KNOWLEDGE of the condition of mankind in the dim ages of Introduc-
the past which lie beyond the ken of history or tradition is tory.
attainable only by scientific interpretation of the scanty material
relics of human workmanship-the tools, weapons, tombs, and
pottery-which survive from those remote times. Archaeolo-
gists are agreed that the successive stages of nascent civilization
in the prehistoric world are best distinguished by noting the
degrees of progress in the metallurgic arts.
The period during which iron was, as it now is, in familiar
use is known as the Iron Age. The next preceding period,
when implements now commonly made of iron were made of
bronze, is called the Bronze Age. The still earlier period,
when men knew not the use of metals, but were compelled to
rely for all purposes of war, the chase, and domestic industry
upon rude instruments of wood, bone, or stone, is designated
the Stone Age.
In many countries two subdivisions of the Stone Age are
clearly to be distinguished. The earlier, termed the Palaeo-
lithic or Old Stone Age, is characterized by chipped stone
implements, rude in form, and frequently associated with the
remains of extinct animals. The later, termed the Neolithic
or New Stone Age, is characterized by the prevalence of a
higher type of implements, commonly ground or polished, and
associated with remains of the fauna now existing. The
palaeolithic men were ignorant of the potter's art and built no
sepulchres. During the neolithic period, pottery, at first
hand-made, and afterwards turned on the wheel, was in con-
stant use, and the dead were honoured by elaborate tombs,
frequently built of massive stones.
By imperceptible gradations the Neolithic passes into the
Bronze, and the Bronze into the Iron Age, but between the
Palaeolithic and the Neolithic Ages a great gulf seems to be
fixed. bMost parts of Europe, Western Asia, and Egypt cer-