Iraq Ethnography

By | December 19, 2021

We are still poorly informed about the people of ancient Iraq, because the human skeletons found in the Paleo-Mesopotamian burials and scientifically examined are still few and therefore the only certain and sure basis for delineating, albeit in its elementary features, is lacking. the anthropological composition of the region. We are well informed on the civilizations and languages ​​of the country from prehistoric times, where in very ancient times the immigrations and mergers of nations and lineages, the overlapping of tribes and peoples were numerous; but the conclusion from language to race or even only to the anthropological type is not lawful and can only lead to erroneous deductions. We wanted to recognize in the ancient depictions of men and gods, in the stone reliefs, faithful representations of facial features and thus ended from image to race. However, a more careful examination of the representations revealed their lack of reliability, since it was found that some characteristic traits, which seemed to denote a certain anthropological type of the Sumerians, were traced back, rather than to anthropological characteristics, to the artist’s inability or convention. It is certain however that the most ancient civilization of the country, still prehistoric civilization, is of the Elamic type, strictly similar to that of the ancient Elam and especially of Susa. This civilization was succeeded by the Sumerian civilization. So far we are unable to establish whether these two civilizations have had the same race as their substratum. It is very likely that the Sumerians were not all of the same anthropological type. The Babylonian and Assyrian civilization then took over from the Sumerian civilization, with the immigration of the Semites. Among the various theses supported on the anthropological type of the Elamites, the Sumerians and the Semites of Babylon and Assyria, that of G. Sergi should be noted: all three of these peoples, producers of a high civilization and for some millennia spiritual rulers of Asia ancient Western and the then civilized world, would have been fundamentally of the Mediterranean race. For Iraq 2007, please check

In the ruins of the city of Kish, in the excavations made during the archaeological campaign of the years 1923-1924, some skeletons were also found in various tombs, which should date back to the years 3000-2800 BC. C., at a time when the city was inhabited, as evidenced by other circumstances, by a mixed population, Sumerian and happen. There are eight skulls that lend themselves to study. They show no Mongoloid traits and no trace of the Nordic race. Instead, two types clearly appear: one is dolichocephalic, similar to that of the Proto-Egyptians. Individuals with this type of skull certainly belonged to a variety of the Mediterranean race. It is legitimate to advance the hypothesis that these skulls were characteristic of the very ancient residents of Arabia and probably represented the physical type of Semitic invaders of southern Mesopotamia. The other type is instead brachycephalic and belongs precisely to the western branch of the brachycephalics, to the Armenoid type. It was certainly that of the original or primitive population.

Other bone material revealed the tombs recently discovered in the ruins of Uru, and those near Tell el-‛Ubaid, not far from the first city. The burials of Tell el-‛Ubaid are supposed to date back to the beginning of the 4th millennium or to an even earlier period. The Uru tombs, on the other hand, are more recent, as they do not go beyond the years 1700-1900 approximately. The mean cephalic index in Tell el-‛Ubaid is 72.6 for males and 77.6 for females; in Uru, 69.8 for males and 77.6 for females. The skulls of both the first and the second place are therefore dolichocephalic. In facial characters the ancient Sumerians have a European type. The faces were very long, the nose long, the chin strong. In Tell el-iUbaid the nose was distinctly aquiline. The residents of Tell el-‛Ubaid were therefore real dolichocephalic Arabs, but big-headed Arabs, big people with massive jaws. None were brachycephalic: no trace of the Armenoid or Mongolian type. Instead, in all of them there is a great affinity with the Caucasian type. They were akin to the pre-dynastic men of Egypt and the Paleolithics of Europe. Between the fourth and second millennium the country must have undergone an invasion of very similar lineages, with even narrower and longer heads, which were distinguished from the oldest residents of the country only by slight nuances of the somatic characters. Southern Mesopotamia was inhabited in the fourth and second millennium by peoples of the same physical type and of the same origin. The same breed now occupies the lower plains of the Euphrates and Tigris valleys. In the very long history of lower Mesopotamia almost no race changes have occurred. The modern residents of southern Mesopotamia are the direct descendants of the ancient ones. The ancient Sumerians possess characters that are proper to Iran and the Arabs. The Sumerian face is still found today in Afghānistān and Belūcistān, up to the Indus valley. A skull was found in Nineveh in the excavation campaign of 1927-1928. It is of the round, Armenoid type and should date back to the 9th century or is even older. But from a single skull no deductions can be made about the race that inhabited the country.

To this day the vast majority of the population of Mesopotamia still belongs to the type revealed by the skulls of Uru and Tell el-‛Ubaid. The Kurds have a somewhat different character, who are however, as far as the anthropological type is concerned, very composite. They have a narrow face, strong chin, large stature, are mostly mesatycephalic, those close to brachycephalic Armenians. They have very dark hair, and their eyes are dark chestnut in color. They appear to represent a mixture of the Mediterranean and Armenoid races.

In Mesopotamia it can be seen, as indeed happens in other parts of the world, that religious sects have a tendency to develop their own anthropological type, differentiating themselves in some characteristics from the surrounding populations.

Iraq Ethnography