Highlights of the Collection
Approximately 40 percent of the more than 18,500 MNI currently represented in the collections are from the United States.
The Maya Kingdom
These collections include human remains from over 15 sites from across the Maya region: the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, including the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza; Belize; Guatemala; and Honduras including the site of Copan and the Copan Valley.
Peruvian 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.
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 19th 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 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 AmericanSchool of Prehistoric Research and the BritishSchool of Archaeology in Jerusalem collaboratively supported early excavations at Mount Carmel.
The Peabody houses material 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 it's archives of Reisner’s work at the pyramids of Giza available online at www.gizapyramids.org.
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. versus, but also aspects of early hominin evolution.