Saturday, March 30, 2013

Roger Pearson's "The Greek Face" completely debunked.

Roger Pearson is a neo-Nordicist writer and founder of two peer reviewed academic journals known as Mankind Quarterly and The Journal of Indo-European Studies. I for one do not consider those journals to be necessarily bad, even though both (and in particular Mankind Quarterly) have come under heavy attack by the more politically correct mainstream. Pearson himself is a known eugenicist and racialist; however he has not contributed to or edited either of those journals in decades, and both journals have featured plenty of accredited and prestigious anthropologists and linguists such as J.P. Mallory. 

      However, I do have a particular problem with an article by Pearson titled The Greek Face made back from 1974 which I continue to see surface and referenced on the web from time to time. Unlike Pearson's early delves into racial history where he simply re-tells (literally word for word) old Hans F.K. Guenther fantasies, this article attempts to reference the actual scientific work of other well respected anthropologists and scientists who have studied the question hands on. The article made by Pearson concerns the racial affiliation of ancient and aristocratic class Greeks, and he focuses primarily on the Eupatridaes of ancient Athens. The problem with the article is Pearson completely distorts and outright lies about the sources he attempts to use to support his Nordicist premise.

Pearson's premise can be basically outlined as follows.

1. The Proto Indo-European speakers lived in the North Pontic Steppe region, and thus Indo-Europeanization of Greece happened during the Bronze age.

2. The populations who Indo-Europeanized Greece had full genetic continuity with the Proto Indo-European speakers.

3. The Eupatridaes of classical Athens had full genetic continuity from the populations who Indo-Europeanized Greece, while the commoners of Athens and Greece in general were not descended from them at all or very little. Thus there was a racial caste system in classical Athens amongst the Athenians themselves.

     I'll start right off by saying premise 1 which was originally put forth by archeologist Marija Gimbutas is still very much up for debate. Regarding premise 1, I certainly wont delve into that question in this blog entry since I nor really anyone else at the moment has any hope in either outright refuting it or outright proving it. Also, since the anthropologists Pearson attempts to use as sources [in Particular J. Lawrence Angel] followed that model of PIE homeland and timescale breakdown, I'll just comply with it for the sake of making a long story short. But lets deal in particular with premises 2 and 3 since they deal with biological and not linguistic matters. Let's firstly deal with Premise 2.

Pearson writes
    "Several attempts have been made to discuss the physical anthropology of Greece from the point of view ol the available skeletal evidence. Some early references were made by pioneers such as Ripley (1899), Schuchhardt (1926), and J.L. Myres (1930). More recently Coon (1954) and Angel (1944, 1945, 1946 [a] [b]) have added considerable information. In his most recent work on the subject, a detailed analysis of the numerous skeletal remains found in different cemeteries in the excavations at Lerna, Angel (1971) concludes that the immigrant Hellenic or Indo-European population reflected a 'Nordic' type which probably arrived from the Danubian area, and also a related 'Iranic' type. This latter appears to reflect a separate Indo-European invasion from the direction of Anatolia, although Angel assumes that both these related types originated ultimately from the area of the Pontic steppes."

Now this is what I call a blatant distortion. Angel believed that the Indo-Europeanizers of Greece were partially descended from North Pontic Steppes populations. However, Angel also said that they had morphological overlap and genetic heritage from "Balkan mountain peoples" and Near Eastern "Iranians"!

The real quote from Angel (1971)
    "My subjective and extremely speculative survey suggests that origins of the population were mostly local, derived from the Neolithic and later pre-Greek populations, with the Near East and Upper Paleolithic Central and Eastern Europe as ultimate sources. But altogether too sketchy data for the period before 2,000 B.C. Plus an analysis of the Middle Bronze Age do suggest a double intrusion of peoples who must have introduced Indo-European languages : from the east (originating in Iran and the steppe country) and from the north (also originating in the steppe country and from among Balkan mountain peoples)."

