Ancient Greeks - Blonder than Modern Greeks?

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Niccolo and Donkey
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Bronze Age Pervert holds that Greeks were much blonder and blue eyed than today's Greeks. He rejects any suggestion that they were Nordic which is to his credit.

But the question is: how different did they look vs. today's Greeks?

Check this out:

Magna Graecia :


Now, we know that Sicily saw waves of people from all over the Mediterranean settle on that island, but Magna Graecia also includes Calabria and Apulia which were spared from Arab settlements. Saying this, Calabrians and Apulians are the darkest and shortest of all Italians, yet the blood of Greeks coarses through their veins.


The genetic input of Greeks fleeing the Turks centuries later cannot have had the effect of darkening these populations. Nor can it be blamed on Albanians who themselves are lighter than both modern day Greeks and Southern Italians.

What say you, BAP?

Thomas is a better consult here.

Bronze Age Pervert

Nic...there is no evidence that these communities were isolated after Greek colonization. This area was part of the Roman Empire, and later more to the point it was part of the Byzantine Empire. I would guess that there was a period of resettlement here during Byzantine times, and that these are later Byzantine Greeks or at least that they interbred with them. That can be one possibility, and wouldn't disprove my claim...I would be surprised if the Byzantines didn't try to resettle this area.

Second thing to consider is that there's no reason why this area should have been free from Near Eastern and North African immigration during at least three centuries or so of stable Roman imperial rule. By the time Rome was sacked by the Vandals I believe there were only 6000 or so original Romans in Rome itself, the rest of the city was made up of people from elsewhere in the empire; the aristocratic Roman clans, for which there exists very strong evidence of blondism by the way, disappeared much earlier. Affluent whate and even not so affluent whate people have a tendency to stop having kids. Look at what happened to Sparta.

That brings me to another point, which is that the same pattern that took place in Greece itself took place here. The Greek colonists came on top of an already existing population. In Sicily you already had the Siculi, the Sicani, Elymians (three original peoples) who were native Med peoples and who later no doubt interbred with the Greek colonists, perhaps adopting their language, maybe even very late in Byzantine times. You also had Carthaginians, etc.; so even if the original Greek population that settled here was much whiter/blonder than the modern Greeks, they would have turned darker by breeding over time with the native Meds who already lived there. This would have surely happened during Roman rule anyway.

Finally I should add a small clarification, I do believe that the original Greeks, when they invaded Greek mainland around 1600 BC had a considerable blond component; I don't know if you call that Nordic. Is this man Nordic?


In my opinion he looks more classically "Aryan" than many Scandinavians, many of which have very exotic features, blond hair and blue eyes notwithstanding. So I believe the invading population was much like this, maybe mixed already, but had considerable component of this. Then later they bred with the some places faster than in other places. There are estimates that most helots ruled by the Spartans did not speak Greek even into historical times. But in general by classical times, certainly let's say by 600-500 BC or maybe even earlier, the population looked basically Med; though lighter than today's Greeks. Some of the colonies in Italy and Sicily are very early, but even by then you would have already had mixing with the native Pelasgian stock in the Greek mainland. Still, to account for why they look so much darker today than I think they did in Classical times, I gave several reasons above.

I'll try to find a source by the way that says, as late as Hellenistic times, that the ideal student of philosophy is blond and blushes easily.


I think they were even darker than modern Greeks. Paintings and physical descriptions by themselfes indicate it.

Xenophon describes the Ethiopians as black, and the Persian troops as white compared to the sun-tanned skin of Greek troops. Herodotus similarly used Melanchroes "dark-skinned" for the Egyptians and he compared them to the Aithiopsi "burned-faced" for the Ethiopians.

Polemon of Laodicea in Physiognomica notice differences between Greeks and Populations of the North. He came to conclusion that Greek superiority stems "from their medium skin tone". He thinks light hairs and pale skin are sign of barbarism, blue eyes indicate poor eyesight according to him.

Every Greek depiction got black hair at least if not brown skin too. Only Gods associated with sun and brightness(holiness) or mythological heroes are sometimes described as blonde (aphrodite).


