(Chapter XI, section 7)
and the eastern Jews38
An integral part of the racial history of Mediterranean peoples is that of the Jews, who have spread widely throughout the world, and whose cultural position within the ranks of the white race is unique. From the standpoint of the physical anthropologist, Jewish history may be divided into two segments, (a) the formation of the Jewish people, and (b) their dispersion and subsequent racial history. Since the Jews are basically Mediterranean in race, the first segment, and that portion of the second which deals with the Mediterranean world, merit consideration in the present chapter.
The Children of Israel, who formed the basic stock of the present-day Jews, lived continuously and exclusively in Palestine from about 1200 B.C. until the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. These centuries of Jewish history may be considered the period of formation and those which follow the Babylonian conquest the period of dispersal, for the first diaspora was initiated by the Babylonian captivity.
The ethnic contents of Palestine, during the second half of the second millennium B.C., was varied. Aside from the Israelites it included the Amorites, whose domain was centered farther to the north, and who had controlled much of Palestine before the spread of Egyptian power northeastward at about 1600 B.C.; the Canaanites, who inhabited the land which bears their name until their absorption into the Israelitish body; and the Phiistines, who were a branch of the western sea-peoples who harried Egypt and the whole eastern end of the Mediterranean about 1200 B.C., the time of the Trojan War, and who may have come from the general neighborhood of the Aegean.
Egyptian monuments give us excellent pictures of Philistines, Amorites, and
Semites in general, under which last grouping the Canaanites must have been
included. The Philistines (Fig. 33) are represented as straight-nosed,
European-looking Mediterraneans, with light skins; the Amorites (Fig. 36) as
yellowish-skinned and long-faced, with long, convex-profiled noses and, in
some representations, heavy browridges. The drawings of the Semites in
general (Fig. 34), show sloping foreheads and exaggeratedly Near Eastern
noses of types easily recognizable today. The Egyptian artists had a genius
for accurate racial representation which emphasized characteristic features
and eliminated non-essentials. The Bible, a literary document which is poor
in descriptions of persons, indicates nevertheless
the Amorites were physically different in some respects from other
Palestinians—they are called "tall like cedars" and "strong as oaks."39
REPRESENTATIONS OF PALESTINIANS IN EGYPTIAN AND BABYLONIAN ART
The history of the Jews in Babylon, like that of the rest of the population, was interrupted by the arrival of the Mongols, who wreaked irreparable damage upon the valley of the two rivers, and reduced its population to a fraction of its former numbers. At this time the Jews shrank from over a million to a few thousands. At present the Jewish population of Iraq is 87,000, a small number in comparison to its former strength. Those who remain are, however, important as representatives of the ethnic source from which the Jewish colonies of many other Asiatic countries were drawn. Among these may be numbered the Persian Jews, who first left Iraq in the time of Cyrus, but whose major emigration from the same source took place during the twelfth century A.D. The Jews of Bokhara, in Russian Turkestan, are derivatives of the Persian nucleus.
The second Jewish diaspora was the stream of migration of Jews which followed the expansion of Hellenism; it began with Alexander and his successors, and continued under the Byzantine Empire. Although Jews spread to the entire Hellenistic and Byzantine worlds, there were two main centers (aside from Egypt,43 Syria, and Asia Minor), in which these Hellenistic Jews were concentrated; (a) the Balkans, and (b) the northern shore of the Black Sea. Both of these Jewish centers were established well before the Christian era. On the north shore of the Black Sea the greatest Jewish concentration point was the Crimea, where Jews went with the Greeks after the days of Alexander. The Hellenistic and Byzantine Jews of what is now southern Russia sustained the invasions of the Goths and of the Huns without dislodgement; in the seventh century A.D. they met the invasions of the Tatars. The rise of the Khazar kingdom, a Tatar state, was of some importance in Jewish history, for in 740 A.D. the reigning family and a few of the upper class of the Khazars were converted to Judaism.
