Tag Archives: Craniometry

An Examination of Nubian and Egyptian biological distances: Support for biological diffusion or in situ development?

An Examination of Nubian and Egyptian biological distances: Support for biological diffusion or in situ development?
Homo. 2009;60(5):389-404. Epub 2009 Sep 19.

Godde K.
Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 250 South Stadium Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA. kgodde@utk.edu

Many authors have speculated on Nubian biological evolution. Because of the contact Nubians had with other peoples, migration and/or invasion (biological diffusion) were originally thought to be the biological mechanism for skeletal changes in Nubians. Later, a new hypothesis was put forth, the in situ hypothesis. The new hypothesis postulated that Nubians evolved in situ, without much genetic influence from foreign populations. This study examined 12 Egyptian and Nubian groups in an effort to explore the relationship between the two populations and to test the in situ hypothesis. Data from nine cranial nonmetric traits were assessed for an estimate of biological distance, using Mahalanobis D(2) with a tetrachoric matrix. The distance scores were then input into principal coordinates analysis (PCO) to depict the relationships between the two populations. PCO detected 60% of the variation in the first two principal coordinates. A plot of the distance scores revealed only one cluster; the Nubian and Egyptian groups clustered together. The grouping of the Nubians and Egyptians indicates there may have been some sort of gene flow between these groups of Nubians and Egyptians. However, common adaptation to similar environments may also be responsible for this pattern. Although the predominant results in this study appear to support the biological diffusion hypothesis, the in situ hypothesis was not completely negated.


The Mahalanobis D2 analysis uncovered close affinities between Nubians and Egyptians. Table 3 lists the Mahalanobis D2 distance matrix. As there is no significance testing that is available to be applied to this form of Mahalanobis distances, the biodistance scores must be interpreted in relation to one another, rather than on a general scale. In some cases, the statistics reveal that the Egyptian samples were more similar to Nubian samples than to other Egyptian samples (e.g. Gizeh and Hesa/Biga) and vice versa (e.g. Badari and Kerma, Naqada and Christian). These relationships are further depicted in the PCO plot (Fig. 2). Aside from these interpopulation relationships, some Nubian groups are still more similar to other Nubians and some Egyptians are more similar to other Egyptian samples. Moreover, although the Nubian and Egyptian samples formed one well-distributed group, the Egyptian samples clustered in the upper left region, while the Nubians concentrated in the lower right of the plot. One line can be drawn that would separate the closely dispersed Egyptians and Nubians. The predynastic Egyptian samples clustered together (Badari and Naqada), while Gizeh most closely groups with the Lisht sample. The first two principal coordinates from PCO account for 60% of the variation in the samples. The graph from PCO is basically a pictorial representation of the distance matrix and interpretations from the plot mirror the Mahalanobis D2 matrix.

The clustering of the Nubian and Egyptian samples together supports this paper’s hypothesis and demonstrates that there may be a close relationship between the two populations. This relationship is consistent with Berry and Berry (1972), among others, who noted a similarity between Nubians and Egyptians. If Nubians and Egyptians were not biologically similar, one would expect the scores to separately cluster by population (e.g. Nubians compared to Nubians would have small biological distances, and Nubians compared to Egyptians would have high biological distances). However, this was not the case in the current analysis and the results suggest homogeneity between the two populations. Many of the samples that are similar to one another, between the two populations, are separated by great amounts of time (e.g. Kerma and Badari). These similarities over time make sense because, as Konigsberg (1990) asserted, as time elapses, related groups become more genetically similar. In order to explicate the meaning behind all of these findings, the results here must be tempered by the DNA evidence. Both mtDNA (Krings et al., 1999) and Y-Chromosome data (Hassan et al., 2008; Keita, 2005; Lucotte and Mercier, 2003) indicate that migrations, usually bidirectional, occurred along the Nile. Thus, the osteological material used in this analysis also supports the DNA evidence.

