Modern Greeks do not descend predominantly from Indo-Europeans. It is silly to talk about whether or not the Greeks are "any longer" Indo-European, since the people living within the geographic boundaries of Greece were at no time predominantly Indo-European by ancestry. However, the aristocracy of classical Greece would indeed have derived from Indo-Europeans. John V. Day notes that:
Indo-Europeans often seem to have been small minorities in the countries they penetrated: the Celtic warrior-class in Ireland; the Roman patricians; the few Homeric heroes and the so-called "pure Greeks" of later years; and the Aryans battling against the many natives in India.
According to Peterson, the Greek aristocracy were seperated by "caste-like stratification . . . from the freemen and slave classes among whom the genetic influence of the autochthonous 'Pelasgian' population may have predominated" (Peterson 1974).
Also keep in mind, Greeks have 28% Near Eastern HG9 and 28% North African HG21. Much of this ancestry may date from the Neolithic, but it is curious that RM doesn't interpret this data to mean Greeks are 56% "Hamito-Semitic" and therefore very much less than "pure" European. As Day (2002) says: "Genetically, Greek and Yugoslav populations are among the least typically 'European.'"
Update: In fact, new research is suggesting that much of the "Neolithic" ancestry in Greece represents gene flow from after the Neolithic.
Members of aristocratic families are vastly overrepresented among notable Greeks of the classical period. Thus, when discussing the racial type of ancient "Greeks", it is important to consider the racial type of the aristocracy.
From the point of view of physical anthropology the ethnic complexity of Greek society during the first millennium B.C. prohibits any attempt at a generalized statement of physical type based upon statistical averages of data derived from the available skeletal material. Substantial caste-like stratification, accompanied by relatively strict principles of caste endogamy separated the Indo-European-derived Eupatrids from the freemen and slave classes among whom the genetic influence of the autochthonous 'Pelasgian' population may have predominated. (Peterson 1974)
Peterson notes that IE languages eventually came to be spoken by racially and genetically diverse peoples, but he suggests:
In the course of some five or six millennia of expansion and conquest, an expanding IE upper caste may undoubtedly have preserved a high degree of genetic continuity (Pearson, 1974), while simply superimposing itself upon the autochthonous populations. Those who brought Indo-European speech into the newly-colonized territories became a ruling warrior nobility, as testified by the connotation 'noble' for arya in India and Persia, ariothez, in Greece (hence our 'aristocracy') and aire among the Celtic peoples. Indeed, the evidence-indicates that to a greater or lesser extent the invading arya, art, or aire maintained strict principles of endogamy in the choice of their official wives, and although in many areas they appear to have made a disproportionately high contribution to the gene pool of the indigenous population through the practice of keeping large numbers of concubines, they differed from the Uralic and Semitic peoples in their refusal to grant the illegitimate offspring of such marriages the social status of the father. Thus so far as legitimate offspring were concerned, in aristocratic Greek society, as in most early historic I.E. societies, the strict endogamy of the conquering classes was evidenced by the admission that 'we choose our wives like we choose our horses: by the lengths of their pedigrees' — and the high respect in which the Greeks held their horses is well known!
According to Peterson:
The fact that the immigrant Indo-Europeans had a clear-cut conception of what they regarded as their own distinctive and characteristic physiognomy — which would have been preserved and even accentuated by close inbreeding — is amply evidenced by Greek literature. Thus in the Odyssey (XII, 222) we undersland that the disguised Athena was described as being 'delicate ol countenance such as are the sons of kings', whereas in the Iliad (II, 216) Thersites, of autochthonous origin, is described as 'ill-formed and warped of head'. . . .
Villains, comical characters, satyrs, centaurs, giants, and all unpleasant people and those not to be admired, are often shown in sculpture and in vase painting as broad-faced, snub-nosed, and heavily bearded. Socrates, who belonged to this type, was maliciously compared to a satyr. This type may still be found its Greece, and is an ordinary Alpine. In the early skeletal, remains it is represented by some of the brachycephalic crania.
Socrates, son of a sculptor and a midwife, was not an aristocrat. The fact that his physical type was scorned by the aristocracy suggests that aristocrats were not Alpines, certainly not unmixed Alpines. Coon also notes that "The racial type to which Socrates belonged [a racial type not favored by the Indo-European elite] is today the most important" racial type in Greece.
. . . as a potential supplement to the study of the incomplete skeletal remains, . . . the possible utility of a detailed analysis of the surviving Greek portraits, busts, herms and sculptures of all kinds, classified according to the historically verifiable tribal and family background of the individual portrayed. Such a classification becomes important in view of the generally accepted view that throughout the first millennium B.C., the population of the Aegean remained subdivided into a number of genetic isolates, instead of representing a simple homogenous Mendelian population.
The Greeks shown above and right, descendants of ancient aristocratic families, illustrate Indo-European features.
Needless to say, today you're more likely to see people who resemble the above in England or Sweden than in Greece. Coon affirms:
. . . one is impressed, after looking at the portrait busts of Athenians, and the clay masks of Spartans, with their resemblance to present-day western Europeans. This resemblance becomes less marked in the art of the Byzantines, however, where modern near Eastern faces are more frequent; but the Byzantines lived mostly outside of Greece.
