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A Craniometric Analysis of Basque Skulls from the Cathedral of Santa Maria, Vitoria-Gasteiz: Biological Distance and Population History
AuthorJanzen, Jennifer J.
AdvisorScott, George R.
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The origins and uniqueness of the Basque have long puzzled anthropologists and other scholars of human variation. Straddling the border between France and Spain, Basque country is home to a people genetically, linguistically and culturally distinct from neighboring populations. The craniometrics of a burial population from a Basque city were subjected to cluster analysis to identify the pattern of relationships between Spanish Basques and other populations of the Iberian Peninsula, Europe, and the world. Another method of affinity assessment &mdash discriminant function analysis &mdash was employed to classify each individual cranium into one population from among a wide array of groups in a worldwide craniometric database.In concert with genetic and linguistic studies, craniometric analyses find Basques are distinct among Iberian and European populations, with admixture increasing in the modern era. Basque populations from different provinces show marked heterogeneity, including variable sexual dimorphism. Population history and linguistic studies suggest this heterogeneity is reinforced as much by cultural and linguistic practices as by geographical isolation. Individual identification using discriminant function analysis found a suggestive relationship with North Africa for Iberian and Basque populations that began before the 800&ndashyear occupation of Iberia by North African Moors, Arabs and Berbers. While the ultimate origins of the Basque remain a mystery, their physical, genetic and linguistic characteristics suggest ancient western European roots for this population.