Table of Contents
Part V: A Christian World View: The
Framework of History
The Inventive Genius of Ham
IT MAY COME
as a surprise to find how many, how varied, and how fundamental
have been the inventions of Hamitic people, and how great a service
they have thus rendered to mankind in the field of technology.
Although some of these achievements may be considered slight
by those who have never actually invented anything or contributed
anything new to the sum total of human achievement, one should
not be deceived by simplicity. Hamitic peoples have been peculiarly
ingenious in finding simple solutions that are very effective.
The curious thing is that they neither know nor care in many
cases why their solutions are so completely successful.
The following developments may be added
to the above list (details in Part
IV "The Technology of Hamitic People" in vol.1, Noah's
Three Sons), set forth more or less under similar headings. They are
described very briefly, the purpose being merely to show sometling of
the range of devices and techniques which are commonly assumed to be of
Indo-European origin but which, as the lists show, are not.
In recent years much has been learned
about the earliest clocks. It was thought that the mechanical
clock was an invention of 14th century craftsmen. However, descriptions
and corroded fragments of complicated astronomical "pre-clocks,"
such as water clocks, planetary models, and mechanical star maps
have survived from Greek and Arabic times, which have raised
more questions than they answered since their principle of operation
was quite different from European clocks of a later period. Moreover,
they were designed for computing the motion of heavenly bodies
rather than for timekeeping. (195)
195. On these, see Derek J. de Solla Price,
"An Ancient Greek Computer," Scientific American,
June, 1959, p.60.
1 of 19
a manuscript has been translated entitled, "New Design for
an Astronomical Clock," written in 1092 by Su Sung, a scholar
of the Sung dynasty. It is a description of a clock actually
constructed in 1088 and housed in a pagoda-like tower, £rom
thirty to forty feet high. The details of it show that it was
very complicated, with many revolving parts and successions of
geared trains. It was also fitted with an escapement mechanism,
a mechanism hitherto regarded as an exclusively European invention.
Some details of this highly sophisticated mechanism appeared
in the English journal, Nature, reporting the making of
a working model. (106)
The clock was driven by water power with an extremely ingenious
arrangement for tripping the scoops into which the water flowed
and for ensuring a uniform pressure in the water system itself.
Joseph Needham has published a work dealing specifically with
this subject and notes that Su Sung's clockwork was anticipated
in China by many previous similar clocks so that refined mechanisms
of this kind were well known in China long before knowledge of
them was brought into Europe. Escapement clocks are a Hamitic
Under tlle general heading of Materials,
we may note another claim to priority due to Chinese technologists,
in iron and steel production. Again we may refer to Joseplr Needham
for details. (197)
China had an ancient and advanced metallurgical industry, and
although in Europe it was the end of the 15th century before
molten cast iron was produced (except by accident), Needham gives
cogent evidence that this was being done in China on a significant
scale at least 2000 years before. From the second century B.C.,
if not earlier, cast iron was used to produce
106. Escapement Clock: Nature, Mar.
31, 1956, p.601 gave a diagram of such a clock with an cscapement,
designed or at least described by Su Sung. Further details and
descriptive information was given by Aubrey F. Burstall, et
al., in an article entitled "A Working Model of the
Mechanical Escapement in Su Sung's Astronomical Clock 'I'ower,"
Nature, Sept. 28, 1963, pp. 1242-1244. This was further
discussed under "The Chinese Water-balance Escapement,"
Nature, Dec. 19, 1964, pp.1175f. I think it is significant
that in reviewing Joseph Neerlham's Vol. 4, part 2, Science
ancl Civilization in China, E. H. Hutton underscores the
fact that the technology of China, though in advance of European
technology until the time of the Renaissance was nevertheless
"prescientific technology," to use his words. See his
"Ancient Chinese Technology'" Nature, April
2 (Supplement), 1966, p.46. An article of interest on these clocks
also appeared in Endeavour, Oct., 1960, pp.234f.
197. Needham, Joseph, The Development of Iron and Steel Technology
in China, Dickinson Memorial Lecture to the Newcomen Society
for 1956, reported in Nature, Dec. 12, 1959, p.1830.
steel by carefully controlled
decarburization in an air blast, a method known as the "hundred
refinings." Later on much Chinese steel was made by a co-fusion
technique in which wrought and cast iron were heated together
in crucibles, the pasty lumps of the former bathed in the high
carbon liquid. By a gradual diffusion of carbon, a steel of approximately
eutectoid composition was produced. The basic correspondence
of these processes with those of Huntsman, Bessemer, and Siemens
and Martin is to be noted. Indeed, as Needham observes, immediately
before the work of William Kelly in the United States in setting
up the Bessemer process, four Chinese workers were imported as
experts at his furnaces at Kuttawa!
The Chinese have always been great
metalworkers and their bronzes are superb examples of technological
virtuosity. Around 1400 B.C. they were producing what Coon has
referred to as "the finest examples of bronze casting in
the world, from any place or period." (198) This is a judgment held by other experts in the field.