So according to Angel the North Pontic Steppes was not the only genetic source for the earliest Greek speakers, but also the Near East and the Balkans.

Another thing, in Angel's taxa system they were not morphologically "Nordic" as Pearson's lies claim they were. They were a morphological mix of Nordic-Iranian, Eastern Alpine, European Alpine, and Dinaroid. As the very next sentence from Angel states.
    "They seem to have been themselves mixed and newly forming groups, and they produced slight trends in Nordic-Iranian plus Eastern and European Alpine and Dinaroid directions."

Pearson also lies and makes silly and unfounded "racial purity" claims about the early Indo-European Greek speakers when he says this.
    "In the course of some five or six millennia of expansion and conquest, an expanding IE upper caste may undoubtedly have preserved a high degree of genetic continuity, while simply superimposing itself upon the autochthonous populations."

How can he make such a claim when that was proven wrong by his own scientific source? Maybe I need to paste the the quote from Angel again.
    "They seem to have been themselves mixed and newly forming groups, and they produced slight trends in Nordic-Iranian plus Eastern and European Alpine and Dinaroid directions."

Key words : "mixed" and "newly forming". So the earliest Greeks certainly weren't undiluted remnants of the alleged Proto Indo-European Steppe populations, they only had partial ancestry from them. The point is the earliest Greeks didn't just develop their own unique culture and dialectical language from the Proto Indo-European culture and language (which would have preceded them by thousands of years) they had formed their own new and distinct genetic identity as well, and were sitting on a land pretty distant from the North Pontic Steppe. These early Bronze age Greeks then in turn mixed with and Hellenized the remainder of Greece soon forming Mycenaean and much later Classical Greek culture and genetic identities.

SOURCE for Angel's analysis (same sourced used by Pearson) : Angel, J. Lawrence, 1971, The people of Lerna; analysis of a prehistoric Aegean population (page 111), American School of Classical Studies, Athens.


Now as far as Premise 3 is concerned, Pearson states that the Eurapatrids in classical Athens would have been a racially distinct caste compared to the commoners based on supposed "Indo-European derived ancestry" (whatever that means) as compared to non Indo-European derived ancestry for the commoners.
    "From the point of view of physical anthropology the ethnic complexity of Greek society during the first millennium B.C. prohibits any attempt at a generalized statement of physical type based upon statistical averages of data derived from the available skeletal material. Substantial caste-like stratification, accompanied by relatively strict principles of caste endogamy separated the Indo-European-derived Eupatrids from the freemen and slave classes among whom the genetic influence of the autochthonous 'Pelasgian' population may have predominated. In addition the persistence of cremation among so very many of the aristocratic families from the time of Homer to well into the Classical period destroyed much of the physical evidence concerning this latter strata."

Firstly Pearson is somewhat misguided in saying that the freemen and slave classes in classical Athens would have descended from an autochthonous 'Pelasgian' [ie pre Greek] genetic strata. As Angel (1944) himself points out
"The Mycenaean blend seems to be fundamental in all later Greek populations down to the present day. Its formation was principally absorption of Middle Bronze Age intrusive strains by the pre-Greek racial substratum."
SOURCE : Angel, J. Lawrence, 1944, A racial analysis of the ancient Greeks: An essay on the use of morphological types, American Journal of Physical Anthropology


Angel deduced based on skeletal analysis that the Mycenaean racial blend was a mixture and synthesis of a pre Greek [ie Neolithic and often called 'Pelasgian'] and intrusive Bronze age genetic strains (from the North and East) which brought Indo-European speech to Greece. Not only that, but the Mycenaean racial blend was still the fundamental blend of the later classical Greek population whom Pearson is talking about. It's important to note that Angel's skeletal analysis here is not on aristocratic Greeks, so the commoners in classical Athens would have been a mixture of the two genetic elements, and so would have not descended only from the Neolithic pre Greek genetic strata. Weird how Pearson sources this same study from Angel but he seems to ignore that, maybe because it doesn't fit his race fantasies? Ehh, who knows.

