View Full Version : Craneological Substratum of the Balts In Prussia And Lithuania.

Sunday, August 6th, 2006, 09:09 PM
CRANEOLOGICAL SUBSTRATUM OF THE BALTS IN PRUSSIA AND LITHUANIA. By Gintautas Cesnys (The University of Vilinius, Lithuania).

The first people seem to have appeared in the south-eastern Baltic area (Prussia and Lithuania) not earlier than the eleventh to tenth millennia BC, after the melting of the last glacier. The Mesolithic period of the region is represented by the male skull from Kirsna, investigated by Zilinskas (1931) and remeasured later on by Mark (1956), and a female skull without facial bones from Spiginas (Balciuniene, Cesnys ans Jankauskas 1992). According to coefficients of sexual dimorphism, the measurements of the last skull were calculated into the male ones (Table 1). The Kirsna man is a hypermorphic, hyperdolichocranic narrow-faced Caucasoid with a sharp vertical and horizontal profile of the face. The Spipiginas cranium is mesomorphic brachycranic and broad faced.
Unfortunately, comparative Mesolithic materials are too few to elucidate in essence the origin of the first inhabitants; nevertheless, some conclusions can be made. The Kirsna skull has analogies in the dolichocranic type of the Latvian Mesolithic (Table 1), the Danish Maglemose and the Ertebolle cultures. Denisova (1975) connected the peopling of the Baltic area with the West European Magdalenians. According to Girininkas (1974), Clark speaks about a united Nordic culture among the European Mesolithic people, and many archaeologists (e.g. Rimantienè 1984, Girininkas 1994 and others) point out the similarities between the Baltic Mesolithic and the Danish Maglemose cultures. To all appearances, the first inhabitants of Prussia and Lithuania came from the West along the southern coast of the Baltic sea (Fig.1).
The origin of the Spignias anthropological type is quite unclear. Mesocranic forms were detected in Latvian Mesolithic materials (Table 1), and Denisova (1974) looks for its sources in the East European brachycranes that had ancient contacts with Ural populations and had a somewhat flattened facial profile. It is difficult to deny her opinion, for the mesocranic type from Zvejniedi really was notable for platignathy. However, mesobrachycrany is known elsewhere in the European Stone Age, for example, in the British Isles (Bunak 1951) and Scandinavia (Fürst 1925). For instance, the bright-length index of a Mesolithic Ertebolle culture skull from Fannerrup (Bennik and Alexandersen 1998) was 78.4, and the mean of the pooled sample of the same culture was 77.5 (Table 1).
Bunak (1951) determined the kernel of brachycranes in the middle of Europe. Its sources started as far back as the Palaeolithic (Téviec, Kasselmose,, Tangermünde, Spandau and other crania) due to the development of archeomorphic Europoids (the Cromagnon type). The Central European Caucasoids (proto-Alpines) preserved for a long time a combination of brachycrany and a more or less wide face. Unfortunately, nothing is known about their facial profile, but presumably, it might have been sharp. We tend to suppose that the Spiginas-type men could appear on the south-eastern Baltic coast from this middle European kernel (Fig. 2).
No doubt, hybridization of dolichocranic and brachycranic forms took place until the early Neolithic, when the Narva and Nemunas cultures emerged in the area, the last making contact in the West (in Prussia) with the late Globular Amphora culture (Cesnys 1991). Unfortunately, the Nemunas and Narva culture findings are too few (table 2) to analyze them separately. Besides, they seem to be of the same mesobrachycranic type. That is why it is possible to join the materials into a pooled sample; moreover, the territories of these almost synchronous cultures communicated, and their boundary was not absolute (Rimantienè 1894). The Nemunas and Narva people were notable for mesomorphy and mesocrany, euryenic face of moderate width and low upper height, low orbits and nose. It is necessary to point out some flatness of the upper part of the face, but the materials are too fragmentary to judge more categorically about the platiopy of the population (Fig. 3).
The Globular Amphora sample represents the Prussian territory (Rimantienè and Cesnys 199). Morphologically, it repeats the features of the Narva and Nemunas series. When the means of the two last culture are expressed in percents of dimensions in early Indo-European (the Boat-Axe) series (Fig. 4), their absolute identity comes to light according to the size and shape of the vault and the bizygomatical width. Some differences also appear in the form of facial details and height of the face. The Globular Amphora people can be treated as a high-faced version of the complex, which was characteristic of the inhabitants of the Nemunas and Narva culture area.
The origin of pre-Indo-European mesocranic and mesomorphic type with a wide and low face (“the southeast Baltic mesocranes”) was discussed in another paper (Cesnys 1991) on the basis of multivariate analysis of seventy craniological samples from Central and East Europe. Here it is essential to point out their genetic relations with Mesolithic mesocranes of the region that might have been of Central European descent. Moreover, the migration of mesobrachycranic tribes might have continued during entire Neolithic period. In spite of the fact that some Nemunas and Narva skulls has a flattened profile (materials are fragmentary, and it might be individual characters of the crania), there is no direct evidence of repercussions of people from the East European focus of brachycranes. The Central European orientation of the Prussian Globular Amphora sample, the typical representative of the southeast Baltic mesocranes, is quite evident, ofr they form a single cluster with the Globular Amphora population from Poland, the Bell Beaker culture from Moravia and the Megalith culture people from Germany in the clusterization dendrogram of Penrose’s coefficients (Fig. 5). The representatives of the Comb-and Pit-Marked Pottery culture from Estonia and mesocranic forms of the Latvian Narva culture have nothing in common with the southeast Baltic mesocranes; they stand quite on the opposite edge of the dendogram.

Summarizing, it is possible to say, that the first massive dolichocranic Caucasoids came to the territory of Prussia and Lithuania from the West, mesocranic component emerged from the Central Europe, the result of their hybridization and repercussions of mesobrachycranic people from the Central European kernel of brachycranes were deciding factors in the formation of pre-Indo-European anthropological background in the area.

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