Hereunder follows the transcription of chapter 2 of Frank H. Hankins'
The racial basis of civilization
revised edition, published by A. A. Knopf, New York & London 1931.

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PHILOSOPHY and metaphysics are essentially exercises of the poetical imagination. A philosophical system has about it much that is purely personal reflecting “the secret places of the heart“ of the author; there is about it also much of abstraction, of idealization and even of reverie. The builders of cosmologies and systems of philosophy have been the world‘s greatest poets, for the sweep of their imagination has extended to the limits of time and space and the art of their construction has been imbued with both logic and proportion and colored by a consciousness of the visible and the invisible. Moreover, many of the great philosophical minds have turned their powers to the interpretation of man‘s origin and destiny and the resultant philosophies of history have reflected the best and the worst qualities of constructive imagination and poetical idealization. To the modern mind the historical interpretations of Bishop Bossuet, of Vico, of Rousseau, of Hegel read like the legends and fairy-tales of an ancient age. Their beauty and power are, however, no less evident than their unreality.
    This becomes more and more evident with the passage of time and hence new poet-philosophers essay the Herculean task of writing a new version of the historical process. Each age produces its own vision and its own St. John to write its appropriate Apocalypse. It is easy from the vantage point of a new orientation to criticize these visions of a past generation, corrupted as they usually are by the dross of human passions and nationalistic egoism. Yet every serious effort to find the secret springs of eternal progress — if there be such — is worthy its due meed of respect. For it does not appear that modern social science has as yet made it at all clear how society comes to be what it is and how it comes


to be and to do what it does not want to be and to do; and we still seem to be a very, very long way from that millennium of much recent sociological writing in which, as dreamed by the late Lester F. Ward, the age of social telesis shall be at hand. There is almost no general agreement as to any of the fundamentals; we still fall apart into schools of historical interpretation; or, if we try to be strictly scientific and to resist the insidious seductions of the will to believe, we acquire an attitude of open skepticism or at least of gentle cynicism regarding all theories and proposals. Be it so. We may, nevertheless, not find it fruitless to examine one of the great visions of the past century, facsimiles of which are still reproduced in literature and popular thought. It is no exaggeration to say that the doctrine of Aryan ascendancy of which Count Arthur de Gobineau has been proven by time to have been the major prophet was one of the most influential ideas of the half century preceding the Great War.
    Before entering upon a detailed examination of Gobineau‘s views it seems worth while to note briefly a few phases of the history of the Aryan myth. This famous doctrine had its origin in the discovery by various philologists of certain similarities between the Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, German, English and Celtic languages. One of the first to call attention to this similarity was Sir William Jones as early as 1788. About twenty years later Friedrich Schlegel announced the erroneous opinion that Sanskrit was the mother of the other languages. He made the first extensive and scholarly study of the wisdom and language of the Hindoos; and introduced into German philosophy of history the doctrine that the Teutonic racial elements had saved civilization by revivifying and regenerating a decaying Romanized Christianity. As early as 1813 the term “Indo-European“ was used by Dr. Thomas Young in the Quarterly Review, though in a more comprehensive sense than at present. In 1820 J. G. Rhode made central Asia the original home of the Indo-Europeans. The term “Indo-German“ was employed in Germany a few years later by J. von Klaproth, and has been constantly employed there for the broader term “Indo-European.“ In 1831 J. C. Prichard cleared up all doubts as to the affinity of the Celtic languages to the Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Ger-


man, while the thorough work of the Berlin University philologist, Franz Bopp, in 1833, laid a secure basis for comparative philology. Bopp‘s justly celebrated “Comparative Grammar“ ¹ was translated into English in three volumes in 1845-1850 and into French in five volumes in 1866-1874, and gave general currency to the term “Indo-German.“ It was in 1845 that A. Kuhn pictured the Aryans before their separation and diffusion as living a well-ordered family life with their flocks and herds and the elements of agriculture. Three years later Jacob Grimm pictured them as essentially pastoral in their long trek from Asia to Europe.²
    In 1840 F. A. Pott ³ placed the original home of the Aryans in the valleys of the Oxus and Jaxartes and on the slopes of the Hindu Kush Mountains. This location appealed strongly to the imagination and remained in both scientific and popular writings the most commonly assigned place of origin until the end of the century. Pott was endowed with imagination and literary skill and drew a lively picture of the westward trek of the Indo-German clans whose superlative gifts were to control the destinies of European nations. He endowed them with one of those “irresistible impulses“ which constitute the metaphysics of history and social theory, this particular one pushing them ever westward in a path of conquest toward the setting sun. The magic of this impulse so infected the imagination that so sound an anthropologist as E. B. Tylor a generation later equipped this moving tide of humanity with a special Aryan cart for the transport of wives and infants.4
    But it was largely owing to the scholarly prestige, the fertile