The Khazars had two centers, one on the shores of the Caspian Sea at the mouth of the Volga, the other in the Crimea. The Caspian center was abolished between 966 and 969 A.D., but the Crimean center lasted until 1016 A.D. The power which broke up this kingdom was mainly that of the newly established Slavic state of Kiev. After the destruction of their kingdom, some of the Khazars who had accepted Judaism, together with the racial Jews who lived among them and had taken over Jagatai Turkish speech from them, scattered in various parts of southern Russia. Kiev and its neighborhood drew Jews not only from the disintegrated Khazar kingdom, but also from the Balkans, though there may have been Byzantine Jews in Kiev before 1016 A.D., since that Slavic center had been for some time under strong Byzantine influence
The third and final diaspora of the Jews was that which took them to the Roman world. This dispersion began in the time of the Maccabees, with the first contact between Jews and Romans, but it became particularly active from the time of the second destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. onward. The Jews who moved westward with the Romans were drawn from all the places of Jewish settlement, from Palestine as well as from the Hellenistic world. They followed the Romans into Italy, Spain, and France, and into Germany as far as the Rhine. The French Jews disappeared in 1394 A.D., when, as a result of mass expulsions, they were scattered among Jews in neighboring countries. The Italian Jews remained localized in Italy, where they have had a continuous history, and have, at various times, been influenced by successive immigrations of other Jews from other countries. The Jews who originally settled in Spain and in the Rhine Valley in Germany, spread, as a result of expulsions and migrations, to other countries, and the descendants of these two stocks are distinguished respectively by the terms Sephardim and Ashkenazim, borrowed from two Biblical words which, in mediaeval Jewish literature, were applied to Spain and Germany.
The expulsion of the Jews from Spain, along with that of the Moors, took place in 1492 A.D. These Spanish Jews spread at various times to Holland, to England, to Italy, and to North Africa, but the bulk of them took refuge in the newly expanded Turkish Empire. In many places where they went, they became the predominant element in the Jewish communities; in some of the Balkan cities the Jewish population was overwhelmingly if not exclusively Sephardic. Their descendants still speak a form of Spanish known as Ladino, and still preserve a costume and other cultural traits which are reminiscent of their Iberian sojourn.
The other branch of the western Jews, which was destined to become the most numerous element in the Jewish world, was that of the Ashkenazim, descendants of the original Jewish settlers in Germany. While the German Jews were originally confined to the Rhine Valley, after the First Crusade in 1096 A.D. they moved eastward in large numbers until they reached the Slavic countries, although small groups may have preceded them by at least two centuries in Bohemia and Poland.
In Poland and in southern Russia these German Jews met the remnants of the Byzantine Jews and of those who had been dominated by the Khazars, all of whom were being forced northward and westward by political disturbances. This meeting resulted in a fusion, in which the Jews from the west predominated both numerically and culturally. The German Jews, in their migration to the Slavic countries, carried with them their High German speech which developed into the Yiddish language, just as the Spanish Jews carried their Spanish idiom. Both, however, retained Hebrew as the language of literature, liturgy, and education.
As a result of the historical events summarized in the preceding pages, the Jews of the world may be divided into three principal groups: (a) The Ashkenazim; the central and eastern European Jews, and their offshoots in the newer settlements of North and South America, the Near East, South Africa, and elsewhere. (b) The Sephardim, who are most numerous in the Balkan states and the Near East, but who also live in scattered colonies on both shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and who have emigrated in some numbers to both North and South America. (c) The Oriental Jews, who belong in neither of the two categories just named, but owe their origins to various original migrations from Palestine, or to others from secondary Jewish sources.
The Oriental Jewish world includes colonies in North Africa, Palestine, Mesopotamia, the Caucasus, Persia, Russian Turkestan, and even India and China. Exotic varieties of Jews include the Falasha of northern Ethiopia, the so-called "Black Jews," who are somewhat negroid and who speak Agau, an early Cushitic language; and the Daggatuns, the black Jews of the southern Sahara. In North Africa there are many colonies of Berber-speaking Jews living in the mountains, who claim that their ancestors left Palestine before the Babylonian captivity.
It is possible that Jews entered North Africa with the Phoenicians, and it is certain that Judaism was once strong among many tribes of Berbers shortly before the arrival of the Moslems. The present Berber-speaking Jews are sharply distinguished from the Spanish-speaking Sephardim of Moroccan cities. Arabic-speaking Jews found in the mellahs of such cities as Casablanca, Marrakesh, Mogador, and Sefrou are derived from more than one Jewish source, but mostly from the Berber-speaking element.