The editors of Life's The Epic of Man observed that the
Chinese Shang bronzes were "the finest objects of metal
ever created by the mind and hand of man." (199) In Part IV, already referred
to, a number of observations regarding the metalwork of the Sumerians
and Egyptians will be found, including the extraordinary range
of techniques they had mastered. The Sumerians had also mastered
the technique of soldering. (200)
As perhaps another rather surprising
example of a "modern invention" anticipated centuries
ago, Marco Polo at the end of the 13th century observed the extensive
use of asbestos in Ghenghis Khan's domain, in the province of
The asbestos fibres are treated
to divide and separate them and they look like wool. They are
then spun into not very white fibres which are afterwards burned
to come out as white as snow. This is how they are then "washed"
after becoming soiled.
Some of these
fabrics were sent by the Khan to the Pope.
In connection with building techniques,
an article appeared in the Scientific American dealing
with primitive architecture, in which the authors, Fitch and
Branch, describe some of the
198. Coon, Carleton S., The Story of Man,
Knopf, New York, 1962, pp.329, 330.
199. Editors of Life, The Epic of Man, Time-Life Incorporated,
200. Kramer, Samuel, The Sumerians, University. of Chicago
Press, 1964, p.101.
201. Asbestos: see Travels of Marco Polo, Library Publications,
New York, no date, pp.67, 68. It is probable that this entry
was made about A.D. 1298.
buildings erected by
"primitive" people of the world, among whom are included
the Eskimo, Sudanese, Siberian herdsmen, and Melanesians. (202) The main thrust of the
article is to the effect that these people have shown great ingenuity
not merely in the way in which they have employed local materials,
with maximum effect from the structural point of view, but also
that they have with great effectiveness designed their buildings
with an eye to providing shelter against the elements (snow load,
wind pressure, earthquake shock, heat stress, cold stress, and
glare). They say, "Thus Western man, for all his impressive
knowledge and technological apparatus, often builds conparably
less well." They speak of these people as showing "a
precise and detailed knowledge of local climate conditions on
the one hand, and on the other, a remarkable understanding of
the performance characteristics of the building materials locally
available." They say, "These simple shelters often
out-perform the structures of present day architects." As
means of shelter against temperature and precipitation, they
note that "in culture after culture the solutions found
show a surprising delicacy and precision." And subsequently,
"Limited to what for us would be a pitifully meager choice
of materials, the primitive architect often employs them so skillfully
as to make them seem ideal." This last observation is about
as profound a compliment as they could have offered, and it does
in fact sum up a great deal of the technology of non-Indo-European
people. It is nearly always characterized by simplicity, economy
of materials, and almost complete suitability. Tley seem to be
able to hit at once upon the proper solution. The only trouble
is that having done so, they never have thought it necessary
to try to improve upon it in any basic way. The authors conclude:
One could extend this catalogue
of human ingenuity indefinitely. But the examples cited are surely
adequate to establish the basic point: that primitive man, for
all his scanty resources, often builds more wisely than we do,
and that in his architecture he establishes principles of design
that we often ignore at great cost. . . . Contemporary United
States architecture would be greatly enriched, esthetically as
well as operationally by a sober analysis of its primitive traditions.
While we are
on the subject of architecture, I feel I must include a quotation
dealing with the stone work of the Great
202. Fitch, J. M. and D. P. Branch, "Primitive
Architecture and Climate," Scientific American, Dec.,
Pyramid, even though
several similar quotations appear in the previous Doorway Paper.
In his Hibbert Lecture (1879), P. LePage Renouf quotes an architect
who examined this structure with a critical eye as follows: (203)
No one can possibly examine
the interior of the Great Pyramid without being struck with astonishment
at the wonderful mechanical skill displayed in its construction.
The immense blocks of granite brought from Syene ‹ a distance
of 500 miles ‹ polished like glass, are so fitted that the
joints can hardly be detected.
One might continue
this quotation at some length, for it is a eulogy indeed not
merely of the masons who fashioned the building blocks themselves
but of the extraordinary precision in their laying and in the
arrangements whch were made for the ceilings of the various chambers
and ventilating shafts. The same architect is quoted by Renouf
as having said in connection with their other buildings, both
temples and houses:
In all the conveniences and
elegances of building they seem to have anticipated all that
has been . . . to the present day. Indeed, in all probability
the ancient Egyptians surpassed the modern in those respects.
. . .
In weaving and
in the development of textile fibres and dyes much has already
been said in Part IV. But I have recently come across a statement
to the effect that the Incas were able to weave pieces of cloth
of extraordinary dimensions, 13 feet wide x 84 feet long, with
as high as 500 threads per inch! (204) Very few fabrics of modern times come anywhere near
this, and when they do they are usually limited to comparatively
small pieces. In prehistoric times in the southwestern part of
the United States all kinds of techniques were known at one time,
203. Renouf, P LePage, Lectures on the
Origin and Growth of Religion, Hibbert Lectures for 1897,
Williams and Norgate, London, pp.63, 65. In the same connection,
Andrew White in his Warfare of Science With Theology (Braziller,
New York, 1955, p.265), has the following: "For the perfection
of Egyptian engineering, I rely not merely upon my own observation
but on what is far more important, the testimony of my friend
the Hon. J. G. Batterson, probably the largest and most experienced
of workers in granite in the United States, who acknowledges
from personal observation that the early Egyprian work is, in
boldness and perfection, far beyond anything known since, and
a source of perpetual wonder to him."