Peterson reports that by "the period of Roman domination . . . the old god-descended aristoi were virtually extinct".
Angel (1945) confirms the presence of Nordic-Iranian types among the Iron age invaders of Greece, and their continuation as a minority in Athens into Classical times. His data also suggest the presence of "Corded Nordic and Nordic-Alpine" types among the earlier, Bronze age invaders, and Angel mentions a Late Helladic Nordic-Iranian Mycenaean Athenian, who "without much doubt . . . was a warrior". Nordic-Iranian types were present in Athens even into Late Hellenistic times.
Demosthenes (pictured above) inherited 84,000 drachmai from his father, whose "estate gives us some idea of the property of the top 300 citizens in the fourth century" (Webster 1973, 44). By contrast, "ninety per cent of the citizens were in the income range 180-480 drachmai", and "citizens, metics, and slaves worked side by side in the silver mines and were paid the same wage" (46).
The lower strata of citizens likely would have been of autochthonous (rather than Indo-European) origin. 317 BC census figures for Athens show 12,000 citizens in lowest class (thetes), 8,000 in the middle (hoplite) class, and 1,000 in the top two classes. The upper classes were greatly outnumbered by their fellow citizens, to say nothing of slaves and metics.
The aristocracy were a small, isolated segment of the population, and many aristocratic families practiced cremation "well into the Classical period" (Peterson 1974), severely limiting the usefulness of skeletal evidence in discussing the racial type of the aristocracy. But the evidence mentioned above is consistent with the idea that Nordic types would have been greatly overrepresented in the aristocracy, just as portraits suggest they were.
Incidentally, the practice of cremation is itself a clue.
. . . cremation . . . was associated with pastoral-nomadic Nordic populations, for whom the soul might roam free in death as in life. Thus, the introduction of cremation into Greece was taken by many scholars as indicating the arrival of a new Nordic and nomadic population . . . (Hall 1997, 116)
Whether cremation was introduced by some unknown, generalized "'northern elements'", or specifically by "Dorian descendants of the cremation-practising Urnfield populations who occupied Illyria and Bosnia in the Late Bronze Age" (Hall 1997, 116-117), it is clear that cremation as practiced by the Greek aristocracy had its origin among Nordics.
As for pigmentation, Coon (1939) tells us:
Greek literature and Greek art furnish an abundance of evidence as to the pigmentation and the characteristic facial features of the ancient inhabitants of Hellas. The Olympian gods, ancestors of the semi-heroes, were for the most part blond, with ivory shins and golden hair. Athene was gray eyed. Poseidon, however, was black haired [Note: Poseidon was derived from a pre-IE Mediterranean deity]. These gods were little different if we may believe Homer, from their descendants the heroes, most of whom were white limbed and golden haired.Day (2002) finds that:
Useful information about real rather than fictional Greeks comes from Polemon, the second most important Greek writer on physiognomy, who wrote as late as the second century A.D. Polemon explains that "the pure Greek" of his time has fair skin and red hair, and resembles the man inclined to literature and philosophy, who has fair skin and fairish hair. Polemon may have drawn these ideas from Pseudo-Aristotle, the most important Greek physiognomist, who in his third century B.C. Physiognomica declares that the most perfect male type is the lion with its fair mane.
According to Angel, "Nordic-Iranians were tall and muscular, strong-necked, and probably included tawny-haired blue- or green-eyed blonds as well as brunets." Angel also mentions the "noteworthy resemblances" of this type "to Anglo-Saxons" and the partial "northwestern relations of this Greek type".
Modern Greeks are overwhelmingly dark-haired and rarely fair-skinned.
Of course. The old aristocracy, responsible for much of the greatness of ancient Greece, certainly no longer exists. That, in itself, is a big enough change. Even the peasants have changed, though the exact degree to which the Greek goatherd of today is descended from the ancient Greek goatherd is an open question.
Everyone knows about the major Slavic and Albanian influxes into Greece. As Paul Theroux puts it:
The Greeks had not taken very much interest in their past until Europeans became enthusiastic discoverers and diggers of their ruins. And why should they have cared? The Greeks were not Greek, but rather the illiterate descendants of Slavs and Albanian fishermen, who spoke a debased Greek dialect and had little interest in the broken columns and temples except as places to graze their sheep. (Pillars of Hercules, 315-316)
Given the movement of large numbers of Greeks into Anatolia during the Byzantine era, and the movements of Albanians and Slavs into Greece, it is always possible that a given Turk has as much or more classical Greek ancestry as a given modern Greek. And, there is always the strong possibility of a Turkic contribution to the Greek gene pool.
There has been gene flow into Greece from from Negroids and Mongoloids (see below), the extent of which is not easy to quantify at this time. However, absorption of genes from the Near East and North Africa likely happened on a much larger scale than the absorption of non-Caucasoid genes; and this recent non-European Caucasoid admixture may be more significant than non-Caucasoid admixture when discussing changes in the racial character of the Greek nation. Richards et al. (2002) find a "very high frequency (~20%) of recent gene flow" in eastern Mediterranean Europe.
