Re: Gertrude

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Posted by dinos on May 28, 2002 at 08:35:04:

In Reply to: Gertrude posted by Maniates on May 27, 2002 at 18:53:22:

Bravo Maniati!

To ti me provlimatizi omos akomi ine afto pou eho vri apo ena website (iha kani search gia 'racial anthropology greeks')

"First of all, racial anthropology is not popular not only because of political reasons, but also of scientific reasons. There have been a lot of work in this area to force scholars to not use anymore these categories you are giving here. Nobody denies that there are physical variations, but they are not enough to make clear group distinctions. For example, Larsen, who is a real expert in this area, probably one of the best one can get, tells us in his book ‘Bioarchaeology – Interpreting behavior from the human skeleton’ (1997) (check the date) that there are “two primary morphometric complexes” in Europe: Western and Eastern with a gradient between the two (314).Furthermore, he adds that “Long-term contacts (eg., Gothonic-Slavic groups), admixture (e.g. Turkic-Mongolian groups), and widespread migration (e.g., Italian groups) probably influenced the patterns of cranial variation seen in these samples. In sum, then, no clear groupings are evident in this very broad region.” [However], “the association of geography, language, and temporal period with craniometric variation suggests presence of some regional variability” (314-15).

Larsen is from our era like many of his colleagues. That means his research uses a lot of modern scientific advancement that were not available more than half a century ago. They also use dental traits in what they call biodistance analysis, since, as you may know, teeth are the most resistant to changes by external causes. Dietary changes do however affect them when they are forming.

The problem with your approach is that you use these racial categories of yours (actually I am familiar with them, since any work in archaeology from 40s and 50s or even later used to make use of them; some still do) to explain the changes since the ancient times without accounting for changes. You treat them as packages they do not mix. But, humans do mix.

And, another problem with this whole thing is the problem with cranial and skeletal components. Back in the early 20th century, the assumption was that these components were determined solely by our genes. It is now known that dietary and environmental conditions play a very large role in shaping these component. That is, let us say, we have two people with the same cranial or skeletal features (they belong to the same group). If they change their habitat or their dietary practices (the kind of food they use) their kid may have an entirely different cranium or skeletal features, even though he/she may be carrying the same genes. What this would mean that a lot of those Greeks you determine that belong to your Dinaric and Eastern Med groups may have actually been from different groups originally. These people will start changing when they move into a similar cultural and physical habitat with the others.

This problem is not as serious in modern times now as it was in previous ages. For example, when humans started farming in the Neolithic period, about 7000 years ago, there would have been changes of this kind. For there was a major change in dietary practices. Similar changes would be observed as pastoralist societies of Central Asia mixed with farming communities of Near East. Again there would be a major dietary changes. One can observe, even today, changes of this sort between peasant and urban communities. What I am, then, saying is that a Central Asian Turk may come into Anatolia with his unique physical parameters. That is fine. At that point, you may put him into a different group. However, his children will change rather very quickly in their physical parameters and look like the ones in their new habitat. So, the person you are classifying as Dinaric may have either Central Asian or Greek ancestors. There is no way of knowing it simply by looking at his/her physical features.

Another problem is the case of unions between people with different cranial types or skeletal structures. The kid will look like one of them. He is not going to be half and half, although with some traits there will be types between like hair and skin color. The point is that there is a good chance that his/her head will look either like his/her mother or father’s head. Then, you will classify him as belonging to a particular group.

Looking at physical features may give us some ideas about the variations in the group in question, but it will not be very helpful in determining how such a variation might have happened at the first place. It will, however, help us if we take into consideration the genetic material as well. Then, we might come up with more concrete results. For example, I have one of the genetic maps produced by Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi and Piazza in their ‘The History and Geography of Human Genes’. By the way, they use linguistic groups, not racial ones. There are about 500 genetic maps in this book with another five hundred pages to explain these maps. I go to the first section of the maps here – the fourth one for Europe. These maps are based on the genetic frequencies. There are no four groups in Anatolia. There is a meeting of two groups. One is shown in green and comes from Europe and the other one is shown in Blue and comes from Asia. The colors vary.

This was a generalized map. When we go to the individual maps for genetic markers the situation differs from map to map. For ABO*AI frequency, Anatolia and Greece are in two different groups with the exception of a very small cluster right around Izmir and Aydin that is in the same group with Greece. These are all clinal differences by the way. That is one group is, for example, 10% frequency and the other one is 15 or 20%. It is not that one group has the trait and the other does not. In the above example, Greece has less than 15% frequency and Anatolia between 15 and 18%.

The genetic approach will not say much about cultural groups either. It will show us the present day distribution and give us ideas about the directions of the migrations. But, they will not tell us who were the groups that were migrating and mixing. We may see a migration from Iran and Turkey, but we will not know if they were Persian or Turkish groups. If you have a genetic map in your hand from the time of the Minoans then we may be able to make better conclusions. But, since this is not the case, we simply cannot tell who came to Anatolia and what they called themselves. You may say that not all of the present day Turks came from Central Asia, because this is what the genetic maps show. But, you can say who they were. They were a lot of non-Greek populations in Anatolia, and in fact, the Greeks were in the minority. The whole region became Hellenized, but that is nothing different from the fact that it is now Turkified. What people spoke at the time does not really show what their origins were. At some point, they considered themselves Hellenes or rather Romaoi. And now, they consider themselves Turks. You are moving from let us make everything Turkish racially to Greek racially. They are both equally wrong. There was some Turkish, some Greek, some Anatolian and some whatever else"

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