Библиографическое описание:

Палагутина М. А., Серповская И. С. Biological or physical anthropology of Britain // Молодой ученый. — 2011. — №11. Т.1. — С. 194-196.

Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the natural sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences.[1] Anthropology's basic concerns are "What defines Homo sapiens?", "Who are the ancestors of modern Homo sapiens?", "What are humans' physical traits?", "How do humans behave?", "Why are there variations and differences among different groups of humans?", "How has the evolutionary past of Homo sapiens influenced its social organization and culture?" and so forth.

Anthropology is traditionally divided into four sub-fields, each with its own further branches: biological or physical anthropology, social anthropology or cultural anthropology, archaeology and anthropological linguistics. These fields frequently overlap, but tend to use different methodologies and techniques.

Biological anthropology, or physical anthropology, focuses on the study of human populations using an evolutionary framework. Biological anthropologists have theorized about how the globe has become populated with humans, as well as tried to explain geographical human variation and race. Many biological anthropologists studying modern human populations identify their field as human ecology, itself linked to sociobiology. Human ecology uses evolutionary theory to understand phenomena among contemporary human populations. Another large sector of biological anthropology is primatology, where anthropologists focus on understanding other primate populations. Methodologically, primatologists borrow heavily from field biology and ecology in their research.

Cultural anthropology is also called socio-cultural anthropology or social anthropology (especially in the United Kingdom). It is the study of culture, and is mainly based on ethnography. Ethnology involves the systematic comparison of different cultures. In some European countries, all cultural anthropology is known as ethnology (a term coined and defined by Adam F. Collar in 1783). The study of kinship and social organization is a central focus of cultural anthropology, as kinship is a human universal. Cultural anthropology also covers economic and political organization, law and conflict resolution, patterns of consumption and exchange, material culture, technology, infrastructure, gender relations, ethnicity, childrearing and socialization, religion, myth, symbols, values, etiquette, worldview, sports, music, nutrition, recreation, games, food, festivals, and language (which is also the object of study in linguistic anthropology).

Beginning with the Pleistocene, we recall that the earliest known sapiens men were excavated from English soil, as was the still problematical Piltdown. During the last interglacial, and the time of the final maximum ice, available portions of Great Britain were inhabited by men similar to the Upper Paleolithic population in France, while in the post-glacial Mesolithic period, hunting and fishing peoples of central European origin invaded Scotland, and furnished to Ireland its earliest human inhabitants.

The Neolithic economy was probably first brought to Britain by the bearers of the Windmill Hill culture from the Continent, and they in turn were members of the group which had invaded western Europe from North Africa by way of Gibraltar. The settlers who came by sea were the Megalithic people, and belonged to a clearly differentiated variety of tall, extremely long-headed Mediterranean, which was presumably for the most part brunet. This racial group furnished both Great Britain and Ireland, which consisted, before their arrival, of nearly empty land, with a numerous and civilized population which has left many descendants today. With or shortly before the introduction of metal, the British Isles were invaded from both sides by fresh settlers. From Spain or the southwestern French coast came the Food Vessel people, who represented the Dinaric element only, and who went first to Ireland and thence over into Scotland. The Bronze Age lasted long in the British Isles, especially in Scotland, and the new Bronze Age racial amalgam attained a firm foothold, especially in eastern Scotland, in Yorkshire, and in such open country regions as Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Derbyshire.

Whoever the Bronze Age peoples were, and whatever languages they spoke, we know that the Iron Age invaders were uniformly Сeltic; they came in various waves and at various times. These Celtic invasions furnished Ireland with her upper class but apparently not with the bulk of her population; in England regional Iron Age cemeteries disclose the survival of Bronze Age types, although the Celtic Iron Age people furnished a larger ultimate population element than any other contribution group which came before or after.

Archaeologists subdivide time into cultural periods based on long-lasting artifacts: the Paleolithic, the Neolithic, the Bronze Age, which are further subdivided according to artifact traditions and culture region. In this way, archaeologists provide a vast frame of reference for the places human beings have traveled, their ways of making a living, and their demographics. Archaeologists also investigate nutrition, symbolization, art, systems of writing, and other physical remnants of human cultural activity.

Linguistic anthropology seeks to understand the processes of human communications, verbal and non-verbal, variation in language across time and space, the social uses of language, and the relationship between language and culture. It is the branch of anthropology that brings linguistic methods to bear on anthropological problems, linking the analysis of linguistic forms and processes to the interpretation of sociocultural processes. Linguistic anthropologists often draw on related fields including sociolinguistics, pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, semiotics, discourse analysis, and narrative analysis

Biological anthropologists are interested in both human variation and in the possibility of human universals (behaviors, ideas or concepts shared by virtually all human cultures). They use many different methods of study, but modern population genetics, participant observation and other techniques often take anthropologists "into the field" which means traveling to a community in its own setting, to do something called "fieldwork." On the biological or physical side, human measurements, genetic samples, nutritional data may be gathered and published as articles or monographs. Due to the interest in variation, anthropologists are drawn to the study of human extremes, aberrations and other unusual circumstances, such as headhunting, whirling dervishes, whether there were real Hobbit people, snake handling, and glossolalia (speaking in tongues), just to list a few.

