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Mahhalians (Ethnic Group)
The Mahhalian people are the distinct racial/ethnic group native to the Mahhalian Archipelago. They are typically short in stature and very pale skinned, but have characteristically thick, straight black hair and wide, flat faces and noses, and substantial body hair with thick beards universal among men. Blond and brown hair is unknown except among populations with mixtures with non-Mahhalian types (e.g. the areas around Jadid and Tárrases, where the Spanesh/Hellene people colonized in small numbers; Terebyllim in eastern Oa, site of the now extinct Frankish colony of the 1700s; or in the north of Puh, due to mixture with peoples from Harda, across the strait). The majority of Mahhalians possess dark brown or hazel eyes, but blue eyes are incident in almost 20% of the population, especially in traditionally aristocratic families. It is possible that this recessive phenotype arose independently from the same trait found in other populations.
There is strong paleoanthropological, linguistic and DNA evidence to support the idea that the modern ethnic Mahhalians are descended from a mix of distinct local populations native to different islands, overlaid with a mass in-migration of a group of colonists around 2500 BC. This colonial group seems to have established dominance, and it is their language that forms the ancestor of the many modern Mahhalian dialects (see Mahhalian Language). Although no non-Mahhalian-related languages survive today, there is strong evidence from comparative linguistics and onomastics to support the existence of multiple, distinct and probably unrelated linguistic substrates in different parts of archipelago. There is also evidence from Mahhalian folk-traditions, mythology and epic literature (especially the extremely ancient Archaic texts that date from before 1000 BC) to support the mass-in-migration theory, but where these colonists came from is unknown. Some have posited an origin somewhere in the western part of the Archanta continent, including, notably, the scholar Dohhomekkikek (of the Piropeta Institute of Advanced Studies, in Soa Kogyra), who after doing anthropological work among the Altazorian people in the Ardispheric Federation, presented this theory in the 1960s with extensive evidence based in comparative linguistics. Most Mahhalian academics, however, feel this is mere speculation, pointing out that Dohhomekkikek was not trained as a linguist.