    1 (Vergleichende Grammatik, Berlin, 1833.)
    2 For many of these historical facts set forth in greater detail with full references to the original works consult Isaac Taylor, The Origin of the Aryans, London, 1890; Salomon Reinach, L‘Origine des Aryens. Histoire d‘une controverse, Paris, 1892; and Theophile Simar, Étude critique sur la formation de la doctrine des races au xviiie siècle et son expansion au xixe siècle, Brussels, 1922; and Harold Peake, The Bronze Age and the Celtic World, London, 1922.
    3 Indogermanischer Sprachstamm.
    4 Reference by Harold Peake, “The Bronze Age and the Celtic World,“ London, 1922, to the original, “On the Origin of the Plough, and Wheel-Carriage,“ Jour. Anth. Inst., vol. 10, 1881.


imagination and the graphic pen of Friedrich Max-Müller, a brilliant and versatile German who became professor of comparative philology at Oxford, that the Asiatic view of Aryan origins was given a secure hold on popular tradition. In two series of lectures delivered at the Royal Institution in 1861 and 1863 on “The Science of Language“ (especially lecture vi, 1st series) he presented the case for the use of the term “Aryan“ so as to avoid the clumsiness of the compound terms “Indo-German“ and “Indo-European“ in general use, the Sanskrit-speaking people who invaded India having called themselves Aryas. Reiterating the argument that the ancestors of the widely scattered peoples speaking the various branches of the Aryan tongue must have been identical he greatly strengthened the doctrine that there was not only an original Aryan language but also an Aryan race, or indeed an Aryan family. From the affinity of the Aryan tongues, he argued, “It follows that before the ancestors of the Indians and Persians started for the south, and the leaders of the Greek, Roman, Celtic, Teutonic and Slavonic colonies marched toward the shores of Europe, there was a small clan of Aryans settled probably on the highest elevation of Central Asia, speaking a language not yet Sanskrit, or Greek, or German, but containing the dialectic germs of all. There was a time when the first ancestors of the Indians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans and Slavs, the Celts and the Germans were living together within the same enclosure, nay, under the same roof.“ 5 It was indeed his assertion that the same blood flowed in the veins of the darkest Bengalese and the British soldier that caused serious doubts of the validity of Aryanism in the minds of all good Anglo-Saxon imperialists.
    A quarter century later as a result of the rapidly accumulating evidence from comparative philology and ethnology that the identification of race and language was impossible since language is here imposed by conquerors and there by conquered, Max Müller vigorously rejected the assumed racial implications of his use of the terms “Aryan“ and Aryas. He said: “Aryas are those who speak Aryan languages, whatever their color, whatever their blood.

    5 See Isaac Taylor, op. cit., pp. 3 and 4.


In calling them Aryans we predicate nothing of them except that the grammar of their language is Aryan.“ Or again: “I have declared again and again that if I say Aryans, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor brain nor skull; I mean simply those who speak an Aryan language. The same applies to Hindus, Greeks, Romans, Germans, Celts and Slavs. When I speak of them I commit myself to no anatomical characteristics. The blue-eyed and fair-haired Scandinavians may have been conquerors or conquered, they may have adopted the language of their darker lords, or vice versa.... To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar.“ 6 Nevertheless, he still clung to the hypothesis of an Asiatic cradle-land, a view that by 1888 had ceased to have wide credence among scholars, though it continued to appear in text-books for a dozen years thereafter.
    Meanwhile had arisen a growing school of advocates of the European origin of the Indo-Europeans. In 1848 J. J. d‘Omalius d‘Halloy before the Belgian Academy made the first protest against the assumed Asiatic origin and contended that the conquerors of Persia and India came originally from Europe. He had made similar suggestions in brief notes to the Academy, 1839-1844, and must be given credit for first calling attention to the anthropological, as against the philological, aspects of the matter. Bulwer Lytton in 1842 opposed the Asiatic theory, and this view was given full elaboration by the Englishman, R. T. Latham, in 1851 and 1854 and especially in his “Elements of Comparative Philology,“ 1862. He based his argument for the European origin on the similarities of Sanskrit and Letto-Slav. The Frenchman Adolphe Pictet, in one of the most notable contributions, I859-63, placed the homeland in Bactria which he pictured as a primitive paradise, his idyllic phrases setting the pattern for many imitators for a generation, notably for the German Hehn, 1870. A. Schleicher in 1853 and 1861 outlined the genealogical tree of the

