Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
physical features of the jewish race... - Weird Jews
Disrupting Yeshivas since 2002
physical features of the jewish race...
I've been recently interested in physical anthropology and subraces... and I've come across "the races of Europe" by Carleton Stevens Coon where he discusses the physical features of the subraces within Europe and Western/Central asia. in two chapters he discusses the physical features of the Jews.. below and behind the cut are some excerpts from his book. I'd be interested in hearing what you all think of it.

There is quality of looking Jewish, and its existence cannot be denied. Both Jews and Gentiles are aware of it, and any observant European or Arab who has seen many Jews can distinguish most of them from Gentiles with some accuracy, whether in Europe, America, or the Near East. There is, however, no known physical criterion or set of criteria by which this quality may be measured. It cannot be nasal convexity, for Arabs, Afghans, and many Europeans have high incidences of it, while among Arabian, North African, and Sephardic Jews, the majority of noses are straight. It cannot be tip depression, for that is also common among other peoples. It cannot be the external eye, for while Arabian Jews sometimes have deep-set slitty eyes, European Jews often have prominent, widely open, large-lidded ones. Two other characters may be mentioned as possibilities, but neither is by any means universal among Jews. One is a high attachment of the nasal wings on the cheek, with a great lateral visibility of the septum; the other is a characteristic slant to the ear in both the frontal and lateral planes.

It seems most likely that, while all of these racial criteria enter into this quality, the deciding factor may not be so much physical, as social and psychological.48 It is possible that the feature which confirms the tentative identification of a person as a Jew, aside from clothing, speech, and other external cultural phenomena, is a characteristic facial expression centered about the eyes, nose, and mouth; this seems to be a socially induced element of behavior. Not all Jews, by any means, have it; those who lack it may be just as “Jewish” in the racial sense as those that possess it; it is the absence of this expression, as well as the absence of other purely cultural diagnostics, which may be responsible for faulty identifications in many such instances. The Jewish look may be seen occasionally upon members of other ethnic groups; it is one of the standard patterns of facial expression which man possesses in his repertoire as a primate.

The Jews are by no means unique in the possession of a national or ethnic facial expression. The English Public School man of standard type, trained in a social tradition as definite in its own way as that of the Jew, has a look that can be recognized almost anywhere, and one which is just as easy prey to the cartoonist as is that of the Jew. Many further examples could he introduced, if necessary; however, the only point that needs be brought out here is that the Jews form an ethnic group; that like all ethnic groups they have their own racial elements distributed in their own proportions; like all or most ethnic groups they have their “look”, a part of their cultural heritage that both preserves and expresses their cultural solidarity. And since the ethnic solidarity of the Jews is remarkable for its strength and constancy, so the Jewish look seems to be one of the most noticeable and most easily distinguished of characteristic facial expressions found within the racial family of white people.

Leaving their cultural attributes aside, we find nothing mysterious about the physical, racial origin of the Jews. Those with whom we are, in the present section, concerned are a group of Mediterranean Semites who absorbed, early in their history, the old population of Palestine, which was also largely Mediterranean in blood. The strains which they absorbed contained much of the old Cappadocian element typical of both Palestine and Asia Minor. From this heritage, through subsequent inbreeding and through the influences of social and occupational selection—stronger in their case than with any other important white people—they have developcd a special racial sub-type and a special pattern of facial and bodily expression easy to identify but difficult to define.
The Mesopotamian Jews,49 to continue our study of the Oriental division, are no different as a group from their coreligionists in Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, and Palestine; they are of moderate stature (164 cm.), dolicho- to mesocephalic (C. I. = 78), leptorrhine (N. I. = 61), narrow-faced, straight- or convex-nosed, and brunet in pigmentation. The preservation by them of a Mediterranean type in a Mediterranean country is to be expected, but that these Jews are for the most part truly Jews and not Judaized Iraqians is apparent from their absolutely smaller heads and faces, in comparison to those of the Moslems, and from the dimensions and proportions of their noses.