204. Editors of Life, in The Epic of Man, Time-Life Publication,
1961, pp.227, 233. Also, Jonathan N. Leonard, Ancient America
in The Great Ages of Man, Time-Life Publication, New York,
1967, pp.82, 83.
and all kinds of ingenious
ways to accomplish edge-finishes and cloth closures. (205)
The present Paper has already referred
to block printing as an invention originating with the Koreans.
In Joseph Needham's great work on Chinese technology, he mentions
that while the Chinese used wooden or earthenware type blocks,
the Koreans were the first to use cast type blocks made of bronze.
Under the general heading of Foods,
we may note that powdered milk was used by Ghengis Khan, every
one of his soldiers being provided with a vessel containing 10
pounds of it. (207)
Each morning he would take
half a pound and put it in his leather bottle with as much water
as suited his taste so that the bottle would then be thoroughly
churned by the motion of the horse into a kind of porridge which
then formed his dinner. I believe that in a pinch, and provided
they had water, his whole army could move for three weeks without
any further supplies, if they had to.
While we are on the subject of
dairy products, a most remarkable practice was reported recently
whereby African natives force or trick cows who are withholding
their milk into releasing it. The report notes, "It is remarkable
how their methods have been confirmed by recent scientific research."
They use a dummy calf, a boy suitably dressed, and then when
the cow sees the
205. Edge-finishes, etc. See Kate Peck Kent,
The Cultivation and Weaving of Cotton in the Prehistoric Southwestern
United States, reviewed in the Journal of the American
Anthropopologist, vol. 60, 1958, p. 951. The reviewer, A.
H. Gayton, remarks: "lt is impossible to mention here all
the techniques known in the prehistoric South-West or the ingenious
tricks for accomplishing edge-finishes and cloth enclosures."
And again he states that some fabrics are braided, and one twine-plaited
shirt is as elaborate in design as the best specimens of similar
techniques from ancient Egypt or Peru. He mentions looping, netting,
braiding, twine plaiting, and twills.
206. Needham, Joseph, Science and Civilization in China,
Cambridge, 1954, vol.1, p.231, note d.
207. Powdered Milk: Travels of Marco Polo, p.81. Polo's
report reads: "They have dried milk into a kind of paste
to carry with them: and when they need food they put this in
water and beat it up till it dissolves and then drink it. It
is prepared thus: they boil the milk, and when the rich part
floats to the top they skim it into another vessel, and of that
they make butter: for the milk will not become solid till this
is removed. Then they put the milk in the sun to dry. And when
they go on an expedition, every man takes some ten pounds of
the dried milk with him. And of a morning, he will take a half
pound of it and put it in his leather bottie, with as much water
as he pleases. So, as he rides along, the milk paste and the
water in the bottle get well churned together into a kind of
pap, and that makes his dinner."
blow up the vagina with air by mouth. A reflex is initiated and
the milk flows. (208)
And on the subject of dehydrated
foods, it should be noted that the Aymara Indians of Bolivia
taught the Americans how to prepare dehydrated potatoes. Claude
Levi-Strauss wrote recently: (209)
The Aymara Indians of the Bolivian
plateau are able experimenters in the preservation of food stuffs.
It was by direct imitation of their technique of dehydration
that the American Army was able during the last World War to
reduce rations of powdered potatoes sufficient for a hundred
meals to the volume of a shoe box.
On travel, taking
the word in its broadest sense, we have already listed many items
such as plywood wheels, domesticated draft animals, efficient
harnesses, aircraft, ships of all kinds, canal systems, etc.
Recently in reading The Travels of Marco Polo, I came
across this statement of his which must have been written about
A.D. 1298, speaking of Far Eastern ships: (210)
Moreover, the larger of their
vessels have some thirteen compartments or "divisions"
in the interior, made with planking strongly framed in case perhaps
the ship should spring a leak either by running on a rock or
by the blow of a hungry whale. . . . The planking is so
well fitted that the water will not pass from one compartment
to another. They can then remove the cargo to another compartment
and stop the leak.
vessel was ever built in this compartmentalized way until comparatively
recent times, a form of construction hailed by our own shipbuilders
as one of the latest examples of progress in shipbuilding, making
The Chinese, of course, had a highly
organized canal system and developed locks to extend their canals
through hill country. The Sumerians also had canal systems, which,
according to Coon, (211)
were absolutely superb. Although it is not strictly a matter
of transport or travel, the drainage systems of some of these
most ancient cities were highly developed and Coon spoke of those
existing in the Indus Valley cities as being "the most advanced
in the world.'' (212) When we bear in mind the picture
208. Milk-letting: on this see a report by
Johln Hammond, "Man and Cattle," Nature, Jan.
11, 1964, p.121.
209. Levi-Strauss, Claude, The Savage Mind, Weidenfeld
& Nicolson, London, 1966, p.43.
210. Compartmentalized ships: Travels of Marco Polo, Library
Publication, New York, no date, p.237.
211. Coon, Carleton S., The Story of Man, Knopf, New York,
212. Ibid., p.324.
that we have of Middle
Eastern cities under Indo-European, Jewish, or Arab domination
with their virtual absence of provision for keeping them clean,
it is clear that the Hamitic people were far more conscious of
the importance of these things. The Cretan civilization which
was a derivative of the basic Hamitic culture, bears equally
striking testimony to their engineering skill in this regard
as seen in such cities as Knossos.