The Near Easterners form a clear group, distinct from Europeans. The central and eastern Mediterranean populations of Europe, along with southeastern Europe, although positioned more closely to the other European populations, also show affinities with the Near East, but western Mediterranean Europe clusters with central and northern Europe. . . .
The southeast-northwest clines in classical marker frequencies have been interpreted, by comparison with radiocarbon evidence, as representing a substantial demic diffusion of Near Eastern farming communities into Europe in the early Neolithic period (Sokal et al. 1991; Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994). However, the pattern in mtDNA haplogroup frequencies that we see here indicates similarity between Europeans and Near Easterners primarily in southeastern Europe and along the Mediterranean, whereas archaeological evidence would point to the main expansion of agriculture being into central Europe (Bogucki 2000; Price 2000). Thus, it seems rather unlikely that the pattern in mtDNA haplogroup frequencies could have been generated mainly by a Neolithic expansion. . . .
The second PC of Y chromosome variation accounts for 26% of the variation, and it clusters most European regions at one pole while grouping the Near East at the other, with eastern Mediterranean and central Mediterranean Europe between the two poles. The main contributors to the gradients are haplogroups E and J (formerly haplogroups 21 and 9, both of which are frequent in the Near East) and, again, R* and N3 (both of which are more frequent in Europe). This points to gene flow from the Near East, as suggested by both Cavalli-Sforza et al. (1994) and Semino et al. (2000). Haplogroup J in Europe is interpreted more specifically by Semino et al. (2000) as the result of Neolithic dispersal. Curiously, however, haplogroups E and J are again most frequent along the Mediterranean coastline and rapidly dwindle as one moves into central Europe, where the archaeological record tells us the main farming expansion took place.
Founder analysis of mtDNA in Europe (Richards et al. 2000) can suggest a possible explanation for this pattern: it might be due, at least in part, to substantial recent (post-Neolithic) gene flow, rather than solely to Neolithic expansion. This mtDNA founder analysis, based on the comparison of matching sequence types (within haplogroups) between Europe and the Near East, suggested that there is no one-to-one correlation between migrations and major clades. The analysis for eastern Mediterranean Europe indicated a very high frequency (~20%) of recent gene flow, as compared with only ~10% Neolithic input. . . .
Angel (1945) sees evidence of an immigration trend, continuing from Roman times through Byzantine times and later, that brought Mediterranean, Eastern Alpine, and Armenoid elements [from the Near East, one presumes] by sea, and [Slavic speaking, in Byzantine times] Alpine and Dinaric elements from the north. Angel also believes that in Classical times, Athens absorbed a large population of slaves and metics.
Obviously, the Greek gene pool has received a great deal of outside input, which makes sense, based on Greece's location and history. Angel tries to stress the continuity of the Athenian people, but it's hard to see what's so continuous about an originally Mediterranean population which today is brachycephalic and largely Alpine, and in which an important minority racial element of earlier times has essentially disappeared. It should be understood that when Angel speaks of "continuity", he merely means that racial change in Greece is gradual, rather than sharp. In this sense, one could just as easily stress the "racial continuity" of Arabs as they gradually absorbed large numbers of sub-Saharan slaves.
Grecocentric anthropologist Aris Poulianos makes stronger claims than Angel about Greek "continuity", insisting on "the incessant biological continuity of the Greeks all through the historic and prehistoric epochs, which refer at least to the Mesolithic and Upper Palaeolithic periods (15.000-30.000 years)." Poulianos's work is discredited by statements such as:
. . . continuity is . . . proved by the comparison of measurements of the contemporary inhabitants with those of the ancient skulls of Greece, which statistically show no differences . . .
As Angel's work shows -- and as common sense dictates -- the racial composition of Greece has changed quite markedly over time; and the genetic evidence proves that significant Neolithic and later gene flow has occured in Greece. If Poulianos is unable to detect differences between ancient and modern Greeks, his techniques are flawed.
Poulianos's credibility is further undermined by his bizarre assertions concerning linguistics.
We must indirectly admit that [the Sarakatsanees] also have the most ancient language, because their ancestors always spoke..and spoke only Greek for the last tenths of thousand years..50, 60, 70, perhaps even 100. On the contrary, the Indoeuropean theory only covers the last four thousand years. But even before the Indoeuropeans, didn't the inhabitants of this country speak for so many thousands of years? Aren't the living Sarakatsanees the proof today?
Needless to say, no mainstream Western scholar would support Poulianos's linguistic theories. However, Poulianos's work was warmly received in the Soviet Union. This is unsurprising: Poulianos did his doctoral dissertation at the University of Moscow; and with his fantasies of Greek-speaking Neanderthals, Poulianos is simply taking Soviet-style theories of ethnogenesis to their ridiculous extreme. In the final analysis, Poulianos is a crank, of little interest to anyone but Greek nationalists and Stalinist archaeologists.
A page promoting The Origin of the Greeks is able to report that hundreds of Eastern bloc state scientists "fully agreed with the scientific views of Mr. Aris. Poulianos, underlining the seriousness of the research", but the only Western scientist they can cite as having supported him is J.L. Angel. While it's true that Angel penned a perhaps under-critical review of Poulianos's book in AJPA, this friend of Poulianos nevertheless found The Origin of the Hellenes to be an "unsystematic" work, which omits half the relevant literature, "tends to overvalue speculations based on small samples", and leaves "a number of loose ends". On a positive note, Angel believes Poulianos's use of slang and "everyday Greek" instead of "stuffy" scientific language "should help to popularize anthropology in Greece, in spite of three or four quotations from Stalin, Marx, and Engels."
