Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Maori and Polynesian: their origin, history and culture

Chapter I — The Footprints of Primitive Man in — Monumental Stone

page 1

Chapter I
The Footprints of Primitive Man in
Monumental Stone

The Relics of Man preserved by the Earth give his
most Permanent Record

(1) By history we generally mean the written annals of the races and nations of men; but that is the most ephemeral of all records. A few centuries will see the best of our books the victim of paper-destroying insect and vegetable parasites; whilst a few thousand years will accomplish the decay of the toughest parchment.

(2) We forget that there is a record of man's movements and developments far more enduring than anything he can write or print. It is the record kept by the fingers of the wind on the bosom of the earth. A city is deserted, and year in year out the sand is blown across its features, till at last it vanishes beneath a softly rounded hill. And some mounds like that of Hissarlik on the Plains of Troy sectioned by Dr. Schliemann, have been found the palimpsest or re-written record of half a dozen or more civilisations, each unconscious of the time-obliterated foot-prints of those that have gone before it.

(3) There is no historian like Mother Earth, that, with page 2her fitful helpers, the elements, keeps silently within her bosom the memory of millions of years. Long before man appeared she was treasuring up ineffaceably in the rocks the annals of the evolution of her children; and the geologist, once her Benjamin, man, had begun to penetrate beneath the surface in search of metals and coal, sought curiously for time and order in the rocks and their records; whilst the anthropologist found traces of man tens of thousands of years before the date at which his own legends placed his origin. Find after find has pushed back the date from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. And the discovery of a skull, an upper molar tooth and a thighbone that are distinctly human, in a Tertiary or early Quaternary bed in East Java has pushed it back into nearly a million years ago.

(4) But the traces of man's work in cave-dwelling and rudely chipped flint and spearhead take us into the hundreds of thousands of years, to what is called the Quaternary epoch, the last geological age of the earth, the age in which all the alluvial deposits have been formed; whilst the polished stone weapons and implements of neolithic man, or man of the new stone age, take us no farther back than tens of thousands of years.

The Colossal-stone Record goes back Thousands
of Years

(5) Now, of the records of this later or more rapidly progressive stone age none have been so enduring or impressive in effect on the imagination of cultivated man as the great unmortared stone monuments that have kept their heads erect through thousands of years in many parts of the world. They have been the wonder of all the generations of historic men. And around them mystery after mystery page 3has been woven by the imagination of succeeding races, each attributing them to its predecessors, and adding a supernatural or religious atmosphere to the legend of their origin.

There is a Definite Megalithic Track across the
Old World from the Atlantic to the Pacific

(6) If we look into the regions where these colossal stones abound, we shall find a clearly marked track across the face of the earth. They are most numerous on the southern shores of the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coast of Europe. And we may conclude that Mauritania, or the North of Africa, is the probable home of the race that displayed such marvellous engineering skill without metal weapons, wheeled machines, or draught animals, whilst the eastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean was their first and easiest line of migration. Megalithic remains abound in Portugal and Brittany, the British Islands and Scandinavia. They are not found in Central Europe, or anywhere away from the coasts of its oceans and seas except across the Russian and Asiatic steppes, where they stand as single stones or circles of stones, on the kurgans or mound-graves. And the line of these extends through Southern Siberia past Lake Baikal and through Mongolia and Manchuria. In the valley of the Yalu truncated pyramids take their place, as they do at several others points on the megalithic track.

This Track passes from Japan over Micronesia and
Polynesia to the American Coast

(7) As on the Atlantic coast of Europe, so on the Pacific coast of Asia, the path of these colossal monuments is not broken by the ocean. It continues into Japan as in the page 4West it passes into the British Isles. But there was no endless archipelago to tempt the handlers of giant stones westward from Europe to America, and the titanic-stone path breaks off on the Irish coast. It is otherwise in Japan. To the south stretched a series of stepping-stones into Polynesia, at first minute as in the Bonin Islands, afterwards in large groups as in the Ladrones and the Carolines farther south. And in the former of these two groups there exist avenues of huge unmortared stone pyramids topped with stone hemispheres, whilst in the latter there exist the colossal walls of a long-deserted Venice built of great basaltic prisms piled one on another without cement.

(8) Thereafter the megalithic route across the Pacific is broken and incontinuous. Not till Samoa is reached, away to the south-east, do we pick it up again, for between lay the coral groups of the Marshalls and the Gilberts, the islands of which have not the permanence of volcanic structure, but are the work of the coral insect, at the mercy of storm and billow. The Fale-o-le-fee, or House of the Fairy, behind Apia, is an ellipse of giant stone columns, no mean rival of our Stonehenge. In the Tongan group, to the south of Samoa, we have again the size and the permanency of ancient land, and here we have the gigantic truncated pyramids which are called the tombs of the Tui-Tongas, and the colossal trilithon or gateway composed of three giant stones. It is useless seeking for such ancient structures in the low coral groups like the Paumotas and the Austral Archipelago.

