University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The Morton Collection of Human Skulls at the Penn Museum

June 13, 2011


Penn Museum’s Morton Collection of 19th Century Skulls Flickr set.

Read the Article

Lewis JE, DeGusta D, Meyer MR, Monge JM, Mann AE, et al. (2011) The Mismeasure of Science: Stephen Jay Gould versus Samuel George Morton on Skulls and Bias. PLoS Biol 9(6): e1001071. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001071

In the News

Wade, Nicholas (June 13, 2011). “Scientists Measure the Accuracy of a Racism Claim”. New York Times

Davis, Heather A. (June 13, 2011). “Penn Museum’s Morton Skull Collection at Center of Scientific Dispute”. University of Pennsylvania Spotlight

Flam, Faye (June 14, 2011). “Controversial skull study gets a new spin”. The Philadelphia Inquirer

Crimmins, Peter (June 9, 2011). “No skulduggery, but Penn scientist’s conclusions still invalid”.

  • Brian Park

    Why would the Egyptians of that time period want to mummify an ibis (a kind of bird if I am not mistaken)? What was the context in which it was found (location, what was buried with it, etc)?

    • mgleeson

      hi Brian. I really apologize-I responded to this comment but now I don’t see my response. Let’s try this again. Millions of ibis mummies have been found in Egypt. For a long time I thought that just the African sacred ibis was mummified, but I recently read that the Glossy ibis has also been found to be mummified. The ibis represented the god Thoth, the god of wisdom, knowledge and inventor of writing. The majority of ibis mummies found in Egypt fall under the category of votives, made and left as offerings to specific gods (so in the case of ibises, to Thoth) or as sacred animals (animals that were believed to be an incarnation of a god or of a particular aspect of a god). These ibis mummies would often be buried en masse, and sometimes would be placed in individual ceramic coffins/jars. This ibis mummy was found in Abydos, and likely dates to the Late Period, or later.

  • mgleeson

    hi Jamie. We have not x-rayed or CT-scanned the ibis mummy yet, BUT we hope to do that soon using our new digital x-ray system, which will be up and running within the next few weeks. We are anxious to look at this, and some of our other mummies, and to learn more. We will post updates on the blog as we do this work!

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