Dr Ajeet Jaiswal, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Pondicherry University, Puducherry-605014, email: email@example.com. Phone no: 08122594335, 09791201427
Profile: Definition of anthropology:
The term anthropology has been derived from two Greek words, anthropos and logos. The meaning of the former is man and the latter, science. Therefore, anthropology is the science of man. But its scope differs from that of the other sciences of man. Anthropology studies the different aspects of the life of man right from the date of his origin up to the present day. It therefore, embraces a vast field. Anthropology can be called as the whole study of man as it views him from different angles, e.g. physical features, differences, cultural variations, social, political, religious, and other affairs. Herskovits has rightly remarked that anthropology is the study of man and his work. But the exact definition of anthropology had aroused many problematic situations in the former days. Broca defined it as the natural history of the genus Homo and the “Science whose objective is the study of humanity considered as a whole, in its parts, and in relationship to the rest of nature.” Serge, in the year 1932, conducted an international survey when he invited the personal opinion regarding the definitions of the terms anthropology and ethnology, and also the boundary between these two fields from seventy one scholars in this line. But the opinions became heterogeneous due to the inter-dependences of many other branches of sciences with anthropology in each step of the letters advances towards development.
The study of human evolution and human variation are two principal aspects of Physical Anthropology. The evolution and of modern man through various stages of development and the evolutionary processes concerns physical anthropologists at the first place. At the second place they look at the differences in physical characteristics in modern man, including racial differentiation. A brief historical review of the study of the human groups which are referred to as races has been included under the heading “Racial Classification” in the later part of this book. In the present chapter a brief historical background of the concept of evolution and physical anthropology in general will be dealt with.
The development of physical anthropology as an organized and systematic discipline started in the second half of the nineteenth century. But the thinkers and philosophers tried to understand and explain the various aspects of human origin and variations in the physical features in their own ways from a very early time.
The idea of human origin and evolution occurred to some of the ancient Greek and Roman thinkers. In the writings of Herodotus (484-425 B.C) we come across description of skulls of the inhabitants of Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor, Libya, Scythia, etc. He demonstrated that the skull wall was thicker in the Egyptians and thinner in the Persians. According to him these differences were due to the influence of the environment. Hippocrates (460-377) also laid more emphasis on the environment to explain differences in physical features among different populations
Hippocrates, (460- 377 BC), Father of Medicine
He demonstrated the differences in physical features between the inhabitants of the hills and of the plains. From his writings it appers that he was in favour of inheritance of the acquired characters.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C) works provide us with much useful and interesting anthropological information on heredity growth, distribution of body hair, body proportions in children, human brain, skull, biped nature of man and so forth. He observed the comparative characters of man and other animals.Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)
According to him man is the most complete animal in all its parts. He marked the peculiar characteristics of man and on the basis of those he gave man a special place among the animals. Aristotle is considered as the first authority to use the word anthropology.
Galen (A.D 131-200) dissected animals of different kinds including apes to study muscles, nerves, development of foetus, etc. at the time dissection of human body was prohibited. Galen, however, got opportunities to study human skeletons. He found that the apes were the closest kins of man. He found that the apes resembled man most closely in viscera, muscles, arteries, nerves, bones, etc.
Galen (A.D 131-200)
After this period for about one thousand years less importance was given to the study of the natural history of man. It almost lost its identity as an independent discipline. Man became a subject of study of the historians, philosophers, physicians and naturalists.
In 1240 Emperor Fraderick II of Germany passed a regulation that a student’s study medicine must dissect human body ones during his course of study. But nobody paid any attentions to this for another 100 years. During the period between 1306 and 1315 the Italian physicians Mundinus (1270-1326) dissected two human bodies, when the need of the dissecting human body in medical science was gradually realized.
Vesalius (1514-1564) was a renowned anatomist of the 16th century. His observations on anatomical characters and descriptions of the structures of the human body contributed considerably towards the growth and development of Physical Anthropology at a later stage.
He noted that the skull of the Greek and Turks was globular, that of the Belgians was Oblong and the skulls of Germans were rounded with a flat occiput. Thus he may be considered as a pioneer in racial craniology, Koyter (1534-1600) was another scientist of the 16th century who made special study of the foetus and child.
Of the scientists of the 17th century who made a notable contributions towards the understanding of physical aspects of man, mention may be made of Tyson (1650-1708), Garengeot (1688-1708) and John Ray (1628- 1705), Tyson made a comparative study of the anatomical characters of apes and man. While Garengeot studied the anatomy of the muscular system of man in comparison of other animals, like dog.
Carl Linnaeus (1707 -1778), Count de Buffon (1707 -1788) and J.F. Blumenbach (1753-1840) are three renowned scholars of the 18th century, who made notable contribution to physical anthropology.
Carl Linnaeus (1707 -1778) Count de Buffon (1707 -1788)
Linnaeus was professor of botany in the University at Upsala, Sweden. His famous book ‘The Systema Naturae’ was first published in 1735. He started systematization and classification of plants and animals introducing binary nomenclature, whereby each and animal was assigned a genus name and a species name. He called man by the name Homo sapiens, Homo being the genus and Sapiens the species.
Buffon may be regarded as the founder of anthropology. He was the first to outline the great divisions of anthropology. According to him with an anthropological approach man may be studied i) in general as a natural history subject throughout the ages, ii) in groups, i.e., races- their origin, description and admixture , iii) to compare physical characteristics of man and other animals, and iv) to trace man’s origin and to place him in the animal kingdom. Thus, Buffon studied man as a species. His method was largely followed by others. The works of Buffon indicate that the concept of evolution occurred to him. Of course, he could not develop the idea of evolution. At one stage again he himself contradicted his own evolutionary concept. This was, however, because he did not like to defy Church, which was very much against evolutionary thoughts.
J.F. Blumenbach (1753-1840)
Blumenbach is considered to be the father of physical anthropology. In the 18th century anthropology meant description of the body and soul. Blumenbach used the word anthropology to denote physical anthropology. He looked at the variation in physical features observed in different population groups. He made a systematic study to classify mankind into different groups on the basis of craniological materials.