Interpretation of the results framed by several of the groups’ histories helps to elucidate the subtle relationships depicted in the PCO scatter plot. The predynastic sample from Badari occupies a complex position in Egyptian history. The Badarians are Egypt’s oldest agriculturalists and produced some of the earliest known pottery (Hassan, 1986) that predated state formation in Egypt. Badarian crania, in comparison to dynastic groups, are slight and less robust than their later counterparts (Angel, 1972; Morant, 1935; Stoessiger, 1927). Stoessiger (1927) likened the gracile nature of the Badarians to the gracile nature of the people from Naqada, but she pointed out that the Badarians are more prognathic. On this basis, many have postulated that the Badarians are relatives to South African populations (Morant, 1935 G. Morant, A study of predynastic Egyptian skulls from Badari based on measurements taken by Miss BN Stoessiger and Professor DE Derry, Biometrika 27 (1935), pp. 293–309.Morant, 1935; Mukherjee et al., 1955; Irish and Konigsberg, 2007). The archaeological evidence points to this relationship as well. (Hassan, 1986) and (Hassan, 1988) noted similarities between Badarian pottery and the Neolithic Khartoum type, indicating an archaeological affinity among Badarians and Africans from more southern regions. Furthermore, like the Badarians, Naqada has also been classified with other African groups, namely the Teita (Crichton, 1996; Keita, 1990), while the Gizeh sample clustered with the Maghreb and Sedment (Dynasty IX Egyptians) (Keita, 1990).
Nutter (1958) noted affinities between the Badarian and Naqada samples, a feature that Strouhal (1971) attributed to their skulls possessing “Negroid” traits. Keita (1992), using craniometrics, discovered that the Badarian series is distinctly different from the later Egyptian series, a conclusion that is mostly confirmed here. In the current analysis, the Badari sample more closely clusters with the Naqada sample and the Kerma sample. However, it also groups with the later pooled sample from Dynasties XVIII–XXV. The unusual grouping of Badari, Naqada, Kerma, and the later Dynastic pooled sample may have been a product of the mixed nature of the pooled sample. The effects of pooled samples have been demonstrated in Nubians by obscuring relationships and creating a falsely close affinity between it and the samples it clusters with (Godde, 2009a). Moreover, affinities among the Badarian, Naqada, and Kerma samples have been revealed by other authors (Keita, 1990; Nutter, 1958) and it is no surprise that this relationship exists in the data here.

Relationships among Badari, Naqada, and Kerma have not always been overt in the skeletal data. Berry et al. (1967) concluded from their nonmetric analysis that their Badarian sample differed significantly from Naqada and Kerma, but was closely related to the Gizeh sample. Their study included the same samples as this analysis, but yielded results that are different from the current study and the craniometric research. Berry et al. (1967) employed a completely different range of statistics, which may account for the difference between the two conclusions. However, Berry and her coauthors also noted homogeneity across all the Egyptian groups, including Naqada and those that pre- and post-date the sample. This is indeed the case here, as is evidenced in the PCO plot; the Egyptians appear to be relatively homogeneously grouped. Some Badarian crania also classified well with the Gizeh sample (Keita, 1990).

The close clustering of Badari and Naqada with Kerma exemplifies the possible relationship of Nubians to Egyptians. Originally, the Nubian A-Group was thought to be Badarian in origin (Reisner, 1910). However, later work (Adams, 1977; Godde, 2009a) established that the A-Group were actually Nubian. Comparisons of C-Group and Pan-Grave Nubians to Badari and Hierakonpolis separate Badari from the other samples, indicating no biological affinities with these earlier Nubian groups (Godde, 2009b). The reoccurring notation of Kerma affinities with Egyptian groups is not entirely surprising. Kerma was an integral part of the trade between Egypt and Nubia. Collett (1933) concluded that Kerma was originally inhabited by Egyptians with neighboring Nubian settlements. Her investigation of the site pointed towards continuous Egyptian occupation of some sort at the site throughout the Kerma time period. This continued presence at Kerma is an optimal condition for gene flow to occur between the two populations.

Nubian groups have also been scrutinized as to their relationship with other Nubians. Both the Meroitic and X-Group were originally postulated to be foreign peoples migrating into Lower Nubia (Adams, 1968; Nielsen, 1970). These ideas were based on changes in pottery around the beginning of each of the respective time periods. However, the archaeological evidence actually showed slow change in form over time (Adams, 1977) and the biological evidence demonstrated a similar trend in the skeletal data (e.g. Godde, in press; Van Gerven et al., 1977). These conclusions negate the possibility of invasion or migration causing the shifts in time periods. The results in this study are consistent with prior work; the Meroites and X-Group cluster with the remaining Nubian population and are not differentiated.

Despite the biological similarities between the two populations, the Nubians appear relatively homogeneous. The homogeneity is consistent with Carlson and Van Gerven’s (1979) in situ hypothesis, but contradicts the findings of Buzon (2006). Buzon (2006) found a high level of heterogeneity in the Nubian samples she examined, including individuals from Kerma and the C-Group. Moreover, the Egyptian samples in her study were homogeneous overall, consistent with Berry et al. (1967) and the results in this paper. However, the levels of homogeneity appear to be similar within Nubians and within Egyptians in this study. The differences between this research and Buzon’s (2006) work may be related to the statistics used. Buzon’s (2006) goal was not to look at biological affinities; rather, she was trying to establish identity among her individuals by associating it with archaeological material. While this paper used a biological distance approach to investigate past population relationships, her paper used factor analysis, principal components, and a least squares regression. Although these (hers and those used here) statistics all have a solid methodological basis, they measure population relationships in two different manners and the results between them are not entirely comparable.