Incidentally, one of Poulianos's chief aims seems to have been to refute Fallmerayer's theory that modern Greeks are mostly descended from Slavs and Albanians. However:
The same study indicated that the Albanian-speaking, Slav-speaking (Monte Negro included) as well as Valaches (Vlachi) of the greater Macedonian region are in their majority also autochthonous and therefore the influences from abroad mainly concerns the adoption of the chronologically younger languages, which are in use today.
If this is the case, then it seems Poulianos can prove nothing about the degree to which Byzantine-era Slavic-speakers contributed to the modern Greek population. Whether or not these Slavic-speakers had predominantly autochthonous origins in the Balkans is irrelevant. They were still not the same people as the ancient Greeks. As well, looking at averages for the population as a whole obscures the fact that a disproportionate share of Greek contributions came from a numerically unimportant, genetically isolated, and racially distinct minority.
The source of classical Greek achievement
Angel mentions "Blegen's model of fusion of diverse material, social, and even psychological elements to form the culture of Classical Athens". Blegen is correct that Athenian cultural achievement owed something to the fusion of cultures. But, the key elements that seperated Greek thought and achievement from those of earlier civilizations originated with the Indo-Europeans:
While Egyptians and Babylonians collected a great deal of information about mathematics and astronomy and practiced impressive engineering on a grand scale, their "sciences" never had a really scientific basis. Their knowledge existed either as the lore collected by the priests or as the products of practical trial-and-error. Only the Indo-European Greeks actually systematized scientific and mathematical knowledge, and they were able to construct it into a system because the system itself was their concept of a Cosmic Order in which all events and phenomena were related through causality and its inexorable linkages of one event and phenomenon to another. . . .
"It is no accident," wrote V. Gordon Childe, "that the first great advances towards abstract natural science were made by the Aryan Greeks and the Hindus, not by the Babylonians or the Egyptians, despite their great material resources and their surprising progress in techniques – in astronomical observation for example. . . ." (Clark 1996)
Inspired by Blegen's model of the fusion of cultures, Angel looks to blending of racial types as "one of the real and probably indispensable little factors which help produce a great people and which underlie the whole history of civilization." What this theory ignores is the major role played by the endogamous aristocracy in Greek achievement. Since Classical times, Greece has received even more outside genetic input and has become even more blended. If this is the key to greatness, why has Greece been going downhill since the Classical age?
Murphy (1941) takes a similar view to Angel's, but acknowledges another factor:
. . . which can be deduced from Darwin's work in general and which later researches have brought more into the light. It appears that the human racial crossings which produce the most marked instances of efflorescence in genius and ability, take place among the varieties which are comparatively akin to each other and that, on the contrary, where the varieties which hybridize are distant from each other in type . . . there is a deficiency in the production of superior ability.
Murphy mentions "conquering hordes . . . from the Eurasian steppes" settling the Fertile Crescent and "creating a highly developed civilization"; and he mentions a process "'seen in ancient Greece or the Florentine Renaissance; first a migration of peoples (immigration of strong, warlike races), then, for centuries, a relative intellectual calm, and, finally, a period of abundant genius.'" It's not clear why those events should be explained in terms of blending of racial types, rather than in say, the blending of cultures, the imposition of important elements of the invading cultures on the new lands, or the acquisition by the "warlike races" of resources which allow them to fulfill their innate potential. Murphy does suggest that "mingling of the successive waves of immigrants" may be more important than "the crossing of the invading people with aborigines".
It would certainly seem that the composition of the immigrants is of key importance, regardless of whether or not "hybrid vigor" plays some role. These periods of greatness were invariably followed by periods of decline or mediocrity, accompanied by continuing or increased blending of racial elements. Wave after wave of Alpines and Mediterraneans continued to arrive in Greece from Roman times onward. But blending with these new arrivals never produced an "efflorescence". W.D. Hamilton's (1975) theory is preferrable to that of Angel:
The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972).
The peak of Greek civilization was only reached after the "ingredient of progress" had been introduced by the Indo-European invaders. By the time complete mediocrity set in, the disproportionately Nordic and Indo-European-descended aristocracy had all but disappeared. Lundman agrees that:
The racial structure of the old historical European peoples - the Greeks, Romans, and Celts - has been treated at length in my book Geographische Anthropologie (1967). Certainly, these peoples had, at least in their upper social strata, stronger Nordic components than the present inhabitants of these lands.
Roger Pearson (1991) has suggested the possibility that "Europe has suffered a severe dysgenic decline over the past two thousand years". If this is true, Greece, which today has perhaps the lowest average IQ in Europe, may have been particularly hard hit. On the other hand, it may well be that only the elite classes in ancient Greece were exceptionally intelligent. And, when the elites died out or were absorbed by the much more numerous masses, the intellectual power of Greece was dissipated.
