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Anthropology/Question on Concept of Race


Good day
I was reading that DNA evidence proves that most people as diverse as they may be are more than 99% genetically the same.
With reference to race, I was wondering, how did the concept of race come about. Were there any civilizations in history where race was non existent and people were not classed by race.

Dear Mahabir,
Follow this link for a short paper I wrote about this.
In a nutshell, race is a recently developed concept.  Most ancient civilizations noticed some differences in how people in different regions looked, but the idea that these races were hierarchical and that they reflected combinations of originally "pure" races is a very recent one.
John Shea


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John Shea


Questions about Old World prehistoric archaeology (especially Stone Age) of Europe, Africa, and Western Asia, prehistoric human and hominid behavior, primitive technology, origin of modern humans, extinction of the Neandertals. IMPORTANT: Between February 14 and September 01, 2014, I will be on sabbatical leave. During this time I will have limited access to email. This means that there may be very long periods (i.e., weeks) between your posting a question and my having time to answer it.


>20 years as a professional anthropologist based at a research university.

Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, Lithic Technology, Evolutionary Anthropology, Current Anthropology, Mitekufat HaEven (Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society), Paléorient, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, American Anthropologist, Geoarchaeology.

Ph.D (Anthropology) Harvard University, 1991.
BA (Archaeology) Boston University, 1982.

Awards and Honors
Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer 2012-2014

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