The Jews were numerous in central and southern Arabia in the centuries immediately preceding Islam, although there is some uncertainty as to what time they arrived there and by what route. Colonies of them were to be found in the cities of the Hejaz and Yemen. In the latter country large numbers of the Sabaean population were converted to Judaism, and one of the sixth-century Sabaean kings, Yusuf Dhu Nuwas, was Jewish in religion. The Hadhramauti immigrants who colonized the Ethiopian highlands and founded the Ethiopian Empire were originally Jewish in belief, but shifted early to Coptic Christianity. During the lifetime of Mohammed the Jews were expelled from the Hejaz, and today they are found only in the Yemen.
At the present time there is no single Jewish community in the world which has been genetically isolated from admixture with Jews from other communities since the period of its first formation. For this reason we cannot assume that any one group of Oriental Jews is fully representative of the Palestinian Jews of the time of Christ. If, however, we study the Jews of the Mediterranean world both separately and as a group, we should be able to find the common racial denominator or denominators which will reveal to us the physical characteristics of their united ancient Jewish ancestors. Let us begin with present-day Palestine, where although representatives of every type of Jew have come together, there is a complete historical continuity of Jews from the time of Christ.
The modern Samaritans, who are generally supposed to represent the indigenous Palestinian Jewish strain more faithfully than any other, are tall, with a mean stature of 173 cm.,44 and mesocephalic (C. I. = 78), with heads similar in dimensions to both Yemenis and Mesopotamians. Their faces are moderately long (125 mm.), and narrow (132 mm.), while their thin foreheads are of moderate breadth (103 mm.). Their noses are leptorrhine (N. I. 66), and of moderate dimensions.
In pigmentation the Samaritans show more than the usual Mediterranean 25 per cent of partial or incipient blondism; out of 35 males, 17, or two-thirds, had black or dark brown head hair, one was blond, and the rest brown. Only 7 (22 per cent) out of 35 had black or dark brown beards, the rest were brown, blond, and red. In eye color, one-third were light or mixed; the rest were equally divided between dark brown and brown.
The general body of Oriental Jews, however, is less tall and less blond than these comparatively specialized and inbred Samaritans. Weissen berg, in a general series of Palestine Jews,45 finds no blondism, and the short stature of 159 cm., combined with the mean cephalic index of 79.8, extremely narrow faces (128 mm.), and a nasal index of 61. Convex noses, of a type which he designates as “Semitic,” are found in 78 per cent of his series.
Weissenberg, following von Luschan, thinks that the so-called Jewish face, and in particular the Jewish nose, were acquired by the Jews through mixture with Hittites.46 It is, however, unnecessary to postulate the exact source of these well-known features, since they are a part of the heritage of the entire Mediterranean racial population of Asia Minor, Syria, Mesopotamia, and points east. Some of the Jews must have had the high-bridged, convex nose, with a tendency to depression of the tip, from before the time of their dispersal, since it was common among Amorites and Canaanites, and since there is no group of living Jews anywhere some members of which do not possess these traits.
The Yemenite Jews, who form the only large colony of this people in Arabia, may be divided into two groups on the basis of residence and occupation. The largest and best known is the community of city Jews, living in the Kaa’-el-Yahud in Sana' a, and in other towns such as Sa'ada, Raudha, Ibb and Taiz. The others are country Jews, who live in small villages as farmers. The city Jews live mostly by commerce and by the exercise of manual trades, such as metal work, carpentry, masonry, and the manufacture of jewelry.
The city Jews of Sana'a47 are for the most part short, slender people, light-skinned but purely brunet in hair and eye color. The commonest shade of the hair is black and of the eyes dark brown. Weissenberg, however, finds four different shades of brown eyes among them. In stature and in cranial and facial dimensions, they resemble the Palestinian Jews greatly, except that the brachycephalic element is almost entirely lacking; the mean cephalic index of the Yemenites is 74. Their faces are absolutely small, with a total face height of under 120 mm., and a bizygomatic of 130 mm. In Weissenberg’s series, 60 per cent had straight nasal profiles and a few even concave.
