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Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilisation


MR. TYLOR has devoted himself to a branch of Anthropology of which there are very few students in this country, that namely which treats of the mental development of man as elucidated by his arts and customs, and especially by his myths, his superstitions, and his language. More than a third of this volume is devoted to an elaborate account of the gesture-language used by deaf mutes and savages, and to picture-writing, word-writing, and the influence of names and images, as illustrative of various phases in the development of the human mind. After this we have chapters on the growth and decline of culture, as illustrated by the use of stone implements of various degrees of perfection, by weapons, by modes of procuring fire, and by modifications in various domestic utensils. Then follow accounts of remarkable savage customs, such as the curing of disease by the extraction of foreign substances from the body of the patient, the prohibition of marriage with certain relations or namesakes, tabooing the names, and even avoiding the sight, of certain relations, and the extraordinary custom of the couvade. Myths, their origin and geographical distribution, are then discussed; and these varied subjects are all treated from a twofold point of view, either as giving us an insight into the laws of the development of the human mind and the growth of civilisation, or as furnishing, by their similarity over extensive areas and in widely separated countries, an argument for the common origin of the different races of man.

Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilisation.

By Edward B. Tylor. Second Edition. (London: Murray, 1870.)

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WALLACE, A. Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilisation . Nature 2, 350–351 (1870).

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