    6 Quoted in Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed., article “Aryan“ by Peter Giles from “Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas,“ London, 1888.


Aryan tongues on the principle that those most remote from the center of origin must have separated first. Sanskrit being taken as the nearest to the mother-tongue, the most remote were found to be German, Lithuanian and Slav, while the Celtic, Latin and Greek tongues were of later differentiation. After a vast amount of dispute it began to be generally admitted about 1890 that there was no criterion for determining the remoteness of different tongues from the hypothetical original one and hence no basis for a genealogical arrangement. d‘Halloy extended the case for the European origin in 1864 before the Société d‘Anthropologie de Paris by contending that there was no proof of the Asiatic origin of Europeans, that inflected languages were more widely disseminated in Europe than in Asia, and that the peoples speaking Celtic tongues, the Low Bretons, the Irish, the Gauls, and the Highland Scots were descended from autochthonous Europeans. Benfey in 1868 argued in a similar vein and placed the cradle-land north of the Black Sea between the mouth of the Danube and the Caspian Sea.
    Two years later Louis Geiger with commendable national pride placed the area of origin south of the Baltic in central and western Germany. About the same time Friedrich Spiegel agreed with Benfey that southeastern Europe was the original center and that dispersion had taken place both eastward and westward from there. In 1871 J. G. Cuno, another German, argued that the development of the Aryan mother-tongue to a high state of grammatical finish would require some thousands of years and a large area in which various groups of the original Aryans could wander about in more or less contact with each other and yet be relatively isolated from the rest of mankind. He found such a zone in the vast plain stretching from the North Sea through northern France and southern Germany across Russia to the Ural Mountains. He held that the Germans, Celts, Slavs, and Lithuanians were all autochthonous.
    Mme. Clemence Royer in 1872 summarized the arguments for the European origin and added that the blond is definitely European, that European children are decidedly blond in infancy, even though they may become more or less brunet with age. From this


it was argued that the basic racial elements in Europe were blond. In 1872 and 1873 Friedrich Müller expressed the view that the original homeland was Armenia but that very early the Aryans had moved into southeastern Europe. Although the central Asiatic hypothesis was almost universally accepted as late as 1870 and was strongly reasserted by Virchow in 1894 it rapidly lost favor after 1880.
    By 1879 under the leadership of French scholars the anthropological aspects were beginning to come into prominence. Henry Martin pointed out the division among Aryans between blond and brunet. Topinard proposed to place the origin of the “blond races“ somewhere in Europe and anterior to the introduction of Aryan tongues. At the same time another Frenchman, C. A. Piétrement, finding German views at least unconvincing, suggested southwestern Siberia as the Aryan cradle.
    In 1878 Theodore Poesche argued that, while there are many Aryan languages, there is only one race that can truly claim to be Aryan in blood as well as speech, namely, the tall, fair-skinned, blue-eyed, bearded and long-headed Teutons; he asserted that the center of origin was in the Rokitno swamps of west Russia where albinism was even then frequently found. Moreover, he contended that the Lithuanian tongue was closer to the Indo-European mother-tongue than Sanskrit itself. Carl Penka, in 1883 and 1886, strengthened and added to Poesche‘s general position. He showed that Aryan-speaking peoples are of several anthropological types, whereas the original Aryans must all have been of one type. He placed the origin in Scandinavia on the ground that the purest tall blonds with long heads are found more frequently there than anywhere else. Virchow on the other hand repeatedly opposed the idea of a uniform race type for the original Aryans, while he and Broca agreed that the round-headed or brachycephalic skull was superior to the long-head. The Asiatic origin was in the 80‘s defended by Ujfalvy, who made a special trip to Asia to study the tribes to the north and south of the Hindu Kush, by van den Gheyn and by Max Müller. Penke‘s doctrines were popularized in England in G. H. Rendall‘s The Cradle of the Aryans, 1889; but oddly enough they did not win the assent of the Scan-


