New Horizons In History

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The light shed by the discoveries of modern archaeology on the history of civilization is apparent to all, but the bearing of these discoveries on the study of underlying historical processes is not yet generally understood. Few realize, even today, what a transformation in the matter, the scope, and the method of history has been effected by archaeological research. Moreover, the extraordinary progress of archaeology has been paralleled, though not equalled, by philology, linguistics, and anthropology, all of which furnish data of fundamental importance to the historian. Yet the latter is too often content to take the results of archaeological and philological research which are compiled for his use by the specialist, without attempting to familiarize himself with these fields or at least to control the methods employed by the specialist in obtaining his results. It is, accordingly, not surprising that scholars often fail to recognize the fundamental change brought about in the philosophy and especially in the epistemology of history by the use of modern archaeological and philological methods. The philosophy of history, like the philosophy of science, is now increasingly devoted to the analysis of historical data and of the methods by which they are obtained, as a necessary prelude to successful evaluation of. historical phenomena. The question of method is, or should be, quite as important to the historian as to the scientist. Only by competent analysis of methods employed in obtaining factual data can one determine, for example, where these data stand in the hierarchy of probability, whether they may be considered certain, probable, possible, improbable, or impossible. Only where there is a sufficiently broad basis of critically sifted data can inductive reasoning lead to sound generalizations.

A. The Archaeological Revolution

Modern archaeological excavation may be said to have begun with the first organized work at Herculaneum (1738) and Pompeii (1748), and modern comparative archaeology may be dated from the epoch-making researches of J. J. Winckelmann (1717-1768) in the history of Graeco-Roman art. It is interesting to note that the serious collection and interpretation of pre-Christian literature and inscriptions from the Near East began about the same time, with the remarkable expedition of the Dane, Carsten Niebuhr, in 1761-1767 and the recovery of the principal works of Avestan literature by Anquetil-Duperron during the years 1755-1771.

The systematic surface exploration of the Near East did not begin until the turn of the century.1 In 1798 Napoleon's scientific expedition began an elaborate exploration of the Nile Valley which was promptly made available to scholars in the stately volumes of the Description de l'Egypte (1809-13). The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 was followed by its decipherment through the combined efforts of Akerblad, Thomas Young, and especially of Champollion, who published his first correct results in 1822. Mesopotamia was systematically explored and described, with particular attention to its antiquities, by Rich and Porter from 1811 to 1836, when Rich's posthumous work appeared. In 1815 appeared the first publication of the results of Grotefend's decipherment of Persian cuneiform, which he had begun in 1802.

By the middle of the nineteenth century scientific exploration and excavation had been launched by competent scholars in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Palestine. Richard Lepsius conducted a well organized and very successful expedition for the purpose of recording the monuments above ground in Egypt (1842-45). Mariette began a career of thirty years of excavation in Egypt with the discovery of the Serapeum in 1850. Paul Emile Botta commenced the excavation of Khorsabad, the ancient capital of Sargon of Assyria, in 1843 and A. H. Layard undertook the excavation of Nimrud (Calah) two years later. In Palestine the brilliant surface explorations of Edward Robinson, whose centenary we have just been celebrating (1938),2 showed how ancient topography should be reconstructed. We shall survey the subsequent development of the Near Eastern field in section B.

Work in the great field of prehistory, which was to yield some of its most remarkable discoveries in the Near East, began to be scientifically cultivated at the same time. Jacques Boucher de Perthes (1788-1868) began working in the Somme Valley of France in the thirties and in 1846 he published his first sensational account of finding human artifacts together with the bones of extinct animals. In I860 Eduard Lartet began the excavation of palaeolithic caves, where he found the first clearly defined stratigraphic sequence, enabling Gabriel de Mortillet (after 1869) to arrange palaeolithic remains in the classical series Chellean-Mousterian-Aurignacian-Magdalenian.

