Childe Vere Gordon - The dawn of European civilization

Author : Childe Vere Gordon
Title : The dawn of European civilization
Year : 1925

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Preface to the sixth edition. When the First Edition was written as a pioneer attempt at a comprehensive survey of European prehistory, the archreological record was so fragmentary that a pattern could only be extracted by filling up the gaps with undemonstrable guesses. A spate of excavations, investigations and publications in the next twenty years rendered obsolete some of those speculations, enriched the record with a wealth of often quite unexpected facts, but actually complicated the picture. Since I945 still more intense activity has doubled the available data, but in some points has simplified the scene; several formerly discrete assemblages now appear as aspects of a very few widespread cultures. Moreover, the new technique of radio-carbon dating, though still very much in the experimental stage, offers at least the hope of an independent time-scale against which archreological events in several regions can be compared chronologically. These advances allow and demand drastic revision and re-arrangement of my text. At the same time the fresh data, as much as Monga1fs pertinent criticisms in his Introduction to the Russian translation, have induced a less dogmatically "Orientalist" attitude than I adopted in I925. In particular the discovery that not all farmers were potters has entailed a complete revaluation of the ceramic evidence! Radio-carbon dating has indeed vindicated the Orient's priority over Europe in farming and metallurgy. But the speed and originality of Europe's adaptation of Oriental traditions can now be better appreciated; it should be clear why, as well as that, a distinctively European culture had dawned by our Bronze Age ! Two more points should be noted. The radio-carbon dates here given, many of them unofficial, are all subject to a margin of error of several centuries and must be regarded as tentative and provisional! Secondly, to me the Near East still means what it meant in English before I940 and still means in American, Dutch, French and Russian. For opportunities of studying at first hand the latest :finds from Eastern Europe I wish to thank the Academies of Sciences of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Roumania, the U.S.S.R. and Yugoslavia, and to colleagues in those countries as well as in Austria, Belgium, the British Isles, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Turkey and the U.S.A. I am grateful for information on unpublished :finds, for reprints, drawings and photographs. Dr. Isobel Smith has very kindly read the proofs. MARCH 1957. V. G. C.. ...

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