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Thread: 10 Golden Rules of Classification - Article by Amorsite

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    10 Golden Rules of Classification - Article by Amorsite

    I have his permission to reproduce this, originally posted on Human Biodiversity Forum. I would say it's a useful primer on classifying, and of interest to amateurs, even professional ones

    Rules 8 and 10 I especially agree with, together with the observation that while European types are commonly UP types, in the South Mediterraneans become increasingly prevalent. That's consistent with the pattern of human migrations. Anyway, worth a read.

    ---


    by Amorsite

    The rules stated below apply to over 90% of classifications of European-descended individuals. They are the conclusion of my experience in classifying such persons and have been proved to work in nearly all cases. The purpose is to help classifiers and contribute to accuracy.

    When classifying individuals of European descent:

    1- The first distinction to be made is whether the person in question is Mediterranean or Upper Paleolithic in type. As a rule of thumb Upper Paleolithic types are commoner in most of Europe. Mediterraneans become more common towards the south. Expect an Upper Paleolithic type (or a local subvariant of an UP type) and pay attention for Mediterranean exceptions.

    2- 50/50 blends are rare. In most cases, the individual belongs to a certain type (or a local variant of some type) with possible alteration by other type, but not to the extent to which the elements in the blend are indiscernible.

    3- Don’t expect everyone to be a typical example of a given category. Also don’t assume that not having a “typical” appearance implies admixture of a different element. Specially Upper Paleolithic types are spread throughout Europe in countless different local subvariants.

    4- Be skeptic about blends of similar elements. A Bruenn-Phalian or Mediterranean-Nordic intermediate is unlikely if considering the morphological similarities and overlaps between these types.

    5- Demand the subject’s ancestry in classification. Though in theory classification should be independent of the place of origin, there is almost never sufficient material for complete accuracy. Knowing a person’s background usually points in the right direction. Consider the racial history and principal elements of the given country(ies) the subject descends from and ask yourself whether the person in question cannot be explained as a product of these.

    6- Don’t classify on impression. An assessment on the physical type of a person is only valuable if it considers morphological traits. Stereotypes and pigment should not influence classifiers. Some stereotypes, like the “Irish” lip, have some morphological value while others like the blonde robust “Nordic” German do not. Do not mistake “Northern European” or “Germanic” with “Nordic” for example.

    7- Think in terms of morphology, not absolute tags. Words are insufficient when describing appearances. The most important consideration is whether the group of features which corresponds to a type is present in a given person. Most Europeans could be described as possessing a “narrow” nose, many as having a “long” face, but it does not imply belonging to any type in particular. Pictures, not words.

    8– If in doubt, bet UP. Following rules 1, 2, 3 and 4. UP types have remarkable internal variability and comprehend most of Europe’s population. If the individual in question does not seem to be an easy case, or looks somehow “local”, one should begin investigating whether he or she is an UP type. Mediterraneans vary less in appearance than Upper Paleolithics.

    9– No more than 3. Most European individuals could be said to belong to at most 3 different visible types. This is specially the case for Western Europe. Time has not yet permitted the formation of more complex blends.

    10- Morphology > Metrics. It is possible to find individuals of Upper Paleolithic affiliation who conform to a Mediterranean type from a metrical viewpoint. The correct approach when classifying someone is to find persons with similar facial features who have previously been taxonomixed. No pictures hurt: the more material one can assemble, the better. The more resemblances you can establish and remember, the better prepared you will be for future subjects.

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    Just a few comments from this peanut gallery:

    1. Yes, one of the first things to note about a person is robustness or gracility--browridges or lack thereof, deep-set eyes or not, deep mandible or not, overall somatype, etc.

    2. No real comment on this golden rule.

    3. Yes, yes yes! I think people fall into the trap that if a person isn't a textbook example of a type, then there must be "admixture". By no means the case at all. There are of course, many local variants and specialties within a particular, overall type.

    4. OK.

    5. Sure, it's helpful to have a clue as to one's georacial origins so long as they classifier doesn't lead them down the path of subjectivity.

    6. I agree except for the issue of pigmentation. While by no means the be-all-end-all in classifying, I like to think of pigmentation as the proverbial icing on the cake and it is usually the last of a series of traits I may list when adding up a classification: "long, narrow skull, medium facial height, slender & high nose, medium jaw, small brows, brown hair & eyes--Med!" If this hypothetical person had blond hair and fair eyes, well they'd just be a gracile Nordid.

    7. Sort of at odds with rule #6?

    8. Of course you like this one! But seriously, I've said it before and I'll say it again, genetics has shown, so far, that the European (& derived) population is largely of Upper Paleolithic origin...so, yes, UP is often a good bet.

    9. Agreed. I rarely thow out more than 2-3 types for a single person. After that it just gets a little silly and everyone would end up as an Anglofaeloborrenordinarid.

    10. Agreed again--metrics was once critical in such an undertaking. But time and studies have shown that populations change size and shape over the centuries. There is placticity in the human form and in areas that were once heavily dolichicephalic, overtime became more and more brachycephalic and even now have begun to head back in a dolicho direction (Poland and Germany come to mind--but perhaps this is the result of population movements.... Tough one).

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    Thread moved to the Taxonomy section and stickied, as it appears to be an invaluable resource for those who might easily get stuck when trying their hands at so complex a task.

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    Those facial similarities can go even beyond racial boundaries, are not just subrace bound, so though facial details can be important, they are not in any case, as crucial as some demand.

    From what we know certain basic anthropometric, proportional and facial traits changed little and if relatively. So f.e. one can argue, an Alpinid is now as tall as a Nordid in Coon's time, but oh well, the Nordid is much taller usually! Similar developments we can see in other anthropometric and proportional areas, sometimes the relative distance became even smaller, but as a rule, the relative distance survived and metrical surveys on whole populations dont go far enough if not using the typological diagnosis and assort for trait combinations.

    It is possible to find individuals of Upper Paleolithic affiliation who conform to a Mediterranean type from a metrical viewpoint.
    Thats called mixture.
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