A graphical outline of Greek racial history
The above chart, from Angel (1944), illustrates the racial history of Greece (arrows, highlighting added). Even Angel is forced to acknowledge the presence of an important Nordic element in Classical Greece. Two points need to be stressed.
As mentioned above, many aristocratic Greeks were cremated. Add to that the fact that the aristocracy made up only a tiny segment of the Greek population, and it should be obvious that the relatively few ancient Greek skeletal remains that have been recovered will have little to say about the racial types of the more important classes of ancient Greeks; but, the trends are suggestive, particularly when considered along with the evidence from portraiture.
- "Nordic-Iranian" is an overly broad category, which likely includes both European Nordics and eastern Iranian types. So, although a "Nordic-Iranian" element remains in Greece even into Byzantine times, this doesn't necessarily mean that classical Nordics survived in significant numbers. It's interesting that Angel indicates that the dominant Nordic-Iranian types in Classical Greece were D1-3 [D1 is a type of Nordic "between Anglo-Saxon and Keltic area norms" and D2 is the Corded type], while, in Roman times, there was a shift to types D3&4 [D3 is "Iranian-Mediterranean" and D4 is "Iranian"].
A note about J. Lawrence Angel
While there is no reason to doubt Angel's sub-racial classifications of ancient Greek skeletal remains, the conclusions Angel draws based on his analyses are highly questionable. Angel had already decided upon his conclusions before he ever set foot in Greece or examined a Greek skull.
I came to Greece as a graduate student hoping to unravel the social biology of this area, partly in answer to Nazi racist interpretations. (The People of Lerna, p. 6)
Angel's anti-racist politics cloud his work. To take an example, Angel (1973) reports that the Mycenaean Shaft Grave royalty are 38.1% Nordic-Iranian and 0% (!) Mediterranean. Angel acknowledges that "they show less Mediterranean, Basic White, and Alpine ('pre-Greek' trait combinations) and more Nordic-Iranian and Dinaroid-Mixed Alpine tendencies than commoners show." Angel admits that "[p]ossibly the aristocrats are a little more fully derived from . . . [Indo-European] intruders than the commoners are", but he immediately dismisses this hypothesis in favor of his pet "social selection" theory. The royals average "about 5 cm taller than their subjects"; they have "remarkably thick bones" and "massive bodies and heads"; and they differ subracially from their subjects "in the direction of the Iranian steppe". Yet, Angel would have us believe they owe their distinctiveness exclusively to diet and the Indo-European invaders who imposed the Greek language failed to leave a strong genetic imprint on the Greek aristocracy. Given the two theories:
- That "the aristocrats are a little more fully derived from . . . [Indo-European] intruders".
- That "the rulers spring directly from the extraordinarily mixed late Middle Bronze Age population which they ruled over", the differences between the former and the latter being due to "better diet" and "social selection".
One final note. Angel mentions that the aristocrats were "20% more variable than normal" in "head and face form and body size". High metrical variability need not imply heterogeneous origins, though Angel would seem to want us to assume such. In Jacobs et al. (1996), a paper discussing the subject of racial typology with reference to NE Europe, the authors mention that:
. . . the values [of variance of cranial dimensions] for the Danish sample are particularly significant for those who would privilege the use of anthropological types as a means to diagnose the diverse ethnogenetic origins of a skeletal sample. The Danish sample is consistently and without exception the most variable in all comparisons. Yet chronological, archaeological and other data . . . suggest that this sample also approximates more closely than do any of the others a single, closed and panmictic breeding group. Thus there is the least probability of mixing of biologically different 'types' in instance of the sample which shows the greatest osteometric variability. (pp. 291-292)
"There’s no evidence that blacks were at all present in Ancient Greece"
The above statement is blatantly false.
In his book Race, John R. Baker writes that:
Evans provides a few pictures of persons showing Negrid characters, and suggests that 'partly negroized elements' may have been brought to Crete as captives. (517)
(Before you afrocentrists get your hopes up, know that Baker makes clear: "No one has ever suggested, on evidence either from skulls or pictures, that any non-Europid people participated in the origin or development of Cretan civilization.")
The presence of Negroid or partially-Negroid types in Greece is confirmed by cranial evidence. J.L. Angel reports:
In my own skeletal samples from Greece I note apparent negroid nose and mouth traits in two of fourteen Early Neolithic (sixth millenium B.C.), only two or three more among 364 from fifth to second millenium B.C., one among 113 Early Iron Age, one or two among 233 Classic and Hellenistic skeletons, but four clear Negroids (all from one area of Early Christian Corinth) among ninety-five Roman period, two among eighty-five Medieval, and of course ten among fifty-two Turkish period Greeks, yet none among 202 of Romantic (nineteenth century) date.
Frank Snowden has researched the presence of blacks in the ancient Greece from the standpoint of art and literature. His findings include:
Both the literary and archaeological evidence points to a not infrequent crossing between blacks and whites. Nothing in the observations on such unions, whether marriage or concubinage, resembles certain modern strictures on racial mixture.
Of course one reason for the color bar which recently existed in the West was the belief that it was race mixing which led to the collapse of Greek, Roman, and other civilizations. . . .