Pearson is correct in pointing out that by the time of Classical Greece the Athenian aristocrats practiced cremation (strangely, this is very different than the "Kurgan mound" burial method of the alleged Proto Indo-European Steppe populations practiced) and that any known physical remains of them are scanty. However, even John V. Day is forced to admit that nearly a thousand years earlier in Mycenaean times that the Greek aristocrats were racially similar to the commoners. Unlike the Classic era Athenians, The Mycenaean Greek aristocrats didn't practice cremation, they buried their dead in Shaft Graves. Not only does John V. Day give a summary of Angel's analysis of them (who hypothesized based on the data he had they were racially similar to the commoners), he also sources a more modern multidimensional cranio-metric analysis of the Mycenaean aristocrats as compared to the commoners of the same era.
     "On balance though, he attributes their size to a diet with plenty of meat and (as their teeth show) to good health, and to upwardly mobile rulers usually being larger and stronger than average (Angel 1973:386-7, 393;ef Xirotiris 1979a: 78; 1979b: 166). Angel concludes that 'except for their greater size and muscularity they differ from their subjects only in having relatively lower heads, probably relatively longer heads, and perhaps longer noses and more projecting mouths'  (1973:393). Others have tested Angel's hypothesis that the nobles in Grave Circle B resemble their subjects. Musgave and Evans carry out a principal component analysis on the Mycenae Grave Circle B series and 15 other eastern Mediterranean series [firgure 2.2]. Because Grave Circle B clusters so well with the two Early and Middle Bronze Age Greek series. Musgrave and Evans argue that 'these Bronze Age Greeks from Attica and the Argolid belonged to a single, homogeneous population.'"
Musgrave, J.H., Evans S.P., 1981, By strangers honor’d: a statistical study of ancient crania from Crete, mainland Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt, Journal of Mediterranean Anthropology and Archaeology, 1(1), pp. 50-107

SOURCE : Day, J.V., 2000, Indo-European Origins: the Anthropological Evidence (page 198), Institute for the Study of Man, Washington D.C.


So, how can Classical era Ancient Athenian aristocrats descend from a distinct racial caste which genetically derive from the (supposed) Proto Indo-European steppe groups when we know

A. The Indo-Europeanization of Greece dates back at latest to the beginning of the second millennium B.C. [ie around 2,000 B.C. at latest].

B. J. Lawrence Angel who followed Majira Gimbutas' theory of the PIE homeland and timescale breakdown already believed the earliest Indo-European speakers in Greece were genetically descended in partial from not just Steppe groups but also Balkan mountain people and Near Easterners. Thus the earliest Indo-Europeans around the Aegean did not have complete genetic continuity from the alleged Proto Indo-Europeans of the Steppe, only partial.

C. The Mycenaean Greek racial blend itself didn't have complete genetic continuity with the earliest Greeks / Indo-Europeans around the Aegean, only partial. It predominated in all later Greeks and itself was just a synthesis of Proto Greek / Indo-European Bronze age intrusive strains with a Neolithic [pre Greek/'Pelasgian'] genetic substratum.   

D. The earliest Greek elites known are from the Mycenaean era and are proven to cranio-metrically tie to the commoners of the same period.

E. Classical Athens post dates Mycenaean times by nearly a thousand years.

As we can see, Pearson is just a non objective, non empirical, pseudo scientific, dishonest and distorting ideologue. I think discrediting him by just shouting "Nordicist" or "Neo Nazi" is weak, but the proof is in the pudding that anything he says on the racial history of any ancient people is not to be taken seriously. 