Gene flow may account for the homogeneity across these Nubian and Egyptian groups and is consistent with the biological diffusion precept. Small geographic distances between groups allow for the exchange of genes. One of the Nubian groups in this analysis is located in Upper Egypt (Hesa/Biga), near Egyptian occupation, and contact between the two populations may have been commonplace. Specifically, Nubians were often captured and enslaved by Egyptians to build pyramids, or employed by the Egyptian army (Trigger, 1976). Occasionally, Nubians were even directed to fight other Nubians as part of their duties as troops (Trigger, 1976). Moreover, some groups of Nubians allied with the Egyptians for the conquest of Nubian areas, primarily during Dynasty I (Trigger, 1976). Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, trade between Nubians and Egyptians flourished at Kerma and Meroe, during the time periods named after the sites, and enabled contact for potential gene flow. As a result of their respective histories, the multitude of interactions between them, geographic locations, and their biological composition, it appears that gene flow was possibly occurring between the two populations.

The similarities uncovered by this study may be explained by another force, adaptation. As stated above, the results appear to support the biological diffusion hypothesis because the Nubian and Egyptian groups are biologically similar. However, this resemblance may be indicative of a common adaptation to a similar geographic location, rather than gene flow. Carlson and Van Gerven (1979) stated this idea in reference to common adaptations of Nubian, Paleolithic, and aboriginal Australian populations. Additionally, Carlson (1976), Prowse and Lovell (1995), Van Gerven (1982), and Van Gerven et al., 1977 D. Van Gerven, G. Armelagos and A. Rohr, Continuity and change in cranial morphology of three Nubian archaeological populations, Man 2 (1977), pp. 270–277. View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (9)Van Gerven et al. (1977) also recognized this form of natural selection as a mechanism for in situ biological change; Egypt and Nubia have similar terrain and climate. Because of the similarity between and the overlapping of the two territories that would require similar adaptations to the environment, common adaptation cannot be discounted.

Sample size may have unduly influenced the results in this analysis. Four of the samples were represented by less than 30 individuals, while several of the remaining samples numbered close to 200 individuals. Moreover, only a small number of groups (six) from each population were examined in this study. Observations of more and larger population samples may produce different findings.

In summation, a portion of the in situ hypothesis in Nubians is supported in this paper, namely homogeneity. Gene flow appears likely between the Egyptians and Nubians, although common adaptations to a similar environment may have also been a factor in their cranial similarities. This study does not rule out the possibility that in situ biological evolution occurred at other times not represented by the samples in this analysis. Further research should incorporate more populations the Nubians were in contact with, to further shed light on Nubian population structure. Additionally, Konigsberg’s (1990) spatial–temporal isolation model should be applied to the dataset here to further explicate the results.


One for the records, as I can’t locate the full text at the moment. Not unsurprising to see some relationship between Nubians and Egyptians as they were right next door and the Badari and Nubians appeared to be closely related before state formation brought a lot of Lower Egyptians southwards. From other studies I’m guessing the relationship is due to the pre-dynastic Nubian/Badarian relationship. I’m amused to see this on Egyptsearch as ‘proof’ the Egyptians were black. I’m guessing they didn’t read it through- but thanks for posting it guys. As always forgetting that Nubians actually had about 60% Eurasian ancestry, same as the modern, so thinking this is proof of a ‘black’ Egypt is amusing. Still no response from them as to how Egyptians managed to swap race when their Y chromosomes show that only about 5% overall Eurasian historic immigration is possible. Hmm.

Still having so issues with my MS at the moment, but I’m slowly getting back to myself. I will respond to all comments eventually. Patience.

An Analysis of Crania From Tell-Duweir Using Multiple Discriminant Functions

An Analysis of Crania From Tell-Duweir Using Multiple Discriminant Functions

Historical and archaelogical evidence suggests that the Iron Age biblical city of Lachish had a multinational population of diverse geographical origins. A multivariate analysis of crania, using canonical discriminant functions and metric variables, tends to confirm this. The approach employed stresses that population discriminant analysis studies should be both biologically and statistically legitimate. An ecological interpretation of the data suggests a research design for analyzing the affinities of cranial series. Similarities probably should be assessed in an analytical space containing the widest possible range of variation.

The conclusion

In conclusion, the Lachish series centroid plots near those of the Maghreb and “E” series, the latter’s morphometrics known to overlap with eastern Mediterranean crania. However, “Keith’s problem” is illustrated because this mean value hides the variation revealed by the analysis of the series as individual unknown crania, and shows many to have strong resemblances to more southern (both Egyptian and non-Egyptian) series even when Lachish is a choice. It is possible to say that the objective evidence does not deny an hypothesis of biological heterogeneity in some general sense at Lachish, which specific historical and archaeological data unequivocably predict. It is suggested that the Egypto-Nubian presence is supported.

Hmmm. Not supported by the teeth though, see prior entry.

Recognizing population displacements and replacements in prehistory: A view from North Africa

Recognizing population displacements and replacements in prehistory: A view from North Africa

C.M. Stojanowski. Center for Bioarchaeological Research, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University.

