Philadephia display includes Rusyn skulls

Maria Silvestri reports from a fieldtrip to Philadelphia that the Mütter Museum at the Philadelphia College of Physicians has – really – four Rusyn skulls on display.

The skulls are part of a collection used by the Viennese anatomist Doctor Joseph (Jozef) Hyrtl to disprove phrenology, a pseudo-science that claimed that a person’s character and personality (and criminal impulses) could be discovered by feeling bumps on the person’s head.

All four of the Rusyn skulls date from before 1874. They are part of a collection of 139 skulls from around Central and Eastern Europe, and are on permanent display at the museum. Maria jotted down the captions from the four Rusyn skulls:

Domarsk Fedko, age 12
Anomaly of dentition
Frontal grooves; defects in tooth enamel

Jakub Mandsink, age 62

Rusniak (from Ruthenia, southern Carpathians)
Fejdku Tisany, age 52
Sharpshooter with the Greek unit from Unghvar.
Maxillary alveolar process recession

Romanov Prasczak, age 21
Died of Cholera in Kharkov, Ukraine
Accessory bone in anterior parieto-temporal
Suture near pterion (left-side), possibly some epipteric bone

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