August 22, 2008

Facial image of Biblical Jews from Israel

Anthropol Anz. 2008 Jun;66(2):167-90.

Facial image of Biblical Jews from Israel.

Kobyliansky E, Balueva T, Veselovskaya E, Arensburg B.

Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

The present report deals with reconstructing the facial shapes of ancient inhabitants of Israel based on their cranial remains. The skulls of a male from the Hellenistic period and a female from the Roman period have been reconstructed. They were restored using the most recently developed programs in anthropological facial reconstruction, especially that of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Balueva & Veselovskaya 2004). The basic craniometrical measurements of the two skulls were measured according to Martin & Saller (1957) and compared to the data from three ancient populations of Israel described by Arensburg et al. (1980): that of the Hellenistic period dating from 332 to 37 B.C., that of the Roman period, from 37 B.C. to 324 C.E., and that of the Byzantine period that continued until the Arab conquest in 640 C.E. Most of this osteological material was excavated in the Jordan River and the Dead Sea areas. A sample from the XVIIth century Jews from Prague (Matiegka 1926) was also used for osteometrical comparisons. The present study will characterize not only the osteological morphology of the material, but also the facial appearance of ancient inhabitants of Israel. From an anthropometric point of view, the two skulls studied here definitely belong to the same sample from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine populations of Israel as well as from Jews from Prague. Based on its facial reconstruction, the male skull may belong to the large Mediterranean group that inhabited this area from historic to modern times. The female skull also exhibits all the Mediterranean features but, in addition, probably some equatorial (African) mixture manifested by the shape of the reconstructed nose and the facial prognatism.



Crimson Guard said...

So did the female look like Brigitte Gabriel or a Amy Whinehouse?

UncleTomRuckusInGoodWhiteWorld said...


Good pick, I would imagine Brigitte Gabriel...if you didn't tell me she was Lebanese and I saw her in my city on the street I would say she is Ethiopian.

Amy Winehouse looks quite odd...I had no clue what she was until I read about it. THere are a lot of Gulf Arabs that look like her (well they usually have more clothes on though).

Kurika said...

Mediterranic features in a Mediterranic place... Interesting is the hipotesis of a subsharan contribution. But, two skulls represent what? - a family? And why they speak in Jews? It´s not necessary read Josefus to know that Jews are only one of many etnic groups in Judeia. Greeks and Sirians are the majority in many citys.Arabs and Egipcians represent significant minoritys. Herodes The Great (for instance)that was part Arab, have a special Garde of Gauls...

terryt said...

So the skulls exhibit Mediterranean characteristics. What an absolutely stunning conclusion!

I've always assumed that people around the Mediterranean had mixed extensively since semi-efficient boats were introduced to the region. Which, from a previous post, seems to have been no earlier than about 10,000 years ago. And this in a region reasonably close to where humans are supposed to have crossed the Red Sea more than 40,000 years before then.

Crimson Guard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crimson Guard said...

Dienekes, they posted no images of these reconstructions they supposedly made? Shame!

miz RAND BLOWTON said...

Yeah So,what.Jews are Jews if you ask me,and some are admixed with other peoples ,but not very much as I always know a Jew when I see one,if fact they are the only people which can easily be distinguished. I think the subject is a little boring.But all anthropology studies are good studies.

Anonymous said...

"...I always know a Jew when I see one,if fact they are the only people which can easily be distinguished."

I like reading stupid comments like this.

How many Jews have you met? I live in a part of the country where Jews comprise a significant portion of Caucasians in the population, and among my close Jewish friends, I'd say only half (if that) exhibit stereotypical Jewish traits. For a more scientific angle, I suggest Carleton Coon on the racial variation of Jews.

What's surprising is that genetic studies seem to link Jews from all over the world together very tightly, despite how much Jews from different parts of the world can differ in appearance.

If European Jews have kept their Middle Eastern genes largely intact, despite their very European appearance, how is their appearance explained? Were there pressures of selection? Are the genetic studies perhaps faulty or incomplete, underestimating how much the Middle Eastern genes have been diluted? If there were selection pressures, what were they?

Unknown said...

Are we talking genetically here dude?
Israel and Bible area takes 75% of world attention and research funds I think.
It is waste of money. What is the contribution of that region for world's genes?, Languages, Science?, culture. Compared to Roman,Chinese,Indian, Greek, Iranian contribution? Why is there more papers on this issue. Who cares on overall scheme?.

n/a said...

Jews and non-Jews can identify Jews using only photographs.


I bet you're excited about the "Jewish HapMap Project".

Ebizur said...

n/a said...
"Jews and non-Jews can identify Jews using only photographs."

Especially ones like "Amy Whinehouse [sic]."

(Was the misspelling intentional, or just a Freudian slip? Whatever the case, it did give me a chuckle.)