(Chapter VIII, section 3)

Distribution of Bodily Characters

(a) Stature and Bodily Form

Before venturing to draw up a schematic classification of races within the white family, let us review some of the better known racial criteria from the standpoint of spatial distribution. The use of maps to show the distribution of means in a single metrical character is one of the oldest and commonest illustrative devices employed in the study of race. It has, in fact, formed the basis for several systems of racial classification, based upon geographical correlations between two or more characters. Such classifications ignore individual linkages in the characters involved, and subordinate the position of the individual as a racial entity. They are of necessity based on few characters, and the races so postulated are correspondingly ill defined.14 This abuse of cartography should not, however, hinder the use of maps in a purely demonstrative sense.

In this and the two following sections, we present four such maps, representing the distributions of stature, the cephalic index, head size, and hair and eye pigmentation.15 These four characters were chosen from the total body of criteria because they are the only ones in which it is possible to overcome, to a satisfactory degree, the obstacles of paucity of data.

[Map: Stature (a) (b)]

and technical inconsistency. Not one of the four is completely accurate, but all are accurate enough for present purposes.

The first impression which one receives while examining this map is that there seems no orderly scheme; that, except for the stunted circumpolar belt, there seem to be no widespread zones of stature. A relatively large and consistent area of tall stature, however, is comprised by the Scandinavian Peninsula, most of the land area of the British Isles, the Netherlands, Finland, the Baltic states, and parts of northern Germany. This northwestern European center of tallness is commonly referred to in anthropological literature as the primary Nordic racial zone.16 It is difficult, however, to agree that the tall stature of these countries is largely the result of the presence of Nordics, since its existence seems to be due to multiple factors. Historically, this is precisely the region of maximum survival of tall Palaeolithic hunters, while Corded people were concentrated in certain sections of it, especially in Denmark and Esthonia. Furthermore other contributing racial elements, such as the Bell Beaker people and the Megalithic navigators, were all tall, and these lands under consideration are at the same time precisely the regions of Europe least influenced by Danubian or Western Mediterranean agricultural invaders. Essentially, therefore, these are regions in which all contributing racial elements in the past have been tall, and in which there is no short-statured ethnic sub-stratum. Furthermore, northwestern Europe has been the scene of maximum stature increase during the last century.

A second European area of tall stature is the Dinaric mountain zone, the nucleus of which stretches along a narrow belt from Croatia to the Drin River in Albania, and which reaches its peak in Montenegro. Here one finds statures as tall as those in the north, and, in the heart of the area, taller. The origin of this Dinaric giantism is obscure, since the prehistoric archaeology of this region is almost unknown, and the crania documents from later times inadequate. We know that the Bell Beaker people settled here in some numbers, but hesitate to attribute to them alone the excessive height of modern Dinarics.

A third area is found in southwestern Russia, on the northern shore of the Black Sea, in the Ukraine; here Atlanto-Mediterranean factors seem largely responsible. On Asiatic territory the countries occupied by the non-mongoloid Turkomans and by the Iranian-speaking Kurds are seats of tall stature, as is the kingdom of Iraq, whose inhabitants have been tall since the days of the Sumerians.

One other principal area of tall stature, which is merely suggested within the limitations of the present map, is the Hamitic center located in East Africa. One recalls the giantism of the pluvial inhabitants of Kenya, which has apparently been perpetuated in the great height of living Hamites who inhabit the Horn of Africa and the western shore of the Red Sea. The most thoroughly Hamitic of the North African Berbers, the Tuareg, are as tall as northwestern Europeans. The tall stature zone of northern Africa is centered in regions of the Sahara occupied by nomadic Berbers, and extends itself into the fertile stretch of Africa Minor where these people have settled after invasions.

Turning to the consideration of short stature, we find that, aside from the far north and the territories occupied by recent Mongol invaders, it is concentrated today in the very regions most affected by early Neolithic migrations of short, food-producing Mediterraneans - namely, the western Mediterranean countries, from central France to Sicily, and the Danubian culture area, especially in its eastern and trans-Carpathian segment.

In general, one cannot over-simplify a distribution map dealing with a character as complex as stature, since south of the Arctic circle there are no large zones or major trends, and in most of the sub-areas a complicated sequence of historical events has taken place which has brought in a succession of peoples with different statures. Furthermore, different environmental stimuli operating in various places and at varying times have further served to complicate the picture.

The distributions of weight and bodily form, if these criteria could also be completely plotted, would make maps as interesting as that of stature. What information we possess suggests that they would be much simpler and more easily interpreted. In weight, for example, there would be one large zone in which the adult males in middle life would average over 150 pounds, with individuals in the two hundred class common, and this zone would correspond to the northwestern area of tall stature, and to adjacent parts of Germany, Holland, and Belgium. The center of the Dinaric zone would likewise be one of heavy weights, but the rest of Europe would run, for the most part, at least twenty pounds lighter.

In the long stretch of arid countries reaching across North Africa and Egypt into Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, light weights would be the rule, regardless of stature, and this would likewise be a zone of predominantly linear, or long and narrow, bodily habitus. Stocky build, on the other hand, would also be found to have little relationship to stature, since some of the tallest northern peoples and some of the Dinarics would be plotted as lateral. Sex differences in both stature and gross size would be found greatest in northwestern Europe, as among Upper Palaeolithic peoples, and least in eastern Europe and among western Mediterraneans. In general total bulk, regardless of stature, seems partly a function of environment, and excessive bodily volume is suggestively centered in cool, damp regions, while thin, light-bodied people are most frequently encountered in deserts. Great differences in size between the sexes seem commoner among large than among small peoples, and are most pronounced in the regions where Upper Palaeolithic strains survive in most concentrated solution.


14 See Chapter I, section 3.

15 Attention is called to the earlier maps of Deniker, and of Struck, both of which have been extensively copied.
Deniker, J., JRAJ, vol. 34, NS 7, 1904, pp. 181-206.
Gunther, H., Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes, pp. 216-217. (Early reproduction of Struck's maps.)

16 De Geer, S., "The Kernel Area of the Nordic Race within Northern Europe," in Lundborg, H., and Linders, F., Racial Character of the Swedish Nation.