No laws in the Greco-Roman world prohibited unions of blacks and whites. Ethiopian blood was interfused with that of Greeks and Romans. No Greek or Roman author condemned such racial mixture. . . . The scientists Aristotle and Pliny, like Plutarch, commented as scientists on the physical appearance of those born of black-white racial mixture but included nothing resembling certain modern strictures on miscegenation. . . . It is safe to assume, therefore, that in course of time many Ethiopians were assimilated into a predominantly white population. (Blacks in Antiquity, 193-195)
With respect to the number of blacks in ancient Greece, Snowden states:
Even though we cannot state, in the manner of modern sociologists and historians,the ratio of Blacks to Whites in either Greece or Italy, we can say that Ethiopians were by no means few or rare sights and that their presence, whatever their numbers, constituted no color problem. (Blacks in Antiquity, 186)
Most slaves in Greece were Caucasoid. But, since slaves were a large fraction of the population, even if blacks made up a small minority of slaves many may have been present. A Greek source gives a figure of 400,000 slaves in Attica in 317 BC, compared to 21,000 adult male citizens and 10,000 adult male metics (resident aliens). While modern authors recognize that the 400,000 figure "must be wrong" (Webster 1973, 41), it seems that all Athenians who could afford to owned slaves, and some owned up to 1,000. In the end, Webster estimates that slaves made up roughly a third of the population of Athens (62,000 out of a total population of 186,000 -- personally, I think this may be an underestimate). If one third of the remaining population consisted of metics, that means that less than half the inhabitants of Athens were citizens.
Some individuals claim that, while there may have been non-white slaves present in ancient Greece, Greek customs would have prevented any mixing with foreigners. The upper classes did, initially anyway, strongly resist mixing with foreigners. However, the upper classes did not make up anywhere near the bulk of the people living in Greece. There is no reason to expect the slaves and lower or middle classes (who greatly outnumbered the aristocracy) would have abided by the same customs as the upper classes. And, as Peterson notes, "many [members of the merchant and artisan classes] were of foreign extraction", so one hardly expects them to have had qualms about mixing with "foreigners". It should also be noted that:
The slave had the same legal protection as a metic, and he had his chance of buying freedom . . . Politically, it might be right to think of citizens, metics, and slaves as three different grades. But economically, and therefore to a considerable extent socially, they ran parallel. Metics and slaves were certainly found in quantity in the same income range which covered ninety per cent of the citizens, the unskilled and skilled laborers. (Webster 1973, 47).
Though after 451 there were laws "restricting citizenship to the children of two citizen parents", Webster thinks it likely that "in fact a number of Athenians did have children by foreigners or freedwomen, and their children were accepted as citizens" (1973, 54).
There can be no doubt that the slave and metic populations were absorbed into the Greek population as a whole. Regardless of whether or not they mixed with citizens in Classical times (and there seems to be little doubt that they did mix, on at least some occasions, with at least the lower strata of citizenry), they didn't just disappear at the end of the Classical age. They would have continued to increase in number over time, and eventually they must have been incorporated into the people we today call "Greeks". There is no reason the situation with negroid slaves/metics would have been any different.
According to Frank Snowden:
Black-white sexual relations were never the cause of great emotional crises and many blacks were physically assimilated into the predominantly white populations of the Mediterranean world.
Snowden also mentions:
the number of references to Ethiopians in Greek literature of the fifth century BC, on the appearance of mulatto children following the presence of blacks in Greece in the army of Xerxes, and on the many artistic representations of the mid- and late-fifth century BC reflecting this anthropological evolution.
Arthur Kemp has compiled an extensive set of references on the presence of Negroes and racial mixing in ancient Greece. Primary sources make it clear that there were, in fact, mixed race offspring born in Greece (and Rome, for that matter). In light of this fact, it seems obvious that there has been introgression of sub-Saharan genes into the Greek gene pool.
Considering the foregoing, it should come as no surprise that Richards et al. (2000) detected Ethiopian mtDNA haplogroup M1 in Greece. Additionally, sub-Saharan Y-chromosome haplogroup A (most common among Khoisians and Ethiopians) was found in an individual from Mitilini (Di Giacomo et al. in press). Other sub-Saharan haplogroups are found in Greece's neighbors. Note, Greece remains relatively little studied with respect to population genetics. The few relevant studies that have been done have fairly small sample sizes. It's too early to say much about levels of sub-Saharan mtDNA markers compared to other countries in Europe. In any event, exact levels of recent sub-Saharan mtDNA and Y-chromosome markers aren't all that relevant, since larger amounts of Negroid genes may have entered Greece via Negroid-admixed, E3b-carrying North African males.
E3b, the most common Y-chromosome haplogroup in Greece, "probably originated in eastern Africa" (Semino et al. 2004). It has been proposed that the most frequent E3b subclade in Greece, E-M78, which accounts for nearly half of Peloponnesian Y-chromosomes (Cruciani et al. 2004), originated in Somalia (Sanchez et al. 2003). Bearing in mind the above, it is perhaps not so surprising that the much maligned study "HLA Genes in Macedonians and the sub-Saharan Origin of the Greeks" independently reported a genetic connection between Ethiopians and Greeks (Arnaiz-Villena et al. 2001).