To anyone familiar with these Jews in their native habitat, it is clear that there are two easily distinguished types among them. The more numerous is only moderately slender, often well muscled in the extremities. The face is short and of moderate breadth, the chin well developed, the lips of medium thickness or in some cases thick, the nose short and straight, with a tip of medium thickness and nasal wings usually medium, seldom compressed or flaring. The nasion depression is medium, and the browridges usually noticeable but not heavy. The eyebrows are thick and convergent, the eyes deep set and the palpebral opening is sometimes narrow.
The second and less numerous type is lighter in weight and slenderer, with small hands and feet, an extremely narrow head, a projecting occiput, and a sweeping curve to the forehead when seen in profile. The face is long and very narrow, the mandible slender, the lips thin, the nose extremely long with compressed wings, the nasion depression slight, the nasal tip somewhat depressed, and the nostrils highly set on the sides. Although the nasal profile is convex, the bridge of the nose is not unusually high.
Both of these types are purely or almost purely brunet in hair and eye color; both are brunet-white in skin color. Owing to the indoor life of the city Jews, they seem lighter-skinned, on the whole, than Arabs. The first type is sometimes heavy-bearded, the second usually scantily equipped with facial hair. The first type, which is the commonest, is found among the common run of Yemenitic Jews; the second may be seen most frequently among the wealthier and more prominent families.
To a foreigner used to seeing Ashkenazim, the aristocratic type, which would not be out of place among European Sephardim, looks the more Jewish; but to an Arab both look equally so. The Jewish appearance of the coarse type is concentrated in the eyebrows, eyes, and mouth; of the fine type in the nose. Although there is no doubt that much local blood was absorbed into the Jewish community by conversion in pre-Islamic days, it is not difficult to distinguish a Jew from an Arab in Sana'a, regardless of costume.
There is quality of looking Jewish, and its existence cannot be denied. Both Jews and Gentiles are aware of it, and any observant European or Arab who has seen many Jews can distinguish most of them from Gentiles with some accuracy, whether in Europe, America, or the Near East. There is, however, no known physical criterion or set of criteria by which this quality may be measured. It cannot be nasal convexity, for Arabs, Afghans, and many Europeans have high incidences of it, while among Arabian, North African, and Sephardic Jews, the majority of noses are straight. It cannot be tip depression, for that is also common among other peoples. It cannot be the external eye, for while Arabian Jews sometimes have deep-set slitty eyes, European Jews often have prominent, widely open, large-lidded ones. Two other characters may be mentioned as possibilities, but neither is by any means universal among Jews. One is a high attachment of the nasal wings on the cheek, with a great lateral visibility of the septum; the other is a characteristic slant to the ear in both the frontal and lateral planes.
It seems most likely that, while all of these racial criteria enter into this quality, the deciding factor may not be so much physical, as social and psychological.48 It is possible that the feature which confirms the tentative identification of a person as a Jew, aside from clothing, speech, and other external cultural phenomena, is a characteristic facial expression centered about the eyes, nose, and mouth; this seems to be a socially induced element of behavior. Not all Jews, by any means, have it; those who lack it may be just as “Jewish” in the racial sense as those that possess it; it is the absence of this expression, as well as the absence of other purely cultural diagnostics, which may be responsible for faulty identifications in many such instances. The Jewish look may be seen occasionally upon members of other ethnic groups; it is one of the standard patterns of facial expression which man possesses in his repertoire as a primate.
The Jews are by no means unique in the possession of a national or ethnic facial expression. The English Public School man of standard type, trained in a social tradition as definite in its own way as that of the Jew, has a look that can be recognized almost anywhere, and one which is just as easy prey to the cartoonist as is that of the Jew. Many further examples could he introduced, if necessary; however, the only point that needs be brought out here is that the Jews form an ethnic group; that like all ethnic groups they have their own racial elements distributed in their own proportions; like all or most ethnic groups they have their “look”, a part of their cultural heritage that both preserves and expresses their cultural solidarity. And since the ethnic solidarity of the Jews is remarkable for its strength and constancy, so the Jewish look seems to be one of the most noticeable and most easily distinguished of characteristic facial expressions found within the racial family of white people.
