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SEALS

Much is said about the ancient Chinese seals that have been found in Ireland. The antiquity of these seals is attributed to several centuries before out era, and some even think several thousands of years. On the basis of these seals is debated the question of the ancient relations of Ireland with China. Others observe that there could have been an intermediary point in Egypt or Crete, who had longstanding dealings with both the Far East and the British Isles when the latter served as the source of certain metals.

Indeed, all such questions require many confirmations and additional facts, but, nevertheless, the discovery of ancient Chinese seals in Ireland again reminds us about the extent of long-distance communications already in the most remote times. Long ago we had occasion to find amber from Konigsberg in kurgans1 of the Stone Age in Central Russia. Thus are proven, already before the knowledge of metals, the relations over extensive distances in neolithic times.

All archaeological findings, the uniformity of many discovered types, and, finally, the details of ornament, rituals, and other elements of the way of life indicate not only a uniformity of the feelings common to man but also unquestionable relations across long distances. The similarity of the alphabet discovered not long ago in Harappa, India, to inscriptions on Easter Island also indicates noteworthy international relations many centuries before our era.

Without any difficulty it is possible to discern how periods lasting for ages confirm the development of international relations and then, as it were, there appears a strange tribal forgetfulness, a timorous immobility, and the memory of former relations is wiped away. In itself the memory of peoples represents an extraordinarily interesting phenomena. To contemporary man it sometimes seems completely inadmissible that entire peoples could in some way forget something already fully known to them. And yet the facts and allusions in ancient chronicles indicate the possibility of just such strange forgetfulness.

Many completely lost technical methods of Egypt, the existence of gunpowder in ancient China, the details of various lost techniques of Babylon, certain objects of the Mayan culture    all this reminds one that, incomprehensibly, very essential discoveries have been entirely forgotten at a later date. Moreover, such forgetfulness does not always coincide with epochs of renaissance or decline. It is precisely as if some other psychological or even physiological factors altered the flow of the current of the peoples' thought.

Amidst all the misunderstandings and presuppositions, the question of the most ancient international relations always proves to be very complicated, yet of special interest from a universal point of view. The discovery of objects of definite antiquity in remote countries is a material sign of some communication, and all the more so when the objects are found in ethnographically old strata, which actually belong to a former flow of life. Something extremely inspiring is contained in these substantial signs, which in reality are embodied in these seals of national relations.

And again, at present in certain countries inertness and immobility are so clearly evidenced that there are inhabitants of some cities who are proud of the fact that they have never had to go beyond the limits of their native city or that they have even succeeded in never crossing a river which flows through the city. There are all sorts of odd people. And among the strangest oddities such a prejudice against mobility always remains one of the most shocking. Yet what a great number of people exist who have never looked beyond the limits of their own country! Only in recent years has travel re-entered, as it were, the program of self-education. Whereas from remote antiquity voices have been borne to us calling out about the usefulness of travel and of international knowledge.

The celebrated, everlastingly mentioned Marco Polo must be looked upon as a collective name. Frequently, by this name are meant the infinite number of travelers who have been the bearers of international relations. The name of Marco Polo has become firmly fixed in history, but actually a great number of names of people traversing ancient beaten paths remain unknown. But that is not the point. Of course any historic name becomes not so much a name as a concept. In like manner, on the ancient discovered objects we see seals incomprehensible to us, which serve as conventional signs for ire, yet which were formerly the private seals of some commercial houses or enterprises, or of definite individuals.

Each reminder about international relations is, as it were, a new seal upon a universal human peace treaty. Not so long ago in London a certain Spaniard, Madariaga, delivered quite a pompous speech about the price of peace. Such bombastic abstractions are not the material signs of peace, but are, principally, material seals of world relations.

People are actually thinking about peace; some self-interestedly, others selflessly. In all cases some kind of sign is required, the actual seal of the fact that aside from human violence and hatred peaceful relations have been possible in different domains of business.

The price of peace is determined by living human dignity, by benevolence of heart, broadly embracing and noble. Not by denials of cultural treasures but by recognition of the creativeness of good is the price of peace determined and established.

Archaeology, as a science based on material memorials, is recognized at present as assisting in many scientific and social considerations. And, likewise, into the question of the price of peace archaeology can bring many most valuable signs. From long forgotten ruins, from abandoned burial places and the remains of palaces and strongholds material proofs of peaceful international relations can be adduced. In almost worn away historical writings, in an ancient hieroglyph, the story reaches one's ears about how, in fragile boats and on wearied horses, man penetrated remote regions not only in warlike fury but also in a benevolent desire for peaceful exchange. These narratives will be stamped, as it were, with material seals, ratifying human peace treaties.

In the creativeness of good it is always possible to come to terms; only in a paroxysm of malice or of dark misanthropy are peaceful advances impossible. Long ago it was said in various tongues that he who raises the sword will perish by the sword, and he will perish at a preordained hour which perhaps will be quite unexpected by him. And so it is in each quarrel and in each dissension.

The seals did not ratify quarrelsome contracts. The seals were affixed to a document of some relations, of some commercial agreement. Yet, in each true businesslike procedure there will be the element of peace. A victory through good will be a most radiant and striking victory. It is possible to kill with the sting of a serpent, but not to conquer, for to conquer should also mean to convince. Regarding such prices of peace, let us refer carefully to all material signs. It would have seemed inordinate to connect Easter Island with Harappa in India, or now Ireland with China. Yet what is impossible at present? A seal or a depicted hieroglyph is fully convincing. "Peace on earth, good will toward man" is also substantial, for good will is engendered in the heart. And what is more substantial than the human heart, with all its inspired beating?

Man should rejoice at seals of peaceful relations. Each sign of remote international agreements is a pledge of the possibility of future treaties, heartfelt and unbreakable. At one time savage warriors devoured the hearts of the vanquished, but now in each peaceful relationship let people remember about the living heart. The seals of antiquity are for the future.

Timur Hada

July 18, 1935

1 Barrows of the Russian steppes.

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