Anthropometry is a subdivision of physical anthropology that deals with the measure of the human skeleton or thefleshed parts of thebody. It is a descriptive…

Anthropometry is a subdivision of physical anthropology that deals with the measure of the human skeleton or thefleshed parts of thebody. It is a descriptive technique and as such can be divided into two classes. The first is measurement, whereby the subject, or particular body parts, is measured with standardized instruments in a scientific manner.  The other class is referred to asobservation.  Many physical characteristics do not readily lend themselves to measurement but can be classified by means of observation. Such features are morphological attributes. Eye color may be used as an example. Is the eye blue or brown? Is it pure or mixed in color? Evenly mixed? Is it light or dark? Are zones, spots, or rays present? What is the form of the eye? Are there eye folds present? What is the angle of orientation? None of these attributes are easily measurable (that is, they are not quantifiable), but a visual discrimination can be made. The observation of morphological attributes is known by the technical label of anthroposcopy.
Anthropometry may be further subdivided into physiometry or the measurement of the physiological functions of the body; somatometry, the measurement of the fleshed parts of the body; cephalometry,the measurement of the head and face; and osteometry, the measurement of the human skeletal structure.
The technique of craniometry is measurement of the skull. Many measurements can be taken on the cranium, as demonstrated by Von Torok (1890) who listed 5,371 measurements, in addition to the indices that may be derived from the measurements.  The landmarks, measurements, and indices used in this course are those which have been standardized in accordance with the International Agreement for the Unification of Craniometric and Cephalometric Measurements as proposed by the International Congress of Anthropology and Prehistoric Archaeology held in Monaco in 1905.  These landmarks and the measurements that derive from them provide the maximum information with the minimum number of measuring points.
Many landmarks of the skull may also be obtained on a living individual and, for the most part, measurements taken on the skull do not differ greatly from those of the living. Thus craniometry may serve as a technique for tracing genetic changes from populations of the past to their present-day descendants and vice versa. It has long been a favorite technique of physical anthropologists in the study of the distribution, migration, and inter-mixture of past populations and of sexual and individual differences within a population.
A review of the literature relating to anthropometric studies of human populations that are no longer in existence demonstrates the extensive use of craniometry relative to osteometry. It was long assumed that the cranium provides more accurate information than does the postcranial skeleton, as well as contributing more extensive information. In more recent years, the postcranial skeleton has been “rediscovered” and now receives its share of analysis by physical anthropologists.
For the student of anthropometry, an initial phase of study is the metric system.  All measurements of skeletal remains and of living individuals, are taken in millimeters. The instruments that are used for taking measurements are calibrated in centimeters, with millimeter markings. The student who is not familiar with the operation of the metric system should read the following section carefully.


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