Enough of the science, my two cents

     There exists 0 evidence that the upper classes in ancient Greece differed in race from the commoners, certainly none in classical Athens. The remainder of his article he just posts pictures of busts of Athenian aristocrats as compared to people who were not of aristocratic birth. The funny thing is, other than Socrates, Archilochus, and Menander... none of the people whom he considers "non Indo-European" and "racially distinct" from the Athenian aristocrats are even Greeks! A Phoenician named Zeno, an Ethiopian named Memnon, a Cilician named Chrysippus, some crappy picture of some Anatolian slave named Aesop. And in my opinion Archilochus and Menande look fine among the Athenian aristocrats, they could fit right in. Menande would just have to grow some facial hair. Only Socrates who's physical ugliness was well documented looked strange. Generally upper classes of any people are finer featured and better looking than the average population. Socrates was homely, so what? I don't see the "racial caste system" Pearson is conjuring up.

     Now, looking elsewhere the ancient Spartans did eventually turn themselves into a master caste in the Peloponessus after they had conquered the Messenians in the Messenian Wars, enslaving the bulk of Messenians turning them into Helots. But this didn't happen until about the 8th century B.C. Also these differences would have probably been more 'ethnic' as the Spartans descended from Doric Greeks who had first entered the Peloponnese during the Greek dark ages, while the Messenians were of earlier pre Doric Greek stock. I doubt there was much bigger racial difference between those two groups than there was between the Latini descended Romans and the Samnites in Italy who waged wars against one another. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

J. Lawrence Angel on the Racial History of Greeks.

More like typological history (or a chronology of morphological change), a now abandoned science. But I did find what he had to say somewhat interesting. 

