Thursday, February 25, 2010

Libourne : Gironde (Gascogne)

Non loin du site celte de Condate, le village gascon de Fozera est devenue la bastide de Libourne ("Leyburn") du temps de l'occupation anglaise de l'Aquitaine. Inclus dans la cité de Burdigala puis le Bordelais médiéval, le Libournais se trouve traditionnellement à la jonction de plusieurs entités ethno-culturelles : immédiatement au Nord autour de Coutras, les parlers d'oïl connaissent leur extension la plus méridionale (c'est la "Grande Gavacherie" ou "Pays Gabay" du nom que les Gascons donnaient aux étrangers venus du Nord) alors qu'à l'Est, le Libournais voisine avec le Périgord de parler guyennais.

Par conséquent, le caractère gascon de la zone est donc plus mitigé notamment à l'époque moderne (migrations limousines, ...) mais il n'en a pas toujours été ainsi que le prouvent certains toponymes d'allure basco-aquitaine (Escardos, Gueyrosse) ou l'architecture des maisons encore vasconne.

Not far from the Celtic port of Condate, the Gascon village then known as Fozera became the new town of Libourne ("Leyburn") under English rule in Aquitaine. Included into the civitas of Burdigala then in medieval Bordelais, "Libournais" has been traditionally at the junction of many ethno-cultural entities : north of the area, Oïl dialects are spoken around Coutras - their southernmost extension - in a region known as "Grande Gavacherie" or "Pays Gabay" in Gascon lands ("gabach" being the name given to foreign people coming from the North in Gascon) whereas in the East, Gascony meets with Guyennais-speaking Périgord.

Consequently, the Gascon character of Libournais is nowadays mitigated (migrations from Limousin, ...) even though it used to be different as proved by toponymy (Basco-Aquitanian placenames such as Escardos, Gueyrosse) or vernacular Vasconic architecture.

Gascon-speaking lands

  • Echantillon représentatif / Sample :
Taille réelle / Full Scale

  • Analyse anthropologique sommaire / Brief anthropological analysis :

- Type 1 : Complexion foncée (cheveux foncés, yeux plutôt sombres, ...), leptomorphique, nez convexe et long plutôt parallèle à la face, yeux rapprochés, menton en pointe, mâchoires larges
~ Atlanto-Mediterranéen dinarisé

Dark complexion (dark hair, rather dark eyes, ...), leptomorphic, convex and long nose rather parallel to the face, close-set eyes, pointy chin, large jaw
~ Dinaricized Atlanto-Mediterranean

Ce type est assez fréquent dans les régions gasconnes, il est dans cette région des confins encore assez dominant. Il s'accompagne classiquement d'une variante plus claire, d'allure parfois assez britannique.

This type is quite abundant in Gascon lands and it's still quite prevailing in this northern area. As usual, it is accompanied by a clearer variant that can be quite British-looking.

- Type 2 : Complexion foncée (cheveux foncés, yeux plutôt sombres, ...), brachymorphique, nez plutôt convexe et fin, yeux rapprochés, mâchoires larges
~ Alpino-Mediterranéen dinarisé

Dark complexion (dark hair, rather dark eyes, ...), brachymorphic, a rather convex and narrow nose, close-set eyes, large jaw
~ Dinaricized Alpino-Mediterranean

Il s'agit là encore d'un type physique fréquent dans le grand Sud-Ouest de la France, notamment dans les pays guyennais méridionaux. Il n'est pas spécifiquement gascon mais il contraste en moyenne avec les phénotypes notablement plus clairs ou moins graciles de Saintonge et du Périgord. Il est raisonnable de penser que l'étude de la Grande Gavacherie et du Bergeracois permettront de mettre en avant la transition qui s'opère dans la basse vallée de la Dordogne entre les pays gascons et limousino-périgourdins (ces derniers incluant la Saintonge).

This is a common type in the greater SW France, more particularly in South Guyennais lands. It's not specifically Gascon though on average it contrasts with lighter or less gracile phenotypes from Saintonge and Périgord. It is reasonable to believe that the study of the areas of Coutras and Bergerac will allow us to highlight the transitional aspect of the lower Dordogne valley, inbetween Gascon and "Limousino-Périgourdine" lands (Saintonge being included in the latter).

On trouve cependant des types plus archétypiquement "alpins", parfois assez leptomorphiques ("Alpino-atlantide" ?).

