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, 64 (3), 435-61

Variation Among North Amerindians: Analysis of Boas's Anthropometric Data

  • PMID: 1607187

Variation Among North Amerindians: Analysis of Boas's Anthropometric Data

R L Jantz et al. Hum Biol.


In the late nineteenth century Franz Boas was responsible for assembling anthropometric data from North Amerindians. Approximately 15,000 subjects were measured, but the data have never been systematically analyzed. Here we describe our efforts to develop a computerized database from Boas's data and present the first systematic analysis of these data. In addition to a general analysis of North Amerindian anthropometric variation, we also present a more detailed analysis of anthropometric variation among tribes located in the American Northwest. In the general analysis we find that anthropometric variation is strongly patterned along geographic lines. We examine geographic and language patterning by grouping tribes by culture area and language phylum. Both have high explanatory power, culture area being the higher. The Northwest analysis shows that both language and geographic location are important in explaining anthropometric variation.

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