Changes in the Body Structures of the Urban Schoolchildren of Belarus Over Time

DOI: 10.14673/IJA2015341014
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: children of Belarus, Chernobyl, anthropometric indices of head, face and body changes over time.

Abstract
Within the framework of a large anthropometric research programme, head, face and body sizes of schoolchildren from Pinsk (the southern territory of Belarus) and Polotsk (the northern territory) were examined in the academic years of 1984/1985 (before the accident at the Chernobyl Atomic Electric Power Station in 1986) and 2002/2003; in Polotsk they were also examined in 2012/2013, in other words, 17 and 27 years after the event. Three specific age groups of both sexes were studied: 8-year-olds (after the first growth acceleration), 13-year-olds (after pubertal growth acceleration in girls and prepubertal growth in boys) and 17-year-olds (having reached their defini-tive body size). At the beginning of the 2000s, a poor acceleration of growth processes was observed in schoolchildren of both cities, combined with a tendency toward gracilization of the skeleton. Unfavorable ecological and socio-economic conditions from 1990 to 2003 negatively influenced the way children developed in prepubertal and pubertal periods. The improvement of socio-economic conditions in 2012 to 2013 was accompanied by improvements in the physical development of pupils, continuing growth acceleration, combined with gracilization of the skeleton.
A statistically significant reduction of the cephalic index (a process of debrachycephalisation) in combination with slight gracilization of the skeletal part of the face of schoolchildren in all age groups studied in the early 2000s continues to this day, both in the area of radiation control (Pinsk), and in an area that was conventionally clean, a more prosperous one in respect of ionizing radiation, in the northern territory of Belarus (Polotsk). The process of debrachycephalisation is clearly directed in time and is not determined by the gender or geographical location of the studied groups, it is part of microevolutional structural changes to the brain and skull, which may be an adaptive response of the forming body in modern populations due to increased pressure from a complex set of anthropogenic factors.

Salivon, I.
Polina, N.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History, The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk, Belarus.
E-mail:belantrop@tut.by

The Urban Population of Belarus in the 11th-19th Centuries: Craniological Characteristics

DOI: 10.14673/IJA2015341013
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: Belarus, urban populations, craniological characteristics, secular trends.

Abstract

Results from a craniometrical study on a series of skulls from Slavic urban cemeteries are presented. The skulls date from the 11th-19th centuries. The earliest skulls (30 male and 15 female) examined in this study were from an urban cemetery in Novogrudok, in the Grodno region, in the west of Belarus, where they had been buried in soil in the late 11th- early 12th centuries. Other urban populations were represented by a series of skulls excavated from soil burial grounds in the following cities: Polotsk, the north of Belarus (45 male and 11 female skulls from the 17th-18th centuries); Gory (25 male and 18 female skulls from the 17th-18th centuries); and the central part of Minsk (19 male and 15 female skulls from the 17th-19th centuries). Comparisons revealed that the series from Novogrudok was the most dolichocranic. On the whole, with the exception of some slight differences, all the skulls in this series were fairly similar. Skulls from later periods, however, as opposed to those found at Novogrudo, were brachycranic. This would appear to correspond with a process of gradual gracilization and brahicefalization, which took place in most of Europe in the second millennium AD and has been observed in later groups of the population.

Salivon, I.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History, The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus,
Minsk, Belarus.
E-mail: belantrop@tut.by

Yemialyanchyk, V.A.
Department of National and World History, Polotsk State University, Novopolotsk, Belarus.
E-mail: oemel@tut.by

 

Variations in Body Length, Body Mass, Chest Circumference and Body Mass Index in Different Age Groups in Belarus

DOI: 10.14673/IJA2015341012
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: rural Belarusians, urban population, body length, body mass, chest circumference, body mass index.

Abstract
An analysis of the physical development of the adult population of Belarus was carried out on the basis of existing anthropometric data on two groups of inhabitants: Belarusians living in rural areas (4,660 people studied in 1970-1986), and a mixed national population of the most urbanized industrial city of the country– Minsk (1,182 people studied in 1996-1997). All material was integrated into age and gender cohorts with 10-year intervals. A comparison of rural and urban cohorts of the same gender and age has shown that urban citizens differed from their rural counterparts by having greater values for body length and lower values for body mass and chest circumference. Moreover, with regard to the younger generation, one is more likely to observe a greater difference in body length and chest circumference, with increased values, compared to the older generation. This fact would seem to indicate a more intense process of acceleration combined with leptosomization of the body among the urban population. Average body mass index (BMI) values were seen to increase regularly with age, and values were greater in all age cohorts of the rural population compared to urban ones. Scales for rating BMI (by calculating low, average, and high values) were devised for each age and gender cohort of the rural and urban populations, taking into account signal deviations. The use of these scales allowed us to establish the main tendency for an increased frequency of high BMI values with a reduction in low and average values among both genders. The maximum increase in the frequency of high BMI values was observed at the onset of the reduction of hormonal activities in the female body (40-49 years), and the frequency of low BMI values reduced significantly among females. After 50 years, relative stability was noted in the distribution of the frequencies of three BMI values with minor differences between genders. Differences in the percentage distribution of BMI values between urban and rural samples were observed only in females, and low values of BMI were more common in females from urban areas.

Salivon, I.
Marfina, O.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History,
The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus,
Minsk, Belarus.
E-mail: belantrop@tut.by

The Impact of Migrations on the Anthropological Composition of the Belarus Population

DOI: 10.14673/IJA2015341011
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: migration, Belarusians, anthropological composition of the population, gene pool.

Abstract
Migrations have always played an important role in contributing to the anthropological composition of the population of Belarus.
In particular, three massive migration flows significantly enhanced the population’s genetic pool. The first occurred about 10 thousand years ago, and led to the initial colonization of the territory following the retreat of the glacier. Settlements started from that period and began from the Southwest, South and Southeast, according to a study conducted by Belarusian geneticists on the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups in 18 groups of Belarusian males, whose ancestors had lived for three generations at their specific locations (Davydenko & Kushnerevich, 2011). The second massive migration flow (in the second half of the 3rd century to the first half of the 2nd millennium BC), about 5000 years ago, resulted in the spread of the population from a Western European territory in the region of modern Belarus; allegedly an Indo-European community, and the founders of the Corded Ware (shnurovoj ceramics) culture. The subsequent Hatched Pottery (shtrikhovannoj ceramics) culture orginated in the 7th to 6th centuries BC in the territories of eastern Lithuania, northern and central Belarus, and was associated with Baltic-speaking populations. The third major flow of migrants were Slavic tribes, who penetrated the territory of Belarus from the Northwest, West, Southwest and South in the second half of the 1st millennium BC. In all three cases, interactions between the incoming settlers and the native populations resulted in hostilities and gradual cultural assimilation.
Marital ties between incoming settlers and the native population changed the composition of the gene pool of subsequent generations. The populations of cities were formed from influxes by rural populations and migrants from distant parts, and the genetic heterogeneity of the townspeople also increased. More recent temporary migration flows to the territory of Belarus have been associated with wars, which further contributed to the alteration of the gene pool of the local population.
Such losses were replenished by the influx of previously geographically distant groups. The intensification of migratory flows in present times has further changed the gene pool formed over many centuries, thereby improving the population’s adaptability to its environmental conditions.

Marfina, O.
Salivon, I.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History,
The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus,
Minsk, Belarus.
E-mail: belantrop@tut.by