Lesson 38 The first calendar
Future historians will be in a unique position when they come to record the history of our
own times. They will hardly know which facts to select from the great mass of evidence that
steadily accumulates. What is more they will not have to rely solely on the written word. Films,
gramophone records, and magnetic tapes will provide them with a bewildering amount of
information. They will be able, as it were, to see and hear us in action. But the historian
attempting to reconstruct the distant past is always faced with a difficult task. He has to deduce
what he can from the few scanty clues available. Even seemingly insignificant remains can shed
interesting light on the history of early man.
Up to now, historians have assumed that calendars came into being with the advent of
agriculture, for then man was faced with a real need to understand something about the seasons.
Recent scientific evidence seems to indicate that this assumption is incorrect.
Historians have long been puzzled by dots, lines and symbols which have been engraved on
walls, bones, and the ivory tusk of mammoths. The nomads who made these markings lived by
hunting and fishing during the last Ice Age, which began about 35,000 B.C. and ended about
10,000 B.C. By correlating markings made in various parts of the world, historians have been able
to read this difficult code. They have found that it is connected with the passage of days and the
phases of the moon. It is, in fact, a, primitive type of calendar. It has long been known that the
hunting scenes depicted on walls were not simply a form of artistic expression. They had a
definite meaning, for they were as near as early man could get to writing. It is possible that there
is a definite relation between these paintings and the markings that sometimes accompany them.
It seems that man was making a real effort to understand the seasons 20,000 years earlier than
has been supposed.
感到困惑不解。这些痕迹是游牧人留下的,他们生活在从公元前约 35 ,000 年到公元前 10 ,000 年的冰
迁了,比人们想像的要早 20,000 年。