In this connection it may be mentioned that several explorers of the period between the 12th and 18th centuries travelled through different parts of the globe and thereby came in contact with the autocthonous inhabitants of the several countries. Most of them kept records of their experiences of meeting divergent peoples belonging to different regions. Through their writings it was possible to know the physical features of various type of man. These helped a lot in identifying and classifying human groups.
Though Blumenbach is called the real father of craniology , the first scientific data on anthropological craniology comes from the 16th century when Vasalius made comparison of cranial form of different peoples like Greek, turk and German. One of the first attempts at craniometry was made by Spieghel (1578-1625). He measured four diameters of skull, namely, facial, transverse, vertical and oblique. According to the relationship among these four diameters he attempted to classify the various skulls.
Buffon’s collaborator Daubenton (1716-1800) applied craniometric method to study cranial characteristics. He observed the position of the foramen magnum which varies between posterior and interior sides of the skull in different animals including man. He devised the technique to measure an angle to determine the inclination, Camper (1722-1789) developed projection method to obtain crainometric data on skull. Hoeven (1801-1868) established relationship between cranial length –height cranial index. In this way craniometry was developed by different scientists from the middle of 19th century. Of them the names of Paul Broca (1824-1880), A.de Quatrefages (1810-1892) and Virchow (1821-1902) must be mentioned.
The theories concerning evolution of man may be grouped under four heads following R.S. Lull. These are: i) theory of eternity of the present conditions, ii) theory of special creation, iii) theory of catastrophism and iv) theory of organic evolution.
Those who advocate theory of eternity of the present condition believe that the universe with its organisms was there and it will be there without any change. This idea was, however, shared by a handful of men of science.
The Christian Church authorities were the chief supporters of the theory of special creation. St. Augustine (A.D. 354-430) expressed his view that God created Adam and Eve about 6,000 years ago and that all human beings were descended from Adam and Eve. Archbishop Ussher (1581-1656) went one step further to calculate the ages of the generations after Adam and to arrive at the conclusions that Adam and Eve were created in 4004 B.C. Lightfoot even gave the exact date and time of creation of man-9 A.M on 23rd October. 4004 B.C.
According to this theory the world was created in six days. On the first day, the earth was created. On the third day animal and plant kingdoms showed their appearance. By the fifth and sixth day all the creatures were created. Among the foremost defenders of the theory of special creation, the name of Father Suarez (1548-1617) may be mentioned. Until the eighteenth century this sort of idea of special creation was hardly challenged.
During the 18th century, fossil remains of several extinct animals were discovered from different parts of Europe. In some cases human remains were associated with those fossil remains. For example, along with remains of an elephant like creature a worked flint tool was discovered from gravel deposits near London in 1715. Again in 1771 human remains along with cave bear remains were collected in Germany. In 1797 hand axes were found along with the remains of extinct animals. The geologists also started collecting new information on the geological strata. Thus, palaeontology and geology made a rapid progress. More and more was learned about these.
In the early 19th century the theory of catastrophism was put forward. It was mainly upheld by Georges Cuvier (1769-1832).
Georges Cuvier (1769-1832)
According to this theory the earth had periodically experienced natural calamity like floods, volcanic eruptions. As a result of this sort of disasters the organisms were extinguished. After the disasters new forms came to replace the previous forms. Thus , Cuvier rejected the theories of continuous evolution. According to him each time that the earth settled down after catastrophe, new animals appeared. In the beginning, there were corels, molluses and crustaceans and then came plants. After that fish and reptiles emerged and finally, birds and mammal appeared. Man appeared after the last geological revolution. That was about 6,000 years ago. Thus , in the theory of catastrophism one finds a compromise between the findings on the growing knowledge of palaeontology and geology on one hand and the conservative biblical thoughts on the other.
The idea of evolution is found in the works of the ancient Greeks and romans. Thales of Miletues (636 – 546 BC), a greek scholar looked for beginning of life in the blue water of the Agean Sea. He considered water as the mother of life, where from life originated. He suggested that man had evolved rom fish which came out of water and developed in land. Empedocles (490 – 430 BC) consider the remains of fossilized hippopotamus as the remains of extinct giants from which later on other types of animals developed. Herodotus attempted evolutionary interpretation to explain the variations in cranial characters of the Egyptians and Persians. Hippocrate’s works also indicate that he could think of some sort of evolutionary mechanism. Aristotle also conceived of evolution. He thought of a gradual progress from plants to animals and then man. He suggested that organisms had certain inborn power to adopt themselves to the environment. As a result an organism makes a progress. However, he could not explain the facts scientifically, as he had no clear understanding of the subject. Lucretius (99–55 BC), a Roman philosopher advanced a scheme of both biological and cultural evolution of man. Thus, even before the beginning of Christian era evolutionary concepts were conceived.
During the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the modern era, several scientists and thinkers contributed their shares by throwing some light on the subject of evolution. Edward Tyson, after comparing the anatomy of a pygmy with that of a monkey, an ape and a man came to the conclusion that the pygmy was the intermediate between the ape and man. Carl Linnaeus grouped man along with apes on the basis of close physical similarity between them. He, however, did not think of their common ancestry or evolution. Buffon’s idea on evolution has already been referred to. Robert Hooks (1635 – 1703) suggested that the earth’s past can be revealed by the fossil remains. Leibniz (1646 – 1716) said that men were linked to the animal, which in turn was connected with the plants, and these with the fossils. Thus, in the works of both these scholars evolutionary tendency of organisms were suggested.
In this connection we must consider the works of several scholars including Monboddo (1714 – 1790), Charles Bonnet (1720 – 1793), Gothe (1749 – 1832), Immaneul Kant (1724 – 1804), Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860), Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875), Karl Von Baer (1792 – 1876), Erusmus Darwin (1731 – 1802) etc.
In the works of Monbonddo a suggestion on the origin of species and the evolution of man is found. Bonnet prepared a continuous scale beginning with minerals and ending with man including numerous intermediary forms. Gothe’s works includes so much of evolution that by some he was considered as a predecessor of Darwin. Kant suggested that perhaps man was descended from the monkey; Erasmus Darwin outlined his ideas of heredity and natural selection and evolution in one of his books.
The French naturalist Lamarck (1744 – 1829) was one of the forerunners who presented evolutionary concept.
