This is a transcription of the handwritten lecture given by Pitt-Rivers to the Whitechapel Foundation School in 1875, the handwritten original on blue foolscap paper can be found in P42, Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum Pitt-Rivers papers. The lecture was described by Thompson in his catalogue of the Pitt-Rivers papers as:

'P42 1875 52 pp., fair copy but heavily scored and corrected. ... [see note below] Figures from his article in Quat.Journal.Geol. Soc. XXVIII (1872) pp. 449-466 on the Thames terraces have been pasted on a final sheet. At the top is written ... [see note below] This lecture which covered a wide range of topics from the antiquity of man through various aspects of material culture was apparently never published.'

Note that the punctuation of parts of the handwritten text is eccentric, but has been reproduced as is. Note that the talk was never published.

See Bowden, 1991: 74 for his account of the lecture. The lecture as written must have taken over an hour to read, as it contains notes to the reader to point or show things at various points it must be assumed that Pitt-Rivers read directly from the text, illustrating the talk both with specimens and 'diagram' or large-scale versions of existing plates he had used to illustrate previous papers.

Note that the first illustration shown here was his Figure 1 at the talk. The other three illustrations are diagrams which resemble (if they are not exactly the same as) the diagrams he describes in the lecture

Acton, 1869. From Lane Fox's publication about Thames gravels

[Added note at top of first page] Lecture delivered Feb 2 1875 in the White Chapel [sic] Foundation School to an audience composed partly of the members of the literary & philosophical society there & partly of tradesmen & working classes of the neighbourhood

[Added note alongside start of paper] The parts ruled through were not read, the diagrams were enlarged.

[Added note alongside start of paper] Col A. Lane Fox | Guildford | Surrey

In the Year 1768 there appeared in Paris a work in three volumes by an anonymous author, which has been often quoted, entitled "De l'origine des lois des arts et des sciences" containing a series of treatises on the history of the various departments of human culture in the earliest times.

In the preface to this work, the author thus defines the limits of antiquity beyond which in the opinion of the age in which he wrote, it was neither desirable nor possible to penetrate "I shall be asked perhaps" he says "why my researches only begin with the deluge, and for what reason I have passed in silence all that was anterior to that event. It will be easy for me to satisfy this demand, and to cause to be appreciated the motives which have determined me to penetrate no further than the epoch which I have chosen. The history of the age which was anterior to the deluge furnished but little material for our researches. Moses had suppressed all those details which would have served only to satisfy a vain curiosity he has related only the great events, which is important for us to know. The ravages of the deluge joined to the confusion of tongues, and the dispersion of families almost completely renewed the whole surface of the Earth and one may therefore regard the first few centuries which succeeded that frightful catastrophy as representing the first stages of the history of the world"

Again in a work published by Dr Nares, Regius Professor of Modern history in the University of Oxford in the year 1831. I find the same doctrine expressed as follows "Various notions" he says "have been formed with respect to the population of the antediluvian world and its physical appearance, but as these are rather matters of theory than of fact, they scarcely fall within the province of history, and they are of less consequence that we are certain the stage of tose antediluvian ages  could have had no material influence on the times which succeeded them."

The general idea pervading [insert] this & other [end insert] the whole of the above mentioned works [insert] of the same age [end insert] appears to be, that after the deluge, the descendants of Noah wandered over the face of the Earth for many generations and that by that means completely lost all knowledge of the arts that had been acquired before the deluge. The mind having become a complete tabula rosa, the arts originated afresh only after the people had settled down, and given up their nomadic life. The only exception to this being in the case of those particular families which settled down at once in the locality in which they emerged from the Ark. Amongst these, the fundamental principles of the arts and sciences were preserved and it is for this reason that we find all human knowledge which we have inherited may be traced to this source.

It is hardly necessary for me to say speaking in the year 1875 that there are unsuspected difficulties in the way of accepting this theory which however ingenuous is in many aspects incompatible with the facts observed in the universe as viewed in the knowledge of our time. Putting aside the weighty arguments derived from geological researches in recent times which I do not propose to enter upon, the difficulty of accounting for the diversity of the human race in form and colour is strong enough to stand by itself, as evidence against the Deluge having occurred at the time assigned to it in the Mosaic account. We know that [insert] on [end insert] the Earliest Egyptian sculptures of the time of THOTMES III 3000 years go, the physical distinctions between the Egyptian, the Assyrian and the Negro races were as marked as they are at present, and they were the same, consequently it is next to impossible they could have diverged from a common prototype at the time of the deluge. and if we are to adopt the chronology of MANETHO as [insert] recently [end insert] confirmed by the researches of Mariette-Bey and adopted by Professor Owen and others, the time of the deluge is actually bridged over by these records, carrying us back to a date of no less than 7000 years when the earliest records commenced, thereby antedating by 1000 years the time of the creation of the world according as it is given in the Hebrew text. If there the Jewish traditions of the deluge are in any degree founded on fact, either it was not universal, or it must have been placed at a period far anterior to that assigned to it in the Mosaic account.

These early divisions of the human race coupled with what is known to ethnologists as to the persistency of race and colour in man, have given rise to the speculations of the polygenists who stand at the opposite extremity of thought upon this matter and who affirm that these early distinctions of race can only be accounted for on the hypothesis either of the separate creation of the different races or their separate evolution in different places from lower forms of life.

But the evidence against this hypothesis is to say the least as weighty as any that can be urged against the Mosaic account of the universal distribution of mankind in the year BC 23448 and the renewal of the whole of the existing races from a single family. for with regard to separate creation we have no evidence of the special creation of any thing and this view [insert] in so far as regards creation [end insert] must therefore be set aside as incapable of scientific treatment, and depending for its acceptance entirely on whatever value we may be disposed to attach to the traditions by which the idea of the special creation of man has been handed down to us, and with respect to separate evolution such a theory is at variance with all analogy of  coexisting life. All the races of mankind interbreed, and this circumstance which throughout the animal kingdom is regarded as proof of unity of species cannot be set aside in its application to humanity. To suppose that the black and white races of mankind were separately evolved in different places from some anthropoid creatures of apelike affinities, would be as unreasonable as to suppose that black and white horses which have affinities to some other classes of the mammalian such as the Rhinoceros, have been separately evolved, the one from the Median rhinoceros, and the other from the rhinoceros of Africa, an assumption which I need hardly say, if it were put forward, no naturalist would countenance for a moment.

