Ancient to modern secular changes in the cranial/cephalic index in Korea: historical brachycephalization and recent debrachycephalization

Yu Sun Min, Chang Seok Oh, Jong Ha Hong, Dong Hoon Shin, Young il Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We investigated changes in the cranial/cephalic index of the Korean population in millennia, centuries, and recent decades. Secular changes of Korean’s cephalic index in history were studied using the data of archaeology literature and our measurement data of different adult skull sets for the fifteenth–nineteenth century Joseon people, the Korean War victims (1950–1953), and the Korean skeletons collected by medical schools in the 1960s. A change in head shape during the last century was also estimated by the analysis on Korean cephalometric datasets of Korean Research Institute of Standards and Science. In brief, over the past 2000 years, the crania of Korean people have steadily changed from mesocephalic to brachycephalic, mainly due to the cranial length shortening. Brachycephalization accelerated at the beginning of the twentieth century and continued until the early twenty-first century, largely caused by increased cephalic breadth. We also note that debrachycephalization began in birth cohorts around 1965 for males and around 1970 for females. Taken together, we figure out that the head shape of Korean people has been gradually shortened over millennia and then has undergone dramatic shortening in the last century. In recent decades, however, the changing pattern has reversed to debrachycephalization, for which we discussed about the possible causes in the present report.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-373
Number of pages11
JournalAnatomical Science International
Volume95
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • Cranial/cephalic index
  • Head breadth
  • Head length
  • Head shape
  • Secular change

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