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Boasian anthropology
American Anthropological Association
Boasian anthropology
Cultural relativism
Franz Boas
Noble savage
Race denialism
Recent African origin
of modern humans
Statement on "Race"
The Race Question

Craniometry is measurement of the cranium (the main part of the skull), usually the human cranium. It is considered today to be politically sensitive due to associations with brain size/anatomy and race.

Early research

Much of the criticism of craniometry, often by Boasian anthropology, concern early usage, such as regarding Nordicism and the cephalic index. Possible problems with such early research do not mean that later and/or unrelated research, such as on average brain size differences between groups, must be incorrect, but guilt by association attacks trying to imply this are common.

Furthermore, some of the criticisms of such early research, such as by Franz Boas and Stephen Jay Gould, have been shown to be incorrect:

  • In a very well-known and influential study, Franz Boas claimed extensive changes in the cranium for second-generation US immigrants. Recent studies have re-examined the data used by Boas and stated that Boas' claims are not supported his data.[1][2][3]
  • Regarding Stephen Jay Gould, See The Mismeasure of Man: Samuel George Morton.

See also the articles on Morphology and Race on early usage of morphological characteristics for racial classifications.

Recent research

Recent research include by methods such as modern imaging technologies. Recent (and some older) research have not just measured the cranium, but also, for example, the brain directly.

Forensic anthropologists use craniometry for purposes such as determining the race of skeletal remains.

See also


  1. Sparks CS, Jantz RL (2002) A reassessment of human cranial plasticity: Boas revisited. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 99 (23):14636-9. DOI:10.1073/pnas.222389599 PMID:
  2. Richard L. Jantz. THE MEANING AND CONSEQUENCES OF MORPHOLOGICAL VARIATION. This paper was presented at the session “Exploring the Nature of Human Biological Diversity: Myth v. Reality” at the American Anthropological Association (AAA) 2003 Annual Meeting on November 21, 2003 in Chicago, Illinois.
  3. Richard L. Jantz. "The Meaning and Consequences of Morphological Variation" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-03-04.