Italy Anthropology Part I

By | February 15, 2022

The first scientific essay on the anthropology of Italy as a whole is due to G. Nicolucci. In the work of this author, however, if the part that refers to the traditions and historical data relating to the movements of the populations that inhabited the peninsula is well developed, the truly anthropological part, relating to the physical descriptive and metric characters of the Italians, is not very developed.

This work can be called not only the best on Italian anthropology, but what is still today the best example of a similar research extended to a civilized nation, so that it can truly be said to be the pride of Italian anthropological science. Livi made use of the metric and descriptive results collected by the military-medical corps on the soldiers of the ’59 -’63 classes. The surveys were carried out on the basis of a scheme, called the health sheet, imagined and proposed by the medical colonel Salvatore Guida. The number of individual observations was approximately 300,000.

The investigation that was aimed also had medical purposes, but we are only interested in the anthropological results. Three characters were considered in particular: the cephalic index, the color, the stature; but other characters were also observed. The choice of the latter, however, cannot be said to be exempt from reservations, which must also extend to the manner of their relief.

Cephalic index . – Both in the map for surrounding areas and in that for (administrative) mandates, the distribution of the average values ​​of the cephalic index appears much more regular than that of the other two characters. The general average is 82.73. Since the cephalic index in the living is calculated to have a value greater than that of the skull by two units and since the measuring instrument that was used, the so-called maximum framework, somewhat raises the value of the index, we must assume that the aforementioned average practically corresponds, if not to a lower value, at least to the value of 80 on the skull, which is also the division that is usually made between dolicoid and brachyoid forms of the skull, when a binary division is used.

According to thefreegeography, the cephalic index in Italy goes, speaking wholesale, decreasing from north to south: the average values ​​going from 88.7 to 74.2. The main seat of brachycephaly, located north of the northern Apennines, is further attenuated, but continues, in central Italy with a spur whose tip, located in the axis of the peninsula, reaches almost Rieti. But a little further on, in the south, it begins again, with the current province of Frosinone and with the province of Chieti to the north-east. With initial degrees it occupies the whole southern western part of Campania and central-eastern Lucania. An area of ​​forms near the border between brachyoid and dolicoid is very interesting, but all in all, more dolicoid, and which is circumscribed by a semicircle of brachyoid forms, given precisely by the areas referred to above: province of Chieti, current province of Frosinone, southern-western Campania, central-eastern Lucania. This zone of relative dolichocephaly corresponds wholesale to a zone of light complexion that we will see. The latter, however, is wider, including the province of Chieti. Sicily is all included in dolichocephaly, but its intensity is very variable. Sardinia, on the other hand, has more intense degrees than that. To this general picture, however, it is necessary to add some facts that are always very important: in the Po valley it is evident that the weakly dolichocephalic area of ​​Liguria continues in the southern and eastern part of Piedmont and therefore, heading towards the north-east, reaches the province of Brescia, with a brief interruption in the district of Lodi. Liguria has a mild dolichocephaly, but it is very intensified at the extreme edge of Tuscany, to the adjacent one, that is, in the districts of Lucca and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, as well as in the southern part of that of Massa. This area, let’s face it right away, is also characterized by tall stature and a rather dark complexion. An interesting fact is that Romagna has more sensitive brachycephaly than that found in the surrounding regions and especially in the Po valley and in the Veneto. Regarding the relationship between altimetry and cephalic index, Livi believed he could assert a difference between north and south, in the sense that in the north the altimetric area located above 400 meters above sea level would have a greater frequency of brachycephalics, in the south instead of dolichocephalic . According to Livi, this difference would be determined simply by the fact that the mountain, place of little ethnic movement, it would better preserve the characteristic shape of the region. Except that Sera objects that the particular examination of the regions, in the relative graph of Livi (p. 84), does not allow us to draw with certainty the factual conclusion assumed by Livi and, even more, leaves doubts about the legitimacy of the cause from the supposed one. . The prevalence of brachycephaly in the mountain, for the Veneto, brachycephalic, is very low; Emilia, brachycephalic, has the most dolichocephalic mountain in the plain and the same goes for the Marches; for Umbria, brachycephalic, the difference is minimal, but if anything, contrary to Livi’s rule; Lazio, dolichocephalic, is more brachycephalic in the mountains and to a significant extent; Puglia, dolichocephalic, has a higher index in the mountains. Finally, Sardinia which has the lowest index, should offer more evidence, and instead has a small difference between mountain and plain, and still in the opposite direction. The explanation of the differences between mountains and plains for the cephalic index is given by Sera in a different way, as will be seen.

Italy Anthropology 1