     "No type frequency predictions have been worked out for the small
series of living Greeks from around the isthmian region, since estimated skull measurements like those of the next to last column of table 8 can never be certain, although they allow comparison. The average is a well-filled and fairly high-headed brachycephaly, with high and broad forehead and nonprotuberant occiput. The face is broad and not excessively high, somewhat square in outline, and marked by broad jowls, strong chin and cheekbones, long, thick, and straight (-convex) nose, and poor teeth with a developed overbite. Alpine dominance is linked with a pervasive though limited Dinaric trend and contrasts with a strong Basic White minority. Gracile Mediterraneans are common, and Nordic-Iranians not absent though rarer than in north Greece. The modern Greek series resembles the Roman more than the Byzantine sample and continues Roman period trends away from the Classical period norm. This shows the racial continuity between ancient and modern Greeks, though the modern sample differs considerably from ancient Greeks taken as a whole.
     Next to their heterogeneity, this unbroken racial continuity of the Greeks is the most important conclusion from the outline of their racial history. Continuity does not mean stasis. And several long-term trends are perceptible in tables 6, 7. 8 and 9 in addition to the period by period racial fluctuations.
     The major racial trend is a gradual shift from a virtually longheaded, “Mediterranean” mode toward an Alpine norm, with incipient Dinaric features subtly added 26 as suggested in figure 13. Inclusion of Alpines with southeastern as well as with northern immigrations into Greece may well be one reason for this trend, which derives inextricably from alternation of two contrasting racial complexes. One is a dolichomorph and mainly Mediterranean blend, generally unified, and characteristic of periods of cultural unity such as the Mycenaean and Classical, with weaker effect in the Early Bronze Age. The other is marked by Alpines either mixed with or next to Nordic-Iranians, heterogeneous, and occurring in phases of invasions and confusion such as the Middle Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, and Roman period. The Byzantine sample These fluctuations have been linked with sea-borne immigrations from south and southeast and with invasions from north, northeast, or east respectively, and with the absorption of such intruders by the established population of Greece. This forms a regular cycle of racial change so timed that the fluctuations describe an irregularly spiral patharound the central racial trend.
     Two less sweeping trends are interesting because the type predictions in table 7 show them incompletely or not at all, and they are therefore emphasized by their departure from prediction. The first of these is a steady increase in nose size from Middle Bronze down to Roman times, and then down to the present day. Roman period nose height significantly exceeds Middle Bronze or Mycenaean values, and nose breadth almost does so. This is shown weakly in the predictions from Mycenaean times onward, and must be some sort of Dinaric-Iranian genetic recombination. 
     The second trend is a rather sharp rise in bigonial breadth starting
earlier than the slight Alpine increase in other face breadths and continuing less markedly down to modern times. This shows a steady departure from predicted values. It springs apparently from Nordic-
Iranian and Basic White recombination of linked genes, with secondary
association with Alpine features.
     The major non-racial trend is a general increase in stature, especially from prehistoric into historic times, utterly unpredicted by morphological type changes, and supported by a less clearcut increase in head size, involving horizontal circumference and skull base length especially, up to Roman times, with a definite drop in the Byzantine period. Byzantine stature may be overestimated. And it is virtually certain that this size increase is environmentally caused by a steady improvement in diet and hygiene from prehistoric to Classical and Roman times, followed by a medieval lapse.
     The dentition of ancient Greeks shows many interesting chronological fluctuations, with one major trend worth stressing. This is a morphological complex involving more overbites, slightly deeper
glenoid fossae, probably more crowded teeth and more alveolar absorption, degeneration of the third molar, and shallower and slightly
more prominent chins. It develops from prehistoric to historic times,
reaching full bloom in the Roman period and again among living
Greeks. This masticatory degeneration clearly is linked with use of
more “civilized” food, with other causes less obvious, though a connection with increasing Alpine influence seems unlikely.
     From a broad anthropological standpoint fluctuations in variability
are the most interesting ones. Mycenaean and Classical periods of
commercial success and high cultural achievement both show a “normal”, relatively low, variability with dominance by a single “Mediterranean” racial amalgam : a smooth pan-mixia of potentially contrasting genetic tendencies. These periods follow and precede historic phases of invasions, isolation, and cultural confusion marked by high variability with an even balance between contrasting types or a struggle for dominance between two divergent type complexes. Thus a pattern of vigorous outbreeding and rapid racial fusion marks the transition from Middle Bronze Age to Mycenaean and less extremely from Early Iron Age to Classical period: formation of a successful culture is linked with formation of a smooth racial blend. The relatively slight rise in Early Iron Age variability 29 is a function of the relatively short duration of the Dorian invasions with less complete cultural depression than in other periods of turmoil. Hence the major trend in variability is a significant drop from the elevated Middle Bronze Age level followed by a stress on racial fusion into the Classical period, with subsequent rise in variability and in racial heterogeneity. This trend makes clearer the association of reduced variability and racial fusion with such things as population increase and free intercommunication between easily isolated harbors and valleys, as well as general high level of culture.
     Thus although the use of types allows a more dynamic understanding than otherwise possible of the connection of changes in variability with race mixture, it does not show the ultimate causes of racial fusion nor the precise relation of this process to cultural achievement. These things obviously would be of great psychological, social, and historical interest. Without a more detailed sociological analysis it is impossible to draw far-reaching conclusions along these lines. But race mixture is a genetically stimulating process (Ashley Montagu, '42, pp. 98-1W), and the facts arrayed by typological analysis of Greek racial history support the historical principle that great peoples are as intensely mixed biologically as culturally."
So basically what has happened in a typological perspective is the average Greek cephalic structure has increased. The Classical Greeks were on average low Mesocephalic, while today's Greeks are low brachycephalic or maybe approaching high Mesocephalic. This seemed to happen in the Middle ages, and it didn't happen just in Greece, but in many countries like Poland and Germany. It doesn't necessarily mean significant geneflow from the outside or North from Slavs, that of course is a question that population genetics can and will eventually answer.  However, there are still plenty of low mesocephalic and dolichocephalic Greeks, brachycephalization is concentrated mostly in the North. 

SOURCE : Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe. Armonk, New York, and London, England: M.E. Sharpe, 1994.