All the difficulties here spoken of arise from the short term allowed by theologists since the different races diverged from a common stock. Given more time and the deluge might still refer to some local cataclysm by which the existing race of men were destroyed before they had separated from the parent stock. tho I am far from asserting that this is the right interpretation to be put upon the tradition. Given more time and the varieties of race represented in the Egyptian sculptures might be accounted for by supposing that they had grown into being during long ages which elapsed previously. Given more time and the requirements of geologists are satisfied in regard to the antiquity of the relics of human workmanship discovered in the soil.

Time and space will not enable me to enter upon more than a very small portion of the evidence bearing upon this interesting question. I have stated the whole question in order that the tendency of such facts as I do bring forward may be rightly understood. Suffice to say that in considering the remarks which I shall have to offer this evening upon the evolution of culture, we must bear in view the existence of another hypothesis which is more in accordance with the requirements of modern investigation in regard to time.

By this hypothesis the time which has elapsed since the first dawn of historic civilization in Egypt, India and China represent only an extremely brief span of human existence upon the earth, during countless ages before that time, the whole world was peopled by beings capable of progression but progressing very slowly as compared with what has been effected since in particular localities. the causes for the rapid development of culture in these particular localities must be sought for in evidence affecting the origin of culture rather than in function affecting the origin of race, which latter is a distinct and infinitely remoter problem.

We must therefore view the whole of the existing races of mankind as competitors in a race towards improvement, some have fallen at the first fence, others have tired out half way whilst others owing either to superior vigour or to having hit upon an easier line of country have greatly outstripped the rest. these constitute the so called civilized races of mankind, whllst the rest are termed barbarous or savages according to the progress which they have made.

We must further assume that in running this race the pace augments in an increasing ratio in proportion to the time [insert] in the same way that [end insert] a falling body if meeting with an check or resistance the velocity increases [insert] in velocity [end insert] as the squares of the times. It is a law of universal application, that the greater the advance in civilization the greater the capacity for further progress, and therefore in estimating the causes of retardation amongst savages, we must regard them as a traveller by an express train would regard the rate of progress of another who had started at the same time by a slow train in the same direction. We must make allowance not only for the stoppages but for the time necessary to get up the pace after each stoppage.

This is the true view to take of human progress, but it is not surprising that many persons should be deceived by a comparison of our progress with theirs. and that in the same When a traveller in an express train sees a slow train running on another rail in the same direction by the side of him, it often appears to him to be stationary if not receding. this misconception arises from the narrowness of his vision. Being himself a constituent portion of the more rapidly body, and looking out of the window as if with blinkers on, he sees only a small part of the moving body by the side of him. If however he could set himself apart, & see both trains from end to end he would soon perceive that both were in motion at different rates of speed so in viewing savages from a similar narrow stand point, they may appear to us to be stationary & incapable of progress, but if we take a broader survey of their progress & our own, we shall soon perceive that they were only advancing at the same rate  that we ourselves advanced in prehistoric times, before we had acquired that great [illegible] of speed which is now urging us [insert] so rapidly [end insert] forward.

I shall endeavour to shew by example that even amongst the lowest savages there is evidence of progress.

We have not sufficient knowledge of the antiquities of savage countries to be able to fix their rate of progress in times past, but by employing survivals of earlier forms of implements and weapons we shall be able to understand the sequence of ideas by which they, like ourselves, have developed from the simple to the complex and from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.

If the existing savages of the world were the degenerate descendants of Noah, then altho it is possible that some of the arts which depended for their continuance on a fixed abode might have been lost during many ages of wandering life, as supposed by the author whom I have quoted others would continue in [2 words illegible] during the nomadic state. Such as employment of weapons of the chase and war, which would be in daily use, and the knowledge of the mode of producing fire would never have been entirely lost whereas the weapons of some savages are, as I shall shew, far too primitive to have been ever derived from more complex weapons, and some savages have so far lost the knowledge of the art of producing fire as to be obliged to keep it continuously burning in order that they may not be deprived of this every day necessity of existence.

We know from our own daily experience that all our ideas are based upon previously existing ideas and therefore, if savages had descended from a higher condition of culture, we should certainly find survivals from higher arts retained amongst them, whereas we find that the lower the condition of savages the more the forms of their tools and weapons resemble the natural forms of the sticks & stones out of which they were constructed.

My collection at Bethnal Green has been collected and arranged so as to shew at a glance the gradual development of savage and prehistoric implements from the forms of nature, so that by running the eye from left to right along the several specimens as they are arranged on the screens, the visitor may see the gradual divergence of the forms, from that of the simple stick or stone, as the case may be, out of which they [3 words illegible] mark.

Owing to what Mr Herbert Spencer terms out Automorphism, that is our tending to judge others by our own intellectual standard, it is difficult for us to understand the very primitive condition of the human mind in which such very gradual development of ideas I shall speak of, occurs. In our infancy, long before we begin to speak or can remember any thing, we have all of us undergone an unconscious course of education in the forms & appliances of civilized life, our very first utterances are in a language which is in itself the complex growth of [illegible], and therefore it is difficult for us to realise the almost [illegible] condition of the mind of prehistoric men and savages, when it was necessary to learn by the slow process of evolution, than simple things which to us appear to have come almost instinctively.

It is only by collecting a number of these tools & weapons & placing them side by side according to their affinities, then regarding each implement as embodying a distinct idea of the savage mind, that we are able to see how slowly progress has been effected.

Plate XVII Transition from Drift to Celt type Primitive Warfare II

I will now endeavour to make this more clear to you by means of these diagrams commencing first with [insert] [illegible taken from [end insert] the implements of prehistoric men & after that proceeding to those of modern savages. We shall then see how closely they resemble one another in their psychological aspects. Most of those present are probably aware that some 30 years ago M Boucher de Perthes made discoveries in the drift gravels of the Somme near Amiens and Abbeville, which have completely transformed our notions of the antiquity of man in Europe.

