Great Anthropology: Part Two

I had meant to cover the great experiments or papers in physical anthropology in this post. One of the papers I had planned on mentioning was Cranial Variation in Man: A Multivariate Analysis of Patterns of Difference among Recent Human Populations. The paper was published in the Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (number 67, note anybody out there with access to this paper? I would love a copy…). This is probably the most important paper published in physical anthropology in the last 50 years. Howells took 68 measurements on over 3,000 skulls from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Europe and used multivariate statistics to analyze the variation in the crania. Today we have a large number of similar databases (FORDISC comes to mind) and pretty much revolutionized the study of human skeletal variation.
To my great surprise and shock I discovered today that W. W. Howells passed away on 12/20/05. He was 97. You can find some of his books here


Other important papers that come to mind are Dart, R. A. Australopithecus africanus: The Man-Ape of South Africa, Nature 115, 195-199 (1925) and Johanson, DC, and White, TD, 1979, A Systematic Assessment of Early African Hominids: Science, v. 203, p. 320-330. One overlooked, but important paper is Livingstone, F. (1958). “Anthropological implications of sickle cell gene distribution in west Africa.” American Anthropologist 30: 533-562.
On a more practical level, Human Osteology: A Laboratory and Field Manual by William Bass deserves a mention (and not just because he was my undergraduate adviser). This is one of the better textbooks in human osteology – and for the longest time was one of the only textbooks on the subject. Lately, a few books have come along to challenge it, for example this one and this one the book by Bass is still a classic…

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4 Responses

  1. Afarensis take on ‘Great Anthropology’

    If you were wondering what is great anthropology, you should check out Afarensis’ Great Anthropoligy and Great Anthropology: Part Two, where he overviews classic literature that has made anthropology what it is today. Here’s some of the books and articles

  2. W.W. Howells Gets a Mention

    Today, I found a blog from a physical anthropologist that mentions a data set I used some time ago. Afarensis (part of the new ScienceBlogs) discusses the seminal work of W. W. Howells in performing…

  3. I have a copy of two Howells reports on the topic, but they are bound so I don’t think it’s possible to copy them. Sorry.

  4. Doesn’t surprise me…I’m hoping there is a scanned copy around somewhere…

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