Lamarck (1744 – 1829)
He expressed his views concerning evolution in one of his works in 1800. He believed in the inheritance of the acquired characters. Evolution was the result of the adaptation of organisms to environment. The adopted characters were transmitted from parents to offsprings. When more number of characters was acquired in this way, the species were transformed to a new one. The transformation took place because of use or disuse of certain bodily parts of an organism to adapt to a particular environment. For example, giraffe acquired elongated neck, because of continuous stretching of neck to reach the leaves of tall trees; the webbed feet of birds are to live in an aquatic environment; certain ducks cannot fly because of disuse of wings.
As regards human evolution, he wrote that “Let us assume that a certain quadrumanous race which was highly perfected should lose the habit, acquired through environmental necessity or by any other cause, of climbing trees and grasping the branches with the feet as well as the hands. If the individuals of this race, for us series of generations, should be obliged to use their feet exclusively for walking purposes and should cease to use their hands as feet such quadraumana would undoubtedly be transformed eventually into bimana and their toes would no longer be separated or opposable since their feet would only be utilized for walking ”. Similar explanation was given for erect posture, decrease of prognathism, reduction of mandible, etc.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) published his work “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” in 1859, where he detailed his concept of evolution in general and also the concept of natural selection which helped to cause evolutionary changes.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
This may be considered as the turning point in the thinking of evolution. Again in 1871, his work “The Decent of Man” came to light. In this book he outlined the evolution of man. He based his arguments about human evolution not only on the fossil remains of early types of man, which were found in Europe, but also on comparative anatomical data.
Darwin observed that in spite of the tendency of organisms to increase in geometrical ratio; the species generally have fairly constant populations. Their numbers are held in check by struggle for existence. In the course of struggle individuals of an organisms having certain favorable variations survive and they reproduce, while those with unfavorable traits disappear. The favorable ones are selected by nature. This is Darwin’s Natural Selections. But Darwin could not explain how new variations arise in an organism. That was later explained by Geneticists. Darwin founded the concept of Natural Selection and Evolution while the science of genetics was founded by Gregor Mendel (1822-1884).
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884).
The development of genetics has helped to explain many facts which could not be done during the time of Darwin. Of course, Mendel reported his works in 1865, but his works remain unnoticed till 1900, 16 years after Mendel’s death, when the science of genetics was born. Otherwise Darwin perhaps could have attempted to explain certain ideas developed by him.
Darwin’s theory was criticized by some and appreciated by others. Among the adherents of Darwinism of the 19th century mention may be made of Thomas Huxley, Lyell, Wallace, Weismann, Haeckel, Carl Vogt, Edmand Perrier, etc. they tried to develop the Darwinian idea in their own ways.
Subsequently, Darwin’s idea was modified by some scientists. They attempted to rejuvenate Darwinism, which led to a new trend called, neo-Darwinism. Weismann was one of the leading exponents to this new tread.
In modern times scientists are trying to synthesize the Darwinian concepts and the knowledge gathered from the rapid development of the science of genetics to understand the basic biological facts and the physical bases of evolution in natural selection.
TWO BASIC DIVISIONS
Anthropology has two separate branches—(1) physical, and (2) cultural. The former branch deals with the physical aspect of man-his evolution, structural variations, racial composition, etc. during study the physical anthropologist take into considerations the facts, like the skin-colour of man in different countries, the character of hair, size and shape of nose, stature, etc., and then try to classify the people of the world in different groups based on the similarities of physical characteristic. In doing this, they also collected the bones of ancient men from the different layer of the earth and try to give comparative analysis between these and modern men.
On the other hand, the subject matter of cultural anthropology is the life-activities of man. The cultural anthropologist study man. The cultural anthropologists study man as a cultural being. The different works, behaviour, and social patterns of man are the main points of study of this branch of science. In studying this, a cultural anthropologist collects the various social and cultural activities of man from the different societies of the world and analysis these comparatively. He also gathers facts from the prehistoric periods which help him in studying the development of culture through the ages. On the whole, we see that the centre of focus of anthropological studies is Man-a unique creation of Nature.
MAN---THE CENTRAL FIGURE OF ANTHROPOLOGY
Man’s first appearance on the earth is a wonderful happening. The creation of the earth itself is also a mystery. It so happened that the sun, in its courses, came nearer to a star many times larger than the former owing to some natural reasons. As a result of the greater planetary attraction certain gaseous substances came out of the body of the sun. In the meantime, the said larger star went far away from the sun. The gaseous substances that came out of the sun began to lengthen and cool down. After sometimes it gave rise to nine rounded bodies- the planets. The earth is a planet of this kind. Gradually the earth cooled down by radiation, and then it experienced a continuous heavy shower which created the ocean, the seas, the rivers and channels on its surface. After a long time, when the conditions became favourable, life appeared on the earth. At our present state of knowledge regarding the earth and life, we cannot explain the process of the beginning of life. But from the geological and palaeontological evidences, we can easily say that the first life on the earth was a unicellular organism e.g. Amoeba. Day by day, the unicellular simple organism attained complex forms by gradual changes in structure and ultimately gave rise to the most complex type of animal- the man. But it took much longer period and had to pass through the complicated ways. The process, by which the simple and homogenous organism gradually became complex and heterogeneous, is known as organic evolution.
