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Some Dorian Descendants?
Author(s): Charles H. Hawes
Source: The Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 16 (1909/1910), pp. 258-280
Published by: British School at Athens
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30096445
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SOME DORIAN

DESCENDANTS?

(PLATES XV, XVI.)

THE temptation to probe the origins of a people who brought war and
destruction with them, but whose absorption was followed by the great
renaissance of Greece is infectious. Philologists have not regarded the
warning of Beloch1 who twenty years ago wrote 'Gewiss werden
Wanderungen auf der griechischen Halbinsel in vorhistorishcher Zeit
stattgefunden haben; aber wir wissen darliber nichts, absolut gar nichts,
und wer es anders sagt, der tduscht sich selbst und sein Publikum' and
now the anthropologist is emboldened to try. Much water has flowed
under the bridge since 1890, and I make the plunge. I take leave to
change the question from the usual formula,' Who were the Dorians ?' to
'Who are the Dorians ?' The attempt is made from the point of view of
physical anthropology, in the hope that it may prove a contribution; for
the aid of archaeology and philology is obviously needed in the solution of
such an involved question.
Starting out in quest of the Dorians of to-day, it may be thought thar
the student would naturally bend his steps towards Sparta, Argolis, and
Corinth; and for contrast to Arcadia and Attica. At the outset I must
admit that I have gathered but few anthropometric records from these
districts. Professor Clons Stephanos of Athens has a large and sufficient
collection, I understand, but he has not felt free to publish them yet. My
work on this problem has come as a by-product of research in Crete, and
time and opportunity for further expeditions have been wanting;
nevertheless it may be that the areas I have measured-Tsakonia
(Peloponnesos) and Sphakia (Crete)-are of more value than the more
obvious ones which have been overrun by Slavs and Franks and Turks.
1

Beloch, Julius,

" Die Dorische
Philologie, xlv. p. 598.
Wanderung," Rheinisches museumlMuseum;filr
258

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SOME

DORIAN

DESCENDANTS?

259

My figures reveal the fact that the Albanians, Tsakonians, and
Sphakiots, all having some claims, if diverse, to Dorian ancestry, show a
striking similarity in actual head-form, sagittal curve,' in cephalic index
and stature and other physical measurements, and an equally striking
contrast, particularly in head-form, to their neighbours.
Before setting forth these anthropometric analogies it will be well to
review the claims to which reference has been made.
The original home of the Dorians before they appeared in Thessaly
and Doris is by many thought to have been Illyria. The Illyric type
par excellence to-day is the Albanian, and perhaps we should limit the word
Albanian in this connexion to the Ghegs, the inhabitants of the Upper or
High Albania who speak the Gheg dialect, excluding the Tosks of the
south and the coastal peoples.
According to Appolonios and other early
from Illinici, Hyllini or Hylleni, Hylleis,
comes
the
name
writers,
Illyrici
finally Hyllos, who was the son of Herakles and Melita and was born in
this country. The ancients thus associated Hellenic origins with Illyria.
That the Albanians of Upper Albania have been in their present habitat
since before the memory of man, and have successfully resisted all attempts
of the historian to bring them from elswhere, is acknowledged by most
writers on Albania. As George Finlay writes 'Some suppose them to
have occupied the regions they now inhabit before the days of Homer, and
that they are the lineal descendants of the race to which the ancient Epirots
and Macedonians belonged as cognate tribes.'2 The introduction to
M. H. Hyacinthe Hecquard's Haute Albanie says: 'Si les Albanais
etaient arrivds en Europe 'a une 6poque recente, on connaitrait leurs
migrations; mais l'histoire ne nous en apprend rien. On doit naturellement
en conclure qu'ils etaient en Albanie depuis les 6poques les plus reculdes.'
M. Ed. Pittard adds ' Certains auteurs (de Hahn, Lejean) admettent que
les Albanais sont les descendants des anciens Illyriens.'3 The latest
writer on High Albania, Miss M. E. Durham, who has had unusual success
in penetrating into hitherto almost inaccessible parts, says of the language
'In the fat plain lands of the peninsula the Romans left Latin dialects.
In the mountains it would seem the natives retained their speech
throughout .... In Albania it never died out but survives to-day as modern
1 Videinfra, p. 270.

2

Finlay, G., A History of Greece,vi. p. 34.