Also Angel claims Greeks have grown taller over history, which he attributes to improvement of a healthy diet and better hygiene. And lastly despite all these changes he claims today's Greeks are still a fundamental product of the Mycenaean racial blend.
"The Mycenaean blend seems to be fundamental in all later Greek populations down to the present day. Its formation was principally absorption of Middle Bronze Age intrusive strains by the pre-Greek racial substratum."
Basically a mix of the Neolithic farmers who had settled the Aegean (and had all but completely replaced the low population density Paleolithic population) who's distant ancestry was from the Fertile Crescent region, with migrations and geneflow soon coming in from the North who's distant ancestry came in from the more mountainous Balkan regions and Central Europe. Which of course if we were to look at the Y haplogroup diversity of today's Greeks, we would see Angel's conclusion makes a lot of sense. R1a1a-M17 [M458 and Z280 subclades] and I-M423 carrying males coming in and mixing with R1b, G2, J2, and E1b1b carrying populations. Broadly speaking without getting too technical, that is how it went down in my opinion.

SOURCE : Angel, J. Lawrence, 1944, A racial analysis of the ancient Greeks: An essay on the use of morphological types, American Journal of Physical Anthropology


Friday, March 1, 2013

Lack of significant Northern geneflow into the Italian and Iberian peninsulas over the last 1500 years.

Everyone who is a student of history knows that after the fall of the Roman empire, there was a "migration period" where Germanic groups migrated all over Europe, including the Italian and Iberian peninsulas, setting up and reigning over Kingdoms there. However, it appears that after the fall of those Kingdoms they were quickly absorbed into the local population and have had a minimal genetic impact (probably because they were very outnumbered as a whole). A recent genome wide IBD (Identity-By-Descent) study shows that Italian [which includes Northern, Central, and Southern Italians] and Iberians have very minimal IBD sharing with Northern Europeans over the last 1,500 years. 

The geography of recent genetic ancestry across Europe

Peter Ralph, Graham Coop
(Submitted on 16 Jul 2012)

"The recent genealogical history of human populations is a complex mosaic formed by individual migration, large-scale population movements, and other demographic events. Population genomics datasets can provide a window into this recent history, as rare traces of recent shared genetic ancestry are detectable due to long segments of shared genomic material. We make use of genomic data for 2,257 Europeans (the POPRES dataset) to conduct one of the first surveys of recent genealogical ancestry over the past three thousand years at a continental scale. We detected 1.9 million shared genomic segments, and used the lengths of these to infer the distribution of shared ancestors across time and geography. We find that a pair of modern Europeans living in neighboring populations share around 10-50 genetic common ancestors from the last 1500 years, and upwards of 500 genetic ancestors from the previous 1000 years. These numbers drop off exponentially with geographic distance, but since genetic ancestry is rare, individuals from opposite ends of Europe are still expected to share millions of common genealogical ancestors over the last 1000 years. There is substantial regional variation in the number of shared genetic ancestors: especially high numbers of common ancestors between many eastern populations likely date to the Slavic and/or Hunnic expansions, while much lower levels of common ancestry in the Italian and Iberian peninsulas may indicate weaker demographic effects of Germanic expansions into these areas and/or more stably structured populations. Recent shared ancestry in modern Europeans is ubiquitous, and clearly shows the impact of both small-scale migration and large historical events. Population genomic datasets have considerable power to uncover recent demographic history, and will allow a much fuller picture of the close genealogical kinship of individuals across the world." 

Notice in the figure below, appreciable IBD sharing between Italy and Iberia with Northern Europe is only from the 1515-2535 years ago period. It's interesting that Italy does share some noticeable IBD sharing with the Balkans from the 555-1500 years ago period. Perhaps genetic exchange happen between the two groups during population movements in the Byzantine era.

SOURCEPeter Ralph, Graham Coop, The geography of recent genetic ancestry across Europe Populations and Evolution, arXiv:1207.3815v2 [q-bio.PE]