Carleton S. Coon on the Mediterranean Race
from C.S. Coon, Caravan : the Story of the Middle East, 1958, pp. 154-157
Mediterranean Racial Types: Spanish, Scottish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Arab, Bulgarian, Afghan. Phenotypically Mediterranean (brunet dolichocephalic, leptoprosopic, leptorrhine Caucasoids), differing in more specific traits, dress, sun exposure. Mediterranean physical types may not necessarily share common ancestry, since in the strictest sense, “Mediterranean” is only a phenotype. The early Neolithic pioneers were of this type, as Coon correctly notes.

Our area, from Morocco to Afghanistan, is the homeland and cradle of the Mediterranean race. Mediterraneans are found also in Spain, Portugal, most of Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean islands, and in all these places, as in the Middle East, they form the major genetic element in the local populations. In a dark-skinned and finer-boned form they are also found as the major population element in Pakistan and northern India.

The Sumerians were Mediterraneans skeletally. So were the ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Children of Israel, and the Arabs of the early Islamic period whose skeletons I had the privilege of measuring at Nippur. A Mediterranean is a white man of variable stature - as whites go, usually short to medium; his bones are light, but strongly marked for muscle attachments if these muscles have been well developed through use. His legs are relatively long compared to his trunk, and his hands and feet rather small. His chest is relatively flat, his neck of medium length, his head of medium size, long-oval in shape with parallel sides; his face is small and delicate, with only slight bony ridges over the eyes. The upper part of his face is large in proportion to the lower part, so that when he is old his nose looks large for his jaw. Of all human being the Mediterranean has the most human, the most highly evolved, masticatory apparatus. His teeth are small, and so are the muscles that operate his jaw. His face is narrow, and his nose consequently is often prominent when compared to the lower-bridged and flatter noses of wider or longer-jawed races in Europe and other parts of Africa and Asia. The Mediterranean man is a relatively hairy fellow. His head is covered with a heavy growth of straight, wavy, or ringleted hair, usually fine in texture; rarely does the true Mediterranean go bald. His eyebrows are full, often meeting over the nose. His beard develops throughout adult life. While it is not the heaviest beard of all mankind, it is often a close runner-up. His body hair also increases throughout life and individually varies greatly in quantity.

As a rule his skin is some shade of white, from pink or peaches-and-cream to a light brown. Skin color should always be taken on some unexposed part of the body. Among Middle Easterners this is simple, because they cover as much of the body as is consistent with their work. The exposed skin color may be a dark brown, while the skin of the underarm is ten shades lighter. (The sun shines brightly in the Middle East.) While fair-skinned people are to be seen, they live chiefly in shaded bazaars and government offices, whence they rarely emerge into the dazzling light of day.

The Mediterranean’s hair is usually black or dark brown, while his whiskers may reveal a few strands of red or even blond. Blond hair may be seen, but it is the exception. Its presence does not require some invasion of Goths or Scyths or the miscegenation of Crusaders. One of the characteristics of the Mediterranean race is a minority tendency toward blondism. This is seen much more frequently in the eyes, since blond hair, which appears in infants, usually darkens as the hair coarsens with age.

Among Mediterraneans every shade of eye color appears. Coal black is exceptional, a dark or medium brown most common. Nearly a fourth of any sample, however, will have blue, gray or green eyes, usually mixed with brown in the iris pattern. Eyes do not darken with age; hence the greater prevalence of light eyes rather than blond hair among the adult. Like pink skin, blue eyes and blond hair appear most often among people whose work or social status keeps them inoors. Descendants of the Prophet, courtiers, and wealthy merchants are more often blond than farmers or camel drivers. In my opinion this does not mean that blonds are in any way superior to brunets, in the Middle East or elsewhere. It rather indicates that in a hot, brightly illuminated environment blonds are at a disadvantage when out of doors. Those who can manage it gravitate toward work in shaded quarters; furthermore the natural selection that may operate against them in the field and desert would fail to limit their increase in the shade. Middle Eastern urban civilization may thus have produced artificially an environment comparable to the Baltic fog, from which the Nordic emerged.

Who, then, are these Mediterraneans? Nearly all the Arabs, practically all the oriental Jews, most of the inhabitants of Egypt whatever their religion, most of the Berbers, most of the Persians proper, many of the Kurds, most of the Baluchis, a large number of the Afghans and many of the Turks of Anatolia and Azerbaijan. Nearly 80% of the individuals living in the Middle East and participating in its civilization (excluding Europeans) are Mediterraneans of one variety or another; of the other twenty per cent at least half probably show an increment of Mediterranean genes. The Mediterranean race, then, is indigenous to, and the principal element in, the Middle East, and the greatest concentration of a highly evolved Mediterranean type falls among two of the most ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, notably the Arabs and the Jews. (Although it may please neither party, this is the truth.)

The Mediterraneans occupy the center of the stage; their areas of greatest concentration are precisely those where civilization is the oldest. This is to be expected, since it was they who produced it and it, in a sense, that produced them.