'
Pittard, E., "Contribution l'etude anthropologiquedes Albanais," Revue de l'icole
d'Anthr. 1902, pp. 24o-6.
S2
3

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260

C. H. HAWES

Albanian.' 1 Leake wrote . . . 'A country such as Albania furnishes
little temptation to the settlement of foreigners, and is more likely
to send forth from its barren mountains the surplus of its population
to find a maintenance, which its own resources cannot afford.'
We know
that this happened in the fourteenth century A.D. and suggest that it did so
in the fourteenth century B.C.
To sum up, the Albanians, who, as the ancient Illyrians, once occupied
a larger area than to-day, attacked and overlorded from time to time by
Roman, Serb, and Turk, withdrew temporarily into the mountain fastnesses
of High or Upper Albania, and there maintained their language, blood feuds,
and ancient traditions in this the least known and least disturbed region of
Europe. The withdrawals from the areas known now as Bosnia, Herzegovina,
and Montenegro were followed in each case by a resurgence into those parts,
but it is to the land of the Ghegs and their mountain homes in Upper
Albania that we look for the less mixed Albanian who shall represent to
us the ancient Illyrians and the Dorians whom we seek.
The claim of the Tsakonians, dwellers on the eastern slope of Mount
Parnon, to Dorian ancestry is founded not merely on their location in
Greater Laconia but on their Dorian dialect. That speech is by no
means always a criterion of race, is one of the first lessons in anthropology,
and examples of this are at our very door, e.g. the Cornish have almost within
memory exchanged a Celtic for a Teutonic tongue and the Normans a
Teutonic for an Italic. But a change is not necessary, nor is it the law ; and
if geographical features have conspired to isolate, then the preservation of
the ancient tongue is not only possible but probable, as, for example in the
case of the Basques. Tsakonia is indeed secluded. Even the chief town,
and so-called port of Leonidi, which has grown to its present size since the
Turks in 1821 drove the Prastiots down from the interior, is hidden away
from sight in a deep and narrow valley two-and-a-half miles from the
sea. The inhabitants told me that the quickest way to reach Sparta was
to take ship northward to Nauplia, continuing by rail to Argos, and then
south to Tripolitza, and thence by diligence twenty-five miles, so difficult
was the alternative and obvious route due west. They were equally
isolated in the mediaeval period, for' the Chronicleof the Conquestof the Morea
by the Franks, which appears to have been written towards the latter part
1 Durham, Miss M. E., High Albania, pp. 3, 4.
2
Leake, Researchesin Greece,p. 253-

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SOME DORIAN

DESCENDANTS?

261

of the fourteenth century, repeatedly mentions Tsakonia and its inhabitants
as distinct from the rest of the Peloponnesus.' 1
But granted that the Tsakonians shut in among their mountains have
been able to fend off the invading Slav and Albanian and preserve a
comparative purity of race-and the story is not unlike that of the
Albanians at home, for as Albania once stretched northward, but the true
Albanian is now found confined to High Albania, so Tsakonia once
extended southward, and the true Tsakonians were crowded back into their
present limited area-what evidence is there of connexion between their
dialect and the Doric ?
At the moment we are concerned to present a prima facie case for
making an anthropometric comparison between the Tsakonians, the
Albanians, and the Sphakiots. Since Thiersch wrote his Ueber die Sprache
der Zakonen, it has generally been accepted that the Tsakonian dialect is
Doric and that it is unintelligible to the Roman-speaking Greek. Finlay
wrote 'While the rest of the modern Greeks, from Corfu to Trebizond, speak
a language marked by the same grammatical corruptions in the most distant
lands, the Tsakones alone retain grammatical forms of a distinct nature, and
which prove that their dialect has been framed on a different type. It cannot,
therefore, be doubted that they have a strong claim to be regarded as the
most direct descendants of the ancient inhabitants of the Peloponnesus that
now exist; and whatever may be the doubts of the learned concerning
their ancestors, these very doubts establish a better claim to direct
descent from the ancient inhabitants of the province they occupy than can be
pleaded by the rest of the modern Greeks, whose constant inter-communications have assimilated their dialects, and melted them into one language.'
Other first-hand authorities have testified in the same sense.
G. Deville wrote 'le tzaconien est l'hdritier de ce dialect laconien, qui se
parlait autrefois precisement dans les memes localites.3' Dr. Michael
Deffner in his article Das Zakonische als Fortentwicklung des Laconischen
Dialectes4 writes ' Durch den bisherigen Gang meiner Untersuchung hoffe
ich hinreichend bewiesen zu haben, dass der zaconishe Dialect so viele
Dorismen gerettet hat, dass ich mit vollem Rechte behaupten kann, er
miisse auf einen altdorischen zuriick gehen ; dass dies aber kein anderer als
1