At the height of 80 to 100 feet above the river, on the sides of the valleys, at a distance of 1/2 a mile or more from its present course embedded in gravel which clearly shewed by its stratified beds, that it had been deposited by the river. M de Perthes found flint implements of the particular forms which have so frequently been since found in other river valleys, and which are known as the drift type. They were found thus embedded in grave [?sic] in association with the remains of extinct animals, such as the elephant and rhinoceros, a connection which in itself points to a great antiquity.

So completely was this at variance with all that had previously been thought possible in regard to the antiquity of man, that the discovery received but little attention from scientific men for many years, and to use the words of Sir John Lubbock, he was for some time regarded as an enthusiast if not a madman.

In the course of time however his discoveries were confirmed by other observers and they are now universally accepted by Geologists as proof of the great antiquity of the human race at the time these implements were fabricated.

It is now the received opinion of Geologists, that the gravels in which these implements and animal remains were found, were deposited by the river at a time when it ran at that height over 80 to 100 feet above its present bed and that since then the river had worked its way gradually down to its present level and eroded the valley by constantly changing its course and removing the sediment, until it has reached its present level.

I will not further detain you with the details of M De Perthes discovery which is probably known to most of those present nor will speak of similar discoveries in the valley of the Ouse and elsewhere in Norfolk, but I will briefly relate a discovery in the same manner which I made myself some years ago, and communicated to the Geological Society in the year 1872.

This appears desirable both because you will thus have an opportunity of hearing the account at first hand, and also because as it relates to the valley of the Thames at Acton, close above London, the locality may possibly be known to some of those present.

[Added note: I now refer to this map] [Added note: Fig. 1]

The river Thames as most of those are aware, who have been up to Richmond by the steam boat, makes several broad bends in the comparatively flat bottom of the valley between Richmond and Battersea.

The whole of the valley is covered with gravel and brick earth which has been deposited by the river, except in certain parts on the steep sides of the valley where the underlying London clay crops out.

On the North side of the valley there are three terraces in the valley. The first runs from the banks of the river at a height of 10 to 12 feet above mean tide

[Added note: Point?]

The margin of the second may be traced by a sudden rise to 20 and 30 feet extending from Kew to Chiswick and from thence to Fulham church to the river at Cremorne.*

The margin of the third terrace which rises from 80 to 100 feet runs from Brentford to Acton and East Acton, and from thence merges into the mid terrace at Wormwood Scrubs.

On the side of this terrace, the underlying London clay crops out at from 50 to 60 feet, and above this rising to 80 and 100 feet in the third or high terrace of gravel just spoken of.

A section of the valley across the river from Acton to Richmond Park is given in the diagram. [Added note: Fig 2]. Here one section is shewn on the true scale and the other is drawn with the vertical scale enlarged 10 times [insert] the contours on the map Fig 1 are in black lines the 50 foot line being thicker than the rest [end insert] so as to make the features of the ground more apparent.

[Added note: Explain]

Plate XVIII 'Development of spear and arrow-head forms' 'Primitive Warfare 2'

In this high terrace gravel at Acton, at a distance of about 2 miles and a half to the north of the present river, pits were being dug for the foundations of houses at the time of my examination of the valley, and as the position of the gravel here, on the brow of the high terrace, exactly resembled that in which M de Perthes had discovered implements in the valley of the Somme. I determined to watch the excavations.

Nothing turned up until after some months of constant watching, but at last I was fortunate enough to discover beneath stratified seams of sand and gravel, similar to that of the Somme valley, an implement of the well known drift type that had been found by M. de Perthes and others.

After this, several other turned up, and with them the tooth of an elephant (Elephus primogenius)

The stratifications of sand and gravel above the implements are shewn in the accompanying sections [Added Note] Figs 3 & 4. They were at a depth of from 9 to 12 feet beneath the surface, which, as I said before was 80 to 100 feet above the present river, mean tide.

[Added note: Explain]

These then were deposited by the river at a time when it ran at this height.

The history of the valley subsequently to the time when these implements were deposited here, is well told by the animal remains discovered in the valley below.

After the river had eroded the valley as low as the mid terrace which is 20 to 30 feet above the present river. [Added Note point]. The Elephant, Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, Bos taurus, Bos priscus, and several varieties of extinct deer, still wandered along its banks, and were from time to time submerged in the floods of the river, the remains of these animals having been found by me, and identified by Mr Busk at Acton Green, several feet beneath the surface, and beneath stratified seams of sand and gravel which had been deposited by the river.

The river still continued to erode the valley deeper, gradually narrowing the area of its windings until it reached its present course.

But our evidence does not rest here, We have further facts to shew at what time it reached its present course.

The river, as I said before, runs in a winding course, making several bends between Richmond and Battersea, throughout this course, in all the different bends of the river, implements of the Neolithic or surface period. that is to say, of the more recent stone period, and implements of the subsequent bronze period, when they used bronze for weapons, and had not yet discovered iron, have been found, having been dredged up from the bottom in great abundance. thereby proving that the river persued [sic] the same course when they were dropped into it.

Mr Layton of Kew, has collected upwards of 100 implements of the Neolithic and bronze periods from different parts or the river between Richmond and Battersea, many of which are stone and bronze celts, and bronze leaf shaped swords of the forms known to belong to these periods

We know that iron was known to the Britons in the time of Caesar, and the use of these bronze swords must therefore be anterior to their date, and probably much earlier.

We have evidence then, that the river ran in its present winding course at that time and probably much earlier and this gives us some idea of the great length of time it must have taken to erode the whole valley, even supposing it to have carried down much larger bodies of water than it does at present for in doing this it must not only  have shifted its course over every portion of the valley which is here 4 1/2 miles wide, but it must have gone over the same ground repeatedly at different levels, as it wore its way down lower, and yet we see that the course of the river changes so slowly that it has certainly run in its present course 2000 years or more.