Of late the greatest progress in the field of prehistory has been made in three directions. First we may place the extension of research by Dorothy Garrod and others to Asia and Africa, making it possible for Oswald Menghin to write a world-history of the Stone Age (Weltgeschichte der Steinzeit, 1931). Second we may put the development of geochronology by Count de Geer and others, among whom Friedrich Zeuner has been most active in the past few years.3 Thanks to their study of glacial and pluvial varves (laminations in sediment), as well as to the correlation of successive phases of glaciation with corresponding phases of solar radiation, a new degree of precision in prehistoric chronology has been reached. As correlations between North European and Mediterranean river-terrace formations and similar phenomena are being set up this chronology becomes more and more solidly established. The results of Sandford and Arkell in the Nile Valley since 1926 can provisionally be correlated with corresponding material in Europe, but it is still too early to accept the theories of Leaky and others with regard to correlations between Europe, Egypt, and South Africa. There is so great a gap between Europe and geological deposits in China or the East Indies that no safe correlations at all can yet be made. Third we may list the sensational discoveries of fossil human and anthropoid remains since 1925. Palestine, with rich cranial and skeletal remains from Galilee and Carmel, has now replaced France as the focus of prehistoric research. Palaeanthropus Palestinus (sic!) exhibits just the mixture of archaic and of neanthropic features which might be expected from the crossing of Homo Mousteriensis (Neanderthalensis) with Homo Sapiens, that is, of the species of man characteristic of Middle Palaeolithic with modern man. Palestine thus ap pears in Middle Palaeolithic as a bridge between the mora advanced regions of Southern Asia and the more backward continent of Europe. The successive discoveries of Sinanthropus Pekinensis in China by Davidson Black and Teilhard de Chardin and of Homo Soloensis in Java by von Konigswald have keyed the interest of physical anthropologists to the highest pitch, as was vividly illustrated by the crowded sessions of the International Symposium on Early Man, held in Philadelphia in February, 1937.4 Further discoveries in Java, in India, and in South Africa have since reduced the gap between man and the anthropoids to a very narrow interval, which is practically bridged by a number of evolutionary series, the most striking of which is dentition.

While our interest is concentrated on the Near East in the present volume, a perspective in space is as necessary as one in time. It has well been emphasized by thinkers that no science can be regarded as solidly established while there is any serious gap in recording and interpreting accessible evidence. So it is with archaeology. Until within the past few years little had really been done outside of the classical fields of Europe and the Near East. After the World War local and regional archaeological work received a great impetus and there is now scarcely a corner of the earth's land surface where some excavation has not been undertaken and where nothing is known about past cultures. It is quite certain now that no early civilizations worthy of the name ever arose outside of the Near East, India, China, Middle America and western South America.

In 1921 the existence of a highly developed civilization in the early Indus Valley was discovered; subsequent excavation at Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and Chanhu-daro by Sir John Marshall and Ernest Mackay has accumulated a mass of detail and has clarified the chronological picture, showing that the Indus culture reached its height in the first half of the third millennium B. C. and disappeared well before the end of the same millennium.5 Strictly speaking, this early civilization of India was no less dependent on the West than was the later Aryan culture, since there is close general parallelism and there are many specific points of identity between it and the contemporary culture of Mesopotamia and Susiana.

Since the First World War our direct archaeological knowledge of China before the first millennium B. C. has been carried back to the Chalcolithic by the discovery of painted-pottery cultures in northern China and to the second millennium B. C. by the excavations at An-yang in Honan.6 It is still true that no actual written document can be dated with certainty before the twelfth century B. C., but the names of kings of the Shang-Yin Dynasty on the oracle bones from the site take us to the beginning of the dynasty, i. e., to about the middle of the second millennium. It is hardly likely that future finds will carry written records back before 2000 B. C. Comparative archaeological investigations have shown with increasing clearness that nearly all basic elements of Chinese civilization penetrated from the West at different periods, so that the eminent Sinologist, C. W. Bishop, can justly call Chinese culture " a civilization by osmosis." 7

It was formerly thought by amateurs like Rider Haggard that the extensive remains at Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Rhodesia proved the existence of an advanced culture in South Africa before the Christian era, but subsequent investigations by trained archaeologists have shown that these speculations were devoid of foundation; actually we must date the remains in question in late mediaeval and early modern times.8

In America stratigraphic methods of excavation have begun to be applied since the middle of the nineteen twenties and the relative chronology thus established has been translated into absolute dates by the brilliant work of A. E. Douglass on tree-rings. The resulting method of dendrochronology has now carried the earliest Pueblo towns back to about the seventh century A. D. and the oldest datable deposits of the primitive " Basket-makers " in New Mexico and Arizona back to about the third century A. D.° To about the Christian era belong the earliest datable glyphs on Mayan monuments, though an additional period of evolution must separate the oldest dated records from the earliest sedentary communities. Not a single demonstrable case of borrowing from the Old World can be shown in any pre-Columbian culture of the past two millennia in the Americas; in more remote times, but after the close of the last glacial period at the very earliest and probably within the past 20,000 years, there must have been wave after wave of migration across Bering Strait.10 The predictions of A. Hrdlicka promise to be fulfilled by more intensive explorations and excavations in eastern Siberia and northern China, where archaic racial stocks of Amerind appearance are already beginning to be discovered.