In addition to ancient admixture, some Negroid admixture may have accrued to Greece during Ottoman times. Buxton and Rice (1931) mention that "in Cyprus there is a greater proportion of platyrrhiny among the lower classes than in other social strata, but this is perhaps due to the importation of negro slaves by the Turks." Angel (1945) mentions a "Turkish period skeleton" from Athens, "which is unquestionably the remains of a Negroid individual, though possibly with very slight white admixture." Interestingly, 4.3% of Y-chromosomes in a sample of Turkish Cypriots are sub-Saharan (Cruciani et al. 2004; values for Greek Cypriots aren't reported).
Mongoloid admixture in Greece In addition to Negroid admixture, there is clear genetic evidence for Mongoloid admixture in Greece. In a sample of 118 Greeks, "HpaI morph 1 [a Mongoloid marker] was detected for the first time in a European sample" (Astrinidis 1994).
3% of Greek Y-chromosomes belong to HG26, a haplogroup which is found at high frequencies in some Mongoloid populations. However, the presence of HG26 is not -- as Dienekes once claimed -- proof of Mongoloid ancestry, since HG26 is defined by a very old mutation (HG26 is ancestral to the common European haplogroup HG1). The original bearers of HG26 were most likely either Caucasoid, or of a racial type ancestral to both Caucasoids and Mongoloids. Regardless, many Asian steppe populations belong predominantly to Y-chromosome haplogroups which are also found in Europe (HG26, HG1), making it difficult to assess the male Mongoloid contribution in Greece with the data we currently have. I expect that further study will demonstrate Central Asian ancestry in Greece, as has already been demonstrated in nearby countries.
Mongoloid and Central Asian mtDNA and Y markers are present on the Croatian island Hvar.
Worthy of note is the finding of considerable frequency of haplogroup P*(xM173) in the population of the island of Hvar. According to Wells et al this lineage displays maximum in Central Asia while being rare in Europe, Middle East and East Asia. Its presence in Hvar recapitulates our finding of mtDNA haplogroup F on the island of Hvar and in mainland Croatian population that is virtually absent in Europe but, again, common in populations from Central and Eastern Asia. There are several possibilities for the occurrence of the ancestral lineage of M173. One is the well-documented alliance of Avars (a Mongol people) and Slavs (Croatians) that followed Avar arrival to the eastern Adriatic in 6th century AD. The other is the expansion of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th to 18th century AD when refugees from the western Balkan frequently immigrated to the islands. Lastly, the ancient Silk Road linking China with western Asia and Europe could be a possible path of P(xM173) lineage, too. Any of these migratory patterns could have introduced this mutation to the investigated population. (Barac et al. 2003)Paleolithic European HG1 is marked with the M173 mutation. As noted above, P*(xM173) is found in Croatia, indicating the presence of Central Asian genes in the Balkans. It would be interesting to see what proportion of the HG1 in Greece is marked with M173, but I'm not aware of any studies which have reported this data.
In Anatolia, "[t]he most reliable estimates suggest roughly 30% Central Asian admixture for both mitochondrial and Y-chromosome loci" (Di Benedetto et al. 2001). Since there is no strong genetic barrier seperating Greece and Anatolia (see, for example, Simoni et al. 1999), there is no reason to believe modern Greeks have been shielded from the significant Central Asian input in their neighbors.
It should be obvious from history and geography that Greeks have more Mongoloid ancestry than, e.g., Germans; just as Hungarians no doubt have more Mongoloid admixture than western Europeans, so to do Greeks. And Greeks certainly have vastly more Mongoloid admixture than the British. See below for examples of Greek celebrities with obvious Mongoloid admixture.
RM's photos of "Greeks"
Some of the "Greek" celebrities RM has posted are probably not fully Greek by ancestry. For example, Bob Costas' full name is "Robert Quinlan Costas". Unless someone can think of a better reason why a "Greek" would have an Irish surname for a middle name, I'll take this piece of evidence to mean Costas is probably half-Irish. It is hard to confirm whether or not the other Greek-Americans RM has posted are of full Greek ancestry. For example, I've heard that Alexi Lalas is only half-Greek.
Some Greek celebrities with visible Mongoloid ancestry:
L-R: Ioanna Soulioti; Marios Fragkoulis; Yanna Lyberi
More Greeks with apparent non-European ancestry:
L-R: Vana Barba (Negroid strain?); K. Dmitris Tsatsos (Hither Asiatic); Unknown (Orientalid strain?)
In the interest of bandwidth, I'll leave it at that. Though, if I wished to, I could list a dozen genuinely non-European-looking Greeks for every "Hamito-Semitic" Briton RM has posted.
In response to this page, RM has renamed his "Myth #7" to something that makes a bit more sense (though he is still, of course, wrong in implying that the Greeks haven't changed since antiquity). RM has also removed the photo of Bob Costas.
RM has been forced to retract his wishful, unresearched claim that "no evidence [exists] that blacks were at all present in Ancient Greece".
- The Greeks have changed since antiquity; changes include the blending of what, in classical times, had been genetic isolates and the disappearance of the elites responsible for much of ancient Greek achievement. Gene flow into Greece has also occured, the exact levels and effects of which are not known.
