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Semitic Race

Semitic Race, a main division of the Caucasic stock (q.v.), whose original domain was confined to the south-west corner of Asia - that is, the region comprised between the Iranian plateau and the Persian Gulf on the east, and the Red Sea and Mediterranean on the west, with no clearly-definened limits towards the north, From this relatively narrow territory the Semites spread in prehistoric times to the Ethiopian highlands (Abyssinia), and along the southern shores of the Mediterranean, and in historic times to nearly the whole of North Africa, to the East African coast-lands beyond the Zambesi, and to parts of Persia, India, and Malaysia. The name is purely conventional, being taken, for want of a better, from Sem (Shem), their assumed progenitor, although the Biblical genealogies make no claim to scientific accuracy. Apart from the doubtful Hittites, there are five great historical groups: (1) The Assyrians of Mesopotamia; (2) the Arameans (Syro-Chaldeans) of Syria, parts of Palestine and the Lower Euphrates; (3) the Canaanites (Hebrews, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and others) of Palestine and the Mauritanian seaboard (4) the Arabs of the greater part of the peninsula named from them; (5) the Himyarites of south-west Arabia (Yemen) and Abyssinia. Of these all but the Jews (g.v.) and Abyssinian Himyarites have either disappeared or else been assimilated in speech to the Arabs, who may be said to have absorbed nearly all other members of the Semitic family much in the same way that the Latins absorbed all other members of the old Italic family, The type, as best represented by the Assyrians of the ancient monuments, by the Jews and Arabs, offers considerable diversity in the details, but is essentially Caucasic in its main characters, being distinguished by perfectly regular and expressive features, fine oval face, large and often aquiline nose depressed at the root, small pointed chin, forehead straight but not high, black almond-shaped eyes, moderately dolichocephalic head, glossy jet-black hair, full beard, skin fair but easily bronzed by exposure, stature rather below the average European. This type approaches nearest to the Hamitic, at least as represented by the Berbers, and there are linguistic and other reasons for assuming a primitive Hamito-Semitic race, whose original home may have been either in North Africa or Sonth-West Asia, whence the two branches diverged long before the oldest Babylonian and Egyptian records. Compared with the Aryan, the Semitic intellect may be described as less varied, but more intense, a contrast due to their monotonous and almost changeless environment of yellow sands, blue skies, flora and fauna limited to a few species and mainly confined to oases and plains reclaimed by irrigation from the desert, everywhere presenting the same uniform aspect. Hence to the Semites mankind is indebted for little philosophy and science, but for much sublime poetry associated with many profound conceptions of a moral order, resulting in the three great monotheistic religions of the world - the Jewish, Christian, and Mohammedan. Expansion and progress are the dominant characteristics of the Aryan, concentration and immutability of the Semitic, intellect.