Plywood wheels were developed by
the Sumerians, and it is well known that these wheels were fitted
to carts drawn by oxen. (213) However, the Hamitic Hittites domesticated the horse
but found that oxcarts were too cumbersome for these more spirited
animals. Accordingly they lightened the structure and by a stroke
of genius, which we may find it difficult now to appreciate,
they invented wheels with spokes.
The invention of hairpins is to
be credited to the Chinese. (244) These items were apparently mass-produced, since
skeletons have been found in which the head was surrounded by
hundreds of them.
Even more surprising, I think,
is the finding ‹ once more through reading Marco Polo ‹
that in the Empire of Kublai Khan beauty contests were held regularly,
judging based on a "point system." Points were given
for hair, complexion, eyebrows, lips, mouth, and ‹ believe
it or not ‹ body and limb proportions. According to Marco
Polo, these were set down by rule under some 16 to 20 headings.
Although mathematics would seem
to involve the most profound forms of abstraction, we know that
the study itself may be developed to a high degree of sophistication
and designed only to serve practical needs. We have already noted
in a previous Paper the use of fractions, square roots and cube
roots, squares and cubes, quadratic equations, all kinds of multiplication
tables, and even a simple form of logarithms, by the Sumerians
and (to a slightly lesser extent) by the Egyptians. The numerous
tables have clearly resulted not as an extension of theory but
empirically. The Hamitic people as a whole seem to have anticipated
the Indo-Europeans in a number of mathematical devices, or if
not anticipating them at least developed them quite independently.
Thus, the Chinese early developed the place system
213. Ibid., p.248.
214. Hairpins: noted by editors of Life, The Epic of Man,
Time-Life Publication, New York 1961, p.200.
215. Beauty Contest: Marco Polo, Library Publication,
New York, no date, p.108.
as well as the concept
of zero. (216)
There is evidence that the Indus Valley people at Mohenjo Daru,
somewhere around 2000 B.C., were using the zero symbol. Perhaps
we have a case of independent development in Central America,
for long before Europe had "discovered" either the
concept of zero or the place system for numbers, the Central
Americans were already using both of these in the formulation
of their most advanced Calendar. (217)
I have also learned recently that
the so-called camera obscura, the principle of using a
small hole in a baffle between a well-lighted object and a dark
screen in order to get a perfect though inverted image, goes
back to Alhazen who died in 1039. (218) I suspect that when the whole story is known it will
be found that this Arab had gotten the idea from some Chinese
Although the previous Paper has
dealt extensively with the medical achievements of non-Indo-European
people, it seems that every new History of Medicine brings to
light fresh examples of their inventiveness and ingenuity and
keen perception in this field of human endeavour. In the first
volume of Henry E. Sigerist's History of Medicine, there
is the following quotation from a work by Sumner which is apropos
of my thesis: (219)
The savages were too near to
the raw struggle for existence to hold in light esteem that which
they thought contributed strongly to their insurance against
ill; it has been reserved for civilized man, secure behind
the bulwarks of which the savage laid the foundations, to
play the wanton fool, as no nature-man could or would, with fanciful
and perverse floutings of the knowledge he ought to reverence.
Only civilized man is secure enough, by virtue of the work
and thought and suffering of those who gained knowledge for mankind,
and for him, to affect contempt and condescension for their indispensable
labours [my emphasis].
This is an important
statement, I think, because it is an admission that the basis
of so much of our medical knowledge is to be found in the lore
of people of non-Indo-European origin,
216. Zero and place value: see J. Needham
, Science and Civilization in China, Cambridge, 1959, vol.3,
p.146, where 14 Chinese "firsts" in mathematics are
217. Coon, Carleton S. mentions that the early Mexican civilization
used the place system as well as zero concepr in their calculations.
see The Stoy of Man, Knopf, New York, 1962, p.346.
218. Referred to by Tertius Chandler, "Duplicate Inventions,"
American Anthropologist, June, 1960, pp.496, 497.
219. Sigerist, Henry C., Primitive and Archaic Medicine, Oxford
University Press, 1967, p.170. Vaccines: see p.150.
whose views in this
direction we have habitually considered to be either pure superstition
or outright charlatanism. Moreover, Sumner has noted an important
point, namely, that the maintenance of healt was not of theoretical
interest, but great practical importance, and for this reason
was an undertaking for which these Hamitic people as a whole
were peculiarly well fitted. At the same time, it is noted quite
properly that the margin of survival of such people is just narrow
enough that they do not have any excess energy available to do
more than merely invent an immediate solution to an immediate
problem. It is indeed surprising how little we have actually
contributed. We think ot modern operative techniques and the
use of wonder drugs and imagine that until recently the sum total
of the world's medical knowledge and skill was almost infantile.
But as we have said, every year brings to light further exanples
of advanced medical technique that had been practiced by people
of non-Western culture almost since the beginning of history.
Jurgen Thorwald has recently listed
among such early developments the following: plastic surgery
on the face to correct disfigurements resulting from war or disease,
bladder-stone removal, the use of mercury for ulcers, pork liver
for anemia, anti-diarrhea remedies, contraceptives, the use of
incense as an antiseptic in public places, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial
salves, catheters, enemas and suppositories, kidney-stone dissolvents,
and diagnostic techniques for hernias and for intestinal tuberculosis.