The Jews in northern Mesopotamia, especially in Mosul, where many of the Arabic-speaking Moslems are themselves round-headed, have been altered by a process of brachycephalization.50 The same is true in northern Persia; the mean cephalic index for Jews of Urmia51 is 82, and this rise over the lowland Mesopotamian Jewish level is accompanied by a shortening of the head length, an increase in its breadth, and an increase in the facial breadth as well. The stature rises to 165 cm., while the nose form and the pigmentation remain constant. It is apparent that a Dinaric-like form has been produced by Alpine admixture, probably through some already Dinaricized medium. In southern Persia, however, the Jews retain their long-headed form.52

Turning to the west again, we find ample statistical evidence to prove that the Jews of Egypt and North Africa, as well as the Spaniols or exiled Sephardim, whether living in Salonika and other parts of the former Turkish empire in Europe, or in Palestine, conform closely to the Oriental Jewish types already defined, and form with them an anthropometric unit.53 The North African Jews are on the whole taller than those of palestine and Yemen, with a mean stature almost uniformly between 164 nd 166 cm.; their cephalic index is 74, and very few individuals are brachycephalic. No more than 5 per cent show any evidence of blondism. The same two facial types noticed in the Yemen were found by Kossovitch and Benoit in Morocco,54 and confirmed by the discovery of bimodality in facial and nasal index curves. Regional variations of Jews in North Africa are extremely slight. Although mixture with Arabs and Berbers would tend to preserve the original Jewish indices, the absolute cranial dimensions of the Jews are smaller than those of most Berbers, and agree with the Palestinian and Yemenitic means.

The Sephardic Jews of Salonika and of Turkey in Europe differ from the North African ones only in possessing the mesocephalic cephalic index of 78; they are predominantly straight-nosed, and partly blond in one-sixth of the group. Correlations within the Moroccan and Turkish series show that the blond element is no different anthropometrically from the brunet, and that it is probably a minority tendency inherent in the Jews, rather than an accretion acquired in their wanderings. Jews in Egypt differ in no important way from their co-religionists in North Africa and Palestine.

On the whole the Jews of the entire Mediterranean racial belt, from Persia to Morocco, and including those whose ancestors once lived in Spain, are remarkably constant in their racial unity. This unity may be partly due to the fact that these Jews have lived among peoples little different from themselves racially, but it cannot be wholly or even largely explained on that basis, since, as has been shown above, these Jews differ less from each other, regardless of geographical distance, than they do from the peoples nearest at hand. Endogamy and an extraordinary ethnic solidarity must be the most important causes.

So far as our present study of living Jewish peoples has been carried, we are justified in concluding that the Jews are an ethnic unit, although one which has little regard for spatial considerations. Like other ethnic units, the Jews have their own standard racial character, in this case a stable combination of several brunet Mediterranean sub-races. How far this Jewish racial entity is concerned with the Jews of central Europe and of central Asia is a question which must be deferred to the next chapter.

These studies, especially that of Fishberg, show a number of important points clearly. One is that the Jews as a whole, without regard to specific political divisions, form an ethnic community with as much statistical homogeneity as do most ethnic groups which have elsewhere been treated as units. Although varied in racial origin and varied individually, in the racial characters measured, the usual distribution pattern is an approximation to a bell-shaped curve. The Ashkenazim of eastern Europe, at least, form a biological unit. This is only to be expected when one considers the spatial mobility of the Jews in history, and, by contrast, their endogamy within the larger religious community.

Another is that stature among the Ashkenazim is environmentally and socially conditioned to a large extent, and geographically variable in a much lesser degree. Mean statures for regional groups vary from 162 cm. to 167 cm., with a general mean around the figure 164 cm. In rough way, the stature level corresponds to that of the local Gentiles, but is one or two centimeters lower in each region. in England, wher the Jews have enjoyed relatively favorable living conditions, and in America among the American born Jews, the stature rises to high levels. In Europe, indoor workers such as tailors and shoemakers have the smallest statures, professional men the tallest; the occupational range is from 160 cm. to over 170 cm. Since the mean stature of the Palestinian Jews was at least 166 cm. in the days before the Diaspora, and since the purely Jewis element in the modern Jewish body must almost everywhere be potentially as tall as that of the Gentiles among whom they live, if not taller, the short stature of eastern European Jews as a whole is, therefore, entirely a reflection of environmental and occupational forces. Their rapid size increase on American soil, in response to better living conditions and perhaps also to a relief from a constant nervous tension, may be partly interpreted as a fulfilment of their genetic possibilities and cannot necessarily be claimed as something entirely new. In the same sense, the inferior chest diameters of the East European Jews, once considered a racial character, are seen to rise to the non-Jewish standard in America.

