Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Anthropology of the Estonians

In the 1920's and 30's, Estonian anthropologist, zoologist and eugenicist Juhan Aul measured 15 000 men (20 to 30 years old, mostly army recruits), 700 women and 2000 schoolchildren.

He concluded that Estonians are racially mixed - migrations, immigration, trade and wars brought different elements to the population.

There are two main races: the Nordic and the Baltic race. The first is tall and long-headed; the latter shorter and has a shorter head. Both have blond hair (including light brown) and blue eyes, which do vary a bit every now and then. Both are depigmented.

The Nordic and Baltic types have been present side by side since the stone age. The old Finnic element seems to be expressed by the Baltic race.

The Nordic type was dominant in Northern Pärnumaa, Läänemaa, Western Harjumaa, Muhumaa and partly in Saaremaa.

The Baltic type was dominant in Võrumaa, Petserimaa (a county located east of Võrumaa, currently occupied by Russia), partly in Tartumaa, Harjumaa, Virumaa, Hiiu island and Southern Pärnumaa.

A mixed Nordic+Baltic type (the most frequent among Estonians) was found in Saaremaa, Viljandimaa, Valgamaa, Järvamaa, partly in Virumaa and Tartumaa.

The Western Estonians had a cranial index below 76% while the Eastern: 76-81%. Average head height-length index was 80,7.

He noticed that numerous local types have developed in Estonia. The Baltic type in Viljandi county is different from that in Harju county, while the type in Petseri county is also different of the former two. The purest Baltic type seemed to be found among the Setu people. Livonians had a local type with strong Nordic influence and great height. It was evident that different races can develop in geographically small areas.

71,8% of Estonians had blond hair. 64% had blue-grey eyes, 24% had blue eyes. Aul noted the presence of a short dark-haired and dark-eyed type (10%-13%).

The foreign dark type was mostly found in Saaremaa, Southern Pärnumaa, Southern Viljandimaa and Central Tartumaa. These are also the areas that have been ravaged the most in various wars. He thought the dark elements have a Southern/Central and/or an Eastern European origin. Partly it could have been due to Latvian influence (as they had more of this dark type, as did the Finns who might have gotten dark features from the Saami). The dark type was mostly composed of the Alpine race while he also mentioned the Dinaric type and the Mediterranean type. The dark types had gotten strong influence from the surrounding population, though.

In 1814, Karl Ernst von Baer also mentioned the dark type: "The (Estonians') hair is most frequently blond, often white in childhood; there is also black hair along with a dark complexion. The very few Estonians that have dark hair are short, but have a stronger build. They are more serious, stubborn and reserved than the majority who are phlegmatic."

According to Aul, average height in Estonia was 172 cm. The tallest Estonians lived in Western Estonia, the shortest in South-Eastern Estonia. Some figures: Läänemaa 173,4 cm, Viljandimaa 171,3 cm, Harjumaa 172,3 cm, Tallinn 172, 6 cm, Järvamaa 172, 1 cm, Tartu 171,7 cm, Võrumaa 171cm, Petserimaa 170,1 cm. In Kirbla, Martna and Lihula area the average height was even over 175 cm.

In comparison, average Finns were 170,9 cm tall, Russians 167,2 cm, Latvians 171,3 cm, Livonians 174,2 cm, Lithuanians 166,2 cm, Prussians 168, 2 cm, Poles 167,7 cm, Norwegians 172,5 cm. The average European height was around 162 cm. By height, Estonians were equal to the Swedes.

Estonian females averaged 162 cm.

The most slender neighbors were Finland-Swedes and Livonians, while the most stocky were Latvians and Russians. Estonians were in-between. Men were more slender than women.

Looking at the data from Tallinn in the viewpoint of social layering, common workers were stockier than the intellectuals. The most stocky national groups were in Petserimaa and Ida-Virumaa while the most slender people were in Läänemaa, Northern Pärnumaa and Muhu island.

Estonians were among the heaviest people in Northern Europe, only the Finns were heavier. "Thus it is not surprising we are primarily known as a country of strongmen." This physical virtue was most prevalent in Saaremaa.

It is also interesting to note that in Tallinn and other cities, the average height was greater than in the countryside. Also, the educated social classes were taller. Even the educated worker was taller than an uneducated worker. There seemed to be a tendency that height increases with cultural development.

Aul considered the mongoloid question to have no scientific basis and said it has never been taken seriously in anthropology. He categorically denied the presence of mongoloid traits (like thick black hair, epicanthic folds, shortage of facial hair, etc.), and claimed that even if there were such traits to be found, it would have to be an individual case, due to some later influence; there were no such indigenous elements.

Source: Anthropology of the Estonians