Foundation and History of Biological Anthropology

Michael A. Little, Jane E. Buikstra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The fundamental subject matter of biological (formerly physical) anthropology focuses on human origins and human variation. Physical anthropology or “anthropology,” as it was known on the Continent in the mid- to late-1800s, was most highly developed in France and Germany, where most of the physical anthropologists were trained through medical studies. There are several basic areas or themes of inquiry that characterize the first half of the twentieth century. These include studies of race, eugenics, human growth and development of children, human origins, primates, and skeletal biology. About a year after the Cold Spring Harbor Symposium, Sherwood Washburn published a seminal paper on the “New Physical Anthropology”, which he later elaborated in a chapter published in the massive Kroeber compendium, Anthropology Today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to Biological Anthropology, Second Edition
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781119828075
ISBN (Print)9781119828044
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • biological anthropology
  • human growth
  • human race
  • medical studies
  • physical anthropology
  • Sherwood Washburn
  • skeletal biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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