Bioanthropologists use skeletal data to reconstruct the historical global distribution of humans. One of the more critical and contentious issues is the inference that a complete population replacement has occurred which has importance for our understanding of human biological variation as well as issues of cultural patrimony. Despite the ubiquity of such analyses, problems exist with current methods because the degree of phenotypic change through time is dependent on demographic parameters, processes of selection, and changes in subsistence orientation which reflect the malleability of cranial form. How different do two populations need to be for continuity to be rejected? In this paper the population history of northwestern African and central Saharan populations is discussed from the Late Pleistocene through Early Holocene. Craniometric data are used from nine chrono-spatial samples to address the relationship between temporally sequential populations in North Africa where long term changes in aridity prevented human occupation for several distinct intervals. R matrix analysis resolves several perceived population discontinuities based on analyses of lithic assemblages. Population structure indicates a replacement of indigenous Aterian (early modern human) populations by makers of the Iberomaurusian industry ca 18kybp. Population continuity is suggested between the Iberomaurusian and Capsian horizons, and the analysis suggests the expansion of Late Pleistocene populations from the Maghreb into the Sahara as climate improved during the Holocene. Finally, a second population replacement is inferred during the Middle Holocene in the central Sahara coincident with the advent of pastoralism.

The result of a little blog raiding at Dienekes. There’s a pdf from the AAPA full of interesting abstracts here, which I’m working my way through. This one caught my eye-being about North Africa. I t mentions the replacement of the Aterians by the IM industry, and the central Saharan population replacement in the Holocene. Unfortunately it doesn’t say who replaced who; the incoming neolithic mediterannoids replacing the Mechtoid Saharans possibly, although it could be another group, as the groups aren’t specified, but being familiar with the desciptions of Neolithic Saharans by various authors that would be my guess.

It also notes the North African (Mechtoid again) expansion into the Sahara which would have been about 12,000 years ago when the Sahara went through a wet phase. A DNA study on the bones of the Mechtoid population from Taforalt have shown them to be mainly of Eurasian mitochondrial types, and they are very similar to to bones  found as far South as Mali. However, it’s quite likely a good proportion of their Y chromosomes were East African and North East African in origin, as some of the populations show up as intermediate to Eurasian and sub Saharan groups of the same era (although not Taforalt).

Recent Human evolution in North West Africa

Recent Human evolution in North West Africa

I can’t paste any of this to the blog unfortunately. It has a lot of usable information about the very oldest North African remains (Jebel Irhoud, etc). The abstract says that …

…the rise of anatomically modern features cannot be restricted to an east Afrian or sub Saharan origin.

Because the North West African samples are just as old as the Ethiopian ones, with modern features.. although they are more archaic than the Skhul skull. The Jebel Irhoud specimens (date rather vague, from 90k to 190k, with 160k seeming to be the favourite) were thought for a long time to be North African Neanderthals. This paper has a very close look at them. It cconcludes that if an African cradle for humanity is assumed, it should extend from North Africa to South Africa, and should also include the middle East. This does ask though, what happened to the AMH’s of North Africa. They were apparently wiped out by the back migration of Eurasians about 30k ago, leaving no (as yet detected) trace.

Any blog regulars… normal service will be resumed in a few days. I’m a bit busy at the moment.

Hanihara: Characterization of Biological Diversity Through Analysis of Discrete Cranial Traits

This is a 2003 publication showing the relationship of the worlds populations by studying the crania. This paper says that both multiregional and the out of Africa scenario are possible from these results. As can be seen on the dendrogram, the Egyptian samples (Gizeh and Naqada) are on the North African twig along with the Nubians, which are themselves very close to the European cluster, which supports the Loring Brace study showing ancient Egyptians as being non-similar to Sub Saharan Africans. In fact a look at all the diagrams shows Hanihara grouping the ancient North Africans closer to west Eyurasian groups.

The only downer is that modern North Africans aren’t included on this.



I’ve added colour to the diagrams as they are a little hard to make out if you have poor sight. Sub Saharan is red (Somalis have a black dot inside) and Europeans are blue, North African samples are bright green, and South Asian are violet.

Characterization of Biological Diversity Through Analysis of Discrete Cranial Traits
Tsunehiko Hanihara,1* Hajime Ishida,2 and Yukio Dodo3, 2003

ABSTRACT In the present study, the frequency distributions of 20 discrete cranial traits in 70 major human
populations from around the world were analyzed. The principal-coordinate and neighbor-joining analyses of Smith’s mean measure of divergence (MMD), based on trait frequencies, indicate that 1) the clustering pattern is similar to those based on classic genetic markers, DNA polymorphisms, and craniometrics; 2) significant interregional separation and intraregional diversity are present in Subsaharan Africans; 3) clinal relationships exist among regional groups; 4) intraregional discontinuity exists in some populations inhabiting peripheral or isolated areas. For example, the Ainu are the most distinct outliers of the East Asian populations. These patterns suggest that founder effects, genetic drift, isolation, and population structure are the primary causes of regional variation in discrete cranial traits. Our results are compatible with a single origin for modern humans as well as the multiregional model, similar to the results of Relethford and Harpending ([1994] Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 95:249– 270). The results presented here provide additional measures of the morphological variation and diversification of modern human populations.