Livingstone refers to vaccines
being used quite extensively
220 Thorwald, Jurgen, Science and Secrets
of Early Medicine, Harcourt, Brace, & World, New York,
1962, pages as follows: plastic surgery, 206; bladder stone removal,
211; use of mercury for ulcers, 242; pork liver for anemia, 244:
anti-diarrhea remedies 293; contraceptives, 100; use of incense
as an antiseptic for public buildings, 95; anti-fungal and anti-bacterial
skin salves, 85; catheters, 166; enemas and suppositories, 173;
kidney stone dissolvents, 172; and diagnostic techniques for
hernias, 81, and for intestinal tuberculosis, 141.
221. Contraceptives were known to the American Indians. The Shoshone
of Nevada have been using contraceptives for centuries according
to an article in Chatelaine Magazine (June, 1964, p.10).
They drink an extract of the roots of the lithospermum plant
to suppress ovulation. Recent study shows that it contains a
previously unknown substance callcd polyphenotic acid. Under
study, it effectively inactivated the sex glands of rats and
prevented ovulation in laying hens. Continued use apparently
causes no side effects among Shoshone women.
in Africa, (222) and Sigerist writes at
some length on vaccination techniques used by primitive people
both in Africa and other parts of the world, and in China. As
early as 1716 Cotton Mather in Boston learned how inoculation
of smallpox was practiced in Africa from one of his Negro slaves.
These people protected themselves against certain common snake
bite venoms by allowing themselves to be bitten for the first
time by a baby snake and then progressively by more mature snakes.
(223) It is usual
to rationalize their procedures for other diseases by assuming
that they had noticed that if a man recovered from smallpox,
for example, he was not again infected when the disease recurred
in the community. This looks reasonable enough, but if it is
just a case of observing the obvious, it is strange that nobody
in Europe thought of doing it until the middle of the 18th century.
We have already mentioned that
the Chinese had discovered the circulation of the blood, according
to one work on Internal Medicine traditionally dated 2600 B.C.;
and it is worth noting that they had also discovered the importance
of feeling the pulse. Having no watches, they had mastered the
technique of comparing the patient's pulse with their own.
IV of this volume we have also referred to that extraordinary operation
performed on the skull called trephination, an operation perhaps intended
to reduce pressure on the brain due to some head injury. We know that
at least some of these operations were entirely successful since the edges
of the bone have grown smooth. Several hundred skulls are known from antiquity
in which this operation was performed. (224)
The operation was exceedingly widespread, found in every part of the world.
Even more remarkable in some respects is the fact that Caesarean sections
were performed in Africa, long before any European physician had attempted
it. One such operation has been described from Uganda in 1879 by a British
physician, Robert Felkin. (225)
The Spaniards were amazed at the
medical skill and knowledge of the Mexicans. They, too, like
the natives of India, performed plastic surgery even to the extent
of providing people
222. Livingstone, Travels and Researches
in South Africa, Harper Brothers, New York, 1858, p.142.
223. See Elizabeth A. Ferguson, "Primitive Medicine,"
Scientific American, Sept., 1948, p.25.
224. Trephination: as reported by Sigerist, Primitive and
Archaic Medicine, Oxford University Press, 1967, p.111.
225. Caesarean sections: reported in detail by Sigerist, ibid.,
with artificial noses.
(226) They were
able to treat gangrene and internal hemorrhage, using for the
latter not merely one substance but a choice of several. Similarly,
when the French first came into contact with the American Indians,
they too were equally astonished that "the savages"
successfully used expectorants, emetics, purgatives, astringents,
diuretics, and emmenagogues. Jacques Cartier noted in his log
(1534) that most of his men had come down with "a deadly
pestilence." This pestilence he described in some detail:
Some lost their very substance
and their legs became swollen and puffed up while the sinews
contracted and turned coal black, and in some cases, all blotched
with dips of purplish blood. Then the disease crept up to the
hips, thighs, shoulders, arms and neck. And all the sick had
their mouths so tainted and their gums so decayed that the flesh
peeled off down to the roots of their teeth while the latter
almost fell out in turn.
told him what to do and provided him with an infusion of the
bark and leaves of what they called a "magic tree."
His men drank this and he reports, "In six days the miraculous
tree worked more wonders than all the physicians of Louvain and
Montpellier using all the drugs of Alexandria could have done
in a year." And yet so bright are we as Japhethites that
we never even took the trouble to find out what tree it was!
Some of the early Sumerian Cuneiform
tablets reveal a surprising knowledge of the medicinal properties
of common herbs. although they can hardly have had any knowledge
of why these
226. Plastic surgery: Jurgen Thorwald, Science
and Secrets of Early Medicine, Harcourt, Brace, & World,
New York, 1962 p.208, with illustration. Also see Irene Nicholson,
"Science and Technology in Ancient Mexico," Discovery,
Sept., 1960, p.391.