The head form of the Ashkenazim is relatively constant within the regions of maximum Jewish concentration; in Germany the mean cephalic index for Jews is about 81, rising to 83.5 in Baden; in Galicia again it reaches the level of Baden, and in Bukovina attains 84, but elsewhere, from Austria to the Ukraine and Lithuania, it centers about the mean of 82. There is a slight tendency for the cephalic index level to vary regionally as does that of the corresponding Gentiles, but this tendency is neither strong nor wholly consistent. It is chiefly manifest in the relatively high indices in Galicia and Bukovina. Everywhere in central and eastern Europe, except in comparatively long-headed regions such as Moldavia, the Jews are less brachycephalic than the Gentiles. The central European Jews have been only partly brachycephalized, less so than the Christians, and in view of their wide geographical spread, have maintained a remarkable racial continuity in head form.

A third consideration, that of pigmentation, is found to agree in principle with stature and with head form; the Jews are mainly brunet, with about 55 per cent of dark hair and eye color combinations, and less than 10 per cent which can be construed as blond. In countries where the Gentiles are predominantly blond, or more blond than brunet, the Jews are relatively dark; in countries such as Rumania where the Gentiles are prevailingly brunet, the Jews are blonder than the Gentiles. The Jews have, therefore, struck a pigment balance which is as constant as their balance in head form.

In the dimensions of the head and face, the Jews have likewise developed certain consistencies which operate regardless of geography. The head length is always, except in socially selected groups, less than 190 mm., and often less than 185 mm. The bizygomatic is less than 140 mm., with the same exceptions, and usually stands at the level of 135 mm. or 136 mm., and the nose breadth mean ranges usually between 34 and 36 mm. The vertical diameters of the face and nose are, in existing material, seldom reliable, but there is reason to believe that the upper face height is relatively long in reference to the total face height, which is a Mediterranean racial character. Convexity of the nose, a popular diagnostic of Jews, is usually found in far fewer than 50 per cent; straight noses are in all regional Jewish groups the commonest of profile forms, while, in southern Russia, concave profiles are more frequent than convex.

The physical composition of the central European Jewish body has not been difficult to determine. The Ashkenazim are a reasonably uniform people in a statistical sense; furthermore, many of their metrical characters, as far as we know them, are not markedly different from those of their Mediterranean Jewish ancestors. The facial diameters, for example, relate them closely to the Mediterranean prototype, in strong contrast to the broader faces of the Alpines and Neo-Danubians among whom most of them live. The head form, on the other hand, shows a partial brachycephalization which must be due to the absorption of Gentile blood. At the same time the presence of a strong minority with mixed or light pigmentation makes such an absorption necessary. The Jews are not simply Judaized central Europeans; they are central-Europeanized Jews.

It has been remarked by some anthropologists that the Jews look "Armenoid," and that this Armenoid appearance must be due either to Hittite admixture or to a sojourn in Asia Minor before their arrival in Europe. This remark implies a misunderstanding of Jewish history as well as of the nature of the Armenoid race. Many Ashkenazic Jews, it is true, possess the combination of a brachycephalic head with a narrow face and convex nose, but there is not enough Alpine in the Jewish body to make this Dinaricization prevalent or standard. It is found among blond as well as brunet Jews, and is an individual rather than a group phenomenon.

Individual central European Jews vary greatly in facial and cranial appearance. Among them may be picked out without trouble apparently pure Palestinian types; the convex-nosed, long-faced sub-type, which is frequently found among Sephardim, and is especially known to the world through the faces of Disraeli and Lord Reading in England, is on the whole rare among Ashkenazim; the straight-nosed, more typically Mediterranean form, such as is represented by the actors Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor, is much commoner. Leon Trotsky represents a brachycephalic, Dinaricized Jewish type, and Albert Einstein is a good example of another.

