Highlights of the Collection

North America

Archaeological collections include human skeletal remains from many states across the United States of America. The Peabody Museum is actively engaged in implementing the NAGPRA statute


The Maya Kingdom

These collections include human remains from more than 15 sites across the Maya region. Mesoamerican studies continue to be a focus of research at the Peabody .



Peruvian human skeletal remains include over 100 crania collected by Julio C. Tello, one of the most important South American archaeologists of the 20th century. These collections are notable both for their historical significance and the myriad examples of cranial modification and trephination practices.


Mistihalj, Bosnia-Herzegovina

This primarily 15th-century medieval European cemetery in the Trebisnjica River Valley was excavated in 1967 by the Joint Stanford-Yugoslavian (Zemaljski Muzej, Sarajevo) Archaeological Expedition. The human skeletal remains were accessioned at the Peabody in 1968 and were initially studied by Alden and Judith Redfield. The associated archaeological materials went to Stanford University. Judith Redfield recently donated her field notes and site images to the Peabody Museum The nearly 400 complete individuals (including juveniles and adults) have been studied extensively to address many research questions;they are frequently selected as a comparative sample for studies focusing on other hominin species. 



Iron Age osteological material excavated by the Duchess of Mecklenburg at the beginning of the 20th century. This skeletal material is an integral part of a larger collection that includes glass, metal and ceramic objects. In 2006, the Peabody Museum curated an exhibit on these artifacts, A Noble Pursuit: The Duchess of Mecklenburg Collection from Iron Age Slovenia, in conjunction with a Peabody Museum Press publication of the same title by Gloria Polizzotti Greis.


Mount Carmel, Israel

Many important sites have been excavated on Mount Carmel. The Peabody curates some of the hominin skeletal remains from the Paleolithic sites Mugharet Es-Skhul, Kebara, and Mugharet El-Tabun, as well as from the Natufian site of Mugharet El-Wad (10,500–8,500 BP). The Skhul V cranium has been CT-scanned and downloads of the scans are available here. The American School of Prehistoric Research and the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem collaboratively supported early excavations at Mount Carmel.



The Peabody curates collections from sites all over the Nile Valley dating from the Predynastic to the Ptolemaic. Most of these collections are from the Harvard University-Boston Museum of Fine Arts expeditions led by George A. Reisner at in the early 19th century. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where the majority of the artifacts are held, has made its archives of Reisner’s work at the pyramids of Giza available online at http://giza.fas.harvard.edu/.



Approximately 300 chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) crania and skulls from an area of approximately 1000 km2 surrounding Ganta in northern Liberia are curated at the Peabody. These specimens were obtained by George Harley in the early 1940s. The Liberian chimpanzee collection is used intensively for research. Studies have focused on the cranial and dental morphology, pathology, diet, and other aspects of P. t. verus biology, as well as aspects of early hominin evolution.

 Skhul V, an early human fossil from Mt. Carmel in the Near East. Photo by Steve Burger. PM 46-49-60/N7365.0