227. Reported in "Canada and Medicine," an editorial
survey in MD of Canada, vol.8, 1967, p.62ff. An article
on Fray Bartolome which appeared in MD of Canada (vol.9,
1968, p.120) as an edirorial item entitled "Apostles of
India," quotes Bartolome on the matter of venereal disease
as follows: "On several occasions I asked the Indians of
this Island (Hispaniola) if this illness (syphilis) was very
ancient among them, and they said, Yes, that it existed among
them before the Christians arrived, and they had no memory of
its origin, and no one should doubt this: and it seems proper
also, because Divine Providence gave them the medicine for this
disease, which is the guaguacan tree. It is a well known fact
that all the incontinent Spaniards who on this island did not
have the virtue of chastity, were contaminated with this disease,
and from a hundred hardly one would escape from it. Of the Indians,
the men or women who contracted it were afllicted with it to
a very small degree, and almost no more than if they had had
smallpox but the Spaniards were in great pain and constant torment
from it particularly during the period when the buboes had not
yet come out."
substances had the beneficial
effects they did. Recently an article on headaches in The
Laboratory has remarked upon the finding of such a tablet:
One of the curious by-ways of
the migraine story is how the research has come full circle.
The earliest statements on headache therapy is a Sumerian clay
tablet of about 3000 B.C. that suggests: ''Whenever pains attack
the head. . . give kibtu and marru." Now these are substances
obtained, respectively, from decayed maize and rye infected with
the fungus that is the source of ergot. Today, 5000 years later,
ergotic alkaloids are among tde most significant drugs in migraine
And just as
a matter of interest, Samuel Kramer notes that the Sumerians
had discovered the art of artificial insemination, at least as
applied to plants. (229)
Under the general heading of Household
Furnishings, one may note a few items from China to be added
to the previous list. But just in passing, it will be noticed
that in the Time-Life series, The Great Ages of Man, there
is a volume by Schafer on Ancient China in which a whole
chapter is devoted to discoveries and inventions in that country.
Among those listed are four technological inventions of Han in
Medieval Times which as the author notes "laid the whole
basis for the European exploration and colonization of the world:
the compass became the tool of the pioneering seafarers of Portugal,
Holland and England; gunpowder enabled Europeans to subdue the
lands they found, and paper andl printing made possible the wide
dissemination of their idealogies and decrees." (230)
The invention of paper is, of course,
characteristically, invariably credited in school books to an
Indo-European. It is curious how this idea las persisted, but
perhaps since we are now so completely dependent upon paper we
are unwilling to admit precedence in its developrnent to anyone
else. In point of fact, as we have already seen, excellent papers
were known centuries before both in China and Central America.
(231) It is only
very recently that paper has been used tentatively for disposable
clothing, but the Aztecs were using paper for clothing as well
228. Headache treatment: "A headache
is a headache is a headache," lead article (unsigned) in
The Laboratory, Fisher Scientific Co., vol.35, Part I,
1967, p. 7.
229. Artificial insemination: reported by Samucl Kramer, The
Sumerians, University of Chicago Press, 1964, p,109.
230. Schafer, Edward H., Ancient China in Great Ages
of Man, Time-Life Publication, New York, 1967, pp.125ff.
231. Papers used in China and Central America: for details see
Part IV, "The Technology of Hamitic People" in this
for other articles besides
books before the Spaniards destroyed their civilization. (232) Carleton Coon notes that
the Chinese provided their toilets with toilet seats which have
a very modern appearance, and these ‹ with characteristic
practicality ‹ they placed over their pig pens. (233) Lewis Mumford, speaking
of this subject, remarked: (234)
Before the invention of the
trap and ventilatory stack for the toilet, the backing up of
sewer gas into the dwelling house almost counterbalanced the
advantages of the new improvement. With the water closet came
another practice directly derived from the Chinese: the use of
toilet paper: more important for domestic hygiene than the wallpaper
that came in almost simultaneously.
As a matter
of fact, in antiquity much greater concern was expressed over
sanitation than was shown in Medieval Europe and England. Lavatory
facilities were most elaborate (for example, in Knossos), and
some of the installations from the Palace around 1500 B.C. are
completely sound from the engineering point of view. From Tel
el Amarna in the 14th century B.C. we have wooden toilet seats
which in their construction were actually ahead of the toilet
seats that were to be found in our own cities fifty years ago,
or even twenty-five years ago. It is only in quite recent times
that we have learned the advantages of making the toilet seat
in the form of a horseshoe with the gap at the front edge. The
Egyptians were doing this over 3000 years ahead of us (235)
In the same general area of household
furnishings, we may note that the Chinese developed home air
the Phoenicians invented the wax candle, (237) and in addition to the use of Naphtha gas piped with
bamboo to cast iron stoves (already mentioned in Part IV) the
Chinese and the Mongols in Marco Polo's time were using coal
for central heating, a material which Marco Polo refers to as
being "cheaper than
232. Disposable clothing: in an article by
Irene Nicholson, "Science and Technology in Ancient Mexico",
Discovery, Sept., 1960, p.389.
233. Toilets: C. S. Coon, The Story of Man, Knopf, New
York, 1962, p.148.
234. Mumford, Lewis, The Culture of Cities, Harcourt,
Brace, New York, 1938, p.119.
235. Toilet seats: a photograph of one appears in an article
(unsigned) entitled "Sanitation in Antiquity," Image,
Montreal, Mar., 1964, p.12.
236. Air Conditioning: see Ancient China in Great Ages
of Man, Time-Life Publication, New York, 1967, p.40.
237. Candles: reported in MD of Canada, Dec., 1967, p.5.
wood and burning all
night." He speaks of it as a "capital fuel." (238)
Marco Polo also speaks of the practice
of gold capping faulty teeth, a practice he says was adopted
for both lower and upper teeth by the men, but not by the women.