During this extended period while the river was being gradually worn down to its present level, successive races of men must have peopled the valley. the men of the drift period who were contemporaneous with the elephant, rhinoceros and hippopotamus, and who made the implements of the high terrace gravels must have been replaced by those of the cave period when the reindeer predominated, and these again by the men of the Neolithic period, who dropped their implements upon the present surface of the ground and who in their turn were superceded by people of the bronze age who disputed the banks of the present river  and dropped their weapons into its waters.

During the whole of this vast period the duration of which it is impossible now even to guess at, we find by the relics of these different ages discovered in the soil that a slow and gradual improvement has taken place in the forms of the implements. the nature of which I will endeavour to explain by means of the accompanying diagrams.

There are two different [insert] distinct [end insert] types of implements invariably found in the drift deposits of different countries that is to say in those deposits which correspond in age to the high terrace gravel at Acton. First, the tongue shaped implement [Added note: hold up] [Added note: on the upper left corner of diagram 5]. which consists of a simple flint nodule pointed by chipping at one end, and the other left with the natural round surface of the flint untouched, by means of which it could be held comfortably in the hand.

this, in so far as our present knowledge enables us to judge, appears to be the first idea of a tool formed by the hand of man, the father in fact of all succeeding implements.

The other form is known as the oval shaped drift implement [Added note: hold] [Added note: Top centre of diagram 5]. and it differs from the others in being chipped all round, and having  in some cases the edge at the broad end as well as at the sides and point.

This may possibly have been used in some kind of handle, and the fact of its having an edge at the broad end as well as at the sides, suggests the possibility of its having in some cases been used as an axe, altho' it certainly does not appear to have been usually constructed for that purpose. Here this circumstance gives it some affinity in form to the celt or axe of the subsequent Neolithic period [Added note: hold up] [Added note: bottom row of diagram 5]. and it is possible that it may have suggested the form of that tool.

Thus whilst the broad end of the drift implement developed into the axe the narrow end developed into the spearhead ultimately the arrow head of the subsequent stone age.

It may be said that the drift implements are formed by chipping only, whilst the Neolithic axe besides being more obviously constructed for use with the broad end, is usually ground or polished

It is true that no ground implement has ever been found in the drift, but it is not true that all Neolithic implements are ground indeed it is now certain from numerous discoveries made in this country especially in the south of England, that the celt or axe of the Neolithic period was frequently constructed by chipping only, and not ground.

I have arranged on the annexed diagram [insert] (5) [end insert]  a series of implements drawn from their originals full size and placed in line from left to right commencing at the upper corner on the left to shew how a gradual and almost imperceptible transition may have taken place from the tongue shaped through the oval drift type into the neolithic type. The upper row of each line represents the faces and the lower row the side views of the same implements by this arrangement the gradual development of an edge at the broad end is seen. The running of the eye along the line from left to right it  will be seen that they pass gradually into one another.

[Added Note: Explain]

I have also added to this diagram several stone axes used by modern savages, by which their resemblance to those of our own Neolithic Age will be seen.

[Added Note: Point]

It is thought by some that improvements are usually introduced by men of genius, great inventors, and in our own days when proper advances with greater bounds than it did formerly. It is seldom that any great improvement takes place without finding some one whose shoulders are broad enough to take the credit of it. this is what Mr Herbert Spencer calls the "great man" theory of progress

But in running the eye along this diagram it will I think permit any one to discover the inventor's place between any of the specimens shewn in the diagram so imperceptibly do they pass into one another.

They are of course innumerable slight varieties not represented here. No one implement exactly resembling another.

the more skilful fabricator can seldom control the fracture of the flint with certainty, and accidental fractures have produced varieties which when found to serve a useful purpose have been retained and have led to fresh improvements.

I now turn to the next diagram [Added note: 6] which represents the development of the narrow end of the drift implement into the spear and arrow head of the Neolithic period.

These are arranged in four vertical columns, the simplest on the left and the more advanced forms on the right [Added note: diagram 6]

In the left column are the tongue [insert] & oval [end insert]  shaped implements already described next to this the leaf shaped spear head which most resembles the drift being of the same form only more finely wrought. On the right of this is a column of lozenge shaped [insert] spear & [end insert] arrow heads in which the sides of the previous leaf shaped form are gradually straightened Next to this the tang shaped in which the tang or narrow part which is bound on to the end of the arrow is at first seen in a rudimentary state and afterwards the barbs are expanded and gradually brought down towards the base so as to guard the string by which the tang is bound on to the shaft. on the right of all is the column of triangular arrow heads which are at first made with straight sides and gradually the base becomes more and more concave.

The localities in which these various forms are found are seen in the horizontal columns, the oldest being on the top

It will be seen that in the drift there are none of the more advanced forms. In the cave period, the next in antiquity we find the drift type represented, and the leaf shaped common, but the lozenge and tang shaped are only in a rudimentary form and the triangular not represented at all. In the other localities which are all of the Neolithic or surface period all the forms are represented except the earliest.

In America we find the same forms as in Europe but with slight differences which are sufficient to distinguish them. In the fancy the base of the tang is usually broader in American arrow heads which seems to shew that the sequence of development was different, and that whereas in Europe the triangular was the latest, in America it was one of the earliest forms and that the tang shaped form was developed from it which accounts for the base of the tang being broader in the American variety.

Throughout the diagrams we see that as in the previous diagrams the several forms pass into one another gradually. there are no signs of invention, the various forms grew into being.

I now turn to the bronze period and continue the development of the axe from where we left it in the first diagram [Added note: (Diagram 7)]

this diagram is arranged in columns like the last the simpler forms being on the left and the more advanced forms on the right [insert] all these are life size of the originals [end insert]

first comes a column of celts with convex surfaces of the same form as the stone celts of the Neolithic period

Then in the next column the edge of the axe expands so as to give a broader cutting edge, in the third column we have a lateral ridge on top across the blade to prevent its being driven too far into the handle

Then in the next column we have longitudinal flanges to keep the blade in the required direction and prevent its swerving by the blow.

next we have both stops and flanges and these expand in size as the art of casting became more perfect. In the next column the flanges are beaten over the face of the blade and over the stops so as to enclose the wood of the handle which consists of a bent stick

The part of the blade thus enclosed by the flanges as it no longer forms the support by which the blade is fastened to the handle is then seen to become thinner and thinner until it finally disappears altogether and the flanges having closed upon one another the implement is converted into a socket celt.

