Dark skin as a way of concealing one’s ethnicity and ancestry can be traced back to the 19th century, according to a new study by a group of researchers led by the University of Toronto’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
The study, which was published in the journal Current Anthropology, suggests that the ancient practice of dark skinning is not as old as we previously thought.
The researchers analyzed skin biographies and skin biographical records from thousands of people around the world who were between the ages of 14 and 80 in the mid-19th century.
They identified more than 6,300 people from the Ashkut period, the era of Ashkenazic Judaism, from their samples and compared their skin color to the European-descended populations of the time.
They found that people from Western Europe were much darker than people from Eastern Europe, and that some of the dark skinned people were actually the descendants of the people who had migrated to the West after the Middle Ages.
The researchers believe the darker skinned individuals were not genetically identical to their European descendants.
The research is the first to identify the origin of dark-skinned people in Europe and the first systematic examination of the relationship between skin pigmentation and ethnicity, according a statement from the university.
The study also found that darker skin was associated with lower social standing, lower educational attainment, higher rates of smoking, alcoholism and criminal behavior, as well as lower rates of physical inactivity and higher rates for mental health disorders.
Researchers from the University’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences and the Jewish University of Jerusalem’s Faculty for the Study of Human Evolution say the study demonstrates the role of genetics in the origins of darkness in Europe.