dinavian anthropologists, Montelius and Sophus Müller. Salomon Reinach in France characterized them as pure romance in 1887 but two years later they were espoused by Vacher de Lapouge, to whom we shall return. Meanwhile, Otto Schrader in his rightly famous work, Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte, of 1883, and especially in the second edition, 1890, finding much of Cuno‘s area broken by forests and swamps, argued strongly for the vast steppes stretching from South Russia to the Hindu Kush as the original cradle-land. He made a detailed refutation of the contentions of Pictet, whose work Les origines indo-Européenes ou les Aryas primitive (2 vols. Paris, 1859-63) had been for a quarter century the chief source of linguistic arguments for the Asiatic homeland and for an idealized view of the Aryans as in their pristine glory already a race of heroes. Isaac Taylor in his well-known work, “The Origin of the Aryans“ (1890), followed Schrader as to the original cradle-land but added anthropological considerations in favor of the round-head theory. He made the Celts, a tall race with round heads, the only Aryans, considered them a branch of the ancient Finns, and pictured them as Aryanizing the short long-headed Iberians, the tall long-headed Scandinavians and the short round-headed Ligurians. Sir William Ridgway 7 elaborated Taylor‘s thesis and extended it to include the Achaeans. Since then brachycephalic blonds have been noted in various parts of Asia; they are said to have been an element in north-west European populations in Neolithic times; the Dorians are said to have been of this type; and the Round Barrow people of early England are believed to have included a large contingent of brachy-blonds.8 On the other hand, Huxley,9 combining the views of Cuno and Mme. Royer, argued that the first Aryans were a tall, blond and dolichocephalic race, living in central Europe between the North Seas and the Ural Mountains. The American anthropologist, Daniel G. Brinton,10 had the doubtful honor of presenting the first con-

    7 The Early Age of Greece, Cambridge, 1901.
    8 V. Gordon Childe, The Aryans. A Story of Indo-European Origins New York, 1926, p. 161.
    9 “Nineteenth Century,“ vol. 28, 1890, pp. 750-77.
    10 Race and Peoples, New York, 1890, pp. 180 et seq.


sistent argument in favor of north Africa as the original center of characterization and diffusion of the Aryans; a view of which was accepted by the distinguished English ethnologist, A. H. Keane.11
    Such are some of the characteristic guesses as to the original homeland and physical type of these mythical peoples during the last half of the nineteenth century. Among more recent contributors may be mentioned M. S. Zaborowski, who in his Les Peuples Aryens (1908) presented the entire case for the theory of the central and eastern European cradle-land. A little later Professor K. F. Johanson, writing in the Nordisk Tidskreft, Stockholm, utilizing anthropological, archaeological and philological evidence, especially the latter, found all lines of migration of the Aryans to focus in the Baltic region; he guesses that the Aryans reached India in the fourth millennium B. C., that the Celts moved westward from their ancestral Thuringia and Bohemia at the end of the second millennium B. C., and that the Germans began their migrations from Sweden and Jutland about 500 B. C. 12 More recently professor Harold H. Bender,13 utilizing once more the old threadbare linguistic arguments based on the names of trees and animals‚ a method generally discarded by 1890, has found in favor of the area north of the Black Sea suggested by Benfey in 1869. It would have been well for Prof. Bender to have recalled the mature reflection of Max Müller 14 that “the evidence is so pliant that it possible to make out a more or less plausible case“ for the location of the home in any part of the world. To which Ripley adds: “It is only the lesser lights who still deal with roots as if they were mathematical symbols.“ (p. 485.)
    On the other hand Professor Peter Giles 15 thinks the original seed-bed of the Aryans was the plains of Hungary, where, protected by the Carpathian mountains, they found the circumscribed area which Cuno had a half-century earlier suggested as necessary

