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12.3 The Heliolithic Culture of Brunet Peoples

The Mediterranean or Iberian division of the Caucasian race had a wider range in early times, and was a less specialized and distinctive type than the Nordic. It is very hard to define its southward boundaries from the Negro, or to mark off its early traces in Central Asia from those of early Mongolians. Wilfred Scawen Blunt[1] says that Huxley “had long suspected a common origin of the Egyptians and the Dravidians of India, perhaps a long belt of brown-skinned men from India to Spain in very early days”.

Figure 114

Figure 114: Map of Europe, Asia, Africa, 15,000 Years ago

It is possible that this “belt” of Huxley’s of dark-white and brown-skinned men, this race of brunet-brown folk, ultimately spread even farther than India; that they reached to the shores of the Pacific, and that they were everywhere the original possessors of the Neolithic culture and the beginners of what we call civilization. It is possible that these Brunet peoples are so to speak the basic peoples of our modern world. The Nordic and the Mongolian peoples may have been but northwestern and northeastern branches from this more fundamental stem. Or the Nordic race may have been a branch, while the Mongolian, like the Negro, may have been another equal and distinct stem with which the brunet-browns met and mingled in South China. Or the Nordic peoples also may have developed separately from a Paleolithic stage.

At some period in human history (see Elliot Smith’s The Migrations Of Early Culture) there seems to have been a special type of Neolithic culture widely distributed in the world which had a group of features so curious and so unlikely to have been independently developed in different regions of the earth, as to compel us to believe that it was in effect one culture. It reached through all the regions inhabited by the brunet Mediterranean race, and beyond through India, further India, up the Pacific coast of China, and it spread at last across the Pacific and to Mexico and Peru. It was a coastal culture not reaching deeply inland.

Figure 115

Figure 115: The Swastika

This peculiar development of the Neolithic culture, which Elliot Smith called the heliolithic [2] culture, included many or all of the following odd practices:

  1. circumcision,
  2. the very queer custom of sending the father to bed when a child is born, known as the couvade,
  3. the practice of massage,
  4. the making of mummies,
  5. megalithic monuments[3] (e.g. Stonehenge),
  6. artificial deformation of the heads of the young by bandages,
  7. tattooing,
  8. religious association of the sun and the serpent, and
  9. the use of the symbol known as the swastika (see Figure 115: The Swastika) for good luck. This odd little symbol spins gaily round the world; it seems incredible that men would have invented and made a pet of it twice over.

Elliot Smith traces these associated practices in a sort of constellation all over this great Mediterranean-India Ocean-Pacific area. Where one occurs, most of the others occur. They link Brittany with Borneo and Peru. But this constellation of practices does not crop up in the primitive homes of Nordic or Mongolian peoples, nor does it extend southward much beyond equatorial Africa.

Figure 116

Figure 116: Relationship of Human Races (Diagrammatic Summary)

For thousands of years, from 15,000 to 10,000 B.C., such a heliolithic culture and its brownish possessors may have been oozing round the world through the warmer regions of the world, drifting by canoes often across wide stretches of sea. It was then the highest culture in the world; it sustained the largest, most highly developed communities. And its region of origin may have been, as Elliot Smith suggests, the Mediterranean and North African region. It migrated slowly age by age. It must have been spreading up the Pacific Coast and across the island stepping-stones to America, long after it had passed on into other developments in its areas of origin.

Many of the peoples of the East Indies, Melanesia and Polynesia were still in this heliolithic stage of development when they were discovered by European navigators in the eighteenth century. The first civilizations in Egypt and the Euphrates-Tigris valley probably developed directly out of this widespread culture. We will discuss later whether the Chinese civilization had a different origin. The Semitic nomads of the Arabian desert seem also to have had a heliolithic stage.

[1]My Diaries under date of July 25, 1894.
[2]“Sunstone” culture became of the sun worship and the megaliths. This is not a very happily chosen term. It suggests a division equivalent to paleolithic (old stone) and neolithic (new stone), whereas it is a subdivision of the neolithic culture.
[3]Megalithic monuments have been made quite recently by primitive Indian peoples.

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