(9) The track is again resumed away to the east in Huahine, one of the Society group, where a dolmen or colossal stone altar exists, and in Tahiti a gigantic truncated pyramid. To the north-west, in Hawaii, are the huge temples of Waikiki and Punepa, whilst to the south and south-east we have the minute Rapa, Pitcairn, and Easter Islands, lying in somewhat the same latitude, 27 to 28 south of the Equator, the two page 5former separated by more than a thousand miles of ocean, the two latter by some fifteen hundred miles; and in each of them there are unmortared stone monuments. To complete the megalithic story of the Pacific, we have two specimens of this ancient type of stone structure in the North Island of New Zealand, one a miniature Stonehenge, with huge blocks standing six or seven feet above the ground, at Kerikeri, in the Bay of Islands, and another near Ateamuri, to the north of Taupo, consisting of fifty great stones set erect in the earth.

There is a southern megalithic track; but it was by
the northern that the megalithic people entered

(10) But there is also a megalithic track through Southern Europe and Asia. The great stones are scattered sparsely along the countries on the northern shore of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, through Syria, Armenia and Irania, along the Persian Gulf, through Northern India, over the Khasi and Naga Hills into Burmah, thence along the Malay Peninsula into Sumatra and Java. And that island is its terminus. For, eastwards to Ponape, in the Carolines, and again across Melanesia and New Guinea to Samoa, there is a tract of from four to five thousand miles without a trace of this great stone record except in Lord North Island, about three hundred miles north-east of Gilolo. We may take it for a fact of prehistoric history that the megalithic people came the northern route from Europe and from the North Pacific into Polynesia.

(11) A, striking thing about the northern megalithic track is that it does not suddenly break off at the first group of islands off shore, as it does in the west. It never crossed the Atlantic. For we find no such stone structures on page 6the Atlantic coast of Americanone, in fact, till we nearly reach the Pacific coast, unless we count the Indian mounds in the shape of animals and the cliff-dwellings as belonging to this type of architecture. The track westward terminates in Ireland. The track eastward crosses the Pacific and reappears after an ocean interval of two thousand four hundred miles in Peru, and in Central America. There it stops, in the peninsula of Yucatan and its offshoot the Anahuac plateau in the north, and at Lake Titicaca far up the Andes, in the south.

(12) If these facts indicate anything, they indicate that a section of mankind in early neolithic times, say from ten to fifteen thousand years ago, migrated northwards from the north of Africa, along the Atlantic coast, and was stopped by the unislanded ocean from going farther west than Ireland, but that eastward it was able to find its way to the Pacific coast, and thence across it by the stepping-stones of Micronesia to the south of Japan, and of Polynesia to the south-east of that route on to the coast of Central and South America.

The Engineering Skill implied in these Megalithic
Monuments indicates a Race, and that a Maritime
Raceevidently the Caucasian

(13) We may also conclude that it was the same race. For a skill like this power of handling enormous slabs of stone in primitive times must have been in truth a mystery, the possession of one type of men. It is not a stage in the evolution of all races. We have none of these structures in the lands of negroids either in Central and Southern Africa, or in Australia, or in the region of the Papuans. Nor have we any of them in any purely Mongoloid region, such as China or Central Asia, or in the central and western parts page 7of North and South America. The only parts inhabited by Mongols, or Mongoloids, that possess them are the steppes of Western Asia, Southern Siberia, Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea, Japan and the Malay Peninsula, Central America and Peru. And the existence of long-headed, wavy-haired, and light-complexioned peoples in isolated parts of all these regions points to the fact that the Mongoloid layer is a later one intrusive upon Caucasian strata of humanity. Wherever, in fact, this megalithic route takes its course, we may lay it down as an axiom that the Caucasian division of mankind has appeared. In short, we may say that it is a Caucasian track across the earth.

(14) It may be accepted as a general principle that the only section of mankind that has become maritime is Caucasian; and by maritime is meant not merely venturing into boats, but setting out on long voyages is well-equipped ships. The negroes and negroids have never developed the tendency to cross oceans. The Mongols and Mongoloids are by nature land-migrants. And the only exceptions to this rule are the Japanese and Malays, and they undoubtedly absorbed, when they came to the sea-coast, a Caucasian sea-going people, and acquired their tendency and skill. The Phenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks, the Scandinavians, the Anglo-Saxons, the Arabs, are all Caucasian.

(15) Now, a feature of the megalithic track is that it hugs the sea-coast, except in crossing Western Asia and Northern Asia, and doubtless there was a line of inland seas from the Caspian through the Sea of Aral and Lake Baikal in primitive times, to account for the exception.

(16) Wherever, therefore, we find these colossal unmortared stone monuments, whether mounded or uncovered, whether in circles or avenues, solitary columns or truncated pyramids, we may accept it as a law that Caucasians have found their way. Of course, this leads to the singular conclusion that page 8one at least of the elements in the Polynesian race, including the Maoris, is Caucasian, and also that an element in Central American and Peruvian civilisation is Caucasian. When the observations and inferences of anthropology and ethnology have been considered, this conclusion will not seem strange.