Archaeological research has thus established beyond doubt that there is no focus of civilization in the earth that can begin to compete in antiquity and activity with the basin of the Eastern Mediterranean and the region immediately to the east of it— Breasted's Fertile Crescent. Other civilizations of the Old World were all derived from this cultural centre or were strongly influenced by it; only the New World was entirely independent. In tracing our Christian civilization of the West to its earliest sources we are, accordingly, restricted to the Egypto-Mesopotamian area. This historical situation provides an unanswerable reply to the frequent complaint that disproportionate attention is paid by archaeologists to the Near East.

B. The Discovery and Interpretation of Ancient Near-Eastern Written Documents

Logically it might be more natural to discuss unwritten documents, i. e., human artifacts and uninscribed monuments, before taking up written documents, but the study of the latter came first in modern times, while the development of scientific method in dealing with strata and artifacts is, in general, very recent.

1. Discovery and Interpretation: an Historical Sketch

After 1850, when the first stage of exploration, excavation, and decipherment may be said to have closed, the progress of research and discovery became more and more rapid as the unparalleled value of the new historical and aesthetic treasure became dearer. Even the World War, though it brought a temporary set-back, was only the prelude to an extraordinary burst of activity in the study of the past. The international situation is now bringing about a material reduction in the amount of excavation and a corresponding shift in the personnel of scholarship which give us leisure to take our bearings and to consolidate the gains which we have made during the past two decades.

After the initial decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics by Champollion there was a temporary interval caused by his death. He was soon followed by a devoted little band of scholars, led by men of the calibre of Lepsius and Brugsch, Birch and Goodwin, de Rouge and Chabas. Lepsius' huge publication, Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Nubien (1849-56), provided a mass of material for philological study and Brugsch's Hieroglyphisch-demotisches Wörterbuch (1867-68, 1880-82) furnished an elaborate collection of words and meanings, which was not superseded for half a century. However, even in the eighties there was still no clear idea of the grammatical structure of Egyptian. Then came Adolf Erman, the founder of the so-called Berlin school of Egyptology, with a series of accurate and methodical grammars and dictionaries of selected periods in the long history of the hieroglyphic language. Employing a strictly inductive method, i. e., taking only passages whose meaning was reasonably clear and listing all occurrences of words, forms, and constructions in them, he built up a systematic picture of the language which was actually used by the Egyptians at different stages of their history, without importing extraneous or irrelevant data. Erman's first grammatical work was published in 1880 and his last in 1933; the great dictionary of Egyptian on which he had worked for decades began to appear in 1925 and is still in progress. The first half, containing words and meanings, was finished in 1931 and the second half, containing passages where the words occur, is already partly published. Thanks to Erman's brilliant pupils, K. Sethe and G. Steindorff, followed by B. Gunn and A. Gardiner, we can now read Egyptian with astonishingly little uncertainty as to the sense of words or the interpretation of passages. Even the vexed problem of vocalization, peculiarly difficult in a script where as a rule only consonants are written, has been partially solved by Sethe and the writer since 1923.11 But Egyptologists have not stopped with the elucidation of the script and the language in which the Egyptians wrote: they have labored assiduously to collect and to systematize all the knowledge that can be derived from

Egyptian literature, powerfully aided by mural paintings and artifacts. We have thus handbooks and monographs on all phases of Egyptian civilization: religion, administrative and economic life, arts and crafts, social and family life. The need of making this vast fund of information conveniently accessible and of combining it into a living picture has led to the brilliant syntheses of Erman-Ranke (1885-1923), of Wiedemann (1920), and especially of Kees (1933).12

When we turn to the cuneiform field we find a parallel situation. After Grotefend's successful beginning the decipherment of Old Persian was completed by Henry Rawlinson in 1846. The Assyrian riddle proved more difficult to solve, but the efforts of Hincks, Rawlinson, and Oppert from 1846 to 1855 proved successful, though it was over twenty years before all competent scholars were convinced that Assyro-Babylonian cuneiform had really been deciphered and could be read with essential correctness. That they were not convinced was largely due to the lack of philological training and of scientific method on the part of most cuneiformists (with the brilliant exception of the Irishman, Edward Hincks, the importance of whose contributions was not fully appreciated until after his death). Rigid philological method was introduced into Assyriology, as it had been into Egyptology, by a German school, founded by E. Sclirader and F. Delitzsch in the seventies and brought to full development by the latter and his pupils, especially Haupt, Zimmern, and Jensen. Delitzsch's first Assyrian grammar was published in 1889 and his epoch-making Assyrian dictionary appeared in 1896; in 1914 he accomplished for the older non-Semitic Sumerian what he had already done for Assyrian. After Delitzsch had placed knowledge of Assyrian on a solid scientific basis by combining meticulous accuracy with sound inductive method, a younger group of scholars, Ungnad, Landsberger, and their pupils, attacked the complex problems of historical grammar and dialectology with extraordinary success. Happily, vowels as well as consonants are expressed in cuneiform script, so Landsberger and his school have been able to raise our knowledge of the grammatical and lexical refinements of Accadian (Assyro-Babylonian) to a level above that of Biblical Hebrew and almost on a par with that of Greek or