Now it will perhaps be asked what evidence is there that the more advanced forms are the more recent.

In reply to this it is shewn by the dark red colours in the diagram [Added note: (7)] representing pure copper that the earlier forms in which the blade is made with convex surfaces like the stone celts are frequently of pure copper whilst the more advanced forms shewn in the centre columns and represented in light yellow, are of the compound metal of tin and copper called bronze, and only the more advanced form of all the socket celt represented by a dark brown on green is constructed of iron

further more it is found that none but the more simple forms represented in the first two columns are found in the tumuli, all the more advanced forms have been introduced subsequently to the age of the tumuli

We see therefore that throughout the prehistoric ages there has been a gradual evolution in the forms of the implements and that the Great Law of Nature "Natura non facit saltum". ** Nature makes no jumps is as applicable to the works of human art as to the succession of species and varieties of the animal and vegetable kingdom.

I have hitherto spoken of prehistoric implements only, and of course I have been able to shew only such implements as were constructed of imperishable materials. No doubt our prehistoric ancestors used also implements of wood but they have long since decayed and if we wish to form an idea of what his wooden implements were, we must turn to those of his nearest congenor the modern savage.

But here we have difficulties to contend with, which we had not to deal with in treating with prehistoric implements. We know nothing of the antiquities of savage countries. It is only within the last 20 years that we have begun to study the prehistoric antiquities of our own country and of those of savages we as yet know nothing. We are therefore limited to the study of savage implements as they exist at the present time. And it is only where survivals of older forms are still in use, that we shall be able to trace the succession of ideas as we have done those of prehistoric times. Fortunately survivals are very numerous amongst the arts of savages.

Lowest amongst these savages of whose arts and customs we have any accurate knowledge are the Australians.

The only tool which the Australians savage has to construct his wooden implements with is the flint or chert knife and the stone axe which is sometimes used in the hand without any handle [Added note: hold up] [Added note: [illegible of diagram 5] He cannot therefore saw his implements into any form that he pleases as we can. He is obliged to make them all on the grain of the wood. Consequently the forms of his implements follow the various curves of the branches of the trees out of which they are made. And the different natural curves have suggested the different uses to which the weapons are put

their development has been effected on the principle of the artificial selection of natural forms

this applies to the whole of the weapons of the Australians without exception

Plate III, Evolution of Culture

I have arranged on the accompanying diagram a series of drawings of Australian weapons of natural size shewing the gradual development of the boomerang from the simple stick [Added note: diagram 8][Added note: diagram and line linking end of above para with start of next para but 1]

First we have a straight round stick, then a straight flat stick then a curved flat stick following the grain of the wood and this has grown into a boomerang

All savages throw their weapons at their adversaries. In throwing a flat curved stick it rotates of its own accord. the effect of this is to increase the range, because the axis of rotation continuing parallel to itself upon the well known principle of the gyroscope the thin edge of the rotating implement is constantly opposed to the pressure of the air in front, and the flat side to the force of gravitation, so that it glides along like a kite, the pressure of the air beneath causing it to rise instead of falling to the ground. [Added note: dia] When the forward motion imparted to it ceases the rotation still continues, by which it is kept in the same plane, and in falling it glides backwards on an inclined plain [sic], just as a kite when the string is suddenly broken fall backwards for some distance

this is the cause of the peculiar flight of the boomerang

the savage knows nothing of the principles of its flight but has hit upon it accidentally by the habit of throwing flat curved sticks. But is has been found only useful to him because in throwing them at large coveys of birds over rivers and bogs the weapon after having done its work, returns to him on the bank, and is saved and this owing to the great time taken to [insert] it takes [end insert] chip out a wooden implement has been the cause of its adoption.

The best proof that this is the truth respecting the origin of this weapon is that they are of all sorts of shapes curves & [illegible] some thick & some thin, some will fly in this manner  and some will not they are not constructed upon a uniform plan which they would have been if the principles of its flight had been known

It is a mistake to suppose that the use of this weapon is confined to the Australians it is used by the black races everywhere. by the Colis and Mararwurs [Added note 101 to 105 diagram 8] black aborigines of Indian and by the negroes of Africa where it was formerly made of wood but since the introduction of iron has been constructed of that metal [Added note: 112 to 129 diagram 8]

[Added note: Explain]

It was also used by the Ancient Egyptians in wood and is represented in their sculptures [Added note: 109 to 111 8 diagram 8] there is one in the British Museum  and in order to prove whether it was really a boomerang I had one made exactly like it [Added note: 108 diagrame 8] and found by experiment that in throwing it it could be made to return to within 10 paces of the place I threw it from

[Added note: hold up]

These weapons in Australia pass gradually into a kind of war pick  called the Malga. indeed all the Australian weapons are allied to one another like the prehistoric arrow heads already described.

[Added note: point]

I may observe here that the arrow is unknown to the Australians

The leaf shaped spear head shewn in the second column of my previous diagram is common but not the more advanced forms of lozenge triangular and barbed [insert] are unknown [end insert] and theirstone axes, tho usually hafted are sometimes held in the hand.

The Australians appear to represent a phase of civilisation intermediate between the palaeolithic & neolithic, bein gmore advanced than the one and less advanced than the other.

The next diagram shows how the idea of a shield to cover the body was,  in Australia, gradually evolved from a simple stick held in the centre and used, by twisting, to parry the darts of the assailant.

Plate XXI Australian throwing sticks, shields African shields' Primitive Warfare II

this simple stick is in some parts of Australia and the South Sea islands the only kind of defensive weapon employed [Added note: Dia][Added note, line drawn from here to start of next para] By degrees an aperture was made in the back of the stick for the hand, and gradually the face of it widened so as to protect the body, but the ends were still retained in their pointed form so as to catch and turn off the darts by twisting.

