Egypt Anthropology

By | January 3, 2022

The study of the skeletal remains preserved, since the end of the Neolithic, in the tombs of the Nile valley, have shown that the population of ancient Egypt did not present a single and homogeneous type, nor was it unchanged over time. Instead, somatic differences appear from place to place and at different times and the average characters of the population result from the fusion of types that probably had different geographical and ethnic origins. For Egypt 2004, please check

However, a very important and very constant element of those mixtures is constituted by the type that Elliot Smith has called proto-Egyptian, because it appears even in the most ancient tombs of inhumates. It was rather small in stature (for the predynastic series of Naǵ ‛ed-Dēr the average stature of males at 1.63 m, that of women at 1.51 m was calculated from the long bones), smaller than that of women. of the modern population, delicate in structure and features, with a physiognomic aspect that we can say, on the whole, Mediterranean. The skull was long and narrow, very high. The hair was straight, wavy or curly, of color, like the eyes, dark brown or black; the skin, as far as we can judge from the paints, white-brunette with the tanned tint common to people who live a lot outdoors and have skimpy clothes.

In the most ancient necropolis the elements with southern affinities are very scarce. In the pre-dynastic iumata of Abūṣir el-Malaq, in Lower Egypt, Müller’s study shows two main types: a small one with delicate bones, with a narrow head and long face, a not very prominent nose; another with larger, more robust shapes and a more energetically profiled face. Clearly Negroid forms are missing, but isolated traits of an inferior type are not absent. And these seem slightly more frequent in the remains given by the oldest tombs so far explored (late Neolithic) of el Badārī, above Asyūṭ. For certain characters, it seemed to various observers (Duckworth, Biasutti, Shrubsall) that some of the lower elements, which are later found sporadically in tombs of all ages, they have some affinity with the Austro-African groups (Bushmen and Hottentots). However, the question can only be decided with a very careful analysis of the oldest materials. Also in the pre- and proto-dynastic tombs of esh-Shallāl and other nearby places, near the first cataract, where the Barābrah negroids now live, one encounters mainly the proto-Egyptian type: the middle nasal index, 46.1, is lower, that is, less Negroid, than that given by the northernmost tombs (Abūṣīr el-Malaq 50,6, Naǵ ‛ed-Dēr 48,8). The hair was black and straight. The proto-dynastic necropolises show the diffusion from Lower to Middle and Upper Egypt of the taller type, more robust shapes, narrower and more prominent nose: it appears particularly numerous in Nagādah and el-Kawāmil. In the necropolis of Saqqārah (Lower Egypt) the Elliot Smith found a third racial element, a shorter skull with Armenoid affinity. These are the signs of a somatic renewal that moves from the Delta regions and seems to have played an important part in the development of Egyptian civilization, bringing within it a more constructive and strong-willed mentality. But the proto-Egyptian type is not overwhelmed, remaining the most numerous everywhere.

New infiltrations of alien elements occur in the most recent historical phases. While brachycephalics arrive from Asia, but in small numbers, negroes and negroids (esh- Shallāl, middle empire) appear from the South and their influence seems to have stronger time (esh- Shallāl, new empire). Later, in the Ptolemaic and Roman age and above all with the spread of Islam, the millennial isolation of the Egyptian lineage and the relative immunity of its racial compound broke, black blood was able to spread subtly throughout the region, giving the modern population of Egypt an average type much more “African” than that of the ancient residents.

Egypt Anthropology