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Lecture

14_1 Modern Human Variability script.pdf

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Department
Archaeology
Course
ARCH 131
Professor
Dennis Sandgathe
Semester
Summer

Description
UNIT 14 MODERN HUMAN VARIABILITY Slide 1 Title slide Slide 2 Before we examine current understandings of modern human variability we are going to briefly examine some of the history of how scientists and the public have viewed this variability in the pastThere is no question that throughout our history humans have spent a lot of time concentrating sometimes with an unhealthy preoccupation we might say on the visible differences between people from different regions This preoccupation has resulted in significant misconceptions and strife over the centuries but there is no question that understanding the nature of human variability is an important scientific pursuit Slide 3 Probably the most common or popular view is that modern humans can be divided up into different races that represent distinct and discrete groups However what is meant by the term race and what is implied by its use has changed along with changes in social norms social mores and social theory over the years Linnaeus in the mid 1700s might have been the first to try to classify humans systematically He put modern humans into 4 groupsHomo sapiens Europeus albescenswhite people from EuropeHomo sapiens Africanus negreus black people from AfricaHomo sapiens Asiaticus fucusdark people from AsiaHomo sapiens Americanus rubescensred people from the Americas These were not just considered morphologically distinct groupsLinnaeus presumed that races also exhibited distinct innate behaviourspersonalities Americanus were reddish in colour stubborn and angered easilyAfricanus were black relaxed and negligent Asiaticus were sallow greedy and easily distractedEuropeanus were white gentle and industrious Linnaeus was of course simply reflecting the basic biases and common racist views of Europeans and others of his time Slide 4 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach a German anatomist of the late 1700s and early 1800s was the one who first came up with the initial version of 5 races that came to dominate historic views until very recently and are unfortunately actually still in common usage by some people Blumenbach based his classification mainly on differences in the shape of the skull of people from different regionsHis initial groupings were Mongolian American Caucasian and African and in his later third edition in1795 he added a fifth geographic variation the Malayan Blumenbachs categorization was quite enlightened for his day but unfortunately was misused He recognized that these categories were largely arbitrary especially for things like skin colour which arent discrete characteristics but others failed to appreciate this and saw the categories as being real things reflecting actual discrete groups Slide 5 In the 1840s Anders Retzius developed the cephalic index that was used to categorize people into what were again seen as discrete groups This was viewed in the day as being very objective rigourous and scientific The cephalic Index is computed by dividing the breadth of the skull by the length of the skull and multiplying by 100 The breadth of the skull
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