2
Ibid. iv. p. 34.
Finlay, op. cit. iv. p. 33.
3 G. Deville, Etude du dialecte Tzakonien, p. 129.
4 Archivfiir
Mittel- und NeugriechischePhilologie (Athen, 188o).
Archivfiir

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262

C. H. HAWES

der laconische ist, daruber lassen uns folgende Eigenthiimlichkeiten des
Zaconischen keinen Zweifel.'
G. N. Hatzidakis after enumerating the following Dorisms to be found
in Tsakonian, Dorian ~i for Ionian-Attic r, ov for v, a-for 8, intervocalic a,
which became h in Laconian, disappearing in Tsakonian, and many others,
says 'Allein die oben erwahnten Characteristica stempeln auf das
entschiedenste den zakonischen Dialekt zu einem dorischen und speciell
zu einem direkten Nachkommen des alten lakonischen Dialekts. So hat
sich 'die gew6hnliche Meinung der Griechen' bestatigt, nach welcher das
zakonische Idiom fUr ein sehr altlakonisches gilt.' 1
The most recent writer on this subject, Richard Meister, calls attention
to some of these Doric features of Tsakonian in his analysis of Dorian and
Pre-Dorian dialects, and remarks on one of these 'Dass wir in diesen
Formen wirklich phonetische, die regelmassige Schulorthographie
durchbrechende Schreibungen vor uns haben und die altspartanische
Dialekteigentiimlichkeit der Verhauchung des zwischenvokalischen Sigma
im gesprochenen Dialekte wirklich noch zu Mark Aurels Zeiten lebendig
war, erkennen wir vor allem daraus, dass sie sich im tsakonischen Dialekt,
der modernen Entwicklungsphase des spartanischen, bis in unsere Zeit
lebendig erhalten hat.2'
It would have been most welcome evidence if we could have
demonstrated that modern Albanian was also allied to the Doric tongue.
I am not aware that the attempt has ever been made. Greek analogies
exist in Albanian and so do Latin and Slav: the difficulty is to determine
whether the Graecisms are modern importations or natives in modern dress.
For the nonce, authorities are content to accept Albanian as an early
branching off from the Aryan tree of languages, as was the Greek. The
absence of any Albanian literary monuments previous to the Catholic
Fathers' writings of the seventeenth century presents a grave difficulty.
The prima facie claims of Sphakia to Dorian ancestry that warrant
our consideration from the point of view of anthropometry are of a general
nature. That Dorians settled in Crete will not be disputed, but we are
here concerned to know whether Sphakia with its neighbour, the eparchy
Selino, in the south-west of the island was a specially Dorian district. The
Sphakiots themselves, among all the Cretans, claim to be of Dorian
1 Hatzidakis, G. N., Einleitung in die neugriechische Grammatik, pp. 8, 9, 0o.
2
Meister, Richard, Dorer und Achaer, p. 15.

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SOME DORIAN DESCENDANTS?

263

descent.' They certainly are geographically isolated and their reputation
singles them out from other Cretans as a particularly martial race with a
fondness for playing the part of highwaymen. The enjoyment and
admiration which greeted the story of my being robbed in Sphakia were
reminiscent of the meed of praise given by Spartans to the youth who stole
successfully. Their pride of race dictates the practice of endogamy and a
Sphakiot will tell you that a Sphakiot of course marries a Sphakiot. I have
not met with such pride or consciousness of race in any other eparchy of
Crete.
Historically we can vouch for their freedom from mixture. Their
country certainly offers no attractions to the invader. A sterile southern
slope facing a hot sub-tropical sun, with a few mountain-plains does not
yield sufficient crops for the sparse population, which is forced to import
its grain in exchange for charcoal, hides, and cheese. The Turks during
their 250 years' occupation of the island left the Sphakiots severely alone;
only once did they penetrate into their country, when they hastily swept
through during the revolution of 1866. The Venetians marked the
Sphakiots on their map bellicosi, built a castle on the strand, but could
not awe men who possessed safe refuge in mountain fastnesses.
Undisturbed and unmixed for the last 700 years, there is no trace of the
Saracens who founded the Khandak or Candia in the ninth century and
were ousted from the island in the tenth. Beyond that time, we have to
count with the Dorians.
Meteorological conditions favoured such a descent. Driven by a north
wind, unable to land on the north coast and rounding the south-west
corner, Loutro, the port of Sphakia, the haven at which St. Paul's
companions advised wintering, offered the one safe shelter on the southern
coast, being protected alike from the north-east, north-west, and south-east
(Fig. i). Captain Spratt says of it 'Lutro is the only port on the south
coast of Crete in which a vessel could find security for the whole season,'2
and further shows from an inscription that it was a port frequented in the
Emperor Nerva's time by Alexandrian ships.
Turning to philological evidence we find but little has been published
1 It was at
Anopolis in Sphakia that I came upon three poor begrimed Epirots, who for
ourteen years had been spending eight months annually in the island for the purpose of stouring
and cleaning the iron and copper domestic utensils. If the Dorians brought iron to Crete, their
descendants, or their neighbours, are maintaining the tradition, by cleaning it !
2
Spratt, Travels and Researchesin Crete, ii. p. 249.