East Asians
1. Japanese 98–108 (94) 62–64 (59) Tokyo and Tohoku (Northern Japan) regions (UT, TU)
2. Hokkaido Ainu 122–151 (113) 84–108 (76) Recent Ainu people (SMU, UT)
3. Sakhalin in Ainu 62–65 (54) 28–29 (32) Southern Sakhalin (MAE, MSU, KU, MH)
4. North Chinese 132–139 (75) 26–27 (14) Mainly from Liaoning Prefecture (UT, KU) Southeast Asians
5. Myanmar 132–135 (48) 47–49 (3) Recent Burmese (NHM, UC)
6. Mainland SE Asians 125–141 (105) 41–43 (30) Thai, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Malay (NHM, UC, MH)
7. Javanese 94–97 (83) 32–26 (32) Greater Sunda islands (NHM, UC, MH, AMNH)
8. Philippines 135–144 (49) 62–66 (31) Non-Negrito Filipinos (NHM, UC, MH)
9. Borneans 78–109 (74) 37–40 (21) Mainly land Dayaks (NHM, UC, MH)
10. Lesser Sunda 52–54 (39) 11–12 (6) Timor, Bali, Sumbawa, Flores, and Celebes Islands (NHM, UC, MH, AMNH)
11. Andamanese/Nicobarese 65–71 (43) 40–43 (30) Andaman Negritos and Nicobar Islands (NHM, UC, MH)
Northeast Asians
12. Mongolians 116–121 (69) 53–59 (38) Ulan Bator (Urga) and other regions (MH, NMNH, AMNH)
13. Buryats 76–81 (65) 64–69 (58) From Northeast Siberia (MAE, MH, NMNH)
14. Amur Basin 85–92 (57) 67–74 (48) Ulchs, Nanaians, Negidals, Nivkhs, and Orochs (MAE, MSU, MH)
15. Neolithic Baikalians 40–59 (45) 14–22 (19) From around Lake Baikal (MAE, MSU, ISU)
16. Yakuts 43–45 (38) 19–20 (18) From Northeast Siberia (MAE, MSU, MH) Arctic
17. Ekvens 45–55 (48) 49–56 (44) Iron-Age people from Ekven site, Chukot Peninsula (MSU)
18. Chukchis 43–48 (17) 22–26 (10) From Arctic region of Northeast Siberia (MAE, MSU, MH, NMNH, AMNH)
19. Aleuts 63–67 (48) 30–43 (17) Mainly from Unalaska Island (NMNH, AMNH)
20. Asian Eskimos 66–73 (48) 53–59 (16) From Arctic region of Northeast Siberia (MAE, MSU)
21. Greenland Eskimos 82–85 (47) 70–76 (25) West Coast of Greenland (NHM, UC, MH, AMNH, NMNH)
New World
22. Northwest Coast 53–59 (15) 29–35 (12) Northwest Coast of Canada (NHM, UC)
23. Northwest America 48–61 (40) 19–24 (16) Plateau, Great Basin, California, and Southwest Cultural
areas (NHM, UC, MH)
24. Northeast America 42–50 (20) 21–29 (8) Great Plains, Northeast, and Southeast Cultural areas
25. Central America 45–58 (21) 24–30 (12) Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Carib, Venezuela, and Guyana
26. Peruvians 115–123 (60) 55–60 (33) Cerro del Oro, Huacho, Pisagua, etc. (NHM)
27. Fuegians/Patagonians 39–44 (24) 20–23 (7) Terra del Fuego and Patagonia region (NHM, UC, MH)
28. Mariana 91–120 (82) 70–93 (75) Guam, Saipan, and Tinian (BM, MH) Polynesians
29. Hawaii 82 (58) 63–64 (42) Mainly from Oahu Island (NHM, UC)
30. Easter 63–79 (41) 59–71 (31) Easter Islanders (NHM, UC, MH, AM, US, SAM)
31. Marquesas 55–61 (24) 39–42 (9) Mainly from Uahuka Island (NHM, MH)
32. Maori 109–140 (58) 37–49 (23) New Zealand (NHM, UC, AM, US, SAM)
33. Moriori 66–78 (24) 18–20 (6) Chatham Islands (NHM, UC, AM, US) Melanesians
34. Papua New Guinea 54–175 (84) 51–154 (83) Purari River delta, Fly River delta, Sepik River Delta, etc.