In order to have a general idea about the evolution of various forms of life; we should come to the geologists and the palaeontoligists. The geologists and the palaeontologists are really helpful in obtaining the past and the characteristic fossilized remains found in these. The different layers of the earth have been arranged chronologically with their characteristic fossil remains of plants and animals. The earliest layers contain no traces of life, and this is why they are known as Azoic or lifeless layer. Some prefer to call these as Archaeozoic on the ground that the first form of life was too minutes and soft to leaves any traces of their existences on the layers of the earth. The different layers with their characteristic fossils can be arranged like the following:
Table No. 2:1
GEOLOGICAL TIME AND ANIMAL FORMS
(Age of Man)
(Age of Mammals)
(Age of Reptiles)
(Age of Amphibians)
(Age of Fishes)
Age of Marine Invertibrates)
The quaternary epoch of the Cainozoic is remarkable by the emergences and development of man, who is the subject matter of our study. Formerly, man was regarded as the special creation of god, and it was thought that he had no relation with other animals. But at the beginning of the 19th century the development of a few branches of sciences, e.g. zoology, palaeontology, comparative Anatomy, Geology, etc., helped a few energetic person to come forward demanding man’s closer relationship with other animals, and miraculous stories. As early as the 18th century and earlier, bone remains of various extinct animals and ‘dressed’ flints had been discovered by a few scientists. On those facts, they tried to establish the great antiquity of man. The declaration of the scientists, no doubt, caused a great controversy. But when Boucher de Perthes, a Frenches Custom Official, discovered in the year 1846, a few dressed stone artifacts from the ancient gravels of Somme near Abbeville, the controversy regarding the antiquity of man spread throughout the length and breadth of the country. Most of the scientists of those days opposed vehemently Boucher de Perthes’ claim regarding the antiquity of man. In 1954, Dr. Rigollot of Amiens after discovering a few Abbevillian types of artifacts from the sand-pits at St. Acheul strongly supported Boucher de Perthes. Then, in the year 1859, a group of distinguished British scientists examined the facts critically on the site and acknowledged the claim of Broucher de Perthes. The year 1859 will be remarkable forever in the history of human being due to the publication of an epoch-making book The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. From the results of his painstaking researchers, Darwin established the doctrine of evolution. According to him, man is a result of evolution from lower animals. Then, in the year 1871, he wrote The Descent of Man, in which he came to the conclusion that ‘a member of the anthropomorphous sub-group gave birth to man.’ The results of Darwin’s researches were whole- heartedly supported by Huxley in England and Haeckel Germany. The views of these eminent scientists brought a revolution in the line of thinking of those days regarding the origin of man. The discovery of certain fossils such as Neandarthal Man in 1856, pithecanthropus in 1891, and Australopithecus in 1925 gave many evidences in favour of the evolutionary significance. Man did not acquire his present characters suddenly but through a longer process of evolution; that is why, the earlier types of man exhibit many differences as compared to the modern man. During the Quaternary periods numerous modifications took places in the human phylum, which developed in various lines, one of which gave rise to man. The emergence of man from the non-human stock by a process of evolution has been approved by all concerned. The outstanding features of the early Quaternary, i.e. Pleistocene is the Great Ice Age. Due to certain geographical reasons the climate of the earth suddenly began to change and became colder and colder until all the water transformed into ice. According to the eminent glacialist of Europe, Penck and Bruckner, the Alps witnessed four major glacial periods, which they named after the four Alpine rivers, Gunj, Mindel, Riss and Wurm. Between these glacial periods there were inter-glacial periods of warmth. These glacial changes were also accompanied by great periods of mountain building. All these factors jointly did much in washing out the old forms of life and evolving into new and better types.
Our present state of knowledge is still unable to tell with certainty the exact place of human origin. The claim of South Central Asia is no doubt greater than any other places regarding the cradle of mankind. The sudden upheaval of the Himalayas during the Middle and Upper Miocene brought about a change in the flora and fauna of that area. The tropical forest of the northern side of the newly formed Himalayas gradually disappeared, which favoured the evolution of ground-dwelling type. The specialization of man occurred in the northern region. But the claim of Africa regarding the origin of man had been established by Darwin who said that ‘it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived in the African continent than elsewhere.’ In recent years the discoveries made by Dr. and Mrs. Leakey at Africa support th3 view put forward by Darwin. The discoveries relating to various australopithecines in Africa starting from the late fifties of the present century have exposed many new dimensions of the present century have exposed many new dimensions of evolutionary thinking relating to hominids. The international Expedition conducted in Afar region of N.E. Ethiopia, Africa, between 1973 and 1977 put discernible light on the question of origin of hominids in this continent. However, the process of evolution, it may be true, was not restricted to a single continent.
From the above discussion it is seen that the subject-matter of physical anthropology is really vast complex. But, at the same time, it is interesting for all concerned, as it tells the story of man- a unique and unparallel creation of the nature-from the date of his origin up to the present day. A major problem of physical anthropology, then is the early types of man and his nearest relatives among the apes and monkeys. The study of the physical features, blood types and behavior patterns of these apes and monkeys is necessary to understand the development of these factors in man. The physical anthropologist also tries to trace a particular structural feature from the earliest population. While searching out the nature of trait he should try to know its appearances in man and how it became widespread and, if disappeared, the reason behind it.
After studying the origin, development, and the place of evolution of man, a physical anthropologist should focus his attention towards the different varieties of man presents on the various parts of the earth. All the living varieties of modern man belong to the species-Homo sapience. The men of today, though differ in certain cases outwardly, are all quite similar to one another in basic characteristics. It is seen that the men found in the prehistoric beds differ greatly from the modern ones. If anybody goes to the very earlier beds he will find no human forms. This fact has already been pointed out in the previous lines. Owing to this reason it has been remarked that Homo sapiens of today have emerged from earlier non-human forms. The way by which man developed from his non-human ancestors and also the process of change that are still going on in his bodily parts is the subject- matter of a part of physical anthropology. It is generally seen that one group of people exhibits certain common hereditary features, which differ in various ways from the other groups. The Homo sapiens of the world can be divided into a number of such groups known as Race. The race its self is a problem and its study requires much knowledge and care. In physical anthropology the scientific study of the different aspects of race- its origin, types, migration, inter-mixture, racial physiology and psychology is a complicated, interesting and thought- provoking matter.
The study of man will be incomplete if anybody neglects the importance of environment on man’s various workings. In studying physical anthropology we should know the environment has affected and continues to affect the structural features of man. In studying the diversity of human forms, a physical anthropologist gives much stress on the environmental factors. The various physical features, which are the criteria for racial classification, are dependent on the environmental conditions. These are the main lines of study of the physical anthropologist.
Physical anthropology should not be confused with human biology, anatomy and physiology. Physical anthropology in no circumstances studies man as a standard being as is done by anatomy and physiology. Physical anthropology tries to find out the differences on the basis of physical traits. With the help of these traits a physical anthropologist distinguishes individuals within the species. Therefore, anthropology is regarded as the science of the group. Human biology, anatomy and physiology study the structure and function of the contemporary man whereas physical anthropology deals with the man mainly from the racial and chronological viewpoints. Formerly, a large number of anthropological investigations were completely anatomical as physical anthropology stood as an independent branch of knowledge when human anatomy was at its infancy. The anatomists try to generalize their observations whereas the essential duty of the physical anthropologists should be to point out the differential trait and also to analysis the causes of such differences.