More classical "Alpine" types are to be found though albeit rather leptomorphic ("Alpino-Atlantid" ?).

  • Morphotypes finaux / Final morphotypes :


  1. I'd rather split them based on the nose root, seriously. Just take guys #2 and #3 on the first "AM" row. #2 looks Balcanic (not fully but rather so), while #3 is a clearly Western type (and one of the few in the whole sample which could look Basque).

    Same in the following row: #1 looks Western, while #2 looks undefinedly Mediterranean (Manu Chao type, even could be LA Mestizo look, Che Guevara type). In general, people with a high, not depressed, nasion are not the West European type.

    Anyhow, what is most interesting to me, specially after your recent review of nearby Angouleme (with all those Basque-looking types) is the very low index of "Vascoid" looks. Only A8, B2, C2, C4, D3 and D5 look "Basque", just a 19%.

    Also the first woman of your "Alpino-Atlantid" series is a very typical Mediterranean individual, an Iberian type I'd say.

  2. I must say that I wonder if sampling such areas is worth it. To speak frankly, these areas have been so mixed since the XIXth century that even a local surname is all but a hint to a rather "autochtonous" character. For instance, this area has experimented a massive Limousin imput in modern times.

    Now, I must say that I don't really get how "ethnic" distribution in the area around the Dordogne river works. It seems to be highly complex. For instance, just North of Libourne and South of Angoulême is Barbezieux with very specific looks (within Western French variability). If you add those strange phenotypes from around Sarlat, there's no clear pattern.

    I'm going to upload more samples from this area (thus being a little repetitive I fear) and I'll try to post a summary of how I see things. Are you interested in one peculiar area ?

    NB : About "Vascoid" appearance, I wonder if Northern Basques do not slightly differ from Southern Basques in the first place. For instance, I do find people from Angoulême that you label as rather "Basque-looking" just classically "Western French" even though I don't doubt that somehow, there's a remote link between both types (as it's clear that Western France is a very archaic area that was lately celticized).

  3. In truth, I would not sample Bilbao for example, not even Ermua, sometimes dubbed "the 5th Galician province", or Eibar to get a feeling on how real Basques look. So, yes, I guess that industrial areas that have received loads of immigration in the last century or so may be more confusing than informative.

    "I must say that I don't really get how "ethnic" distribution in the area around the Dordogne river works. It seems to be highly complex".

    I am with the "wacko" hypothesis that a good deal of European ancestry comes from that area precisely (Dordogne is the Paleolithic European heartland, right?), so I'm not really surprised to find types found anywhere else, specially in West and North Europe. The local variations we find elsewhere, might be largely the product of the Magdalenian and epi-Magdalenian migrations, which would have caused many localized founder effects.

    It's a "weird" theory, admittedly, and would need confirmation from genetics (and that's why I usually miss more extensive sample in France, specially southern France) but I don't see why not. Less looking at Basques and more looking at Dordognans.

    "About "Vascoid" appearance, I wonder if Northern Basques do not slightly differ from Southern Basques in the first place".

    I think that there's a wide variety, not just between north and south but also between Biscay and Gipuzkoa/North Navarre and then with the more "mediterranean" areas of the Ebro valley. I found my impressions mostly on people I know (loads because I've lived 41 years in this little country) and local TV, all of which may slant my perception towards the Western Basque typology, I admit.

    "For instance, I do find people from Angoulême that you label as rather "Basque-looking" just classically "Western French" even though I don't doubt that somehow, there's a remote link between both types (as it's clear that Western France is a very archaic area that was lately celticized)".

    Well, I'm not that familiar with the French subtypes but there was very few people living north of the Garonne-Dordogne area in the Paleolithic. So I presume it doesn't really make any big difference.

    Also Basques are not such a strictly isolated bunch and must have received input from neighbouring areas through late prehistory and history. I can't say what is ancestral Basque and what is Bronze/Iron age arrivals from France (archaeology says "alpinids" are) or Neolithic arrivals from the Ebro Valley (archaeology says "gracil mediterraneans" are). What I can say is which looks are typical of modern Basques (specially in the west) and are rare elsewhere (though semingly not so rare in some spots).

    In any case, I'm not surprised by Basque-SW French affinity: it's what I'd expect. What surprises me is the lack of it, hence my "wacko theory" about Dordogne.

  4. Ah! And remember also Artenac culture, which was homogeneous for all West France (with a subgroup north of the Seine) and which is probably ancestral to historical Aquitanians.

