In The Greco-Roman World, It Can Be Argued Physical Appearance and Customs Were Used To Identify Peoples

Source: The History of Herodotus (New York: Tandy Thomas Co.) 1909 A.D.

From the source, “104. There can be no doubt that the Colchians are an Egyptian race. Before I heard any [q] [r] [s] [t] [289] mention of the fact from others, I had remarked it myself. After the thought had struck me, I made inquiries on the subject both in Colchis and in Egypt, and I found that the Colchians had a more distinct recollection of the Egyptians, than the Egyptians had of them. Still the Egyptians said that they believed the Colchians to be descended from the army of Sesostris. My own conjectures were founded, first, on the fact that they are black-skinned and have woolly hair,2 which certainly amounts to but little, since several other nations are so too; but further and more especially, on the circumstance that the Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians, are the only nations who have practised circumcision from the earliest times. The Phœnicians and the Syrians of Palestine3 themselves confess that they learnt the custom from [290] the Egyptians; and the Syrians who dwell about the rivers Thermôdon and Parthenius, as well as their neighbours the Macronians, say that they have recently adopted it from the Colchians.”

This source confirms that Herodotus, the one who set the bar for historiography, categorized peoples first by physical appearance and then by customs. This could be used to help one understand in Greco-Roman thought how peoples were categorized: first by physical appearance to start broad and then hone in on specific ethnic groups through the identification of customs.

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