35. Torres Strait 59–65 (37) 35–38 (37) Island of Torres Strait (NHM, UC, MH)
36. North Melanesians 64–196 (119) 41–103 (72) New Ireland, New Britain, Solomon, and Santa Cruz (NHM,
37. South Melanesians 58–137 (67) 27–57 (33) Loyalty, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and Fiji (NHM, UC, AM,
38. East Australians 53–88 (55) 33–46 (36) New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria (AM, NHM, UC, MH, AMNH)
39. South/West Australians 86–260 (159) 34–128 (77) South Australia and Western Australia (SAM, NHM, UC, MH, AMNH)
Tibet/Nepal/Northeast India
40. Tibetans/Nepalese 91–94 (58) 23–25 (4) Tibetan Soldiers (19th Century), lowland of Nepal (NHM,
41. Assam/Sikkim 40–41 (30) 23–24 (19) Darjeeling, Assam, and Sikkim districts (NHM)
South Asians
42. Northeast India 90–93 (61) 23–24 (14) Bengal and Bihar districts (NHM)
43. South India 123–127 (65) 45–46 (30) Madras, Tamil Natu, Malabar Coast, and Karnataka (NHM)
44. Northwest India 125–131 (71) 32–35 (16) Punjab and Kashmir districts (NHM)
Central Asians
45. Tagars 62–72 (44) 60–76 (50) Iron-Age Tagar culture (MAE, MSU)
46. Kazakhs 75–77 (75) 42–43 (42) From Central Asia, Kazakh (MAE)
47. Russians 72–74 (74) 45–47 (41) Recent Russians (NHM, UC, MAE, MSU)
48. Greece 46–54 (20) 12–16 (4) Ancient and recent Greece (NHM)
49. Eastern Europeans 80–98 (52) 18–24 (16) Slav group: Poland, Czecho, Hergegovina, Bulgaria, and
Yugoslavia (NHM)
50. Italy 131–146 (82) 42–47 (31) Recent Italians (NHM)
51. Finland/Ural 72–75 (35) 5–6 (2) Including a few samples of Ural-language people (NHM, MH)
52. Scandinavia 57–60 (30) 5 (3) Norwegians and Swedish (NHM, UC)
53. Germany 58–61 (44) 9–10 (7) Recent German (NHM, UC)
54. France 74–86 (23) 18–21 (0) Recent French (NHM, UC, MH)
UK series
55. Ensay 64–68 (58) 29–30 (30) Late Medieval to post-Medieval periods, Scotland (NHM)
56. Poundbury 97–109 (106) 46–52 (47) Late Roman period, Southwest England (NHM)
57. Spitalfields-1 122–135 (121) 104–113 (106) Mid-Victorian, London (NHM)
58. Spitalfields-2 73–74 (75) 17–19 (35) Pre-17th century, London (UC)
North Africans
59. Naqada 82–87 (57) 89–93 (39) Predynastic Egypt, ca. 5,000–4,000 BP (UC)
60. Gizeh 122–125 (91) 46–51 (32) 26th–30th Dynasty, Egypt, 664–343 BC (UC)
61. Kerma 114–132 (58) 79–92 (51) 12th–13th Dynasty of Nubia (UC)
62. Nubia 86–92 (39) 42–47 (9) Early Christian or Christian date Nubia (UC)
Subsaharan Africans
63. Somalia 58–64 (53) 10–12 (5) Erigavo District, Ogaden Somali (US)
64. Nigeria-1 74–83 (72) 65–76 (53) Ibo tribe (NHM, UC)
65. Nigeria-2 73–80 (17) 46–53 (7) Ashanti tribe (NHM, UC)
66. Gabon 82–86 (47) 55–57 (36) Fernand Vaz River (NHM, NMNH)
67. Tanzania 69–75 (54) 20–25 (17) Haya tribe, Musira Island, Lake Victoria (UC, NHM)
68. Kenya 71–82 (31) 55–63 (10) Bantu-speaking people from Kenya (UC, NHM)
69. South Africa 100–109 (53) 21–25 (8) Zulu and once called Kaffir tribes (UC, NHM, AMNH)
70. Khoisans 43–36 (28) 17–22 (13) Bushmans and Hottentots (NHM, UC, AMNH)


