We can read of things that happened 5,000 years ago in the Near East, where people first learned to write. But there are some parts of the world where even now people cannot write. The only way that they can preserve their history is to recount it as sagas -- legends handed down from one generation of story tellers to another. These legends are useful because they can tell us something about migrations of people who lived long ago, but none could write down what they did. Anthropologists wondered where the remote ancestors of the Polynesian peoples now living in the Pacific Islands came from. The sagas of these people explain that some of them came from Indonesia about 2,000 years ago.
我们从书籍中可读到5,000 年前近东发生的事情，那里的人最早学会了写字。但直到现在,世界上有些地方，人们还不会书写。 他们保存历史的唯一办法是将历史当作传说讲述，由讲述人一代接一代地将史实描述为传奇故事口传下来。人类学家过去不清楚如今生活在太平洋诸岛上的波利尼西亚人的祖先来自何方，当地人的传说却告诉人们：其中一部分是约在2,000年前从印度尼西亚迁来的。
But the first people who were like ourselves lived so long ago that even their sagas, if they had any, are forgotten. So archaeologists have neither history nor legends to help them to find out where the first 'modern men' came from.
Fortunately, however, ancient men made tools of stone, especially flint, because this is easier to shape than other kinds. They may also have used wood and skins, but these have rotted away. Stone does not decay, and so the tools of long ago have remained when even the bones of the men who made them have disappeared without trace.