Roland writes:


The Greek population during classical times consisted of endogomous racial stocks. The Nordid component, though a small strain of the population as a whole, was well represented among the upper castes. A clear subracial differentiation is evident in the portrayals of aristocrats and Greeks of non-aristocratic lineage. Thus, the bust of Socrates, whose father was an artisan and mother was a midwife, reveals a stocky man, broad nosed with thick neck, clearly reflecting his Pelasgian ancestry. It is perhaps not surprising that his philosophy also reflected a more revolutionary and subversive viewpoint than that of the aristocratic Plato and Aristotle. Indeed, he studied under the Sophists, who were lowly merchants of Levantine origin who were not permitted to become Athenian citizens.

Evidence of the anthropological status of the original Greek population may also be derived from excavations of the original Hellenic population. Thus, Angel, in the only study that has been conducted on the skeletal remains found in the cemeteries of the original Hellenic immigrants, concluded that the Hellenic population represented a "Nordic" type

Kumar (1973) and Kilian (1984) arrived at the same conclusions about Indo-Europeans in general, based on the skeletal remains of the Kurgans: "we are probably justified in posulating a more or less close original association . . . of the Indo-Europeans with the Nordic race ".

As a supplement to the study of skeletal remains, which must remain incomplete, Peterson's (1985) detailed analysis of the portraits, busts, hermae, and sculptures of the ancient Greeks has shown a clear physical differentiation between the upper class, where the Nordid strain is well represented, and the lower castes, from which it is almost entirely absent.

Of course, the lower castes were always the majority of the population in ancient Greece, and it is from the slave hordes that today's Greeks are largely descended, which explains why today's 'Greek' population is predominately Mediterranid in appearance.

There is, by the way, nothing extraordinary in the idea of Mediterraneans being ruled by a Nordic aristocracy. After all, when the Roman Empire fell many Germanic tribes (Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Lombards, etc.) invaded the Mediterranean Basin, establishing kingdoms where they ruled over large Mediterranean populations. It has happened before, so there is no reason to think it can't have happened in still earlier periods of history.

Bob Dylan Roof
I should add that the sample of Siberian mummies from the Andronovo were dated in a range from the early bronze to the late iron ages with the bronze age mummies exhibiting exclusively northern european haplogroups and the later iron age mummies exhibiting successively greater levels of eurasian contribution. This supports the elite dominance hypothesis that suggests the Indo-Europeans were a relatively small caste of warrior-aristocrats eventually subsumed by the larger slave- and lower-classes they ruled over.

The study also found evidence of pigmentation, which seems to support a pontic steppe origin of the proto-Indo-Europeans:

Whereas archaeological records are inconclusive about the anthropological traits characteristic of ancient Siberians, our data deduced from the analysis of human pigmentation gene SNPs seems consistent with the fact that most of them had blue (green) eyes. Indeed, among the SNPs tested was rs12913832, a single DNA variation within a regulatory element of HERC2 gene which is associated to blue eye color in humans. This polymorphism, together with the diplotypes obtained from variations of the OCA2 locus (major contributor to the human eye color variation) showed that at least 60% of the ancient Siberian specimens under study had blue (or green) eyes. Such color phenotype is, according to Eiberg et al. (2008), caused by a founder mutation which most likely originated 6-10 kya from a region around the Black sea, near modern-day Ukraine or Turkey and then diffused into Northern Europe . Our data also suggest that south Siberian specimens might have had blond or light brown hair and fair skin and that they were of European ancestry, a result which appears as evident as those of uniparental markers.

Further, the study found continguity with the "Tocharian" mummies found in China:

Interestingly, the haplotype of specimen S09 matches that of an ancient specimen from the Yuansha site (Taklamakan desert, Xinjiang Province, northwestern China) and dated back to 2,135 § 50 years (Gao et al. 2008), suggesting genetic relationships between Andronovo populations and those of the Xinjiang. Two hypotheses have been oVered by archaeologists to account for the origins of these Bronze Age people believed to have spoken an Indo-European language called Tocharian and depicted as possessing red or blonde hair, long noses and blue or green eyes: the “steppe hypothesis” and the “Bactrian oasis hypothesis”. Proponents of the latter assert that settlement of the Xinjiang came from sedentary based population of the Oxus civilisation found in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, whereas proponents of the “steppe hypothesis” maintain that the Tarim region experienced a colonization attributed to Afanasievo and Andronovo populations who migrated to Xinjiang from the Altai–Minusinsk regions north of the Tarim Basin​
(Hemphill and Mallory 2004). Our results corroborate the “steppe hypothesis.”
Niccolo and Donkey