A similar development of the shield is also seen to have taken place amongst the Negroes of Africa and one form which is used on the White Nile very closely resembles the Australian "Heileman," [Added note: point] Amongst the aboriginal blacks of India also a similar kind of parrying shield is used and now made of two antelopes horns fastened together and held in the middle with which they take off the arrows of the enemy by twisting it.

So that this primitive parrying shield like the boomerang appears to have belonged to the black races of the southern hemisphere and it may very possibly have accompanied them in their migrations from a submerged southern continent from which they are supposed by some Geologists to have been driven northwards by the gradual submersion of the Land.

Many other examples of the development of the forms of weapons might be given if time permitted. they are described in the copious notes of my catalogue of my collection at Bethnal Green.

When we turn to savages in a higher tho still in a low condition of culture [insert] civilization [end insert] such as the Fijians for example, our recently adopted fellow subjects of the Queen. We find ourselves in a higher stratum of culture in regard to the forms of weapons. These are as many varieties as before and the gradation are as close as ever. but they are all no longer traceable to the natural forms of sticks and branches.

Perhaps however I cannot better than illustrate this phase of Savage culture by means of their canoes in which being from their situation necessarily a maritime people they excel

[Added note: explained by means of drawing] The earliest form of canoe consists of a trunk of a tree hollowed out by fire. This kind of vessel is used nearly all over the world.

Of course the side of such a vessel is limited by the available size of the trees and as a rule they are extremely narrow and liable to upset. In order to give height and width to this dug out canoe a long plan is often added to the top of the gunwales and sewed on to the trunk with grass or reeds. This is the case in New Zealand in parts of South America and Africa. By degrees the number of these side planks increases & thus added to this top of the [illegible] and so on, and as the seams between them are thus brought under the water line they are caulked with grass seed pitch. The dug out trunk, which in the accompanying diagrams is represented by a dark black line it distinguishes them from the sewed on planks which are shaded lighter [Added note: point] gradually dismantled until at last it shrinks into a kind of bottom board or keel

This is the form in which we find it in parts of the Polynesian isles and in some of the rivers of Africa

The planks in the Polynesian canoes have flanges cut out of the solid piece on the edges and these flanges are sewn together in the inside of the vessel instead of holes being bored through the planks and by this means they are rendered more water tight. Still the vessel is without ribs of any kind and is kept in form simply by the sewing. The next step is to add ribs in the inside this is done in Fiji, Samoa, and Ke island west of New Guinea. the ribs are [illegible] intended to support the deck than to keep the boat in formas in the case with the ribs of our vessels and the planks are tied to them with thongs of cocoanut fibre. the next stage is to peg the planks together with wooden pegs instead of sewing them together but the ribs still continue to be tied to the planks by thongs this is the stage of development in which the vessels are seen in the islands [Added note: point] Finally the ribs are pegged to the planks and the vessel then becomes as durable as the best European vessels.

All these different stages of improvements are found in one or other of the islands of the Pacific and they are distributed in such a manner as to shew that the ideas spread from one to the other.

then sewed vessels of one sort or another are also used in the Indian ocean and Arabian gulf as far as the Red Sea and there is reason to suppose that some of the ancient Egyptian vessels were sewn. But no mention is made of sewn vessels north of this by classical writers. we find no trace of it again until we come to the north sea. [Added note: point] Here in [illegible] a vessel was dug up in the Nydam Mose belonging to the particular stage of development described in the vessels of Ke island near New Guinea that is to say the planks are fastened to one another by iron nails but the ribs are fastened to the planks by cords [Added note: point]

In Lapland and Norway also sewn vessels are still used on the rivers so that it appears reasonable to suppose that this mode of fastening vessels may have been in use in Europe in prehistoric times but that it is the last vestige of this custom which has been discovered in the Nydam Mose

[Added note: I will select as an example] the outrigger canoe of the Polynesian Islands shows some curious developments [insert] which [end insert] which [sic] may be traced by survivals in the different islands.

this form of vessel consisting of a narrow dug out canoe with a log fastened to it by poles and floating in the water parallel to it at some distance to prevent its upsetting. Appears no doubt to have been derived from the common raft.

The most famous raft vessels are the Balia [?] of the  Peruvian sea board they consist of five, seven or nine logs of very light wood fastened together and propelled by a sail.

Rafts of the same kind called Catamarans are used in the Polynesian isles, New Guinea and as far as India

the raft however was too broad a vessel to sail rapidly on account of the resistance offered to the water by the ends of the beams [Added Note: explain by means of a model] To remedy this and to diminish the resistance of the water only two outer logs are used in some places placed parallel to one another at some distance apart and formed of a platform upon them between this is described as having been used in Tasmania & some of the Fiji islands.

By degrees as the art of hollowing out canoes came into use, one of these logs became converted into a dug out canoe and the other continued to be used as a log or outrigger to prevent the vessel from upsetting

By this means we see how this peculiar class of vessel which is used all over the Pacific and as far as Ceylon originated. But the history of its development does not end here. It is necessary that the outrigger log should always be on the windward side otherwise the log is pressed down into the water by the sails and the outrigger poles break in which case the vessel upsets and the whole are drowned

When the boats are constructed with bows fore and aft so that it can sail both ways, they [illegible] to keep the outrigger always to windward in tacking by bearing up instead of luffing & coming about and where the boat gets on the opposite quarter shifting the sail and sailing off on the new tack stern first. But when boats are made with bow and stern as some are, they cannot do this the outrigger must then necessarily be to leeward on some tacks.

To prevent accidents they then rig out a platform on the opposite side of the boat to the outrigger and when the wind blows hard they run out to the end of this platform and counteract the effect of the wind by their weight. [Insert] this is used in New Guinea & New Ireland [end insert]

This platform which we may call a weather platform having been found to answer the purpose on one tack the next step was, in order to diminish the resistance caused by the outrigger in the water. to knock off the outrigger on the other side and then employ two weather platforms one on each side. Neither of them touching the water except when the vessel lurched when it immediately righted as soon as they ends of the platform touched the water.

The two platforms thus acted like the pole of a tight rope dancer to balance the vessel

Finally as they acquired this art of building broader vessels which would float more securely by themselves then platforms were curtailed, reduced to a kind of narrow balcony on each side and finally abandoned but they are still used in this form in Burmah and the Phillippines.