NEW PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY
The focus attention of the physical anthropologist of today is being changed. In the former days the physical anthropology has been considered primarily as technique. The primary object of them was to measure certain external form by means of instruments and to observe and compare these among the various groups of people. The old physical anthropology was nothing but a technique. The different body measurements and classifications were the primary aim of those days and the continued for many years without any effective changes, the reflection of which can be seen in the later period when the scientists engaged themselves mainly in body measurements in the study of evolution and race.
The methodology in physical anthropology has now been changed. The descriptive stage is now over and the analytical stage has begun. These two stages have been designated as classical physical anthropology and new physical anthropology by Wasburn. He has emphasized that though these two stages look at the things somewhat differently, yet there are no sharp limits dividing the two. The classical physical anthropology was interested in classification and not in the interpretation. For example, while studying the nose, the classical anthropologist used to take series of measurements of the nose which was regarded as an independent entity. On the basis of the measurements they attempted to classify the noses into the various groups. But it has now been seen that the nose is an integral part of the face and, therefore, there are many difficulties in studying it as a separate entity. The form of the nose is dependent on various factors.
Benninghoff and the Seipel are of opinion that the facial is greatly influenced by the stresses of mystification. According to Baker, the force of the development teeth increases the size of the bones of the neighbouring region. The classical physical anthropology did not give stress to these inter-relating factors. Here lies the difference with the new physical anthropology. The classification of the different forms is, no doubt, use features. The somatic and osteological features are in most cases complex in nature which cannot be explained by the measuring stick alone. Washburn has stated that generally by the lower jaw is considered to be a separate unit and it can be put in metric values. But actually it is seen that the different part of the lower jaw present complex features and each part develops independently in relation to the facial regions. It should be understood prior to the evaluation of the jaw bone is made. So the new physical anthropology advocates for the adoption of new methodology to understand the things at their proper perspective.
BIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY- A NEW CONCEPT
During recent period the impact of genetical theory into the domain of physical anthropology has brought forth a revolutionary change in the line of thinking. In addition to measurements, observations and necessary analysis of human bones and different bodily parts, the modern physical anthropology has entered into the categorical study of various physiological perspectives through biochemical and genetical viewpoints and less stress has now been given on the linear measurements. The new physical anthropology is not interested in restricting itself in the study of the superficial bodily parts, rather through the adaption of new methodology it pledges to explore the mysteries of various internal features of human biology. In order to study human diversities the new physical anthropology relies extensively on population genetics which offers the physical anthropologists a clearly formulated and experimentally verified conceptual theme. The human races are now best considered as Mendelian populations which are centered round a purely genetic concept. Because of this integrated biology-oriented approach of the present day physical anthropology it is thought desirable to call it Biological anthropology.
By virtue of its new concept the scope of biological anthropology has very naturally been expanded and integrated. It promises to study human evolution and differentiation in the background of biological variations in primates. While studying the nature and extent of fossil men and living men attempts are made to explain the various process and products of evolution such as anatomy, serology and behavior in respects of natural selection in association with genetics and environmental effects and cultural adaptation. It also pledges to reconstruct the past events of human being and to analyse and project current trends.
The criteria for racial discrimination, that we are still using, are nothing but superficial characters. In recent time the attention of the physical anthropologists have been diverted and they look at the less obvious but intrinsically more important differences such as blood types, differences in musculature, etc. also they have started to study the group differences in time of sexual maturation, in growth rates and various disease immunities. Naturally, these factors are more reliable because of the facts that these3 are based on genotypical features. Also these have got some practical importance and the results may be used in various ways. On the other hand, the factors like head length, nose form, etc., on considering all these it may be concluded that the outlook of the physical anthropologists of today have been changed to a remarkable extent.
APPLIED PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY
Let us now discuss about the applied aspect of the physical anthropology. The principal aim of all sciences is to apply the results of scientific investigations in the services of mankind. This applied concept in physical anthropology is not a new introduction. The results of investigations of physical anthropology have been harnessed for getting practical benefit various fields. The techniques of anthropometry are greatly utilized in the field known as “human engineering”- a term used by the experimental psychologists and applied engineers doing work on biochemical problems. In anthropological sense human engineering indicates the efforts to design and build modern machines which would fit persons working with these. The contributions of physical anthropology, especially in western countries, are numerous. In the field of medicine and dentistry, pediatrics, orthopedics, orthodontics and prosthetics, etc., the data of physical anthropology have been and are being utilized considerably. The physicians very often feel the need of anthropometry in their profession. The gynecologists should have an idea about the dimension of the pelvis of the expectant mother and the approximate circumstances of the head of the baby in t5he womb. It is essential for the surgeon to have an actual idea about the measurement of the bones at the time of diagnosing the presence of a bone lesion. The anthropometry has got the special role in sports medicine also. The actual idea about the different dimension of the body, increase in muscular volume, etc., can be obtained only by measuring the body scientifically. The influence of this branch of science on the solution of many medico-legal problems is immense. The physical anthropologists have tried to utilized their results of study in understanding the different disease resistances of temperature, humidity, etc., which are optimum for them. The recent advancement in the study of human problematic situations and the physical anthropologists has ably come forward to examine their data in the light of modern genetics. The results of their study have potentially important applications. The studies of dermatoglyphics in physical anthropology have contributed many substantial facts which have been utilized in human welfare. The physical anthropologist have been studied the races of mankind in a careful way and found even in many advanced by the different scholars in this line and they are trying hard to root out this particular disease from human society.
Besides these general; applications of physical anthropology there are many specific applications which deserve mention in this connection. A number of stray works have been done by the scholars which reflect the usefulness of physical anthropology in deserve fields of works. The studies concerning the human body in relation to the physical surroundings, Hooton’s study for seating accommodation in trains and the anthropometric study of men and women conducted by the Bureau of Homo Economics in America in order to improve the clothing size, may be regarded as remarkable contribution in this field.
