The Civilisations of the Old and New Worlds


    THE interesting volume before us is, we believe, the first which any writer has devoted to a careful study of the common principles which underlie the civilisations of Egypt, Babylonia, Mexico and Europe, and as such it merits much consideration at the hands of ethnographers and anthropologists, and of students of religion in general. Much is known about European civilisation, both in its early and middle forms, and something is known of the great civilisations of Babylonia (Sumerian) and of Egypt, but Mrs. Nuttall, in bringing together the results obtained from the study of these subjects during recent years, and in putting them into line with a new group of results obtained from an examination of the Mexican inscriptions at first hand, has done a piece of good and useful work which will be appreciated by all serious students of the beliefs of primitive man. The books which have appeared in Europe and America on early symbolism and cognate subjects are many, but in most of them the writers have confounded what ought to have been kept apart, and owing to a want of groundwork of facts have been led to make nebulous theories which have earned for their authors the ridicule of the trained investigator of such subjects. There is no study more fascinating than that which results in the bringing together of the facts which are common to all great civilisations from China to Mexico, and there is probably none in which so many men have gone astray; every earnest worker knows why this has happened and deplores the publication of books and articles by faddists and others which will obscure the true light.

    The Fundamental Principles of the Old and New World Civilisations.

    By Zelia Nuttall. Being the second volume of the Archaeological and Ethnological Papers of the Peabody Museum. Pp. i + 602. (Cambridge, Mass.; London: Quaritch; Leipzig: Hiersemann, 1901.)

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    The Civilisations of the Old and New Worlds . Nature 65, 268–270 (1902).

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