Ariets Research Blog

May 3, 2015

The blond brachycephals of Central Europe

Filed under: -Typology, Physical anthropology — Ariets @ 7:11 pm

Nikolai Nikolaevich Cheboksarov

If pigmentation and cephalic index are used as delimiting traits for our first orientation in the racial composition of the contemporary Germans, then the major part of Germany’s population falls into the category of blond brachycephals. But this inclusive designation brings together a great variety of anthropological complexes, morphological and genetic. Within the confines of Germany there is a distinct division into at least two groups which are relatively light and broad-headed, and well-localized geographically. In the northern region, in Schleswig-Holstein and partly in Hanover, there is traceable a combination of tall stature (173- 174 cm), moderately light hair (50-60% fair and flaxen), very light eyes (up to 75-80% gray and blue), long and extremely broad cranium (transverse diameter ca. 160 mm, cephalic index 82-84), very broad and low face (bimalar breadth 144-146 mm, height 119-121 mm), moderately leptorrhine nose with straight or convex back. This combination is most strongly expressed in the population of the island Fehmarn and the district Probstei. It also predominates in the southern Dithmarschen region, on the island of Schlei and in Schwansen, on the Elbe island of Finkenwärder, partly in the southern Lower Saxon district of Duderstadt. Here belongs probably the population of the region of the mouth of the Elbe and of the Weser. In a work on the blond racial types of Eurasia, I have proposed to name the type described “West-Baltic”. In the northwest it is strongly mixed with sub-Northern elements.

The authenticity of both types is confirmed by analysis of the rank-coefficients of correlation between the fundamental racial traits of six groups of inhabitants of Schleswig-Holstein and northern Hanover, investigated by Saller. Almost all the coefficients agree among themselves, and they point to the interreactions of two complexes: 1) one taller, brachycephalic, low- and broad-faced, and 2) one shorter, dolichocephalic, long- and narrow-faced. The first complex (West-Baltic) is centered predominantly in the east of the area under examination (Fehmarn, Probstei); the second (sub-Northern), in the west (Emden).

Morphologically the West-Baltic type is so peculiar that it must be considered as an autonomous race of the second order, entering into the extensive zone of depigmented Europoid forms. The West-Baltic complex is very sharply set off from the Northern complex: it is characterized by much greater transverse cranial and bimalar diameters, less facial height (in similar statures), more prominent cheekbones, a much lower nose-bridge, a stronger development of the superciliaries, etc. It differs from the East-Baltic type in terms of an increase of stature, longitudinal, transverse, and bimalar diameters (in similar statures) and a much greater massiveness in the entire facial skeleton.

Beyond the confines of northwestern Germany the West-Baltic complex occurs distinctly in East Prussia among the half-Teutonized Couro-Lithuanian population. In a weakened and dispersed condition, the peculiarities of the element under consideration are traceable in a large number of north-European groups, chiefly of the Baltic shores, for instance among the Danes of the island Fane, Samsø, and the Faröer, among the Swedes of the island Ruhnu, among the Livonians, and the Estonians of the Sõrve peninsula of Saaremaa island. All these groups are distinguished by tall or above-average stature, light pigmentation, large transverse and especially bimalar diameters, and rather low facial height. It is very likely that their racial appearance has been compounded as the result of mixture of the Northern type with the West-Baltic, similar to what is seen also in northwestern Germany, for instance, in the Dithmarschers or Flensburgers.

As we advance into southern Germany the West-Baltic complex gradually is replaced by others, also brachycephalic (cephalic index 83-85) but shorter (165-167 cm), and darker (about 60-80% dark hair, with 40-50% light eyes), with smaller absolute dimensions of skull and face, marked chamaeprosopy and strongly predominant curvature of the back of the nose. The indices of rank correlation, calculated for 13 male series of Germany, described by Saller, yield between them a high degree of correspondence, differentiating the described variant, which morphologically is almost identical with the Central European race of Bunak, from the West-Baltic type.

The Central European type is most distinctly manifest in the Bavarian and Franconian groups, especially in the region of Keiperbucht. It predominates also in Hesse, southern Hanover, Thuringia, Saxony, probably also in Silesia, and among the Germans of the Sudeten country. The Central-European type forms likewise one of the fundamental racial components in the population of northwestern Switzerland, in many regions of the Tyrol, in Burgenland in eastern Austria (Lebzelter). It is extremely likely that this complex is the chief anthropological element in all central and southern Germany.

Like all the other racial types which enter into the composition of the German population, the Central-European element has no specific connections with the Germans whatever. In the anthropological literature there has long been recorded the wide distribution in Europe of types similar to those that predominate in Germany. Even Collignon (in his day) wrote of the peculiar race of Lorraine — tall, blond and brachycephalic.

Within the boundaries of Germany the combination of low face with sharply-defined brachycephaly and moderately light pigmentation is encountered not only among the Germans but also among the Sorbs who have survived in Brandenburg and who speak a West-Slavic language.

In color, the Central-European race approaches the North-Baltic depigmented Europoids. The combination of light eyes with relatively dark hair also points to the transitional character of the Central-European race. Confirmation of this view is found also in the fact that forms which are close to the Central-European type are widespread not only in western but eastern Europe. The moderately light and short-headed Valdai complex which predominates among many Russian and Ukrainian groups is morphologically very similar to the Central-European. For instance, on comparing the data on Sudeten Germans described by Knöbl with those of the Ukrainians of the Kotov region (Ukraine) investigated by the author, one is struck by the anthropological similarity between the two groups.

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