Fig. 2. Two-dimensional scattergrams drawn by using first-second (a), second-third (b), and third-fourth (c) principal coordinates. Numbers correspond to sample numbers in Table 1


Useful info for reference!

Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa

Normally I’m a bit averse to Keita, who waffles on like he’s being paid by the word. I was also initially rather put off by the iffy paper on the Badarians, which had a couple of glaring problems with it, as does this one. But, you can’t really look at North Africa without reading his publications.

He takes a viewpoint that the partially Eurasian derived Berbers and Egyptians are mainly ‘indigenous Africans’. Once you get your head around that ‘indigenous African’ doesn’t mean black or sub Saharan African but also refers to Egyptians and modern Berbers, his work makes a lot more sense. He’s massively misquoted by the muppets on Egyptsearch, who always manage to ignore that Keita explicitly states in one paper that modern Egyptians are mainly the same as the pre-Neolithic Egyptians, with some immigration due to the Neolithic and later invasions, which is exactly what everyone else sane says. He’s also on the record as saying Egyptians look pretty much the same. He also rambles on a bit. But then, Brace is irritatingly self contradictory at times. So I guess no author is without their faults

Keita on Egyptians.

..current inhabitants of the Nile valley should be understood as being in the main, although not wholly, descendants of the pre-neolithic regional inhabitants 

Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa


ABSTRACT Historical sources and archaeological data predict significant population variability in mid-Holocene northern Africa. Multivariate analyses of crania demonstrate wide variation but also suggest an indigenous cranio- metric pattern common to both late dynastic northern Egypt and the coastal Maghreb region. Both tropical African and European metric phenotypes, as well intermediate patterns, are found in mid-Holocene Maghreb sites. Early southern predynastic Egyptian crania show tropical African affinities, displaying craniometric trends that differ notably from the coastal northern African pattern. The various craniofacial patterns discernible in northern Africa are attributable to the agents of microevolution and migration.

That both phenotypes are found, not really a shocker as the DNA studies show continuity in North Africa since the 12,000 BP Taforalt site.


The analyses demonstrate the metric heterogeneity of pre-Roman mid-Holocene Maghreban crania. The range of variation in the restricted area described extends from a tropical African metric pattern to a European one and supports the phenotypic variability observed in and near Carthage by ancient writers and in morphological studies. Thus the population emerges as a composite entity, no doubt also containing hybrid individuals. However, the centroid value of the combined Maghreb series indicates that the major craniometric pattern is most similar to that of northern dynastic Egyptians, not northwest Europeans. Furthermore, the series from the coastal Maghreb and northern (Lower) Egypt are more similar to one another than they are to any other series by centroid values and unknown analyses.

The upper Nile Valley series show close affinities to one another and to tropical African series. Thus variation is also present in the Egyptian Nile Valley, as the northern pattern trend is distinguishable from the southern one. The Badari and Nagada I cranial patterns emerge as tropical African variants (with Kerma). Badari remains show little affinity to the mass of Maghreban crania. Notable Nagada/Kerma metric overlapis observed with the first dynasty series,which shares the pattern to a lesser degree, as indicated by its centroid values.

In summary, canonical variate analysis demonstrates the impressive variation suggested previously for early northern Africa. It also suggests that there was a modal craniometric phenotype common to northern-Egypt and the coastal Maghreb in the mid Holocene, intermediate to European and southern Egyptian Nile Valley/tropical series.

A few comments on this paper. He points out that NW Europeans have absolutely no resemblance to these North Africans (fair enough) but neglects to mention how similar or dissimilar they are to SE Europeans. Which is particularly odd, since a moderate Neolithic inflow from SE Europe/near East is accepted by him in another publication. So, you’d think a comparison to SE Europeans or Levantine populations would be more appropriate. Then, another paper uses NW Europeans as the base line for all Europeans when comparing them to the Badarians, instead if groups like Greeks or Levantine people or modern North Africans, or heaven forbid, modern Egyptians. Which makes no sense. And he had the cheek to criticise Brace and other authors on their choice of sample populations.

Just for once I’d like to see a direct comparison of ancient to modern Egyptians, for hair, limb length and crania with the few DNA samples taken chucked in for good measure.

Also, my long running bugbear is his quote from Strouhal.

Strouhal(1971) also analyzed hair in his study of 117 Badari crania, in which he concluded that >80% were Negroid; most of these were interpreted as being hybrids

I’ve seen material from Strouhal; it doesn’t say the hair was greater than 80% negroid. I’ve seen ‘sterotypically mulatto’ and a detailed description that was anything other than >80% negroid. Strouhal also describes the Badari crania as a ‘mix of races’, slightly overweighted to the European. Which is pretty standard for the older crania studies. So I’m baffled as to the exact reference for this. However, points he and I agree on are that there was a 24k or so old expansion from upper Egypt so I know he’s not an idiot.

Post-Pleistocene diachronic change in East Asian facial skeletons

Post-Pleistocene diachronic change in East Asian facial skeletons: the size, shape and volume of the orbits.


Abstract Globally there was a reduction in the size and robusticity of the human orofacial skeleton and dentition after the Pleistocene. There was also diachronic change in brain size and skeletal mass in general. Anthropologists have developed numerous models in  explanation of the evolutionary process, with the majority linked to the cultural developments of the Neolithic. These cultural models are challenged by the skeletal evidence from societies with contrasting culture histories. In China there is a reduction in facial breadth, height and prognathism, posterior tooth size, brain volume and cranial robusticity from the Neolithic to the modern period. However, the height of the orbits increases rather than decreases. Examination of the structural relationships between orbit and facial dimensions in Tohoku Japanese and Australian Aboriginal crania suggests a steady reduction in orbit volume in China. This may have resulted in a more anterior placement of the eyeball and associated structures in modern East Asians than in their Neolithic counterparts.