    11 Ethnology, London, 1896, pp. 205 and 376.
    12 See The Amer. Rev. of Revs., vol. 44, July, 1911, p. 108.
    13 The Home of the Indo-Europeans, Princeton, 1922.
    14 Biographics of Words and the Home of the Aryas, London, 1888, pp. 100 et seq.
    15 Cambridge History of India, London, 1922, Chap. III, “The Aryans.“


for the development of their peculiar characteristics. In the article “Indo-European Languages “ 16 Professor Giles had suggested the term “Wiros,“ that is, “Men,“ to designate the original Aryan-speaking race, and Professor Peake, who adopts this term, identifies them with nomads of the Russian steppes in Neolithic times and thinks of them as “Nordic or proto-Nordic in type.“ 17 Peake, however, is willing to place the original homeland in the Hungarian plain at a still earlier date, “the latter part of the upper Palaeolithic age.“ 18 Moreover, he expressly states his agreement with the view advanced by Penka, that “there must have been an original Aryan race,“ 19 that is, a group of one physical type who must be viewed as the originators of a basic Aryan tongue. This is a view which is sound enough in logic, but in historical practice it has thus far led to many a search for a fabled ignis fatuus. But like other features of Aryan mythology the original homestead, as well as the physical traits of the original simon-pure stock, is still an unsolved riddle. As early as 1876 R. Hartmann 20 declared that he considered the Aryans an invention of the professor‘s study; ten years later G. de Mortillet before the Anthropological Society expressed the view, already held by various anthropologists, that, since nothing was known of the Aryans, their alleged existence should be ignored; and three years later Virchow uttered a strong warning against accepting the illusions of the Aryanists, saying among other things: “The typical Aryan postulated by the theory has not yet been discovered.“
    The contentions of the various brands of Aryanists, Asiatic and European, Germanic and Celtic, blond and brunet, thus filled thousands of reams of earnest argumentation and vain imaginings during full half a century. And it is too early yet to say that they are at an end. Aryanism metamorphoses, but it never dies. Just now it is undergoing a vigorous revival in its original forms in Germany and England and under a new name in America. Aryan-

    16 Ency. Brit., 11th ed.
    17 Op. cit., p. 140.
    18 Ibid., p. 141.
    19 Ibid., pp. 134-7.
    20 Die Nigritier, Berlin.


ism, Teutonism, Celtism, Anglo-Saxonism and Nordicism are variations on the same theme, namely, that there has been one branch of the human family so distinctly superior to all others that it alone has been the creator and sustainer of civilizations. The utter insolubility of the question of the actual physical traits of the peoples who played important parts in the historical drama three thousand years and more ago gives a loose rein to an active imagination. This, combined with the insidious nature of race pride and the joy of even the profound scholar in clear and simple solutions of the riddle of the human past, constitutes almost a guarantee that every new discovery of archaeologist, philologist, and culture-historian will be utilized for a revival of some aspect of the old Aryan controversy.
    One may dip into the vast literature of Aryanism almost at random and find excellent illustrations of the method of reasoning and of the difficulties involved in the effort to establish one or another conclusion. Mr. Joseph P. Widney 21 convinces himself that the “original homeland“ of the “Proto-Aryans“ was the central plateau of Asia, preferably the Hindu Kush region. This conclusion rests in part on the assumption of an original “Proto-Aryan speech, common mother tongue of all Aryan tongues,“ and partly on the a priori principle that, “Race traditions are the way-marks, the grooved furrows in the ages back of written history, which often give clue to race migrations.“ Here we have the assumption of an original Proto-Aryan race, for whom an original unified language is assumed; we also have an a priori principle laid down preparatory to the drawing of an appropriate conclusion. One should note, however, the inclusion of the word “often.“ This word does not prevent the drawing of the desired conclusion, but it has the great merit of enabling the author to pass over the numerous exceptions to his principle. This is seen in the paragraphs which follow its enunciation.
    Thus, “Not all the Aryan peoples have such traditions of their past. The Slav seems to have none. Yet when we consider how mixed is the blood which we now call Slavic—Aryan probably,

