Museo di Antropologia


The Osteological Collections

Cranio megalocefalo

The Museum's leading sector is the Cranioteca of Giustiniano Nicolucci acquired at the end of the 19th century. The current collection was created in the context of anthropological studies and, more specifically, in the field of racial anthropology. It consists of more than 2000 human skulls  representing an extraordinary archive of biodiversity. The numerous findings with signs of malformations, traumas and illness, that have been recently rediscovered from the deposits, constitute a precious documentation of the presence in ancient populations of diseases that still interest humanity. Among the pathological skulls, there are also those of the Zuccarelli’s Collection of the former Institute of Criminal Anthropology. Four South American human mummies from the pre-Columbian era, whose ancient funerary context has been reconstructed in order to communicate to the visitors the importance that the pre-incaic peoples reserved to the cult of the dead, are of considerable suggestion and scientific interest.

Photo: Megalocephalic skull of "Maria the Witch", Naples, 1900.

The Archaeological Collections

Ascia in bronzo

Precious documentation of the Prehistory of populations of different places of the world, the Archaeological collections of the late 800 and early 900 have the prestige of coming from well-known sites. To the Paleolithic belong the Acheulean bifaces of 400.000- 200.000 years ago found at Venosa in Basilicata; the bone and chipped stone artifacts of 10.000-9.000 B.C. of the Romanelli Cave in Puglia; the lithic instruments from Abbeville and Le Moustier in France. Prestigious polished stone axes from the Nicolucci’s Collection attest to the Neolithic period in Italy and Europe. Admirable quartzite instruments come from the United States. From the excavations of H. Schliemann in the lowest layers of Troy comes the Collection of stone tools attributable to populations of the ancient Bronze Age. Noteworthy are the ceramic finds of the Metal Age from Grotta delle Felci in Capri and from Grotta Nicolucci in Sorrento.

Photo: Bronze axe, Monte Solaro, Capri, Bronze Age.

The Ethnographic Collections

Statuina di maiale selvatico

The Ethnographic Collections testify the scientific explorations conducted by Italian scholars between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century in various regions of the world, often in lands of conquest. One of the most outstanding is the Collection of facial casts of African and Asian somatic types made by Lidio Cipriani in the 1930s. A clear testimony to the studies and racist ideologies of the last century, this collection has become an effective tool for spreading current knowledge about the biological and cultural diversity of the human genus thanks to its recent valorisation. Various materials document the lifestyle of indigenous populations living in perfect balance with nature, unfortunately in danger of extinction. These include collections of objects from Palawan Island in the Philippines and Little Andaman in the Indian Ocean. The ceremonial wooden poles of the Maori are also valuable.

Photo: Wild pig wooden figurine, Palawan Island, Philippines.