Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Los Pasiegos : Cantabria (Spain)

Cantabria is the richest region in the world in archaeological sites from the Upper Paleolithic period. The first signs of human occupation date from Lower Paleolithic, although this period is not so well represented in the region. The most significant cave painting site is the cave of Altamira, dated from about 16,000 to 9,000 BC.

In the whole valleys, the repopulation allowed by the foundation of several monasteries had great importance. This might explain the presence of Northern European haplogroups (see link) or why a study Cruciani et al 2004 states that 41.1% of sampled "Pasiegans" belonged to the haplogroup E-M81 found in modern Berber populations.

  • Sample :

Full scale

  • Brief anthropological analysis :

- Type 1 : Intermediate complexion (from blonde to dark hair, black/grey eyes, rather pale skin on average, ...), leptomorphic, long face (particularly on males), straight or convex nose rather parallel to the face, rather close-set eyes, pointy chin, large jaw
~ (Dinaricized) Atlanto-Mediterranean

This type shows clear Basque affinities : ethnic Basque characters such as a triangle-shaped head and a convex nose are quite prevailing in the sample. Some other individuals - still in the Atlanto-Med variation - are less archetypal (more robust features maybe) and to my own personal eyes, look rather "South French" (and to be more precise "Languedocian").

- Type 2 : Dark complexion (dark hair, black eyes, ...), more or less brachymorphic, reduced and "puffy" features, in some cases high-headed, rather little nose (on males at least), strong jaw, close-set eyes
~ Alpino-Mediterranean

This is a very classical pan-Iberian type. Some individuals look more "ethnic" because of some specific features such as striking blue eyes (which is then a common feature in the "Valles Pasiegos"). Those people might be rather specifically Cantabrian-looking.

  • Final morphotypes :


  1. First of all the link ("see link" above) is broken.

    Second, I bet you did not gather most of these faces from Facebook collecting this time. They seem genuine field photos from an anthropology essay, at least in most cases. :)

    Most faces are very much like Basques (but still most look different in a slight, hard to describe, sense) and those who do not look Basque, look like other North (NW) Iberians (often well represented among immigrants in the Basque Country, reason why I may doubt) or "generic European", maybe the Languedocines you say.

    Of this last category, specially, I think that there are faces that could well be found further North, towards Britain. Examples: B4, C2, C8, D2.

  2. Indeed, I bought a book featuring many professional pics of peasants and shepherds from the "Valles Pasiegos".

    I agree that those people rather look Basque but are also somehow distinct (well they don't look Asturian for sure). That's a very strange feeling uneasy to describe, a feeling I've already experienced in Gascony. Eventually, it's just about local variation and continuum I presume.

  3. ---------- Forwarded Message ----------

    Here is a new HBD Bibliography:


    Please add to blogroll.

  4. http://img541.imageshack.us/img541/4737/zapateroehijasm.jpg

    Eche un vistazo a c1 e c2. Eso no es un montaje...sino la cruda realidad...! Madre de Dios!!! Socorrro!!!! Hagamos algo!!!!!!!!!


  5. Most of these people look Albanian.

    1. They don't look at all like the real Albanian samples, who look clearly Balcanic and even in some cases tending to West Asian typology.

      My feeling with Pasiego faces is that they either look "typical Spaniard", "typical Basque" or even "typical British", depending on the individual. But none I can see overlaps with the Albanians in spite of likely common partial ancestry from Neolithic times. Maybe with Albanians of some specific district you have in mind?


I've chosen to let people comment freely on my posts. Nevertheless, you'll lose your time taunting me and calling me a fascist (which I'm really not) : I pray you to read my introduction which will reassure that my intentions genuinely aim at achieving amateurish knowledge. I understand that you may not share my passion for the history of the peopling of the World, just don't let me know as clear conscience gained by bashing a humble documentary work is useless.