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The Clyde Mystery

The following is from The Clyde Mystery by Andrew Lang:

XXXI--Grotesque Heads--Disputed Portuguese Parallels

Figurines are common enough things in ancient sites; by no means so common are the grotesque heads found at Dumbuck and Langbank. They have recently been found in Portugal. Did the forger know that?  Did he forge them on Portuguese models?  Or was it chance coincidence?  Or was it undesigned parallelism?  There is such a case according to Mortillet. M. de Mortillet flew upon poor Prof. Pigorini's odd things, denouncing them as forgeries; he had attacked Dr. Schliemann's finds in his violent way, and never apologised, to my knowledge.

Then a lively squabble began. Italian "archaeologists of the highest standing" backed Prof. Pigorini: Mortillet had not seen the Italian things, but he stood to his guns. Things found near Cracow were taken as corroborating the Breonio finds, also things from Volosova, in Russia. Mortillet replied by asking "why under similar conditions could not forgers" (very remote in space,) "equally fabricate objects of the same form." {127} Is it likely?

Why should they forge similar unheard-of things in Russia, Poland, and Italy?  Did the same man wander about forging, or was telepathy at work, or do forging wits jump?  The Breonio controversy is undecided; "practised persons" can not "read the antiquities as easily as print," to quote Mr. Read. They often read them in different ways, here as fakes, there as authentic.

M. Boulle, reviewing Dr. Munro in L'Anthropologie (August, 1905), says that M. Cartailhac recognises the genuineness of some of the strange objects from Breonio.

But, as to our Dumbuck things, the Clyde forger went to Portugal and forged there; or the Clyde forger came from Portugal; or forging wits coincided fairly well, in Portugal and in Scotland, as earlier, at Volosova and Breonio.

In Portugalia, a Portuguese archaeological magazine, edited by Don Ricardo Severe, appeared an article by the Rev. Father Jose Brenha on the dolmens of Pouco d'Aguiar. Father Raphael Rodrigues, of that place, asked Father Brenha to excavate with him in the Christmas holidays of 1894. They published some of their discoveries in magazines, and some of the finds were welcomed by Dr. Leite de Vasconcellos, in his Religioes da Lusitania (vol. i. p. 341). They dug in the remote and not very cultured Transmontane province, and, in one dolmen found objects "the most extraordinary possible," says Father Brenha. {128} There were perforated plaques with alphabetic inscriptions; stones engraved with beasts of certain or of dubious species, very fearfully and wonderfully drawn; there were stone figurines of females, as at Dumbuck; there were stones with cups and lines connecting the cups, (common in many places) and, as at Dumbuck, there were grotesque heads in stone. (See a few examples, figs. 20-24).

Figures 20, 21, 24 are cupped, or cup and duct stones; 22 is a female figurine; 23 is a heart-shaped charm stone.

On all this weighty mass of stone objects, Dr. Munro writes thus:

"Since the MS. of this volume was placed in the hands of the publishers a new side-issue regarding some strange objects, said to have been found in Portuguese dolmens, has been imported into the Clyde controversy, in which Mr. Astley has taken a prominent part. In a communication to the Antiquary, April, 1904, he writes: 'I will merely say here, on this point, that my arguments are brought to a scientific conclusion in my paper, 'Portuguese Parallels to Clydeside Discoveries,' reported in your issue for March, which will shortly be published.

"I have seen the article in Portugalia and the published 'scientific conclusion' of Mr. Astley (Journal of B.A.A., April and August, 1904), and can only say that, even had I space to discuss the matter I would not do so for two reasons. First, because I see no parallelism whatever between the contrasted objects from the Portuguese dolmens and the Clyde ancient sites, beyond the fact that they are both 'queer things.'  And, secondly, because some of the most eminent European scholars regard the objects described and illustrated in Portugalia as forgeries. The learned Director of the Musee de St. Germain, M. Saloman Reinach, thus writes about them: 'Jusqu'a nouvel ordre, c'est-a-dire jusqu'a preuve formelle du contraire je considere ces pierres sculptees et gravees comme le produit d'une mystification. J'aimerais connaitre, a ce sujet, l'opinion des autres savants du Portugal' (Revue Archeologique, 4th S., vol. ii., 1903, p. 431)."

I had brought the Portuguese things to the notice of English readers long before Mr. Astley did so, but that is not to the purpose.

The point is that Dr. Munro denies the parallelism between the Clyde and Portuguese objects. Yet I must hold that stone figurines of women, grotesque heads in stone, cupped stones, stones with cup and duct, stones with rays proceeding from a central point, and perforated stones with linear ornamentation, are rather "parallel," in Portugal and in Clydesdale.

So far the Scottish and the Portuguese fakers have hit on parallel lines of fraud. Meanwhile I know of no archaeologists except Portuguese archaeologists, who have seen the objects from the dolmen, and of no Portuguese archaeologist who disputes their authenticity. So there the matter rests. {130} The parallelism appears to me to be noticeable. I do not say that the styles of art are akin, but that the artists, by a common impulse, have produced cupped stones, perforated and inscribed stones, figurines in stone, and grotesque heads in stone.

Is not this common impulse rather curious?  And is suspicion of forgery to fall, in Portugal, on respectable priests, or on the very uncultured wags of Traz os Montes?  Mortillet, educated by priests, hated and suspected all of them. M. Cartailhac suspected "clericals," as to the Spanish cave paintings, but acknowledged his error. I can guess no motive for the ponderous bulk of Portuguese forgeries, and am a little suspicious of the tendency to shout "Forgery" in the face of everything unfamiliar.

But the Portuguese things are suspected by M. Cartailhac, (who, however, again admits that he has been credulously incredulous before,) as well as by M. Reinach. The things ought to be inspected in themselves. I still think that they are on parallel lines with the work of the Clyde forger, who may have read about them in A Vida Moderna 1895, 1896, in Archeologo Portugues, in Encyclopedia dar Familiar, in various numbers, and in Religioes da Lusitania, vol. i. pp. 341, 342, (1897), a work by the learned Director of the Ethnological Museum of Portugal. To these sources the Dumbuck forger may have gone for inspiration.

Stated without this elegant irony, my opinion is that the parallelism of the figurines and grotesque stone faces of Villa d'Aguiar and of Clyde rather tends to suggest the genuineness of both sets of objects. But this opinion, like my opinion about the Australian and other parallelisms, is no argument against Dr. Munro, for he acknowledges none of these parallelisms. That point,--a crucial point,--are the various sets of things analogous in character or not? must be decided for each reader by himself, according to his knowledge, taste, fancy, and bias.

XXXII--Disputed Objects From Dunbuie - Footnotes


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