    21 Race Life of the Aryan Peoples, vol. 1, The Old World, vol. 2, The New World, New York, 1907.


Ugro-Finnic and Tartar assuredly, Gothic and Germanic historically — and then overrun by successive waves of conquest and oppressed for centuries, we could scarcely expect the preservation among them of the folk-tales of the earlier race migrations. The Celt, like the Slav, has apparently no traditions of his race migrations in the past; but here also we find a mixed blood, for there are several well-marked and distinct race bloods all classed as Celtic; and the Celt, more unfortunate even than the Slav, has not even retained his race identity.... The Teuton also has no well-marked tradition, unless we take the epic of the Niebelungen as a vague hinting.... The Latin likewise, as separate from the Greek, has no known folk tradition of other land than that of the Tiber.... In the Greek tradition of the Dorian incoming we find a clear-cut narrative of the migration of an important division of their race blood from the north.... When we come to the Indo-Iranic branches of the Aryan peoples, however, the trail becomes warmer and the footprints clearer. It is down out of the north by the mountain passes of the Hindu Kush that the older Brahmin of the Hymns to the Maruts descends to the Indian plain of the Five Rivers. Etc.“ 22
    The object in citing this passage is not to take exception to its statements, but to bring out the vagueness of the evidence, the contradictoriness or negativeness of the facts, the assumption of essential principles of interpretation, and the blithe manner in which an argument, apparently characterized by scientific candor, is led by a tortuous path through an unknown country to its envisaged goal. It is little wonder that out of similar bits of material another surveyor would construct a different path and a different goal. While for any of them to admit that the verifiable bits of evidence constitute a maze with no entrance and no exit would be to destroy at once the thrill of exploration and the Aryan epic.
    That this inconclusiveness as to homeland and physical type will not be resolved in the near future one may put down as quite certain. The very latest summary of the whole problem by V. Gordon Childe does not appear to the seasoned reader any nearer

    22 Op. cit., pp. 20-1.


a convincing solution than those of his predecessors of two generations ago. As to the original homeland Childe argues for South Russia. His location, therefore, is — if one neglect a few hundred miles as unimportant in so difficult a problem — much the same as Peake‘s or Bender‘s. In the course of his argument, however, he devotes an entire chapter to the refutation of the case for the North European cradle as presented in recent publications by Professor G. Kossinna. 23 Of the latter‘s argument Professor Childe says: “As thus presented the Germanist doctrine is the most comprehensive and consistent synthesis of Indo-European peoples that has ever been offered. It is the only doctrine the extant expositions of which can pretend to combine the results of recent archaeological research with the data of philology. At the same time it is one of the fairest and certainly the most economical account of the development of a peculiarly European civilization yet propounded. Indeed, if it can prove its validity in the realm of archaeology and ethnology, it will probably rank as an accurate solution of the Aryan question. In these respects, however, it is to-day not quite unassailable.“ 24
    Now, Kossinna‘s presentation of European pre-history makes the Baltic basin a center from which radiated various civilizing movements of Nordics during the period from 4500 B. C. onward and especially after 3000 B. C. But Professor Childe finds Professor Kossinna‘s chronology rather too high by a thousand years or less; thinks the Maglemosian skulls on which Kossinna starts his story were of uncertain date, and that the Nordic stock had east or central European antecedents rather than west European, or Cro-Magnon as Kossinna posits; argues that the advances of Baltic cultures in Neolithic times were due to invaders and mariners rather than indigenous; feels certain that the battle-axes of Hungary and Troy, “which seem to us the most ‘Aryan‘ elements there,“ 25 did not come from the west, but reached Europe from the east, etc. He proceeds thus to reverse the whole case on the grounds of both factual and a priori considerations. The

    23 Especially Die Indogermanen, Würzburg, 1921.
    24 Childe, op. cit., p. 179.
    25 Ibid., p. 181.


movements which Professor Kossinna pictured as radiating from North Germany in an easterly direction Childe pictures as actually having traversed Europe in a westerly direction. Thus two very recent summaries reach diametrically opposite conclusions as to the main direction of cultural and racial movements in Europe‘s pre-history.
    On the basis then of these latest efforts one may say that the layman has abundant grounds for skepticism as to the validity of any proposed solution of the Aryan question. One can say only that for more than a generation the prevailing opinion has been that the Indo-European languages had their beginnings in Europe. Just where or when or by whom is by no means clear and there are certain considerations which make it highly improbable that anything more than general answers can be found. In this connection one may well note certain reflections of Professor Jacques de Morgan 26 who performs the admirable feat of writing an entire work on European cultural movements and racial backgrounds without mentioning the Nordics (or was this due to his being a Frenchman?). Having just written of the successive “floods flowing slowly westwards“ from Asia to Europe, he adds: “Such inferences are merely hypothetical. To-morrow, maybe, they will crumble to nothing in the presence of new discoveries.“ 27 He recalls that even forty years ago the important part played by Crete in the evolution of Mediterranean culture was unknown. No one can be certain that other forgotten civilizations will not come to light in the future. Only parts of Europe have been at all effectively studied by the archaeologist: the merest fraction of the vast continent of Asia has been scratched over, and it will be generations before the experts can speak with confident finality regarding such great areas as Siberia, Turkistan and Mongolia. “What we know to-day is very little in comparison with what remains to be learned.“ 28
    To these reflections one may add one or two more. There is an undoubted revival of interest in the original homeland and the

