No. 1124, who was completely bald, had no hair on his entire body. He stated that he had always been hairless, as were his three brothers, but that his parents possessed the normal amount of hair.
|—Henry Field (The Anthropology of Iraq, Part 1, no. 1, p. 35)|
Anthropometry is defined as the systematic measurement of the human body, living or dead (Spencer 1997). Using various instruments, like the ones seen here, its practitioners measured the dimensions of the body, including stature, trunk length, and facial and skull ratios (craniometry), and they took blood and hair samples as well. In the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries, anthropometry was primarily concerned with the classification of races and identification of potential criminals according to various physical, especially facial, characteristics.
The dangers of this type of racial classification and stereotyping became clear by the mid-twentieth century, especially after the tragedies of the Holocaust. Today, anthropometry has limited applications in physical anthropology, where it is used in paleoanthropology, the study through fossil remains of human origins and evolution. It also has practical applications including the assessment of nutritional status, the monitoring of child development, and the industrial design of furniture and clothing.
Because Field’s collection of anthropometric data at the Peabody Museum does not contain portraits of the Marsh Arab people (as featured in Field’s The Anthropology of Iraq), Field’s data of the Dulaim tribe from the upper Euphrates region are shown here instead.