Malformed skulls from criminal Anthropology: a preliminary study on the Cranioteca of the Anthropology Museum of Naples

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Lucia Borrelli
Mariailaria Verderame


malformed skulls, craniosynostosis, human remains, Anthropology Museum of Naples


The Anthropology Museum of the University of Naples Federico II has a prestigious heritage illustrating human evolution and biodiversity. The Osteological Collections, including Nicolucci’s Cranioteca, represent a consistent biological archive. Constituted of more than 2000 human skulls, collected among late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the Cranioteca includes numerous specimens affected by malformations, trauma and diseases that document the presence in past populations of pathologies that still afflict humanity. Among these, some skulls with craniosynostosis and facial dysmorphisms are of particular interest.

The aim of this work is to present the studies carried out at the end of nineteenth century on the malformed skulls of Nicolucci’s Cranioteca comparing them with the modern knowledge on craniosynostosis and facial dysmorphisms to show how new research approaches could reveal additional scientific information hidden in these ancient finds.

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