- Primary sources, art, and anthropological evidence support the presence of blacks and the birth of mulattoes in ancient Greece.
- The Greeks have Negroid admixture, the exact extent of which is indeterminable with current data. Though, to be fair, they probably have less Negroid admixture than the Portuguese.
- The Greeks have Mongoloid admixture.
- More research is needed before we can make definitive pronouncements on, e.g.:
- the precise levels of Negroid and Mongoloid ancestry in Greece.
- exactly how recent the ~20% "recent" Near Eastern gene flow to Greece is. This gene flow is from later than the Neolithic, but how much is from historical times and later? And to what degree has this admixture altered the Greek population?
- how much Slavs and Albanians contributed to the Greek gene pool, and what sort of genetic impact the impact the Turks had on Greece.
Angel, J. Lawrence. A racial analysis of the ancient Greeks: An essay on the use of morphological types. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Volume 2 N.S., Number 4. 1944.
Angel, J. Lawrence. Skeletal Material from Attica. Hesperia. Volume 14, Issue 4. The American Excavations in the Athenian Agora: Twenty-Seventh Report. Oct-Dec 1945. 279-363.
Angel, J. Lawrence. Human Skeletons from Grave Circles at Mycenae. In G. E. Mylonas (ed.). Ho Taphikos Kyklos B ton Mykenon [The Grave Circle B at Mycenae (Greek)] Volume I. Athens: Athenais Archaiologikes Etaireias, 1973. pp. 379-97.
Arnaiz-Villena et al. HLA genes in Macedonians and the sub-Saharan origin of the Greeks. Tissue Antigens. 2001 Feb;57(2):118-27.
Astrinidis, A. and A. Kouvatsi. Mitochondrial DNA polymorphism in northern Greece. Hum Biol. 1994 Aug;66(4):601-11.
Baker, John R. Race. Oxford, London, 1974.
Barac et al. Y chromosomal heritage of Croatian population and its island isolates. Eur J Hum Genet. 2003 Jul;11(7):535-42.
Buxton, L.H. Dudley and D. Talbot Rice. Report on the Human Remains found at Kish. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. Volume 61. Jan-Jun 1931. 57-119.
Clark, Edwin. The Roots of the White Man (Part I): A Reply to Jared Taylor. American Renaissance. Vol 7, No. 11. November, 1996.
Cruciani et al. Phylogeographic analysis of haplogroup e3b (e-m215) y chromosomes reveals multiple migratory events within and out of Africa. Am J Hum Genet. 2004 May;74(5):1014-22. Epub 2004 Mar 24
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Di Benedetto et al. DNA diversity and population admixture in Anatolia. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2001 Jun;115(2):144-56.
Di Giacomo et al. Clinal patterns of human Y chromosomal diversity in continental Italy and Greece are dominated by drift and founder effects. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. In Press.
Hall, Jonathan M. Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity. Cambridge, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Hamilton, W.D. Innate social aptitudes of man: an approach from evolutionary genetics. In R. Fox (ed.), Biosocial Anthropology. Malaby Press, London, 133-53. 1975.
Jacobs et al. Pitfalls in the Search for Ethnic Origins: a Cautionary Tale regarding the Construction of "Anthropological Types" in Pre-Indo-European Northeast Europe. In Jones-Bley and Huld (eds.), The Indo-Europeanization of Northern Europe. Washington, D.C.: Institute for the Study of Man, 1996.
Murphy, John. Racial Crossing and Cultural Efflorescence. Man. Volume 41. Jan-Feb 1941.
Pearson, Roger. Some comments on Lynn's thesis by an anthropologist. Mankind Quarterly. Fall/Winter 1991. Vol. 32. Issue 1/2. p175.
Peterson, R. The Greek Face. The Journal of Indo-European Studies. Volume 2, Number 4. Winter, 1974. 385-406.
Richards et al. Tracing European founder lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA pool. Am J Hum Genet 2000 Nov;67(5):1251-76. Supplementary data.
Richards et al. In Search of Geographical Patterns in European Mitochondrial DNA. Am J Hum Genet 2002 Nov;71(5):1168-74.
Sanchez et al. Y-Chromosome analysis of the Somali population suggests the origin of the haplogroup E3b1. 2nd DNA POLYMORPHISMS IN HUMAN POPULATIONS International Symposium - Paris - December 5-6, 2003
Semino et al. Origin, diffusion, and differentiation of y-chromosome haplogroups e and j: inferences on the neolithization of europe and later migratory events in the mediterranean area. Am J Hum Genet. 2004 May;74(5):1023-34. Epub 2004 Apr 06.
Simoni et al. Patterns of gene flow inferred from genetic distances in the Mediterranean region. Hum Biol. 1999 Jun;71(3):399-415.
Snowden, Frank M., Jr. Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman experience. Cambridge. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 1970.
Tenzer, Lawrence R. How Do We Inherit Our Skin Color? from A Completely New Look At Interracial Sexuality.
Theroux, Paul. The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of The Mediterranean. G.P. 1995.
Webster, T.B.L. Athenian Culture and Society. Batsford, London, 1973.
Nordic Hellas by Karl Earlson
Photos of ancient Greek statuary (scroll down to "griechisch")