(Chapter XIII, section 1)

Comments and Reflections


Since the classification of the subdivisions of the white race has already been given in Chapter VIII, it seems unnecessary to review it here; the second part of the book has been summarized in advance. The work as a whole is an attempt to deal with the materials of physical anthropology in terms of archaeology and of history, in recognition of the facts that the human body is one unit in a social group of bodies and cannot be studied profitably out of its biological and social context. Furthermore, it cannot be studied with more than indifferent profit in the flat two-dimensional plane of the present; reference must be had to the past, and thoughts may be legitimately entertained as to the future.

It has been borne home to me, in the perusal of the body of anthropometric literature concerning the living members of the white race, that one good, accurately measured study of a few hundred men, which includes all of the more important measurements permitted by the Monaco agreement and specified by Rudolf Martin, as well as a large number of accurately taken morphological observations, is better than a general survey of a few characters on a million. Studies of this nature have so far been made principally by Americans, Norwegians, Germans, Austrians, and Russians. In tribute to the volume and accuracy of their observational data, it is my feeling that we anthropometrists of the rest of the world must take off our hats to our colleagues in Moscow. Their activities in both the European and the Asiatic portions of their country have been extremely productive and have served to cast much light upon the definition of the mongoloid race, and upon the racial history of the Uralic- and Altaic-speaking peoples. For a systematic investigation of their own people, the palm is divided between Norway and Germany; in the latter case it goes especially to the editors and authors of the Deutsche Rassenkunde.

For many years physical anthropologists have found it more amusing to travel to distant lands and to measure small remnants of little known or romantic peoples than to tackle the drudgery of a systematic study of their own compatriots. For that reason the sections in the present book which deal with the Lapps, the Arabs, the Berbers, the Tajiks, and the Ghegs may appear more fully and more lucidly treated than those which deal with the French, the Hungarians, the Czechs, or the English. What is needed more than anything else in this respect is a thoroughgoing study of the inhabitants of the principal and most powerful nations of Europe.

Much more badly needed, however, than data on the living is the publication of skeletal material of all cultural periods in European prehistory and history. European museums and private collections abound with skulls and long bones, only a small proportion of which have as yet been made available through the literature. Most of these are of Neolithic or later date; when a skull of alleged or real glacial age is discovered, it is, as a rule, soon published.

In the reconstruction of the racial history of the white race which appears in the preceding chapters, the reader may readily discover that there are many weak places and gaps, which have been bridged by the use of far too little data. This has been done intentionally, so that the picture may appear as a whole, and so that a logical, if hypothetical, scheme may be devised. It is inevitable that between the writing and the printing of this sentence, some of these gaps will have been filled by the discovery or collection of new data, and that some of the reconstructions will be proved false, while others, we hope, may perhaps be confirmed. He who offers a scheme explaining the totality of anything must be bold or his scheme is useless; he must not, above all, be afraid of exposure. The theorizers of one generation furnish pleasure to the fact finders of the next, by giving them something to tear down, and by daring to be wrong.

Before a second edition of this book is written, or other books compiled to disprove or replace it, it is my sincere wish that more light will be shed by the fraternity of diggers and measurers upon at least the following problems: (a) the skeletal history of the Mediterranean race in pre-food-producing times; (b) the unveiling of that great European mystery, the Mesolithic; (c) the origin and history of the Alpines; (d) the same for the Corded people; (e) the same for the bearers of the Megalithic culture into the western Mediterranean and northwestern Europe. There are many other weak spots in our fabric, but these seem, to me at least, to be the weakest.