Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/644

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

anthropology, or else we have again a confirmation of our assertion that, however conscious of their peculiar facial traits a people may be, the head form is a characteristic whose significance is rarely recognized.


Linguistically the pure Slavs in the Balkan states comprise only the Serbo-Croatians and the Albanians (see map), dividing between them the ancient territory of Illyria. This western half of the peninsula, rugged and remote, has been relatively little exposed to the direct ravages of either Finnic or Turkish invaders. Especially is this true of Albania. Nearly all authorities since Hahn are agreed in identifying these latter people—who call themselves Skipetars, by the way—as the modern representatives of the ancient Illyrians. They are said to have been Slavonized by the Serbo-Croatians, who have been generally regarded as descendants of the settlers brought by the Emperor Heraclius from beyond the Save. This he is said to have done in order to repopulate the lands devastated by the Avars and other Slavs who, Procopius informs us, first appeared in this region in the sixth century of our era. The settlers imported by Heraclius came, we are told, from two distant places: Old Servia, or Sorabia, placed by Freeman in modern Saxony; and Chrobatia, which, he says, lies in southwestern Poland. According to this view, the Serbo-Croatians are an offshoot from the northern Slavs, being divided from them to-day by the intrusive Hungarians, while the Albanians alone are truly indigenous to the country.

The recent political fate of these Illyrian peoples has been quite various, the Albanians alone preserving their independence continually under the merely nominal rule of the Turks. Religion, also, has affected these Slavs in various ways. Servia owes much of its present peace and prosperity to the practical elimination of the Moslems. Bosnia is still largely Mohammedan, with about a third of its people, according to White ('86), still professing that religion. The significance of this is increased, since it was mainly the upper classes in Bosnia, according to Freeman, who embraced the religion of Islam in order to preserve their power and estates. The conversion was not national, as in the case of the Albanians. Thus social and religious segregation work in harmony to produce discord. With multitudes of Jews monopolizing the commerce of the country and the people thus divided socially as well as in religion, the political unrest in Bosnia certainly seems to require the strong arm of Austrian suzerainty to preserve order.

Whatever the theory of the historians as to origins may be, to the anthropologist the modern Illyrians—Serbo-Croatians and Albanians alike—are physically a unit. Two characteristics render this ethnic