Carleton S. Coon

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Carleton Stevens Coon, (23 June 1904 – 3 June 1981) was an American physical anthropologist, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecturer and professor at Harvard, and president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.[1]



Carleton Coon was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts to a Cornish American family.[2] He developed an interest in prehistory, and attended Phillips Academy, Andover where he studied hieroglyphics and became proficient in ancient Greek. Coon matriculated to Harvard, where he studied Egyptology with George Reisner. He was attracted to the relatively new field of anthropology by Earnest Hooton and he graduated magna cum laude in 1925. He became the Curator of Ethnology at the University Museum of Philadelphia.[3][4]

Coon continued with coursework at Harvard. He conducted fieldwork in the Rif area of Morocco in 1925, which was politically unsettled after a rebellion of the local populace against the Spanish. He earned his Ph.D. in 1928[5] and returned to Harvard as a lecturer and later a professor. Coon's interest was in attempting to use Darwin's theory of natural selection to explain the differing physical characteristics of races. Coon studied Albanians from 1929–1930; he traveled to Ethiopia in 1933; and in Arabia, North Africa and the Balkans, he worked on sites from 1925 to 1939, where he discovered a Neanderthal in 1939. Coon rewrote William Z. Ripley's 1899 The Races of Europe in 1939.

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