During recent period much emphasis is being laid to design the seats and thereby making the sitting arrangements more comfortable. It has been understood that a close correlation exists between health and good posture. If a seat creates troubles in keeping the body in a good posture, it results in various disabilities in skeletal, muscular and other organic parts of the body. On the other hand the correctness in sitting posture enhances alertness and endurance as well as improvement in circulation and respiration of the persons concerned. Body measurements in characteristic working position cans thus improve the design of seats in offices, educational institutions, in public vehicles. Therefore the designers of these sitting arrangements are in the specific necessity to have a knowledge regarding various anthropometrical perspectives. Modern furniture designers in many countries utilize the results of anthropometrical studies to plan their activities in a scientific way.
In the army the data of anthropological investigations are extensively used in the Western countries. The anthropometric surveys on the military personnel are considered essential to get their body measurements which are used to meet various demands. In Mexico, the National Military Academy has been doing effective work in this line since 1951. Here the results of biometric investigations are extensively used in the selection of cadets. The anthropometric data are greatly used in military research and development. The Air Forces very often utilize the anthropometric data in solving spatial problems in aircraft and also in improving flight clothing. The anthropometry is used to design the cockpit as per body size, gun-tur-rets, seats for the passenger’s aircraft, designing of tank and gun-sight, pressure suits and helmets, anti-gravitational suits and so on. The quartermaster Corps is taking the help of anthropometry for making better fitted and efficient clothing. It emphasizes on finding out the relationship between clothing sizes and body measurements so that the clothes may fit the good number of military personnel with minimum or no alteration. It can then easily be said that the measurements for the sake of measurements are extensively bused to meet the various requirements to solve practical problems. Physical anthropology has now included dynamic and the functional measurements in addition to the measurements of the static man and, naturally, its importance has been increased considerably. The symposium on the Applied Physical Anthropology which was held at the United States National Museum, Washington, under the auspices of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, in the year 1948, opened a new vista in the world of physical anthropology like the identification of unknown war dead, medico-legal aspects of the skeletal materials, measurements of man for making machinery, anthropometry and apparel, military anthropometry in Great Britain, in the Air Forces, and in the Quartermaster Corps.
The data of physical anthropology are used in the correct interpretation of facts in the subjects like history and sociology. The research findings of physical anthropologists are extensively used in the exploration of physical phenomena especially in prehistory and ancient history where written documents are either lacking or are very insufficient to reach at a definite conclusion. The doctrine of racial superiority and inferiority in the history of the different countries, that was very much prevalent to fulfils different political and economic motives, has proved absurd by the analytical study of the physical anthropologists today. The possession of false ideas in the field of human races has, in many respects, led the historians and the politicians to the wrong conclusions which have caused tense situation and even bloodshed. The new classical sociologists also have understood the importance of physical anthropology in their study and research.
They are keen to find out the anthropological cause influencing the socio-economic condition of the human groups. Malinowski, the renowned Sociologist, is of the opinion that individual physiology is always seen modified by social and cultural determinism. It is seen that all the organizations relating to social survey or investigations have given today due to importance to physical anthropology in order to get collaboration of the physical anthropologists with the workers in other fields like the engineers, orthodontists, bio-physicists, environmental physiologists, etc., is the crying need of the present time as it helps in solving many basic problems in a novel way. The applied physical anthropology, the scope of which is varied, thus fulfils a useful and profitable function in the society of mankind.
MAJOR DIVISIONS OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY
Physical anthropology covers a vast field of study which pledges to explore human mystery related to their origin, differentiation, diversities and distributions. With the impact of genetic approaches during the recent times physical anthropology has been getting faced considerable extension. After reviewing the whole situation, physical anthropology can divided into the following branches.
It is the systematic study of the primates group of mammal. The primates are the most widespread and diversified groups of animals and these include man, the central figure of anthropological study. The primates, starting from the smallest rat like microcebus and up to the largest huge-bodied gorilla, are in the various stages of development following variegated life patterns. Thus the integrated study of the following variegated life patterns. Thus the integrated study of the primates in the background of physical anthropology has an intrinsic value to understand the position of man.
It is the study of human diversities. Variability in appearance is the characteristic features of all living organisms, and in man this variability influences extensively. All the living men in the world are classed in to different groups known as Races. The races are now understood as the Mendelian populations, an inbreeding group of humanity sharing a common gene pool. The study which tries to explain the nature, formation and differentiation of the racial groups is known as ethnology. Physical anthropology6 is specially designed to bring out the striking and fascinating characteristics of these groups of people.
3. Human biology:
During the present period there develops a special fascination to call physical anthropology as biological anthropology. The new physical anthropology has been packed up with many concrete biological principles and concepts. The biology of human being differs strikingly from the biology of other animals because of the impact of cultural achievements. Human biology is highly influenced by culture. Sometimes culture has remodeled biological phenomenon. Thus physical anthropology is largely engaged in understanding the categorical feature of man and their successive development, change and structural as well as functional variations through time.
Palaeoanthropology is branch of physical anthropology which functions in documenting the biological history of mankind. The palaeoanthropologists work on fossil evidences collected from the different layers of the earth. This study involves connecting the human and the non-human traits on a chain that had so long been lost. In so doing palaeoanthropologists take the help from many other related disciplines. The physical anthropologist contributed a lot in the understanding of the various hominid and non-hominid perspective. Physical anthropologists are the specialists in comparative anatomy of man and apes; they evaluate the status and the evolutionary significance.
5. Human Genetic:
Genetics involve in the study of inherited characters. A genetic relation exists between parents and off-springs. The tendency of inheritance of paternal traits is known as heredity. The heredity and its mechanism must be well understood to get a proper idea regarding the origin and evolution of man as well as the significance of his different races. The physical anthropology during the present periods has been highly influenced by the results of genetical studies on human beings. Human genetics reveals the mechanism of heredity of various traits in men, and it becomes an essential branch of physical anthropology today.
