National Geographic : 1901 Aug
THE LINK RELATIONS OF SOUTH WESTERN ASIA* BY TALCOTT WILLIAMS, LL. D. W HATEVER test, therefore, we adopt, whether we regard the differences of precipita tion, weather, or plants, whether we trace the distribution of species or the wanderings of the human race-only a degree less unconsciously flowing in the channels made by the invisible walls of temperature, rain, elevation, and their joint product in the vegetable and animal world-we reach at last in man the same distribution of life more highly organized in urban conditions on the east and west, with a narrow linked region connecting them, between vast northern and southern spaces. In these the rigor or the vigor of climate and the perpetual conflict of continental areas develop sin gle, dominant, destructive, or exclusive types, as the ocean spaces the shark, once absent from seas like the Mediter ranean. The effect of this on warfare in northern Asia is perhaps best illustrated by the differing arrow release to which that observant and ingenious ethnolo gist, Prof. E. S. Morse, long since drew attention. As we pass from the simple primary thumb and forefinger release of the savage to the three-finger release of the Mediterranean races and on to the thumb ring of the Mongolian arrow release, we are passing through a suc cessive development in missile weapons, of which the last represents the strong est and shortest bow and the weightier missile-the highest development which this weapon has reached on horseback. Joined to the habit of concerted action and the capacity for wide rule which the plains races always develop, whether they be the Arab of the Southern plains, the Turk or Tatar of the Northern plains, or even the Teuton of that brief analogue of the Riverine plains of Asia, which lies just north of the mountain masses of Europe, there exists, both in warfare and in predatory organization, an overmastering advantage in the races to the north and the races to the south. If we ask why these riders have not ridden down the world about and broken this link between the development of the East and the West, it is because the bridge is protected by the dike created by the elevations extending from the center uplifts of Asia and Europe, as Professor Suess has shown perhaps more clearly than any other physiographer. When the mountain ranges are reduced as they are in his diagrammatic map to elementary conditions, it is at once ap parent that a continuous chain runs from the Pamir Dagh to the end. There the curving Carpathian line loses itself in the Noric Alps at the point where the Danube breaks through and the Celtic huts of Vindobona have been replaced by the roofs and towers of Vienna. To the south this linked region is differ ently separated. The Pusht-i -Kuh and its continuing ranges, which for five millennia have separated Semitic and Iranic realms, lie to the north of the Euphrates River Valley, and nearly join the Armenian Taurus, which closes off Asia Minor. As a result, while the Arabian Patesi broke into this linked region in the fourth millennium before Christ, the Turkish Bey had not made his appearance south of the northern more defined dike until the close of the first millennium of our area, unless in- * Concluded from the July number.