Topics like racism, slavery or human sacrifice, therefore, attract anthropological attention and theories ranging from nutritional deficiencies to genes to acculturation have been proposed, not to mention theories of colonialism and many others as root causes of Man's inhumanity to man. The Romans, in their conquest of Britain, probably introduced little of ultimate racial importance. The Roman officers themselves were almost exclusively of the standard Italic type, which differed little from that of the Celts, except in stature; but they introduced to London and other towns urban populations from various parts of the empire in which the Alpine race seems to have been most noticeable. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, which brought to England her present language and national identity, introduced into the eastern counties of both England and Scotland a numerous population of Iron Age Nordics fresh from Denmark and Germany. The Anglo-Saxons were tall, heavy-boned, long-faced racial type. They brought to England her present language and national identity.

The pigmentation of the British has, in no large or significant series, been studied by means of standard charts. In regard to skin color, little is known from the statistical standpoint, except that it is characteristically fair and apparently as light as that of the Irish in most cases although in certain relatively brunet regions, such as Devonshire, Cornwall, Wales, and parts of western Scotland, there are without doubt darker-skinned minorities. The Irish tendency to freckling is also common in Great Britain, especially among the Scotch.

Taking Great Britain as a whole, the hair color of its inhabitants is very similar to that of the Irish, except that the British have more light brown, and the Irish more dark brown, shades. In this comparison, England, including Wales, is nearly identical with Scotland. Both the English and the Scotch have as much red hair as the Irish, while the Welsh have more; both the Scotch and the Irish have somewhat higher increments of black hair than England with Wales; and if Wales is studied separately, England emerges as the lightest haired of the four major divisions of the British Isles, and Wales as the darkest. In England, black hair ranges from nearly 0 to 10%, except in Devonshire and Cornwall, where it reaches a maximum of 20% in the region of Penance. Dark brown hair accounts for 14% to 43% of the population in the different parts of England. In general, it runs below 30% in the regions of intensive Saxon and Danish occupation - that is, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Yorkshire - while it averages above 30% in the west, and has a mean of approximately 40% in Cornwall. Brown hair, a light-to-intermediate hue, ranges from 57% to 24%, and has a distribution precisely opposite to that of dark brown hair, which may be considered intermediate-to-dark. On the whole brown is more prevalent than dark brown, and the blond element is considerably more important than the brunet one among the English. Fair hair, representing golden, ashen, and also light brown hues, varies from 5% to 47%. Among English blonds, golden hair is far commoner than the ashen variety.

In Wales, 10% of the totals have black hair, and only 8% are fair in the English sense. Dark brown predominates over medium brown, while red, which averages 5%, runs as high as 9% in small localities. On the whole, Wales, in accordance with its mountainous character and its general preservation of ancient cultural traits, is a region of strong local variability, which manifests itself particularly in pigmentation.

In Scotland, the systematic study of 7000 adult males and of half a million schoolchildren20 makes our knowledge of the regional distribution of hair color relatively complete. Black hair ranges among adults from 0 to 8% by counties, but nowhere attains the figures observed in Cornwall, Devonshire, and Wales. Dark brown hair accounts for 38% of the population; the medium to light brown shade, with 42%, is the most numerous; fair hair runs to 11%, and red to 5%. The eastern coast shows little of this black hair. Fair hair is commonest in the east, in both highlands and lowlands, and is especially prevalent in the very northeastern corner, where much of the blood is Scandinavian. Whereas the British are on the whole lighter haired than the Irish, they are at the same time darker eyed. The difference is not, however, a great one, and in both England and Scotland blue and light-mixed eyes are in the majority. Since the pigment division of Great Britain runs north and south, the total eye color classes of both Scotland and England-plus-Wales are nearly identical, and regional variations follow those of hair color. No typically brunet population may be found in England. Wales, however, is notably darker eyed. Although the light-eyed element is still the more numerous in the principality as a whole, it is possible to distinguish typically dark-eyed districts. In Scotland, 32% of adult males have pure light eyes, 48% are called mixed, and 20% dark. Blue eyes are commonest in the north and south of Scotland. Mixed eyes are typical of east central Scotland. The general pigment character of Great Britain as is predominantly light mixed.

So, we have considered a small part of researches the biological anthropology of Great Britain. And in our opinion the population of Britain was generated under the influence of various invaders and represents the nation including elements of appearance of other nations.


  1. Asimov Isaac, Boyd William. Races and Peoples. The gene mutation and the evolution of man, M.: Tsentrpoligraf, 2003

  2. Britain. An Official Handbook.-London, 1989

  3. Nixon B. British Isles. London, 1984.

  4. Oppenheimer Stephen. The Origins of the British -A Genetic Detective Story. 2006, Constable and Robinson

  5. Radcliff-Brown A. R. Structure and function in primitive society. N.Y.: Free Press, 1964.

  6. http://carnby.altervista.org/troe/10-01.htm -The British Isles. Rйsumй of skeletal history (C. Coon)

  7. http://carnby.altervista.org/troe/10-03.htm- Great Britain, General Survey http://carnby.altervista.org/troe/10-02.htm – Ireland


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