Latin. The Chicago Assyrian dictionary, now being prepared by Poebel and his assistants, will provide a mine of information to workers in the cuneiform field. Owing to the wealth of available material it is probable that very few passages in cuneiform literature will long resist the interpreter; in this respect the outlook is brighter than in Egyptian or indeed in Hebrew.

Cuneiform, unlike Egyptian, was not the medium for only one language (with a few unimportant exceptions); it was employed to write many different languages, mostly non-Semitic, in the course of its long history and wide diffusion. In fact, it was originally the script of the Sumerians, who spoke a tongue which has not yet been successfully related to any other language, ancient or modern. For at least a thousand years Sumerian was the sole written language of Mesopotamia (cir. 35002500 B. C.) and for some 2500 years more it remained the learned tongue of Western Asia, being at one time (about 1400 B. C.) taught in the schools of Syria and Asia Minor as well as in those of Mesopotamia and Susiana. Thanks to the many bilingual texts and word-lists left us by the Accadians, it has been possible to penetrate into the recesses of this mysterious speech, by far the oldest dead language in history. The efforts of Thureau-Dangin, Delitzsch, and especially of Poebel, whose Sumerische Grammatik appeared in 1923 and has already been antiquated in important respects by his subsequent work, have now solved all the main problems and Sumerian can be read with general accuracy, though the obscurity of its early religious literature provides us with plenty of work in interpretation.

Sumero-Accadian cuneiform was also used to write many other languages: Hittite (Nasian or Nesian), Horite (Hurrian), Luwian, Proto-Hittite (Khattic), Balaic (all in Asia Minor), Urartian (in Armenia), Cossaean, and Elamite (in the Zagros and Susiana). It was further used occasionally for a number of known languages, such as Indo-Iranian, Canaanite (Hebrew), Egyptian, Aramaic. Moreover, two independent scripts of alphabetic nature, North Canaanite (Ugaritic) and Old Persian, both use the wedge as the primary element in forming characters. The cuneiform languages of Asia Minor are known to us mainly from the excavations of Winckler and Bittel at Boghaz-koy, the ancient Hittite capital, east of modern Ankara. Hittite itself was deciphered by the Czech scholar B. Hrozny in 1915 and has been successfully interpreted by Forrer, Friedrich, Goetze, Sommer, and others; it is now quite as well known as Accadian was fifty years ago, owing partly to the fact that it is Indo-European. Hurrian is exceptionally interesting, not only because of its complex and enigmatic structure, which is equally different from Semitic, Indo-European, and Sumerian, but also because of the curious way in which it has survived: in a letter and in glosses in other cuneiform letters found in Egypt; in words, passages, and tablets scattered through the Hittite documents of Boghaz-koy; in tablets written in the cuneiform alphabet of Ugarit; in vocabularies and glosses in Accadian cuneiform literature; in words, constructions, and personal names in the business documents of Nuzi in eastern Mesopotamia; in fragmentary tablets excavated since 1935 at Mari, the ancient Amoritc capital on the Middle Euphrates. Complex as has been the transmission of this material, it is rapidly yielding to the brilliant onslaughts of Friedrich, Goetze, and Speiser.™ There can be no doubt that it was the language which was originally spoken by the Biblical Horites."

What is true of Egyptology is also true of Assyriology. The wealth of data available in the scores of thousands of documents which have already been published (but which do not begin to exhaust the material in our museums) has spurred two generations of scholars to the task of analysis and synthesis. Such handbooks as Meissner's Babylonien und Assyrian (1920-26) and as the still incomplete Reullexikon dcr Assyrinlngie (1928— ) are supplemented by numerous recent monographs on special subjects such as religion and magic, law, administrative and economic organization, society and family life, arts and crafts, etc. Owing to the much greater extent and variety of cuneiform sources, a great deal more is known about many aspects of Mesopotamian life than is true of Eirvpt, though correspondingly less is known about features of daily life which are now very well known in Egypt, thanks to mural paintings and the dryness of its soil.