Among Russian Jews it is not difficult to select individuals with large malars, broad, snubbed noses, and high alveolar segments of the upper face, who are as nearly mongoloid as many Volga Finns. Among German Jews may be found individuals who are to all purposes Nordic, and others who belong to the Borreby race, which is the most numerous single type among Gentiles in Germany. Alpine Jews are commoner than the incidence of Alpines in central and eastern Europe would perhaps warrant, and some of their Alpinism must have been derived from their sojourn in France and in the Rhinelands before their march eastward across central Europe.

On historical grounds it is very likely that the ancestors of the Ashkenazim mixed more with Gentiles in western Europe, before the time of the first Crusade, than their more recent forebears have in Slavic countries. The heavy beard growth, the abundance of the body hair, and the wavy hair form of many brachycephalic Jews imply a French or German Alpine infusion rather than any racial increment which they could have assimilated in Slavic countries. The racial contribution of the western Jews to the Ashkenazic body seems to have been far greater than that of their Byzantine and Crimean colleagues.

Although all of the racial types enumerated above, and, in fact, every racial type known in Europe, may be picked out of the Jewish body, most of the Jews represent a blend in one way or other of several of them, and most of them, for one reason or another, look Jewish.169 There can be no doubt that the original Mediterranean blend of Palestine is the most important. If one were to hazard a guess, one might suggest that it actually accounted for more than half of the whole; that it is strongest in Poland, and weakest in Germany. As with the Bokharan Jews, its most persistent metrical features in mixture are to be found in the facial dimensions. A careful study of the soft parts of the nose might reveal further persistences, but there are apparently no corresponding peculiarities of the facial skeleton.170

The central European Jews have lived in central Europe since the beginning of the period when the Germans and Slavs began to grow brachycephalic. Their recent racial history has, therefore, run parallel in time to that of their Gentile neighbors, in comparison with whom they must have remained relatively constant. The racial character of the South Germans, of the Poles, and of the Russians, has changed much more during the last millennium than has that of the Jews. The modifications which the latter have undergone in one generation in America are as great in some respects as those which have affected their ancestors in twenty.171

14 comments or Leave a comment
dichroic From: dichroic Date: August 26th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
How old is this? It sort of sounds like something from the 1900s-1920s, but is more careful to avoid value judgements than I'd expect from that period.
smokingredmoon From: smokingredmoon Date: August 26th, 2008 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
yasminke From: yasminke Date: August 26th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
It's from 1939, and reads like it.

It should be expunged except as an artefact for a museum.
dichroic From: dichroic Date: August 26th, 2008 03:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually I'm more impressed in that case. From 1939 I'd have expected something like "Their characteristic craftiness and sharp dealing have given to Jews a shifty, untrustworthy expression" or some such bilge.

We *do* acknowledge even today that, despite the many exceptions, many Jews do look Jewish (that's me in the icon), and this article assigns the cause to nurture rather than nature with a notable lack of pejorative wording. For comparison, I've been listening to The Gods of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1918) and he uses phrases like "that remarkably beautiful race whose outward appearance is identical with the more god-like races of Earth men". The article by Coon appears to be only marginally better science than Burroughs' pulp stories, but it does seem to be trying for evenhanded detachment. I give him credit for effort.
smokingredmoon From: smokingredmoon Date: August 26th, 2008 10:27 am (UTC) (Link)
this seems accurate.. atleast in my family, and many others i know.

In countries where the Gentiles are predominantly blond, or more blond than brunet, the Jews are relatively dark; in countries such as Rumania where the Gentiles are prevailingly brunet, the Jews are blonder than the Gentiles. The Jews have, therefore, struck a pigment balance which is as constant as their balance in head form
littlewings04 From: littlewings04 Date: August 26th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Except in 1939, many eugenicists were very careful to couch their observations about racial phenotypes in exceptionally scientific language. The idea was that if they could make these racial types clinical, clearly detached from moral/emotional judgment, then it gave the whole idea of scientific racism more weight. The American Eugenics Society was exceptionally good at it, and the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin was also quite adept. While some eugenicists went the full measure to attach value judgments or societal impressions on the phenotypes, many just recorded their findings consistently with the pseudo-scientific method they were taught, and allowed for policy-makers and other public figures to use them to further the cause of social and political eugenics.