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C. H. HAWES

264

on modern Cretan dialects. Richard Meister mentions Dorisms in the
Cretan inscriptions and to these we shall have occasion to refer later.
Viscount Strangford as far back as 1865 had written 'The speech of the
Sfakiots is distinguished from that of the rest of the island by the
persistent substitution of p for X, by some difference in their vocabulary,
and by general retention of the extreme Cretan type.' 1 This reminds us that
Leake, quoting Thiersch, refers to the change in Tsakonian of X into p, e.g:
rypoio-a for yXwaoo-a,Kp~eov for KXrh'rrco.2
in Tsaconic,
Dr. Jannaris also writes 'the liquids X p are dropped....

FIG.

I.-LOUTRO,

THE PORT

OF SPHAKIA.

though only before a, o, v, as '"afor 'Xa. A similar phonetic phenomenon
is witnessed in Sphakia of Crete, where X before a, o, v, becomes guttural,
thus approaching r as Kark P ro4.'3
We now turn to a consideration of the physiological traits.
in
Unfortutiately personal descriptions of the Dorians fail us. We search
vain among ancient writers to learn whether the Dorians were tall
or short, fair or dark, blue- or brown-eyed, and of course we are not told
whether they were long- or broad-headed. Professor J. L. Myres sums up
the matter in these words 'there is no satisfactory evidence as to the
1 Spratt, op. cit. ii. App. p. 360.
2 Leake, Peloponnesiaca, p. 308.
3 Jannaris, A. N., An historical Greek Grammar, Sect.
I870.

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SOME DORIAN DESCENDANTS?

265

coloration of the Spartans, who alone were reputed to be pure-blooded
Dorians in historic times.'
Professor Ridgeway attributes to them an
but
believes
that
Illyrian origin,
they were not related to the Achaeans and are
to be contrasted with them. Since some of the Achaean leaders are
described as xanthochrous by Homer, and nowhere in classic writers do
we find the Spartans or other Dorian peoples so distinguished, therefore,
he claims, the Dorians were melanochrous and not to be distinguished from
the native pre-Hellenic population." The anthropologist cannot feel so
confident of this conclusion. Greece had been Achaeanised when the
Dorians arrived. Achaean chieftains had married daughters of the local
princes. Their followers copied their lords' example. Ethnical Greece of
those days must then have presented a picture whose background in the main
showed dark and short types relieved here and there by blondness and good
stature. Such a partially mixed people seems more probable at this era,
and the inroad of a people, the Dorians, sharing these very characteristics,
if we are to judge by the Albanians of to-day, would yield no
contrasts to the picture. We are not concerned here to compare the
Dorians with the Achaeans. The identity of the Achaean type is a work
of the future, although suggestions come from Crete, where there are skeletal
remains of broad-headed intruders of the Late Minoan period ; but perhaps
I may refer to the Warrior Vase of Mycenae, illustrated in the Early Age
of Greece, in contradiction of the statement that the Achaeans did not
shave the upper lip, whereas the Spartans did. But the matter is more
serious than this. If the Illyrians of Professor Ridgeway, or rather the vast
majority of them who migrated south, are to be considered long-heads like
the pre-Achaean people in the Peloponnesos then I must join issue with
him. Anthropologists are generally agreed that during the Neolithic period,
and probably into the Bronze Age, a stream of broad-headed peoples was
making its way across Europe along the Danube, throwing off shoots
southward into the Balkan and Italic peninsulas. In Crete the increase in
the percentage of broad-headed skulls is marked from 1500 B.C. on,
and especially in the Third Late Minoan Period. But we may here leave
aside this, at present, rather barren discussion of what was, and from the
present, attempt to deduce the past. Professor Ridgeway is at one with
our assumption of the Illyrian origin of the Dorians. It is now our
1
2

EncyclopeadiaBritannica, eleventh edition, s.v. Dorians.
Ridgeway, 'Who were the Dorians ?' p. 303 in AnthropologicalEssays (Oxford, 1907).

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