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Anthropometry (Greek anthropos (άνθρωπος - "man") and metron (μέτρον - "measure") therefore "measurement of man") refers to the measurement of the human individual. An early tool of physical anthropology, it has been used for identification, for the purposes of understanding human physical variation, in paleoanthropology and in various attempts to correlate physical with racial and psychological traits.

Today, anthropometry plays an important role in industrial design, clothing design, ergonomics and architecture where statistical data about the distribution of body dimensions in the population are used to optimize products. Changes in life styles, nutrition and ethnic composition of populations lead to changes in the distribution of body dimensions (e.g. the obesity epidemic), and require regular updating of anthropometric data collections.



Physiognomy claimed a correlation between physical features (especially facial features) and character traits. It was made famous by Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909), the founder of anthropological criminology, who claimed to be able to scientifically identify links between the nature of a crime and the personality or physical appearance of the offender. The originator of the concept of a "born criminal" and arguing in favor of biological determinism, Lombroso tried to recognize criminals by measurements of their bodies. He concluded that skull and facial features were clues to genetic criminality and that these features could be measured with craniometers and calipers with the results developed into quantitative research. A few of the 14 identified traits of a criminal included large jaws, forward projection of jaw, low sloping forehead; high cheekbones, flattened or upturned nose; handle-shaped ears; hawk-like noses or fleshy lips; hard shifty eyes; scanty beard or baldness; insensitivity to pain; long arms, and so on.

Primary sources

  • Lombroso, Antropometria di 400 delinquenti (1872)
  • Roberts, Manual of Anthropometry (1878)
  • Ferri, Studi comparati di antropometria (2 vols., 1881–1882)
  • Lombroso, Rughe anomale speciali ai criminali (1890)
  • Bertillon, Instructions signalétiques pour l'identification anthropométrique (1893)
  • Livi, Anthropometria (Milan, 1900)
  • Fürst, Indextabellen zum anthropometrischen Gebrauch (Jena, 1902)
  • Report of Home Office Committee on the Best Means of Identifying Habitual Criminals (1893–1894)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Anthropometry" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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