I have hitherto spoken only of those changes by which improvement can be traced but all development is not in the direction of improvement

the law is that development takes place in all directions, according to the natives of the motive forces employed and as in the evolution of species of animals it is the fitter only which survive.

We have now to deal with changes in the direction of degradation changes in the arts which correspond to what in language Professor Max Muller has termed phonetic decay.

It is now proved by recent discoveries that the earliest art in Egypt was the most realistic, and that it gradually became conventionalised until it ultimately grew into hieroglyphics, all written character appears to have originated in this way.

As an example of this amongst prehistoric savages I will first take the case of the degeneracy of the impressions upon British coins as they have been studied & described by Mr John Evans F.R.S. [Added note: C & R [?] Figs 1 to 9]

Evans diagram of degradation of coins from Philip stater

It is well known that a Greek colony had been established at Marseilles in the South of France since the year B.C. 600, through this colony Greek coins were introduced into Gaul. In the time of Philip II of Macedon the gold Macedonian stater became very widely distributed in Gaul and was copied and conventionalized on the gold coinage of the Gauls. Constant intercourse between Gaul & Britain took place at that time and through Gaul, the Macedonian stater was introduced into Britain, tho' much modified in design as we shall see.

There is a constant tending of all coinage to lessen the weight of the coin with a view to profit on the part of the Government in power, and at the same time to introduce base metal into its composition so that as a rule the later a coin the lighter, and the baser the metal.

The coin of Philip II as will be seen by the two upper diagrams, Nos 1 pl 9 represented on the obverse a laureated head of Apollo, and on the reverse a chariot with two horses and a driver. Let us now take first the obverse of the coin, and then the reverse, and see how gradually the original design has been lost by successive copies from earlier coins.

Each artist has copied the imperfections of the preceding one and added others of his own untll at last the original design has been completely lost and the coin [insert] maker [end insert]  not knowing the meaning of what he was copying, has converted it into something totally different

the motives in each case have been a desire to save trouble and after the original design was lost; to produce symmetry out of the debris of the original.

On the earliest British gold coins, assigned by Mr Evans to about the year 200 B.C. [insert] obverse No 2 [end insert]  we see a great change in the head and no doubt many links are now lost existed at one time, between this & the original stater [Added Note: Line linking this to point noted below] the laurel wreath is retained and a band with a hook added to the back of the head, there is also a gorget over the breast which is not in the original, the curls over the forehead are conventionalised into crescents.

In the second [insert] third [end insert] figure [insert] obverse No 3 [end insert] the features are lost, owing probably to this figure having been copied [insert] from one [end insert] in which the impression was struck on one side so as to bring the nose and mouth out of the coin, which was often the case with ancient coins. The crescents representing the curls on the forehead are retained, and also the band  at the back of the head with the hook at right angles to the laurel wreath. In the fourth figure [insert] obverse no 4 [end insert] a cross has been produced or rather fore shadowed by means of the intersection of the band at the back and the laurel wreath and the lines of the gorget of the 2nd figure continues the arm of the cross on that side. In the 5 figure the cross is completed and two of the curls of the forehead are [illegible] into the centre or perhaps those represent the hooks of the band. In the 6th figure one band only is represented.

On the reverse, the transitions are even more curious & with 2nd figure [insert] R No 2 [end insert] the chariot has disappeared only the wheel remaining the body of the driver is gone only the head and upper part of the body remaining detailed from the chariot over the head of the horse. We shall see traces of two horses under the body and head, and the legs are biped thus representing the 8 legs of the two horses the joints of the legs are also much enlarged and conventionalised.

In the 3rd [insert] R No 3 [end insert] the head & neck of the horse is separate from the body the head of the driver has disappeared and the horses legs are solid instead of biped. the two fore legs are also separated from the body. In the 4th figure the body of the horse has almost entirely disappeared the four legs are represented by four lines terminated by circles which represented the joints and the detached figure over the legs no doubt represents the neck of the horse but it can no longer be recognized, the weight of the coin which in the original was 130 grains has been reduced to 80 grains and the coins is of exceedingly base metal.

Plate IV, 'The Evolution of Culture'.

[Added Note: Line linking this to point noted above] [insert] I have referred to these investigations of Mr Evans work with the view of pointing out [end insert] an exact parallel to this sequence of degenerating forms, derived from the ornamentation upon the paddles of the New Irelanders [insert] Figs 1 to 11 pl 10 [end insert] These figures are supposed to represent their tribal marks and if so the case is identical with those just spoken of, both in fact representing tribal badges. ***

I collected them at different times during several years as they came to this country for the purpose of tracing out graduations of departure from the original design being fully confident that I should ultimately discover the sequence and this I have succeeded in doing in such a manner as can I think leave no doubt of their continuity.

The first figure represents the head of a Papuan savage with his large head dress the lower lobes of the ears are drawn out & terminated by the ear ornament in use in that country, the eyes are two round spheres, the line of the nose spreads all over the forehead representing no doubt some kind of paint with which the face is ornamented. In the second figure the ornamentation of the face is more complicated the lines of the nose passes round the eyes in a kind of coil there is a lozenge pattern on the forehead but the rest of the face is the same as in the last figure the whole body is represented sitting facing the spectator. the 3rd figure is nearly the same as the last example but the body is represented sitting side ways chiefly by lopping off an arm and a leg on one side. In the fourth figure the head is the same but there are no legs only two arms. In the fifth fig there are neither arms nor legs the ornamentation of the face is a little changed the ear is extended but the knob at the extremity of this is gone the 6th figure we see a great change in the face beginning to take place the nose is beginning to expand at the base. the lozenge pattern and the coil round the eyes is still retained but the sides of the face with the extended ears is beginning to conform to the line of the expanded nose and has assumed a concave form. In the 7th figure the nose of this figure is evidently beginning to be the leading feature of the design

