Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fribourg : Romandy (Switzerland)

The region around Fribourg has been settled since the Neolithic period, although few remains have been found. These include some flint tools found near Bourguillon, as well as a stone hatchet and bronze tools. A river crossing was located in the area during the Roman Era. The main activity in the Swiss plateau bypassed the area to the north, however, and was instead centered around the valley of the Broye River and Aventicum.

The canton of Fribourg is a bilingual one : the French-speaking areas are in the west of the canton, whereas the Alemannic-speaking areas are in the east. Only the French-speaking - formerly Franco-Provençal-speaking - parts were sampled : a comparison with Alemannic-speaking villages will be interesting as the linguistic border seems to have been pretty stable since Germanic invasions.





French-speaking Switzerland in purple


  • Sample :

Full scale


  • Brief anthropological analysis :

- Type 1 : Light complexion (from blonde to chestnut hair, light eyes, ...), leptomorphic, straight yet rather massive snub-tipped nose, very strong jaw, rather distant eyes
~ Nordoid




Contrary to other areas of Romandy, one can find some impressive Nordoid types which announce the Germanic world, both in terms of general robustness and complexion. Dinaromorphic variants - labelled as "Noric" - are more on par with what one can expect from "Arpitanian" lands : such individuals are strikingly more brachymorphic. Undoubtedly enough, such types are common in Austria or Germanic Switzerland as well.





- Type 2 : Light complexion (aqua-blue eyes, dark blonde hair, ...), brachymorphic, little and concave nose, square-box face, broad forehead, wide-set eyes, large jaw
~ Alpinoid/Subnordid




Unsurprisingly enough, the area is home to classical Alpine types abundantly found in the Rhône valley in France or in the whole North Alpine area though they are less common as far as this sampled is concerned. Some individuals - mostly female - are noticeably darker.



  • Final morphotypes :

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Biella : Piedmont (Italy)

A Ligurian people, the Victimuli, fanned out in the plain of Biella (the Bessa) and exploited gold veins near the Elvo, an activity which continued through the early Middle Ages, and even today panning for gold continues as a local hobby.

The Ligurians were an ancient people who gave their name to Liguria, which once stretched from Northern Italy into southern Gaul. It is not known for certain whether they were a pre-Indo-European people akin to Iberians; a separate Indo-European branch with Italic and Celtic affinities; or even a branch of the Celts or Italics.


  • Sample :

Full scale


  • Brief anthropological analysis :

- Type 1 : Dark complexion, dark eyes, leptomorphic, narrow face, long and straight high-rooted nose that can get convex, close set eyes, large jaw, pointy chin
~ Dinaromorphic Nordo-Mediterranean




Unsurprisingly enough, the sample is dominated by very classical pan-Italian types which are very common in NW Italy (Liguria, Piedmont, Lombardy, ...). Despite being next to the "ethnic French" Valley of Aosta, Biella is totally North Italian as far as phenotypes are concerned. Lighter variants are found as usual.





- Type 2 : Intermediate complexion, brachymorphic, round face, rather straight nose, wide set eyes
~ Alpinoid




Brachymorphic types are rather rare in this area as far as my sampling techniques are concerned : such phenomenon was already noticed in Liguria. Furthermore these types are not really that brachymorphic and are certainly not "Alpinid" : there is a sharp contrast between both sides of the Alps.


  • Final morphotypes :

Lanzarote : Canary Islands (Spain)

Lanzarote was probably the first Canary Island to be settled. The Phoenicians settled there around 1100 BC. The Greek writers and philosophers Herodotus, Plato and Plutarch described the garden of Hesperids, the land of fertility where fruits and flowers smell in the part of the Atlantic.

According to one study (see Canarians, NW Africans, Iberians, etc. from the viewpoint of autosomal DNA on Maju's blog), "Lanzarote (16%) and the larger islands of Tenerife (14%) and Gran Canaria (12%) seem the ones that have received the greatest Iberian input, however they still retain some aboriginal genetics as well."






  • Sample :

Full scale


  • Brief anthropological analysis :

- Type 1 : Dark complexion, leptomorphic, narrow "horsy" face, long and straight nose yet somehow large, a rather broad jaw, close-set eyes, rather narrow eyelids
~ Mediterranean




Unsurprisingly enough, Lanzarote is dominated by a very classical Iberian type even though to my own eyes, these individuals somehow look "West Iberian" (Portugal, León, Extremadura, ...) because of secondary features such as very horsy traits, almond-shaped eyes, a flat nose, ... Should such features be attributed to North African admixture ?

A square-faced variant of this Mediterranean type can be encountered. Secondary features remain unchanged.




Eventually, still within leptomorphic range, one can find aberrant depigmented "Nordoid" individuals.





- Type 2 : Dark complexion (dark hair, dark skin, ...), brachymorphic, broad face, round features, short and rather convex nose, wide-spaced sloping and rather chinky eyes
~ Alpino-Mediterranean/Berid




Once more such types rather show similarities with types encountered in West Iberia and some individuals might show slight visible North African admixture as well. Eventually, one can find individuals exhibiting interesting fat deposits which somehow remind us of some New World types, funnily enough.




  • Final morphotypes :