefully cut or chipped, and pierced with a hole for suspension -- in fact, knives ‑‑ have lately been discovered in a diluvial grotto near Les Corbières, on the top of a mountain overhanging the Padern village. This novel fact also suggests that the Rousillon plains from Perpignan to near Estagel once formed part of the sea.
IV. During the Alluvial Epoch, the third period
of the Quatenary Age, the cold diminishes, the glaciers shrink towards their former limits, the atmospheric convulsions and the eruptions, both submarine and subaërial, are gradually extinguished; and the Sun, piercing the dark fogs and vapours, vivifies and awakens Nature. The sea bottoms, strewn with volcanic deposits, become dry land, and the great river valleys begin to assume their actual profiles. The fusion of the retreating ice and snow, coursing in immense torrents, transporting vast masses of abraded matter, resetting their sides with travertino, and lining their soles with sand, with river drift, fluvial conglomerates, and huge water‑rolled blocks, forms deep ravines, and traces broad beds, especially upon the newly born plains. This action is still distinctly marked in the valleys of the Arno, the Anio and, to mention no others, the Tiber. With the increment of heat there is a counteremigration on a small scale, the remnants of the fauna and flora return to their former seats, whose temperature, however, is still below that of its former average, while the isotherms occasion another geographical distribution of organic beings. A new vegetation supplies abundant food to the animal creation, and man, who has escaped the horrors of the diluvial
and the glacial epochs, quits the mountains and begins to inhabit the plains.
The variety of silex implements, arrow and lance heads, knives, and axes, preserved in the strata of vegetable earth immediately overlying the oldest volcanic tuffs, proves that, during the alluvial epoch, the palaeolithic began to merge into the neolithic age. Signs of civilisation appear in bone (CERVVS ELAPHVS) handles, and in fragments of pottery ‑‑ SIBI PRIMVM FECIT AGRESTIS POCVLA. [Jeff Hill's footnote: First the rustic made cups for himself.] The quantities of stone weapons found, for instance, at Inviolatella [footnote 1: Ponzi: Sui manufatti di focaja rinvenuti all' Inviolatella and the rest, Accad. pontif. dei nuovi Lincei. Sess. 1, 2 dic. 1866. De' Rossi: Rapporto sugli studi and the rest, nel bacino della campagna Romana. Ann. de l' Inst. de cor. arch., volume XXXIX] (Campagna di Roma), suggests that these neolithic cavemen ‑‑ according to some, the earliest Aryan immigrants, who introduced the dog, the goat, the sheep, and the long fronted bull ‑‑ either had their manufactories or fought their battles there. To this the Jury (Congrès, page 513) would attribute the Olmo Calvaria, a calotte found incrusted with several centimetres of travertino. At this period the BOS PRIMIGENIVS, the elephant, and the rhinoceros (TICHORRHINOS) were still in the land, showing climacteric conditions which differ from the modern (?).
Moreover, it is remarked in Italy that weapons of the second Stone Age outside the stratifications of the great rivers, prove that these had abandoned their gigantic primitive beds. De' Rossi disinterred silex and lava instruments, neolithic arrows, as well as archaeoliths, upon the flanks of the great Latial Cone; and in 1866 he made, near the Anio, above Cantelupo (formerly of theAequi), on the VIA VALERIA at the mouth of the Ustica valley, which discharges the Digentia rivulet of Horace, the remarkable discovery of regular sepulchres. Two sets of crypts or small galleries, at an upper and lower horizon, hollowed in the travertino which had been left dry by the retreat of the Quaternary waters, produced five intact skeletons, distinctly establishing the existence, in the second Stone Age, of the two forms of skull which are still found throughout Italy. The adults of the higher sepulchre, one supine, the other doubled for want of room, were brachycephalic, and, though one was rachitic, both appeared to belong to a short, broad race; amongst the many arrow piles of grey silex and a fine knife, interred with them, were a coarse and primitive water pot and a lance head of fine quartz with amethystine veins. The three underlying dolichocephalic
skeletons, apparently of one family, showed much more delicacy of texture. The bones were not unlike those of modern man: there were neither arms, nor fictiles, but around them and at their feet were found remains, some worked, of the dog, horse, ox, pig, CERVVS ELAPHVS, and perhaps the reindeer. The memory of the neolithic ΠΕΛΕΚΥΣ was long preserved by the Romans, who, in the Fecial rite derived from the Equicolae, sacrificed the pig with a stone hatchet, and it became the sign of Thurs, the giant, the third letter in the Runic alphabet. Similarly the Jewish knife used in circumcision was probably a survival of older days.
The Hernician (mountaineer?) valley especially became the seat of a powerful and highly civilised race; and, during the period of quiescence which followed, Latium began to build cities.
During this alluvial epoch the ancient volcanoes are closed by the elevation of the land, which some call the retreat of the sea; and other subaërial vents open at Tichiena, Pofi, Callame, and other places in the Hernician (Anagni) and Ciminian (Viterbo) valleys. Hence the subterranean fire passes to Latium proper, whose late development of civilisation was probably due to the long evolution of plutonic
tonic disturbances. The Latin eruptions are usually distributed into four successive eras, each separated by periods of rest. The first raised the great Latial Cone (MONS LATIALIS), with its central and apical crater Artemisa, and its ring of auxiliary mouths, represented by Nemi, Vallericcia, Laghetto, Valle Marciana, Gabii, and others, discharging pyroxenic lavas. The second movement appeared at the same places after a period of calm, shown by fossils on the volcano flanks ‑‑ for instance, at Monte Cavo, which resembles Vesuvius in the Somma Circle. To this or to the subsequent division belongs the discovery of bronze implements, [footnote 1: we have the testimony of Lucretius that bronze was used before iron; the latter, moreover, was long prescribed in religious ceremonies ‑‑ for instance, of the Romans] and of stones which, like the Jadeite found near the Sabine Sacco, but not existing in Italy, argue the extension of commerce and emigration.
This also is the period of monoliths, dolmens, mortarless Cyclopean walls, and hydraulic works cut in the rock; and to it we must refer the legends of Picus and Faunus, Saturn and Janus ‑‑ those old credulities to Nature dear.
The third eruptive era was apparently limited to opening the Albano crater. It spread around it
not vast lava rivers, but lapilli, scoriae, and ashes, which, converted by torrents of rain to a muddy paste, were presently solidified into the volcanic conglomerate known as peperino. Upon this foundation Alba Longa was subsequently built, and became the capital of the Latin race. At last the craters were changed to rain pools, and the Alluvial Epoch ended with scattering lakes over the surface of Latium. About this time lacustrine villages were numerous. The Sabines occupied the lands beyond the Anio, and the Etruscans settled north of the Tiber.
V. During the Recent, or Modern, Epoch, following the Post Pleiocene, the temperature becomes what it is now, and the rivers, the miserable remnants of the alluvial giants, shrink to cunettes in their huge beds. After many centuries of repose, the fourth and last outbreak in Latium opens the little vent of Monte Pila, on the edge of Monte Cavo. The latter was still in eruption when Romulus was laying the foundations of Rome: Livy (I, 31) mentions, under the reign of the third King, a thick shower of stones, and a heavenly voice sent from the Albano Mount ‑‑ a prodigy which required a nine days' festival. The comparatively modern date of
the convulsion is proved by the potteries, and even the libral AES GRAVE, discovered, like the cinerary hut urns, under the volcanic peperino. This movement ended in earthquakes, which continue till our day, and in the transference of volcanic tension to the south, where it is now shown by the Phlegraean Fields, Vesuvius, Stromboli, and Etna.
Etruscan Bologna, A Study