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Alpine race: Wikis


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Meyers Blitz-Lexikon (Leipzig, 1932) shows the German cartographer Heinrich Kiepert as an example of the Alpine type.
Madison Grant's map, from 1916, charting the distribution of the "European races". Nordic race is shown in bright red; green indicates the Alpine race; yellow, the Mediterranean race.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Western anthropologists classified humans into a variety of races and subraces.

Of these, the name Alpines was given to a physical type of the Caucasian race predominant in central/Eastern Europe and parts of Western/Central Asia, somewhat shorter, narrower shouldered and darker skinned than those they classified as Nordics. This model was first clearly defined in William Z. Ripley's book The Races of Europe (1899), which proposed three European categories: Teutonic (later termed Nordic), Mediterranean and Alpine.[1] This model was later popularised by Madison Grant.

European Racial Types according to Ripley[2]
Head Face Hair Eyes Stature Nose Synonyms
Alpine (Celtic) Round Broad Light chestnut Hazelgray Medium, stocky Variable; rather broad; heavy Occidental (Deniker), Homo Alpinus (Lapouge)
Mediterranean Long Long Dark brown or black Dark Medium, slender Rather broad
Teutonic Long Long Very light Blue Tall Narrow; aquiline Nordic (Deniker), Homo Europaeus (Lapouge)

A distinctive Alpine type had been proposed by earlier writers, notably Vacher de Lapouge, but it was Ripley who promoted it to one of the main divisions.

Ripley argued that the Alpines had originated in Asia, and had spread westwards along with the emergence and expansion of agriculture, which they established in Europe. By migrating into central Europe, they had separated the northern and southern branches of the earlier European stock, creating the conditions for the separate evolution of Nordics and Mediterraneans.

This model was repeated in Madison Grant's book The Passing of the Great Race (1916), in which the Alpines were portrayed as the most populous of European and western Asian races.[1]

In Carleton Coon's rewrite of Ripley's The Races of Europe, he developed the argument that they were reduced Upper Paleolithic survivors indigenous to Europe. Coon argued that they were linked to their unreduced (Brunn, Borreby) counterparts.

Despite the large numbers of this alleged race, the characteristics of the Alpines were not as widely discussed and disputed as those of the Nordics and Mediterraneans. Typically they were portrayed as "sedentary": solid peasant stock, the reliable backbone of the European population, but not outstanding for qualities of leadership or creativity.[1] Madison Grant, insisted on their "essentially peasant character".[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Bruce Baum, The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race: a political history of racial identity, NYU Press, 2006, pp.145, 147,
  2. ^ Ripley (1899), The Races of Europe, p. 121; Synonyms column shortened
  3. ^ Grant, Madison (1916). "The Passing of the Great Race". p. part 2, ch. 11; part 2, chapter 5.


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