(239) And while
we are on the subject of dentistry, we may mention that the world's
first toothbrush, looking precisely like a modern one, came from
China, and is dated about A.D. 1498. (240)
In addition to
the many other games, cards may be mentioned. In an article on
this subject which appeared in The Laboratory recently,
the following statement was made: (241)
The earliest Chinese playing
cards, introduced to Europe via the Holy Land Crusaders, imitated
Chinese paper money -- "bank notes" that bore pictorial
symbols of their value. These pictures furnished the Suit marks
of the Chinese pack, and copied in Europe (probably without knowledge
of their oriental significance), gave rise to the four Suits
of the European game.
It is an interesting
reflection of how history cycles upon itself. In the first settlements
in French Canada, when money in the form of coinage became scarce,
playing cards bearing the governor's signature came to serve
as paper currency.
Now consider the Aztec and Maya
technique for getting rain. Here we have a case of what seems
to be pure superstition. It has been customary to say that the
priests were merely fooling the people, that they had sharp-eyed
and experienced meteorologists who, perceiving signs of coming
rain which the common people were not supposed to have been able
to see, put on a fine display of hocus-pocus at the appropriate
moment so that when the rain came everybody automatically credited
them with having induced it. Ruth Benedict thinks that this is
how the Hopi rain dance originated, though not as hocus-pocus.
Rather, detecting the approach of rain, people assembled by mutual
consent to perform a dance which was intended "to wake up
the earth" by much stamping of the feet so as to make sure
that none of the rain which fell would go to waste. This does
not seem altogether illogical. But it appears now that the Aztecs
and Maya were able not merely to predict rain but actually to
bring it. In an article dealing with the technology of these
people, Irene Nicholson
238. Coal for central heating: Marco Polo,
Travels of Marco Polo, Library Publication, New York,
no date, p.147.
239. Gold plating of teeth: Marco Polo, ibid., p.177.
240. Toothbrush: referred by Curt Proskauer, "'Oral Hygiene
in the Medieval Occident," Ciba Symposia, vol.8,
241. Cards: "lt's in the Cards," The Laboratory,
Fisher Scientific Co., vol.35, 1967, p.35.
points out how the native
ceremony involved the burning of copal and rubber. Carbon soot
has the property of accumulating radiant heat. When particles
of soot are sprinkled unto a cloud, any drops of moisture that
happen to capture one or more soot particles will be warmed by
the absorption of sunlight and will lose their humidity by evaporation
whereas the drops that remain unsullied will maintain their cold
temperature and will fall through the cloud until they join other
drops and thus grow to a sufficient size to precipitate. The
writer says that experiments were conducted in order to test
out whether this reconstruction of the ancient practice was valid,
and she notes that "in each of the seven experiments, about
two pounds of soot were dropped from an airplane unto a cloud.
Taking from two and a half to twenty minutes, the cloud precipitated."
She then went on: (242)
If soot is dropped in a humid
atmosphere but without cloud, the effect is just the opposite.
The black particles capture sunlight and warm the air. The air
rises, expands, and cools. One part of the moisture condenses,
and a new white cloud appears in the sky.
Let us turn again to the ancient
Mexicans, and imagine the priests on mountain peaks, burning
magic balls of rubber latex on copal to bring rain to their crops.
Tlley used a brazier modelled ‹- comically, it seems to us
‹ with the head of the god. In the midst of the incense is
placed a jade bead to represent the idea of divinity combined
with the greenness of the earth. Above the brazier is a clay
hood, formed like the inverted bowl of the sky, which captures
the soot and disperses it.
How much of the theory of their
actions the priests knew, we can only conjecture; but they must
have known from experience that the ritual was effective.
A number of
small items: the ball-and-socket joint was invented in Crete, (243) the lathe was invented
by the Etruscans, (244)
bird-banding to identify ownership was used by the Mongols, (245) dactyloscopy ‹ i.e.,
fingerprinting ‹ was used 2000 years ago in China to identify
important sealed documents. (246) Marco Polo mentions that Kublai Khan had a "Lost
and Found Department"
242. Rain making: this interesting discovery
is reported in the article by Irene Nicholson, "Science
and Technology in Ancient Mexico", Discovery, Sept.,
243. Ball-and-socket joint: Ralph Linton, The Tree of Culture,
Knopf, New York, 1956, p.328.
244. Lathes: according to "The Origins of the Lathe,"
Scientific American, April, 1963, pp.133f.
245. Bird banding: referred to by Marco Polo, Travels of Marco
Polo, Library Publication, New York, no date, p.126.
246. Finger printing: referred to by Fritz Kahn, Man in Structure
and Function, Knopf, New York, 1947, vol.2, fig.328, p.570.
attached to his army.
(247) At Mohenjo
Daru in the Indus Valley, around 2500 B.C., ingenious traps were
invented for catching mice and rats. (248) As early as the 9th century B.C. people in the Middle
East were using an artificial breathing apparatus for underwater
Finally, an even more surprising
‹ one might almost say, ironic ‹ anticipation of modern
engineering developments came to my attention recently through
the journal of one research organization. The leading article
in this journal begins with a photograph of a concrete and rock
structure designed to check wave forces against a breakwater.