  5. Look, Heraus, for your interest and for my own, I have made a review of a good deal of districts analyzed here, trying to determine Basque-looking-ness on my subjective grounds. The result are as follows:

    Pays Basque:
    • Iholdy 21 - 67%
    • Amikuze (Mixe): 16 - 50%
    • Xiberu (Soule): 15 - 47%

    • Laruns: 14 - 44%
    • Navarrenx: 10 - 31%
    • Vix-en-Bigorre: 9 - 28%
    • Saint Beat: 7 - 22%
    • Saves 4 - 13%
    • Libourne: 8 - 25%
    • Lanescq 6 - 19%
    • Buch 5 - 16%
    • Orthe 7 - 22%

    • Santoigne 5- 16%
    • Chalans 5-16%
    • Bressuire 0 - 0%
    • Cholet: 7 - 22%
    • Aubeterre 4 - 13%
    • Angouleme 12 - 38%

    • Allier 5 - 16%

    There's always some subjectivity in this but I've tried my best not to "cheat". Considering the results for Iparralde, I'd say that over 45% is virtually 100% Basque typology in practical terms (there's a lot of ambiguous types, blurry pics, pan-European types and even people with sunglasses).

    Almost that level (out of Iparralde) are Laruns, Angouleme and Navarrenx. Laruns and Navarrenx are expected but Angouleme, as I said before, is really striking. Vix is also close but expected too.

    Then there's a gradation with some Basque-looking people (4-8 individuals) but not too many all around. But there is one exception: Bressouire with nobody, absolutely nobody I could say "looks Basque", no matter how hard I tried.

    I haven't looked at the Mediterranean areas nor the North yet. Nor I haven't looked at your other blogs for this purpose either.


  6. And sorry for posting so much but I'm here with regional averages:

    ·Iparralde (Pays Basque): 54%
    ·Gascony: 24% (Bearn: 38%)
    ·West: 17%
    ·Centre: 16% (one sample only)

    Making the 54% for Iparralde be the equivalent of 100%, then:
    ·Gascony: 44% (Bearn: 70%)
    ·West: 31% (Angouleme: 44%, Bressouire: 0%)
    ·Centre: 30%

    Just for the record.

  7. Erratum: last time I mention Angouleme it should read 70% (like Bearn) not 44% (like Gascony).

  8. A noter qu'il existe historiquement une autre petite gavacherie en Ggironde, aux confins du département, près de Monségur...

  9. @hihi : En effet mais dans la Gavacherie de l'Entre-Deux-Mers, il semble bien que d'une part le substrat gascon soit resté plus fort (Monségur n'avait jamais cessé de parler gascon par exemple), d'autre part la provenance des migrants est attestée, souvent du Poitou, alors que la Gavacherie de Coutras semble plutôt caractéristique d'un débordement de frontière par une population voisine, ici les Saintongeais.

    Je possède un échantillon de la Petite Gavacherie mais je ne souhaite pas lasser le lecteur avec des "études" (un grand mot ...) trop locales, même si effectivement, du fait de mon origine gasconne, je m'intéresse plus particulièrement à ces régions.

    @Maju : Thanks for your imput ! Even though your analyzes are "subjective" (how couldn't they be based on some random pics ?), it's still very interesting to have your point of view. I do agree with you poiting out the original character of Angoulême. I'll update other regional samples so that we decypher the SW French continuum. I miss not being able to be that precise on the other side of the Pyrenees (even though precision is a bit artificial).


J'ai choisi de laisser les commentaires ouverts. Cependant vous perdrez votre temps à me sermonner et à me traiter de fasciste (ce que je ne suis vraiment pas) : je vous prie de lire mon introduction qui saura vous rassurer quant à mes intentions. Dans l'amateurisme le plus complet, je n'agis que dans un but de connaissance. Je comprendrai aisément que vous ne partagiez pas mon intérêt pour l'histoire du peuplement du monde, abstenez-vous de vous donner facilement bonne conscience sur le dos d'un travail qui se veut avant tout documentaire et humble.

I've chosen to let people comment freely on my posts. Nevertheless, you'll lose your time taunting me and calling me a fascist (which I'm really not) : I pray you to read my introduction which will reassure that my intentions genuinely aim at achieving amateurish knowledge. I understand that you may not share my passion for the history of the peopling of the World, just don't let me know as clear conscience gained by bashing a humble documentary work is useless.