Turning now from cuneiform to Semitic alphabetical literature, wc find ourselves immeasurably poorer. Yet there are now thousands of inscriptions, nearly all on stone, written in

Aramaic, in various dialects of Canaanite (Hebrew), in South Arabic and in North Arabic; there is also an immensely valuable little corpus of clay tablets written in a Canaanite dialect and a cuneiform alphabet. The North-Semitic (Phoenician) alphabet was finally deciphered by W. Gesenius, whose great work on the subject appeared in 1837, and the South-Semitic (Minaeo-Sabaean) alphabet yielded its secrets almost simultaneously to Gesenius and to E. Rodiger in 1841. The earliest inscriptions in Phoenician or Aramaic known to Gesenius (aside from a few seals) belonged to the fifth century B. C.; one by one older inscriptions have since been found, pushing the date back to the ninth century (Mesha Stone, found in 1868), eleventh or twelfth century (sarcophagus of Ahiram of Byblus. 1923), sixteenth or seventeenth (miscellaneous finds in Palestine since 1929).16 A still earlier stage of the North-Semitic alphabet, which was the direct progenitor of our own, seems to be represented by the proto-Sinaitic inscriptions, first discovered by Petrie in 1905 and partially deciphered by Gardiner in 1916: their interpretation is handicapped by the scantiness of the material and none of the proposed decipherments can be considered as certain.10 The recent discovery of the Ostraca of Samaria (published since 1924) 17 and the Lachish Letters (1935) ls has been of very great value for biblical studies. The South-Arabic and North-Arabic inscriptions are less important, but they still form a unique body of material for the study of the pre-Islamic culture of Arabia and they frequently shed valuable light on the Old Testament. The foremost authorities on the two groups of proto-Arabic texts are, respectively, N. Rhodokanakis and F. V. Winnett. In spite of measureless exaggeration of the antiquity of the earliest South-Arabic inscriptions by Glaser and Hommel, it is now clear that none of them antedates the seventh or eighth century B. C., though earlier ones will probably be found in future. The earliest North-Arabic inscriptions are nearly, if not quite, as old, as has just been demonstrated by Winnett.1"

During the past ten years a most important and entirely unexpected new script and literature have been discovered, deciphered, and made accessible. This is the North-Canaanite literature in a previously unknown cuneiform alphabet, which lias come to light in C. F. A. Schaeffer's excavations at Ras esh-Shamrah, ancient Ugarit on the coast of northern Syria. The first documents were discovered in 1929 and published the following year. Almost immediately deciphered by H. Bauer and E. Dhorme, they have proved to be written in two languages, one a very archaic Canaanite dialect akin to pre-Mosaic Hebrew and the other a Hurrian dialect (see above). In eleven campaigns from 1929 to 1939 several hundred tablets and fragments in this script have been unearthed; a number of them belong to unusually large tablets with three or four columns on each side, containing originally several hundred lines. Nearly all the new alphabetic documents, which date mainly from the fifteenth century B. C., are of religious character and most of them belong to three mythological epics, which treat of the events connected with the death and resurrection of Baal, with the marriage of the demigod Keret, and with another demigod Daniel (Dan'el). The editor of these priceless documents, Ch. Virolleaud, has admirably commenced the task of interpreting this new material and many other scholars, among whom may be mentioned in particular R. Dussaud, H. L. Ginsberg, J. A. Montgomery and Z. S. Harris, A. Goetze, C. H. Gordon, and the writer, have contributed to its elucidation.20 There is still much that is obscure and the historical-geographical views of Virolleaud have not been accepted by most other scholars,21 but owing to the wealth of material already available and to the resemblance of the language to Hebrew, most of the new texts can be translated with certainty or with reasonable confidence. In the present volume great care will be exercised not to draw on uncertain translations for evidence.

In addition to Egyptian hieroglyphics, Accadian and other cunciform scripts, North-Semitic and South-Semitic alphabets, many other scripts have been recently discovered in the basin of the eastern Mediterranean. Here we shall list only the most important, in order to give some idea of the epigraphic riches being deciphered and still to be deciphered. First we may mention the Hittite " hieroglyphs," in which are written hundreds of inscriptions from Syria and Asia Minor, apparently all dating from between 1*500 and "500 B.C. and mostly from the Iron Aqe, between 1200 and 700 B.C. First recognized and pro-

1mew -horizons in history

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