6. Medical Anthropology:
In the domain of physical anthropology the study of disease pattern and their nature, impact and recipes that have been developed for long in human societies is of specific importance. The socio-cultural as well as genetical or environmental determinants of disease within a population can be brought out only through the close study of the people and their way of life. The bio-medical approach to various diseases and way of life. The biomedical approach to various diseases and abnormalities in health proves very much effective in combating diseases in human societies. It receives full form when the whole arena is highlighted through the perspective of medical anthropology.
7. Physiological Anthropology:
Physical anthropology in the olden days was mainly concerned with the study of the skeletal parts and the metric analysis of different superficial bodily organs. But now-a-days the physical anthropology takes into consideration the internal organs of the human body to study their bio-chemical constitutions. How the physiology of man interacts with the external factors like climates, food habit, etc., is also an important concern of physical anthropology. Thus in the study of biochemical variations I man and other primates the branch known as physiological anthropology has been designed under the auspices of physical anthropology.
8. Forensic Anthropology:
Physical anthropology deals, to a considerable extent, with the skeletal structure of hominids and non-hominids to understand the similarities and differences of the body parts. This integrated knowledge on anatomy is now being greatly used in identifying the nature and status of the individuals from bone fragments. Besides these human hand and foot-prints, blood strains, etc., are studied in physical anthropology and these have become very much effective I the detection of criminals. Forensic anthropology is that branch of physical anthropology which deals, for forensic purposes, with the identification of persons with the help of these biological remains.
9. Nutritional Anthropology:
It is branch of physical anthropology which deals with the matter relating to the nutritional perspective of human beings and their subsequent growth and development. The population of a country essentially needs proper growth and development. Growth is dependent on varied factors which can be broadly divided in to two- heredity and environment. Physical anthropology has provided ways to study the impact of these two factors on human beings. Nutritional anthropology, as a branch of physical anthropology, is devoted to such studies.
10. Dental Anthropology:
In physical anthropology the study of teeth and teeth pattern are of great importance. The teeth are the indicators of the body shape and size as well as food habit and related behavior patterns. In most of the palaeoanthropological excavations teeth have formed the main part and the study of dental morphology has naturally been developed to a considerable extent. It helps in the understanding of human evolution, growth, body morphology, genetical features and in the utilization in the domain of forensic sciences. Thus as a branch of physical anthropology, dental anthropology is regarded as a specialized field which pledge to study the distribution of different dental traits among different populations.
In the study of physical anthropology sometimes there is an urgent need to measure the different bodily parts through systematic measuring techniques and thereby to express the form of the organs concerned quantitatively. It is known as the anthropometry and it is a specific branch of physical anthropology. Measurements on human body are not only useful in studying gradual human development through evolution and in understanding the racial discrimination patterns but also these are helpful in day to day way of life of the people which is extensively related human bodily forms.
it is the study of the physical fitness of man in various working conditions. Ergonomy is a branch of physical anthropology in which a study is taken up to establish a correlation between the static body dimensions and the designing of machine to be driven by man. It got a specific need because of the fact that many groups people differ in body size as a result of varied biological and environmental factors.
demography is the science of population and it is directly related to fertility and mortality. These two factors are specifically influenced by heredity and environment. Demographic study is highly influenced by various statistical data and their subsequent analysis. As demographic study is centered round the nature, growth age, sex structure, spatial distribution, migration in addition to fertility and mortality of the populations, so it acts as a specific branch of physical anthropology.
Ethology is the science of animal behavior. It is relatively a new discipline but it has got a good prospect. In physical anthropology the studies on the behavior of primates have been receiving much importance. The data from these studies are being used to help explain the basic background of human behaviours and to suggest how human ancestors may have acted on the different issue. During recent years study on behavior-patterns of monkeys and apes in their natural environment has become a categorical wing in the domain of physical anthropology.
RELATION OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGY TO OTHER SCIENCES
The study of physical anthropology is specially characterized by a wide dimension. Man is not only a complex and highly evolved animal but his life and behavior- pattern are extremely complicated. Thus, the study of physical anthropology centering round biological developments of man and conditioned by cultural activities will not be perfectly made illustrative without going into studies of different sciences. On the other hand, physical anthropology shares the views of these scientific disciplines and most of the time close integration of ideas is found herein. Now-a-days physical anthropology has been contributing a lot to the spheres of studies of different sciences. On the other hand, physical anthropology is being enriched with the varied findings of these scientific disciplines. An attempt has been made here to pin-point the relation of physical anthropology to several allied disciplines.
1. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Human Biology:
Physical anthropology is the study of the biological perspective of man. Naturally it is study of the biological sciences. In understanding of this gradual process of human evolution the physical anthropologists are in an emergent need to compare the biological features of man and the animals. Modern physical anthropology is highly biology oriented. Study of human genetics has become the essential part of physical anthropology. This particular trend of study of physical anthropology especially human heredity, factors relating to growth and development has enriched the field of human biology.
2. Relation of Physical Anthropology to palaeontology:
Palaeontology is the scientific study of fossils. The evaluation of various fossilized remains in relation to geological periods and other associated finds is the major task of the palaeontologists. In searching out human origin the physical anthropologists depends solely on the interpretations of various fossil finds human and non-human ancestors. The principles of palaeontological studies help a lot in these devices of the physical anthropologists.
3. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Geology:
Geology is the study of the nature and structural pattern of the earth-its land forms, rock formation, various strata of the earth and their formation, and many other related matters. Various happenings in the remote past and the and the records of the oldest forms of life, that flourished long ago, can be highlighted through the systematic study and analysis of the earth’s crusts and different fossil-laden strata in the background of geological methodology. In the study of human evolution as well as various cultural stages of man the physical anthropologists are to go a long way into the past. To study the various layers of earth and to understand the time sequences the physical anthropologist employ the knowledge and findings of the geologists.
4. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Prehistoric Archaeology:
The biological development of man became more and more conspicuous with the devices of tool using by the earliest types of men. In order to clear out the picture of human differentiation from non-human ancestors it is essential to understand the times and types of tool using as tools are considered as the remarkable cultural achievements helping early men to adjust with the changing situations. Prehistoric archaeology is such a discipline which deals with the tools technology of the remote past periods in relation to the different human types evolved during different periods of geological significance. Thus physical anthropology is closely related to prehistoric archaeology for the fact that it helps in getting a comprehensive idea on the working of early men.
5. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Physiology:
Modern physical anthropology has changed its angel of vision. From the study of the metric analysis of the superficial bodily parts it has entered into the study of the structural and functional patterns of the various internal organs as well as other physiological features of the body. In addition to the study of various muscular arrangements in the body, functional development of brain, study of blood groups, hemoglobin patterns of human and non-human primates, bio-chemical variation in man and other animals are now being taken up by the physical anthropologists to bring out the total view of human body development. In this type of study physical anthropology comes very close to physiology for getting actual structural and functional views of these organs.
6. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Medical Sciences:
Physical anthropology now-a-days tries to explore the nature and extent of various hereditary or genetic diseases. The modern impact of genetics on physical anthropology has opened a new dimension in which various diseases and genetic abnormality oriented happenings have become the important items of discussion of physical anthropology. Various nutritional patterns, growth, deformations and the impact anthropologists in the background of medical sciences. In this way physical anthropology has been combined with medical science to bring forth a new discipline-Medical Anthropology.
7. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Forensic Science:
Forensic science has its root in medical sciences. It tries to identify the individual through the systematic analysis of skeletonized remains. With these the study of blood types, palm and sole prints also came into the picture of forensic sciences. Forensic science is mainly harnessed to detect the criminals and to bring out the clues of crimes from the study of various bodily remains. The various methodologies for throwing light on the total perspective from the insignificant remains. Thus the stepping of this branch of physical anthropology goes parallel to the understanding of forensic science.
8. Relation of physical anthropology with demography:
Demography is the science of population. The nature of population is studied through the factors like birth, death, migration, growth, spatial distribution, age-sex structure in the background of time. The studies are conducted through statistical methods. Various statistical data are collected on the features of population as stated and through a systematic analysis of the data the nature of population is brought out. In studying the anthropological perspectives of any human population group this sort of demographic analysis is essential. Thus the study of physical anthropology is inseparable from demographic approach of viewing people.
9. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Ecology:
Ecology deals with the study of interrelationship between organisms and their surroundings environmental conditions. Human ecology refers to the study of the relationship patterns between the populations and their environment, and energy exchanges with other living organisms. In physical anthropology the study of human ecology is of special importance as it explores the nature and extent of human adjustment s in relation to climates and related matters. The mode of adaptation of human beings has effected the biological features and the study of these changing characteristics is indispensible in understanding human evolution. In physical anthropology there is a specific scope to study the pattern of adaptation to the natural environment.
10. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Ergonomy:
It is the study of the physical fitness of man in various working conditions. To establish man-machine relation the study of physical anthropology is highly desirable. Various body dimensions are studied with the help of anthropometry and these are put to systematic perspectives. Then the machines are designed according to body dimensions. Various population groups differ in body dimensions, so the machine that are to be used should be designed according to the body of the body dimensions of the population concerned. The differences in body dimensions are resulted from the variety of biological and environmental factors.
11. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Sport Anthropology:
In the world sports and games various athletes are categorized according to body size and physical development. The participating athletes are studied scientifically on three perspectives-(1) Anthropological characteristics, (2) Genetic features and (3) Family status. In the study of anthropological characteristics various measurements on the bodily parts are done and from which body typings are made. In the study of genetic features the different factors like chromosome, blood groups, taste sensitivity to PTC and finger and palm prints are thoroughly studied. In the field of sports and games these anthropological studies are done in such a systematic manner that these have resulted in the development of new sub-discipline known as Sports Anthropology.
12. Relation of Physical Anthropology to Population Genetics:
Modern physical anthropology is closely related to the new sub-field known as population genetics. A population in a genetical perspective is defined as “a reproductive community of sexual and cross fertilizing individuals which share in a common gene pool” (Dobzhansky, 1955:37). The basic construct of genetics is the population. The community of potentially interbreeding individuals at a particular locality is termed Mendelian population. The largest Mendelian population is the species and the different species from distinct groups because they do not share the same gene pool. Human races, a much discussed and controversial topic of physical anthropology, are regarded as “Mendelian populations with potential and actual gene flow between their respective gene pool” (Buettner Janush, 1969:389). Populations are breeding isolates due to geographical barriers. The study of races during the present- period has been channelized through this genetic line of thinking. Thus Physical anthropology shares its views with population genetics.
As a science of man anthropology is pledged to unfold the mysteries of human life. Consequently upon its very nature anthropology likes to view man in his totality and its scope is characterized by a specific principle which differs markedly from all other disciplines related to man and his activities. At the first instances anthropology has got two broad subdivisions- physical and cultural. The former one deals with man as a physical or biological being. In course of its discussions, it takes into consideration of the facts like man’s evolution, structural variation, racial composition, etc. and in so doing the study of various organs of human body are made and the impact of inheritance patterns on these are analysed. Human diversities and variations are also the specific subject-matters of this sphere of study. Cultural anthropology deals with the way of life of man. Culture is a unique feature in man and it is constituted by various thoughts, ideas activities and modes of behavior of man. The development of cultural through the ages has got a specific significance in the biological evolution of man.
Physical anthropology tries to find out the phenomena which created the situation for human origin, and how the development of various hominoid forms gave rise to Homo sapiens, the modern man. Various geological and palaeontological evidences from the different layer of the earth have made this study possible. The study of human diversities has followed the study of human evolution. The impact of ecology and environment on the formation of physical features of man has got an effective role.
With the change of the time focus of attention of physical anthropology has been changing. The old physical anthropology was based on measurements and observation on human body. But the new physical anthropology has come out with an integrated appeal. It does not support the study of the bodily features in isolation; rather it tries to explore these features in the perspective of total environment. During recent time physical anthropology has witnessed a thorough changeover owing to the alternation of basic principles of viewing this science of man. With the development of study of human genetics physical anthropology has now been oriented with genetical principles. All the biological traits are now being understood in terms of genetics interactions. Thus physical anthropology has now been designated as biological anthropology.
The application of the results of study on physical anthropology in human life and work has been proved very effective. The applied physical anthropology has got a variegated role in the welfare activities in human communities. These have been harnessed very efficiently involving many problems relating to health, hygiene, biological hazards and various misconceptions.