    26 Prehistoric Man. An Outline of Pre-history, New York, 1925.
    27 Op. cit., p. 288.
    28 Op. cit., p. 296.


racial attributes of the Aryan-speaking peoples. Archaeological data have been accumulating rapidly. But it would appear that fresh discoveries add as much to complexity as to clarification, when the whole prehistoric problem is taken into account. The diversity of cultures, when attention is given to details, is, however paralleled, though perhaps not equalled, by the diversity of races. Professor Childe, who speaks confidently of the Nordics as the first Aryans — an assertion for which he offers no proof, although such is doubly required of him because he rejects the Baltic homeland — is very cautious regarding racial types in general. He never describes his Nordics, except to endow them with ordinary heads but magnificent bodies. He also notes that “the Neolithic population of Europe constituted a veritable mosaic of races. Culturally still greater diversity reigned.“ 29
    Both cultural and racial history are thus extremely complex and apparently becoming more so. Moreover, one cannot assume that cultural and racial changes go together. While it has been a truism for a generation that race and culture are not identifiable, there is always the temptation to explain a new culture phase in any locality as due to the intrusion of a new racial element. This no doubt is sometimes the case, but considerable cultural changes are also often due to the contacts set up by voyagers, traders and small migratory bands.
    In view of these reflections Childe‘s conclusions are interesting. He thinks the first Aryans were Nordics. At the same time he thinks their cradle-land was not around the Baltic but in South Russia. Now no one knows what the center of characterization of the Nordics was; there may well have been more than one area in which blond mutants appeared; but the Baltic basin is certainly more probable than South Russia. The Baltic has long been the area of greatest blond purity; it seems likely that the Nordic blonds could have achieved there a greater degree of isolation and hence of differentiation. We refer later to the conflicting data regarding the racial pre-history of Russia.30 Childe admits that a considerable area is required for the cradle-land and a considerable

    29 Childe, op. cit., p. 138.
    30 See pp. 57-8, 187et seq., and 272-3.


time for the incubation of the basic Aryan tongue. He also admits the probability that the early Aryan groups were far from pure in race. 31 Since, then, he makes no inquiry into the findings of physical anthropology as to the prehistoric racial types found in different areas, as does Professor R. B. Dixon, 32 his repeated assertion that the original Aryans were Nordics appears to be merely a wish fulfilment, or the extension of a large olive branch to the Germanists whose theories he otherwise opposes. A striking illustration of Childe‘s indifference to physical anthropology is shown by his inclusion 33 of the predominantly brachycephalic Lithuanians among his Nordics. 34 (For further discussion see below pages 189et seq.)
    Childe‘s further conclusions are summarized in the following quotation: 35
    “Thus the Aryans do appear everywhere as promoters of true progress and in Europe their expansion marks the moment when the pre-history of our continent begins to diverge from that of Africa or the Pacific.
    “Perhaps disappointment has now given place to bewilderment in the reader‘s mind. How precisely did the Aryans achieve all this? It was not through the superiority of their material culture. We have rejected the idea that a peculiar genius resided in the conformation of Nordic skulls. We do so with all the more confidence that, by the time Aryan genius found its true expression in Greece and Rome, the pure Nordic strain had been for the most part absorbed in the Mediterranean substratum: the lasting gift bequeathed by the Aryans to the conquered peoples was neither a higher material culture nor a superior physique, but that which we mentioned in the last chapter — a more excellent language and the mentality it generated.
    “At the same time the fact that the first Aryans were Nordics was not without importance. The physical qualities of that stock did enable them by the bare fact of superior strength to conquer even
    31 Op. cit., p. 163.
    32 The Racial History of Man, New York, 1923.
    33 Op. cit., p. 167.
    34 Cf. Dixon, op. cit., p. 129.
    35 Ibid., pp. 211-2.


