Site display: Normal | Text Only

My Collection | About Us | Teachers

Find objects

Select from more than one or two options below:

Objects search

Can't find what you're looking for? Try the search below.

Wooden and brass craniometer, France, 1840-1880

  • Thumbnail1
  • Thumbnail2
  • Thumbnail3
  • Thumbnail4
  • Thumbnail5
  • Thumbnail6
  • Thumbnail7
  • Thumbnail8
  • Thumbnail9
  • Thumbnail10
  • Thumbnail11
  • Thumbnail12
  • Thumbnail13
  • Thumbnail14
  • Click the thumbnails to enlarge

Skull sizes were measured with this craniometer and its hinged attachments. French surgeon, anthropologist and pioneering craniologist Paul Broca (1824-80) used it. Craniology studied the bones of the skull to group people according to intelligence, race, and criminal temperament. It was often used in the late 1800s as the basis for anthropological theories. These explained human evolution and justified the colonisation of countries populated by ‘less evolved’ peoples. Craniology became less popular, but measuring tools like this persisted. They were used for decades by police in France and the United States as part of the Bertillon system of criminal identification.

Object number:



Glossary: craniotomy

Surgical removal of a portion of the skull in order to access the brain. The procedure is also done to a dead foetus in order to ease delivery.

Glossary: anthropometrical measure

The practise of measuring different parts of the human body in the hope of using them to determine personal characteristics. The practise is no longer accepted as scientific.

Glossary: craniometer

Instrument for measuring the external dimensions of the skulls of deceased beings; for device to measure the skull of living being, use "cephalometer."