The caption is: "The World's First Perforated Breakwater."
(250) This development,
known as the Jarlan Breakwater, has a central tunnel running
the full length of it with a series of circular openings or orifices
leading out to the face exposed to the waves. When a wave comes
up against the face of the breakwater, it pours into these orifices
flooding the interior. As the wave retreats these floodwaters
at once begin to pour out again, and as they do so, they strike
the next oncoming wave, thus baffle it, and rob it of much of
its destructive energy. The system is most ingenious, and it
is believed will enormously extend the useful life of the structure
itself besides creating an immediately adjacent area of surface
water which by its very baffling will be smoother than the water
further out from the face of the dock. Larger vessels tied up
may consequently be subjected to less damage. But the chief object
of the design is to extend the life of the dock itself. The surprising
thing is that this is no new development at all. The early Phoenician
and Carthaginian military harbours of North Africa which were
first built nearly 3000 years ago anticipated this construction.
In speaking of these harbours Deacon, apparently quite unaware
of the recent developments along this line, wrote:
247. Lost and found department: Marco Polo,
Travels of Marco Polo, Library Publication, New York,
no date, p.126. Polo says of this that it was officially supervised
by an individual called Bularguchi, "Keeper of lost property,"
and he was part of the official army staff.
248. Mouse trap: described under the heading "Man vs Mouse
in 2500 B.C.," in a note in Scientific American,
May, 1967, p.60.
249. Underwater breathing apparatus: this device is described
by G. E. R. Deacon, Seas, Maps and Men, Doubleday, New
York, 1962, p.153. Deacon observes: "As early as the 9th
century B.C. men were using artificial breathing apparatus for
underwater work. 'I'his relief (illustrated) shows Assyrian divers
with air tanks of inflated skins."
250. Reported in some detail in NRC Research News, vol.16,
no.4, 1963, lead (continued.....)
was ingeniously built with rows of holes leading to a central
channel or tunnel which ran within the masonry along the entire
length of the breakwater. This elaborate system was most likely
devised to reduce the shock of breaking waves. The holes at Thapsus
an`1 Hadrurmnentum are of the same design.
and rather disconnected notes do not begin to show the range
of developments and inventions and techniques that must be credited
to non-Indo-European peoples. It happens that my own current
research has led me to volumes whicm deal more particularly with
Chinese technology or with medical history, and for this reason
the above list is a little over-weighted in this direction. But
this should not be allowed to mislead the reader into supposing
that thc debt is primarily to ancient China or that the field
is primarily in terms of medicine. I think it is safe to say
that there is no people of Hamitic stock, no part of the world,
and no period throughout history which has not witnessed extraordinary
examples of ingenuity and technical skill among non-Indo-Europeans.
And by contrast, at no period have Indo-Europeans proved themselves
inventive in a comparable way, nor technically adept except in
so far as they have been stimulated by or built upon a Hamitic
One final observation brings us
back to Scripture itself. I suggest that as Noah's family grew
up, the old patriarch noted certain tendencies in his three children
which seemed to set them apart from each other. Shem had a devout
nature. He tended to be more reverent, more God-conscious, nnore
spiritually inclined than either of his brothers. Japheth, on
the other hand, was a thinker, a dreamer of dreams, wondering
about things and apt to explore his world with a detached interest
that set him apart, not in a spiritual but in an intellectual
way. Ham was perhaps the "fixer" of the family. There
is often such a child. He could repair anything, he constantly
mended things that had broken, or invented new and better ways
of doing things. He became indispensible to his less practical
but rnore reflective brothers. And as Noah reflected upon their
natures and saw them grow into families, tribes, and nations
he predicted, under inspiration, that their descendants would
tend to suare these traits. Not all Shemites would be as religious
as Shem, nor all Japhethites as exploratory and curious as Japheth,
nor all Hamites as practical and down-to-earth as Ham; but this
would be their "bent."
(250. continued) article. The Phoenician counterpart
is referred to and illustrated by G. E. R. Deacon (Seas, Maps,
and Men, Doubleday, New York, 1962, p.153.
it came to passing judgment on Ham's family because of his disrespect
in the case of Noah's drunkenness, the old man said that they
should turn their talents to the service of others rather than
themselves, that others would benefit by their service and not
they. At any rate, in Genesis 9:24‹27 we do seem to have
in cameo form a kind of precis of history as it has turned out,
as though in four simple sentences God predicted the form which
the framework of human history was to take. (251) For he said: "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of
servants shall he be unto his brethren. . . . Blessed be the
Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall
enlarge Japheth and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and
Canaan shall be his servant."
251. I think it is of some significance that in Gen.
9:27‹29 the phrase "And Canaan shall serve his brethren" is
repeated after the reference not merely to Shem's descendants but Japheth's
also. The usual interpretation is that the Canaanites in Palestine became
"water carriers" to Israel and therefore served them. But in
what way have Canaanites served Japheth? If by Canaan is meant
the descendants of Ham the situation is clearer. That Canaan may have
been cursed instead of Ham who was really the culprit, has been explored
in Part III, "Why Noah
Cursed Caanan Instead of Ham," (in Noah's Three Sons, vol.1
in The Doorway Papers Series) in a way that rather illuminates
not merely this passage but a number of others in Scripture.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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