Be among the first to choose one of the 139 Hyrtl Skulls to “adopt.” Save a 150+ year old skull & have your name in the Mütter Museum!
You can help conserve and preserve a skull by becoming a sponsor for an annual subscription fee of $200. Your contribution will help offset initial costs associated with the cleaning, repair, and remounting of your chosen skull. Additionally, your subscription will be acknowledged as part of the skull mount in the permanent Hyrtl Skull Exhibit in the Mütter Museum. The subscription period for this initiative will begin July 1, 2012 and end December 31, 2013.
At well over £100, this skull-adopting lark certainly isn’t cheap, but that said, I am sorely tempted! I guess perusing a catalogue of skulls up for sponsorship is a tad bizarre - my boyfriend certainly thought so. I think he was freaked out by the names and biographical details that were recorded - I found myself engrossed in the stories such nuggets of information suggested, but it made him feel just downright uncomfortable.
Anyway, my ’favourites’ include Julius Farkas, aged 28 and a soldier from Hungary who shot himself in the heart due to “weariness of life” (know the feeling!) and Girolamo Zini, aged 20 and from Italy, who was a rope-walker and, perhaps unsurprisingly, died of a broken neck.
I absolutely love the part at the end of the video in which the curator tries to sell the idea as being perfect for that hard-to-buy-for special someone! Speaking of which, it’s my birthday soon… ;o)
Inside Skulls Unlimited…a very unusual family business! (WARNING: this video is probably not for those of a sensitive disposition!)
(Source: National Geographic)
Attendants from the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College Of Surgeons packing up some of the 3000 human skulls stored in a shed in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, before their transfer to the Natural History Museum, 1st July 1948.
I love this photograph - you’d never get away with treating human remains like this now!
Genetically determined morphological integration directs the evolution of skull shape in humans. The study is based on the analysis of 390 skulls, decorated according to local tradition, from the ossuary in Hallstatt, Austria which houses an exceptionally valuable collection for anthropological research.
The more than 700 items of skeletal remains are famous for their painted decoration, depicting flowers, leaves and crosses, with the name of the deceased printed on the forehead of most of the skulls. By cross-referencing with local registers of births, deaths and marriages, experts have been able to use the collection to reconstruct the genealogical relationships of the population from as far back as the 17th century and make informed estimates of the influence of genes on skull shape.
Fascinating stuff! Click the link to read more…
All over Europe, ossuaries hold the skeletal remains of the long dead, but only in Naples are they expected to produce winning lottery numbers.
The thousands of anonymous plague and cholera dead that fill the Fontenelle Caves outside of Naples were not always renowned for their predictive powers; primarily they were known for being cursed and the caves a haunted place to be avoided. But a 19th century restoration project brought the living into close quarters with the dead and created a kind of charming, if macabre, ‘cult of the dead’. The trapped souls of the long dead were consulted and conversed with, the skulls cleaned and named, wishes, prayers and eventually, requests for winning lotto numbers placed on rolls of paper lovingly inserted into the empty eye sockets.
The success rate of the lotto-number predicting skulls is unknown, but if you would like to try your luck, the Fontenelle ossuary caves are now open by reservation.
Thanking you kindly Atlas Obscura, I am booking a flight to Naples STAT!