Monday, February 1, 2010

Tournai : Wallonia (Belgium)

At the southern limit of the Flemish plain, Tournai (Doornik in Dutch), then known as Tornacum, was a place of minor importance in Roman times in the Belgic city of the Nervii the territory of which encompassed Belgian and French Flanders. A traditionally Romance-speaking area (Picard is the vernacular dialect) neighbouring Dutch-speaking lands, it was eventually included into Hainaut though historically belonging to Flanders.

  • Sample :
Full scale

  • Brief anthropological analysis :

- Type 1 : Intermediate complexion (from dark blonde to dark brown hair), brachymorphic, square-box face, tendencies to chubbiness, moderate browridges, high and straight forehead, broad cheekbones, straight nose, very broad jaw
~ Borreby

This type is rather abundant in NW Europe : it's quite prevailing in neighbouring Northern France, at least in Romance-speaking parts of former Hainaut. Some leptomorphic types approach Nordid phenotypes : notice tendencies to rufosity which really are disctintive of this area.

- Type 2 :
Light complexion, tendencies to rufosity, leptomorphic, long nose, close-set eyes
~ (Keltic-)Nordic

This type seems to belong to the famous "horsy" Flemish phenotype so common on the shores of the North Sea. Basically speaking, what seems to differentiate Romance-speaking people from Dutch-speaking ones in Northern France and Belgium is the ratio between both types : Borreby/Alpinoid phenotypes are prevailing in Romance areas such as Hainaut or Romance Flanders whereas Keltic-Nordid ones -dubbed "Flemish" - are more abundant in Dutch-speaking areas. A "darker" series :

  • Final morphotypes :


  1. Quite different from the Brabant sample. These look more Northern-looking in general, without ever reaching the archetypal Nordic morphology either.

    A minor note: for me the first "Borreby" guy is not that at all but a very typical Atlanto-Med. Also, as the photo is in semi-profile you can hunch he's mesocephalous, not brachi. He's in any case among the few individuals in this sample that would pass as very typical Iberians (or otherwise SW Euro). In this the area seems to differ a lot from Brabant, where most seemed to me as SW-looking.

  2. Oh come on, when are we gonna get to Scandinavia?! It's got the most unusual looking people! I'm particularly interested in learning which of the three traditional Scandinavian countries best represents the pre-agricultural physical type: Swedes have a reputation for being the blondest Nords but Norgwegians seem to have higher frequencies of Y Haplogroup I, so I'm not really sure what to think.

  3. @Maju : Indeed. I've long noticed that funnily enough, people from Wallonia looked more "Nordic" than people from Flanders (that I find inbetween British and SW European variability). I cannot explain it. Maybe more archaic population were pushed back on the shores of the North Sea. I'll try to prove on Anthrofrance that Flemings differ from Romance-speaking people in Lille.

    @Halvorson : I haven't tackled Scandinavia yet. I'll try to resort to this situation.

  4. @Heraus: I was not thinking Flanders in general but more South Brabant, actually Brussels city, which you discussed earlier (I don't have this concept clearly applying to Limburg, also discussed here, or true Flanders). No idea why.

    You are correct with the British affinity, almost without doubt.

    I am wondering about the local processes of ancient Belgica (Belgium, NW France north of the Seine, etc.) You probably know that this area had a complex Neolithic that included Danubian culture (ultimately from Moravia/Slovakia/Hungary) and local cultures of unknown origins (local foragers' adaptations?).

    Another process I'm getting more and more intrigued about is Megalithic (Dolmenic funerary customs primarily) spread, that seems associated with demic growth in Denmark and Britain (at least, probably in other areas too).

    And, of course, you would have to consider all the Indoeuropean-related flows of later times. Too complex to probably discern easily (or even with difficulty) but intriguing anyhow.


    @Halvorson: from a purely archaeological viewpoint, Denmark/Scania has the oldest Neolithic and in general the oldest dense population. I consider Denmark the Scandinavian heartland.

    Complex processes affected the whole Baltic region in the Chalcolithic (pan-European chronology). For what I can tell there was some "regressive" hunter-gatherer (with some Neolithic stuff) groups that intensely interacted with Denmark, which was also getting Megalithism at about the same time. They might be derived from East European Sarnowo culture, which in turn is clearly related to "Ukranian" Neolithic (Dniepr-Don culture). IMO these flows affected Sweden more than anywhere else in the region (Pitted Ware), probably "Baltifying" the country. Norway was pretty marginal back then, so I'm not sure what to think.

    Indoeuropean migrations (also from the East but long established in Poland-East Germany before further expansion) surely affected all three countries similarly but Denmark, having the largest pre-existing population should have been less affected in terms of genetic flow.

    I have the feeling that the "hyper-blondism" of the North is partly accumulation of Western blondism plus Eastern blondism. While I would not dare say that blondisms come from Eastern Europe alone (not at all), there's a share of this trait (so adaptative for the far North) that clearly does. That might explain the hyper-blondism of Swedes and also to a great extent of Finns.

  5. You have some other things that are not so clear in this faces division, really. I would agree that there is a loose West/East divide around the Pyrenees, very specially in the peninsula. Interesting post above.
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  6. Heraus, it's funny what you say about Walloons looking sometimes more "nordic" because it reminds me a book written by a Jew emprisoned in a concentration camp in Germany near the Belgian border, among Belgian prisonners.
    Here is the extract:
    "Every few weeks we were handed lists on which to write our name followed by either Flemish or French speaking. We were told: "Belgium no longer exists, if it was ever more than an artificial British creation." I wrote each time: "Felix Orban, Flemish," remembering the German policy of divide et impera toward occupied Belgium in World War I, trying to attract Flanders through favorable treatment. I overheard a German guard saying to another: "Strange, I cannot make out who is of Flemish and who is of Walloon race (sic!)."
    Indeed, many French-speaking Belgians are of the blond Germanic type, and many Flemish look Mediterranean, because of the period of the Spanish Netherlands in the 16th century."

    Of course he was far off with his "spanish netherlands" explanation but his perception is interesting.


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