more advanced peoples and so to impose their language on areas from which their bodily type has almost completely vanished. This is the truth underlying the panegyrics of the Germanists: the Nordics' superiority in physique fitted them to be the vehicles of a superb language.“
    If now we put his argument in systematic form, it amounts to this. The Nordics, though they lived in an open country, became highly differentiated in race. They did not have any special mental endowment, and although they were sufficiently isolated to undergo special biological differentiation and were thus free from cultural contacts, they developed a language of superlative merits. They thereafter moved out of their homeland in divers directions, and although equipped with inferior arms (presumably because they were living on a lower level of culture) they conquered numerous other peoples and became the bearers and creators of high cultures in various areas. The primary reason they did this was because the marvelous language they had developed in their isolated and retarded culture enabled the peoples whom they conquered and among whom they settled to think more effectively and thus to generate a new mentality. It should be added, says Professor Childe, that the high cultures here attributed to the “Aryan genius“ (which resided in ordinary brains) manifested itself in its full fruition only long after the blood of the Nordics had disappeared in a melanous sea. The self-contradictions of such a thesis are self-evident.
    On the basis of this latest effort to solve the Aryan riddle one is fully warranted in saying that it still looks to-day, as in the days of Hartmann and de Mortillet, as if there was no original Aryan race, no single and original Aryan tongue, no simple homogeneous original Aryan culture and no small, closely circumscribed and relatively isolated Aryan cradle-land where race, language and culture could become specialized and definitely characterized. Rather one must imagine an historical stage something like the Roman world of much later date, but on a smaller scale and of more primitive character. Thus, out of an area of considerable extent, inhabited by a considerable variety of human types, came a variety of tribes and peoples, each far from homogeneous but differing


more or less from each other in composition, moving in different directions and at divers times, and each speaking a dialect related to those spoken by others but differentiated by the circumstances of time and place. Professor Childe in the opening pages of his work suggests an analogy of the nine or eleven branches of the Indo-European languages with the Latin derivatives, French, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Roumanian, etc., but adds that this analogy should not be pressed too far because there never was an Aryan tongue comparable in finish, stability and extensiveness to the Latin.
    If one were to press for a factual illustration of the viewpoint expressed in the preceding paragraph he could find several among the North American Indians. Whether one separate them from the Eskimos, as does Hrdlička, 36 or not, as does Boas, 37 they may be regarded as having a fundamental unity with certain Asiatic stocks. Hrdlička 38 says: “The physical resemblances between some members of the Asiatic groups and the average American Indian are such that if a member of one or the other were transplanted and his body and hair dressed like those of the tribe in the midst of which he was placed, he could not possibly be distinguished physically by any means at the command of even a scientific observer.“ This may seem a little extreme since the “average American Indian“ would be hard to find in the concrete. He would lie somewhere between the dolichocephalic Algonquian, Iroquois, Siouan and Shoshonean and the brachycephalic Athabascans and others. Nevertheless, it is no exaggeration to argue that there has been great persistence of traits and types together with a considerable differentiation. A fundamental but broad unity has widened into a diversity which according to A. F. Chamberlain, 39 has made possible the distinction of “some twenty-one different physical types north of Mexico.“ Now among these people Chamberlain lists 55 linguistic stocks and notes that among some

    36 Handbook, American Indians North of Mexico, 1907.
    37 Amer. Archaeol. Rep., Ontario, 1905.
    38 “The Origin and Antiquity of the American Indian,“ Smithsonian Report for 1923, p. 489.
    39 Art. “Indians, North American,“ Ency. Brit., 11th ed. vol. 14, p. 467.


of the larger stocks, such as the Athabascan, Algonquian, Shoshonean, Siouan, Iroquoian, etc., there are “many dialects, often mutually unintelligible.“ 40 We may on logical and a priori grounds assume that each stock at one time had only a single stem, or indeed that several related stocks lived in a single tepee; but that time is unknown, that family long since forgotten, and the location of that tepee buried in the dust of the silent but changeful ages.
    Such reflections indicate that the notion of an original simon-pure Aryan race of highly distinctive physical traits and of marvelous intellectual capacities, speaking a language of simple undifferentiated purity but of unexampled excellence, passes into the limbo of outworn myths. The Aryan problem remains, but in a highly complicated form involving much of the pre-history of the Eur-Asian continent during two millenniums and more.

    40 Ibid., p. 456.

(End of page. Last update July 19th, 2004)
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Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 3: Gobinism