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Primitive Man - Louis Figuier Preview:
The important art of placing scientific knowledge, and especially new discoveries and topics of present controversy, within easy reach of educated readers not versed in their strictly technical details, is one which has for years been carried to remarkable perfection in France, in no small measure through the labours and example of M. Figuier himself. The present volume, one of his series, takes up the subject of Pre-historic Man, beginning with the remotely ancient stages of human life belonging to the Drift-Beds, Bone-Caves, and Shell-Heaps, passing on through the higher levels of the Stone Age, through the succeeding Bronze Age, and into those lower ranges of the Iron Age in which civilisation, raised to a comparatively high development, passes from the hands of the antiquary into those of the historian. The Author's object has been to give within the limits of a volume, and dispensing with the fatiguing enumeration of details required in special memoirs, an outline sufficient to afford a reasonable working acquaintance with the facts and arguments of the science to such as cannot pursue it further, and to serve as a starting-ground for those who will follow it up in the more minute researches of Nilsson, Keller, Lartet, Christy, Lubbock, Mortillet, Desor, Troyon, Gastaldi, and others. The value of the work to English archæologists, however, is not merely that of a clear popular manual; pre-historic archæology, worked as it has been in several countries, takes in each its proper local colour, and brings forward its proper local evidence. It is true that much of its material is used as common property by scientific men at large. But, for instance, where an English writer in describing the ancient cave-men would dwell especially on the relics from the caves of Devon and Somerset as worked by Falconer and Pengelly, a French writer would take his data more amply from the explorations of caves of the south of France by De Vibraye, Garrigou, and Filhol—where the English teacher would select his specimens from the Christy or the Blackmore Museum, the French teacher would have recourse to the Musée de Saint-Germain. Thus far, the English student has in Figuier's 'Primitive Man' not a work simply incorporated from familiar materials, but to a great extent bringing forward evidence not readily accessible, or quite new to him. Some corrections and alterations have been made in the English edition. The illustrations are those of the original work; the facsimiles of pre-historic objects have been in great part drawn expressly for it, and contribute to its strictly scientific value; the page illustrations representing scenes of primitive life, which are by another hand, may seem somewhat fanciful, yet, setting aside the Raffaelesque idealism of their style, it will be found on examination that they are in the main justified by that soundest evidence, the actual discovery of the objects of which they represent the use..