Leaving their cultural attributes aside, we find nothing mysterious about the physical, racial origin of the Jews. Those with whom we are, in the present section, concerned are a group of Mediterranean Semites who absorbed, early in their history, the old population of Palestine, which was also largely Mediterranean in blood. The strains which they absorbed contained much of the old Cappadocian element typical of both Palestine and Asia Minor. From this heritage, through subsequent inbreeding and through the influences of social and occupational selection—stronger in their case than with any other important white people—they have developcd a special racial sub-type and a special pattern of facial and bodily expression easy to identify but difficult to define.
The Mesopotamian Jews,49 to continue our study of the Oriental division, are no different as a group from their coreligionists in Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, and Palestine; they are of moderate stature (164 cm.), dolicho- to mesocephalic (C. I. = 78), leptorrhine (N. I. = 61), narrow-faced, straight- or convex-nosed, and brunet in pigmentation. The preservation by them of a Mediterranean type in a Mediterranean country is to be expected, but that these Jews are for the most part truly Jews and not Judaized Iraqians is apparent from their absolutely smaller heads and faces, in comparison to those of the Moslems, and from the dimensions and proportions of their noses.
The Jews in northern Mesopotamia, especially in Mosul, where many of the Arabic-speaking Moslems are themselves round-headed, have been altered by a process of brachycephalization.50 The same is true in northern Persia; the mean cephalic index for Jews of Urmia51 is 82, and this rise over the lowland Mesopotamian Jewish level is accompanied by a shortening of the head length, an increase in its breadth, and an increase in the facial breadth as well. The stature rises to 165 cm., while the nose form and the pigmentation remain constant. It is apparent that a Dinaric-like form has been produced by Alpine admixture, probably through some already Dinaricized medium. In southern Persia, however, the Jews retain their long-headed form.52
Turning to the west again, we find ample statistical evidence to prove that the Jews of Egypt and North Africa, as well as the Spaniols or exiled Sephardim, whether living in Salonika and other parts of the former Turkish empire in Europe, or in Palestine, conform closely to the Oriental Jewish types already defined, and form with them an anthropometric unit.53 The North African Jews are on the whole taller than those of palestine and Yemen, with a mean stature almost uniformly between 164 nd 166 cm.; their cephalic index is 74, and very few individuals are brachycephalic. No more than 5 per cent show any evidence of blondism. The same two facial types noticed in the Yemen were found by Kossovitch and Benoit in Morocco,54 and confirmed by the discovery of bimodality in facial and nasal index curves. Regional variations of Jews in North Africa are extremely slight. Although mixture with Arabs and Berbers would tend to preserve the original Jewish indices, the absolute cranial dimensions of the Jews are smaller than those of most Berbers, and agree with the Palestinian and Yemenitic means.
The Sephardic Jews of Salonika and of Turkey in Europe differ from the North African ones only in possessing the mesocephalic cephalic index of 78; they are predominantly straight-nosed, and partly blond in one-sixth of the group. Correlations within the Moroccan and Turkish series show that the blond element is no different anthropometrically from the brunet, and that it is probably a minority tendency inherent in the Jews, rather than an accretion acquired in their wanderings. Jews in Egypt differ in no important way from their co-religionists in North Africa and Palestine.
On the whole the Jews of the entire Mediterranean racial belt, from Persia to Morocco, and including those whose ancestors once lived in Spain, are remarkably constant in their racial unity. This unity may be partly due to the fact that these Jews have lived among peoples little different from themselves racially, but it cannot be wholly or even largely explained on that basis, since, as has been shown above, these Jews differ less from each other, regardless of geographical distance, than they do from the peoples nearest at hand. Endogamy and an extraordinary ethnic solidarity must be the most important causes.
So far as our present
study of living Jewish peoples has been carried, we
are justified in concluding that the Jews are an ethnic unit, although one
which has little regard for spatial considerations. Like other ethnic units,
the Jews have their own standard racial character, in this case a
stable combination of several brunet Mediterranean sub-races. How far this Jewish
racial entity is concerned with the Jews of central Europe and of central Asia
is a question which must be deferred to the next chapter.
The information on which the
introductory pages of this section are based is drawn partly from Oesterley, W. 0.
E., and Robinson, T. H., A History of Israel (vol. 1); and
partly from data given me by Dr. Robert E. Pfeiffer and by Professor Harry
am especially indebted to Dr. Pfeiffer for the earlier material, and to
Professor Wolfson for that concerning the history of the Jews from the time
of the Babylonian captivity