In the 7th figure a still further change in the same direction has taken place the nose is now the only feature left the sides of the face are gone the lozenge pattern of the forehead is retained but the head is gone and the ears follow the line of the nose on each side of it. the 8th figure is the same as the last except that the ears are at right angles to the central line of the nose the 9th figure is the same as the last except that there is a further expansion of the base of the nose which is here beginning to assume a half moon shape. In the 10th figure there is a still further expansion of the nose and the lozenge pattern the ears & other ornaments have been represented by the lazy [illegible] of this figure by 5 little points. In the 11th figure even the last vestige of the ears & forehead ornament has disappeared and the figure has been conventionalized into a simple crescent. No one seeing this figure apart from the others could in the least suppose that it ever stood for the nose of a human face. A better example  could not be given to shew the necessity of studying all native ornament in its detail and in their connection with other forms in order to understand them

I have in this Lecture drawn my examples exclusively from early and savage culture and confined them to the material arts because as I said at the commencement the earlier stages of culture are slower and the continuity is therefore more apparent and also because in dealing with the material arts each successive idea of the savage mind can be represented by a diagram so that when several diagrams [insert] of figures [end insert] are placed side by side we are able to observe the sequence and they are therefore well adapted to the purposes of a lecture.

But the evolution here spoken of is not by any means confined to the material arts or to the earliest stages of culture,  All laws, customs, and institutions of mankind, ancient as well as modern, are amenable to the same law. Even the most ephemeral and evanescent ideas which die in thinking and leave no visible or tangible records behind, would be found to follow one another in orderly succession if we could but trace them.

To whatever source we turn for evidence on this point we find the same story told. The tree with its many branches is the type of orderly evolution, all institutions are tree like in their progression and if space has admitted of it, the several diagrams which I have exhibited this evening would have more truly represented the successive phases of development portraid [sic] in them if instead of being arranged in columns they could have been arranged in branches springing from a parent stem

As we find in nature that there are some trees which throw their branches upward towards heaven and others the branches of which like those of the straight stemmed pine droop downward from the trunk and expand in falling. So in human institutions there are some which as we have already seen develop upwards and become more perfect & more complex and others which have a tendency to deteriorate in their evolution.

Of this latter class we may include all the religious systems of the world as being under the influence of ritualistic degeneration. Hindooism & Budhism [sic] no less than Christianity were pure in their sources and have deterioriated and become conventionalised in their branches.

Under the teaching of Professor Max Muller Mr Montcure Conway and others we are now beginning to understand how close are the affinities of all these religions when reduced to their essence and to see in the founders of these systems successive founts in the main tree stem of religious thought from which the existing systems have branched off.

Just as the youg pine throws up its leading shoots year after year to form the main trunk so the great original religious teachers of the world have followed one another in the same upward course.

If [insert] then [end insert] we would rise in religious truth we must climb by the stem and never [insert] instead of [end insert] trusting our feet upon its feeble branches.

This is true of all religions but as it is always regarded as an act of grace to study the beam that is in our own eye let us test the results of this observatio by a brief survey of the evolution of Christian ideas I do not propose to do more here than indicate in outline the course which such an inquiry might take [insert] follow [end insert]

Taking the existing altars of Christian sects as the outward and visible signs of ritualistic degeneration and employing them as survivals to illustrate the evolution of christian ideas in times past Each having shot off, as we know from history to have been the case at a greater or less distance from the parent stem, [insert] we [end insert] find that christianity has been a drooping branch from the day when its founder suffered matyrdom upon the cross.

His disciples forsook him and fled and the Christian churches in their respective ramifications have continued the flight with a velocity that has accelerated in ratio as the squares of the times.

Commencing with the nearest existing representative of he simple supper table at which the early Christian sat or stood to commemorate the anniversary of his beloved Master we may see this table at first removed and placed against the Eastern wall then railed off from the communicants who instead of sitting or standing at it kneel towards it as if it were a thing in itself to be reverenced we may then follow it as it gradually develops into an altar and by degrees becomes associated with all those emblems of fire and insense [sic] which in pagan times served to fix the attention of the worshippers. We may then follow the food of which the early christian partook at this table and see it gradually develop into a fetish. A potent charm against all moral and physical ills and by degrees evolve into an incarnation of the deity upon the Hindoo model. And side by side with this material development we may perceive the motive force which has been effecting this evolution in a gradual accession of the power of the priesthood who from having been originally the friends and councillors of the community have developed into the confessors and absolvers of sins and ultimately in some instances with the infallable & despotic rulers of human consciences.

Let us follow this course of [illegible] upon the principles of evolution here indicated and then ask ourselves whether we have not departed from the original purity of the founder as much as this half moon has departed from the original image from which it was derived on this base British coin with its barbarous and unnecessary hieroglyphics from th original pure gold effigy of Philip of Macedon.

What then if we do find that religion is subject to the same laws of evolution as all other human ideas. Are we to infer from this that we can see God in nothing or may we not rather infer that we may see him in everything instead of peeping at him through the narrow chinks & crevises that have been prescribed for us [insert] during an ignorant age [end insert]

We do not know and probably never shall know the reason why this world has been subject to the process of evolution instead of having been created perfect in the first instance all we know is that it is so and that in dealing with evolution we have to do with a principle that is without exception upon the face of the globe.

The doctrine of evolution which we are now beginning to understand in itself represents but a passing phase in the evolution of human knowledge [insert] The tendency of these inquiries has been condemned by some as I think that sighted people [end insert] the more we by these studies, even tho we do but [insert] grope [end insert] in the dark, are brought to understand that all human thoughts and actions when broadly viewed are found to succeed each other in conformity to principles of law and order. the more we shall be in a position to reverence and to reverence with the highest intellect rather than through the obscure medium of superstitious [insert] rites [end insert] the great first cause from whom all law and order emanates.

[The last page of the blue paper draft has four images from the Thames Gravels paper pasted in, this is not all of the images Pitt Rivers showed at the lecture, but it is the first four. Presumably he had them redrawn on a large scale]


* Cremorne: presumably a reference to Cremorne Gardens area, near Battersea Bridge?

** Natura non facit saltum - see here for more information

*** See here for more about these paddles

Transcribed by AP August 2011 for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project.

prm logo