Figure 2. Diachronic change in the average size and shape characteristics of Chinese male facial skeletons, 6,000 BP to modern. Solid arrows indicate areas of facial reduction, hollow arrows expansion.

The Origin of the Baltic-Finns

Paparazzi Model Management - Mia Frilander, Suvi Jokinen, Anette Montin

Volume XLIII Number 2, Winter 2002
The Origin of the Baltic-Finns from the Physical Anthropological Point of View

Markku Niskanen1
University of Oulu, Finland
The author provides a comprehensive analysis of the physical anthropology of the Finns and Saami, comparing them with other Scandinavian peoples and contrasting them genetically with the Mongoloid peoples of Asia, notwithstanding the affinities which  link the Finnish language with the Uralic and to a lesser extent the Altaic languages. He concludes that both the Finns and the Saami are genetically Caucasoid or European, and that the Finns especially are closely akin to the other North European peoples of Scandinavia.

It is impossible to reconstruct the origins of ethnic groups without information about their genetic relationships. This information provides knowledge about inter-population contacts, assists in determining the geographic areas of origins of the populations in question, and sometimes even reveals how long these populations have lived in their present territories. Therefore, these reconstructed genetic relationships can be used to test hypotheses and theories of ethnic origins based on linguistic and/or archeological evidence. In this article, craniometric and nuclear DNA data, as well as the findings of recent studies of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomal DNA variation are used to determine whether the origin of the Baltic- Finns is better explained by the traditional migration theory or by the more recent settlement continuity theory. These two competing theories are reviewed briefly below.

This publication describes the Finns as typically European, and attributes their ‘Mongoloid characteristsics’ to retaining features from Upper Paleolithic Europeans. This really an ‘all you ever wanted to know about Finns’ paper.

Strong cheekbones and flaring zygomatic arches of many Finno- Ugrians, commonly and erroneously assumed to be Mongoloid features, are actually inherited from European Cro-Magnons (Coon 1939, Niskanen 1994b). These two “Paleo-European” features have survived especially well among the Finno-Ugrians of northern Europe because, as the archeological evidence presented by Zvelebil (1986) indicates, the subsistence transition from foraging to farming occurred more recently and with a lesser influx of immigrants in these marginal regions for agriculture than further south. Most other Europeans have been farmers for so many generations (eating soft bread, porridge, etc.) that their cheek bones (which provide attachments for the masseter muscle) have reduced in size in comparison to other parts of their facial anatomy.

Figure 2. Plot of sample means of the first (CAN1) and the second (CAN2) canonical discriminant function scores computed from c-scores of 42 craniofacial measurements. These two scores explain 70.04% of the total variance. CRO = Cro-Magnons, IRI = Irish, SCO = Scottish, ENG = English, SWE = Swedish, FIN = Finnish, SAA = Saami, GER = German, FRE = French, CZE = Czech, and RUS = Russian. This is the same set of variables than the one used to calculate Mahalanobis distances of Table 3 except that none of the raw measurements were used to compute indices.

Figure 1. A mirror image of dimension coefficient plot extracted from Mahalanobis distances between the European samples of Table 3 using the MDS-procedure. BRI = British (pooled English, Scottish, and Irish), NOR = Norwegian, SWE = Swedish, FIN = Finnish, SAA = Saami, GER = German, FRE = French, CZE = Czech, and RUS = Russian. Modified from Niskanen (1994a).

He also says..

These craniometric analyses demonstrate that the Finns (and presumably other Baltic-Finns) and Saami (although they form their own subset within the European set) possess North European craniofacial configuration with more than average amount of Paleo-European (Cro-Magnoid) features. This finding indicates that the Baltic-Finns and Saami (as well as their Scandinavian neighbors) are indigenous people of northern Europe and not recent immigrants from elsewhere (Niskanen 1998).

As it can be seen on fig 2, the Cro Magnons are an outlier to Northern European populations, but not wildly so. There being less distance between them and the Finns than there is between the Finns and the Russians.

It suggests that Finns and Saami’s don’t share a common origin, from DNA evidence.

The mtDNA studies (Sajantila et al. 1995, Lahermo et al. 1996) reveal that the non-Saami Finno-Ugrians of Europe (the Finns, Karelians, Estonians, Volga-Finns) have the same genetic origin as the non-Uralic-speaking Europeans, and that the Saami represent a unique and ancient sub-group of Europeans that had separated from the other Europeans over 10,000 years ago. Therefore, the Baltic-Finns (the Finns, Karelians, and Estonians) and the Saami do not appear to descend from a common ancestral population that lived as recently as a few thousand years ago. The genetic admixture between the Baltic-Finns and the Saami is also rather recent, but adequate enough to make the Finns and the Karelians the closest genetic relatives of the Saami.