This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
The first chapter of Ancient Society, by Lewis H. Morgan, makes an arrangement of the successive periods of human development from the beginning up to the dawn of history. This arrangement has found so much favor that it is worth repeating, though the book was published in 1877; it is a general arrangement, applicable to all regions, and therefore serves better than any other to illustrate the point aimed at here, namely, that man has advanced to his present condition by innumerable steps, some of them as revolutionary as any that we have seen in recent years. Morgan divided uncivilized peoples into two classes, the barbarous and the savage; in each of these again he recognized three stages of development, which he called, respectively, the upper, middle, and lower.
The Upper Status of Barbarism commenced with the manufacture of iron, and ended with the'invention of a phonetic alphabet, and the use of writing in literary composition. It included, for example, the Grecian tribes of the Homeric age, the Italian tribes shortly before the founding of Rome, and the Germanic tribes of the time of Caesar.
The Middle Status of Barbarism commenced with the domestication of animals in the Eastern Hemisphere, and in the Western with cultivation by irrigation and with the use of adobe-brick and stone in architecture. Its termination may be fixed with the invention of the process of smelting iron ore. This places in the Middle Status, for example, the Village Indians of New Mexico, Mexico, Central America, and Peru, and such tribes in the Eastern hemisphere as possessed domestic animals, but were without a knowledge of iron.
The Lower Status of Barbarism commenced with the manufacture of pottery. It includes the Indian tribes of the United States east of the Missouri River. The invention or practice of the art of pottery, all things considered, is probably the most effective and conclusive test that can be selected to fix a boundary line, necessarily arbitrary, between savagery and barbarism.
The Upper Status of Savagery commenced with the invention of the bow and arrow, and ended with the invention of the art of pottery. It leaves in the Upper Status of Savagery the Athapascan tribes of the Hudson's Bay Territory, the tribes of the valley of the Columbia, and certain coast tribes of North and South America; but with relation to the time of their discovery.
The Middle Status of Savagery commenced with the acquisition of a fish subsistence and a knowledge of the use of fire, and ended with the invention of the bow and arrow. Mankind, while in this condition, spread from their original habitat over the greater portion of the earth's surface. Among tribes still existing it will leave in the Middle Status of Savagery, for example, the Australians and the greater part of the Polynesians when discovered.
The Lower Status of Savagery commenced with the infancy of the human race. Mankind were then living in their original restricted habitat, and subsisting upon fruits and nuts. The commencement of articulate speech belongs to this period. No exemplification of tribes of mankind in this condition remains to the historical period.
A succession of inventions of greater need and adapted to a lower condition must have occurred before the want of pottery would be felt. The commencement of village life, with some degree of control over subsistence, wooden vessels and utensils, finger weaving with filaments of bark, basket making, and the bow and arrow make their appearance before the art of pottery. While flint and stone implements - which came earlier and required long periods of time to develop all their uses - gave the canoe, wooden vessels and utensils, and ultimately timber and plank in house architecture, pottery gave a durable vessel for boiling food, which before had been rudely accomplished in baskets coated with clay, and in ground cavities lined with skin, the boiling being effected with heated stones. - Morgan, Ancient Society, pp. 10-15, rearranged and condensed.