The detachment, in other words, isn't a bonus. It's a way of making these sorts of things more insidious.
stufsocker From: stufsocker Date: August 26th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I'm a walking example of how this is so not true. Russians often spot me as one of their own, but rarely as Jewish. Most people think I'm from Scotland or Ireland because I have red hair, blue eyes and am rather pale (without freckles).
countfroggy From: countfroggy Date: August 26th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, ridiculous!
My father and daughter, Cohen, red-headed and pale, look Irish.
My mother, Kaplan (also a Cohen), black hair and eyes, dark skin, looked Italian.
Me, Cohen, brown hair and eyes, balding, pale, look 'Jewish'.
My mother's parents, (Kaplan and Rosenbaum), slanted eyes, dark skin, looked Turkish.

smokingredmoon From: smokingredmoon Date: August 26th, 2008 04:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
exactly what do you mean by Me, Cohen, brown hair and eyes, balding, pale, look 'Jewish'.... obviously if you are saying that YOU have a "jewish look" then there must be a "jewish look".

He is stating right there in the book.. that there is NO specific jewish look that unites ALL jews.. however there are certain features common in jews - that is also common in other races..
countfroggy From: countfroggy Date: August 26th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
My 'look xxxxx' comment is aimed at current stereotypes. Sorry, trying to base science on stereotypes is a fools mission. If it were meaningful science, you could use it to predict ethnicity from a picture. That would fail in five of the six people I mentioned - not good predictability. Especially since all but one (my grandmother) claims descent from a Jewish family with 2/3 success in genetic markers, identifying them as related.
smokingredmoon From: smokingredmoon Date: August 26th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
most stereotypes are based on those features that are most noticable.. color and size.. skin color,hair color/texture, eyes size/shape.. but you can't just point out at one or two of these major features.and claim a person is that just because they have those to major features. just because someone has red hair doesn't make them Irish.. it doesn't even make them "look irish".. but when you focus on all details.. major and minor.. Skull shape, cheek length, distance between nose and eyes... in addition to the color and size.. you get get a more accurate view of where the person is from.

But maybe we should just agree to disagree ;)
countfroggy From: countfroggy Date: August 26th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree; we just disagree!

Have a good day!
drgnsyr From: drgnsyr Date: August 26th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
So I didn't read the entire thing, but I'm surprised it didn't mention hair. Kinky, curly, dark brunette hair is one of the most defining characteristics of "looking Jewish" to me. Sure, I've met a few redheaded Jews (and expect to have some myself someday thanks to my blond husband) and even some natural blonds, but so many seem to have that tightly curled dark brown hair. You know, it might not even be that most Jews have hair like that. It might simply be that I have never met some with hair like that who wasn't Jewish.

So yeah, the Jewish look is largely a stereotype since so many Jews don't fit it. But I think it's less an "All Jews look this way" kind of thing and far more a "People who look this way are Jews (at least by decent)." Does that make sense?
batshua From: batshua Date: August 27th, 2008 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
As an anthropologist and a Jew, I should point out:

1) The idea that someone "looks Jewish" is based on that person's exposure to Jews around them and in popular culture. In the US, this is a particular sort of look, cultivated by the fact that the vast majority of Jews in the US are otherwise pegged as "white" and the fact that the media thus casts people who "look Jewish" to play Jewish characters, thus perpetuating the stereotype that there's a particular Jewish "look". Jews are just as diverse lookswise (everything from hair color to what some people call "race") as you can imagine, and that doesn't even take into account recent converts.

2) No modern anthropologist accepts race as having a genetic basis. Race is a social construct. If you don't believe me, study how race is constructed in Brazil. There, you can get a tan or bleach your hair, and you're a different race than before. You can have the same birth parents as your siblings and be different races.

In conclusion, the stuff you are quoting is antiquated bullshit.

(No, this is not a direct attack against you, this is my aggravation with the fact that anthropology is still trying to wash out this blot on its good name.)
14 comments or Leave a comment