Cases of 2,000 skulls

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The intrepid travelers at Curious Expeditions took this photo and many other fantastic shots at the Museo delle Cere Anatomiche (Museum of Anatomical Waxes) in Bologna, Italy. From Curious Expeditions:
These are Luigi Calori’s 2,000 human skulls, organized according to many different themes, from groupings of ancient Roman skulls to cluster of skulls from suicide victims. Calori was the head of the anatomy department of Bologna University in 1831.
Museo delle Cere Anatomiche (Curious Expeditions)


  1. i think i remember something like this in the futurama feature length epic “Bender’s Big Score”, i’ll have to get the sounds of screaming on my mp3 and see if i can surprise my girlfriend with a trip to the hall of screaming skulls.

  2. I took Gross Anatomy at med school. The Anatomy suite was a freak show of jars showing all sorts of things they found interesting during dissections, autopsies, operations, etc.

    Point to remember: If you had anything in your that would make an experience surgeon or anatomist go “Damn, I gotta stick that in a jar and show others!” it wasn’ t a good sign.

    Of course, the cavalcade of still births display was both illuminating , frightening, sad, and a bit funny all at the same time.

    For some reason I’ll never fathom, they also had a whale penis sitting on a table in the corner.

  3. i’m pretty close to having this many myself(i’ve lost count)soon i’ll be able to reach heaven and pick gods nose…

  4. My girlfriend is an osteologist, and she works with enormous collections like this. She showed me the vault in Cambridge, in the basement of the anthropology building, which has thousands and thousands of skulls (not on display, but in boxes, in enormous rolling shelves, like a library archive). There were signs everywhere warning about the fire system – if the fire alarm went off, in thirty seconds the vault would lock itself and fill with argon to put out the fire (and suffocate anyone left inside). The collection is absolutely irreplaceable – it’s thousands, sometimes millions of years worth of preserved human remains. They were mostly skeletons, but there was the occasional smoked mummy. Upstairs there were primate skeletons as well.

    Anthropology is pretty cool. I would post the pictures I took, but the people using the lab are under pretty strict instruction to be incredibly respectful to the remains, as some of them are tribal (and are really only there because they were collected by ‘adventurers’ 100 years ago and never returned). While we weren’t doing anything untoward, I’d rather be on the safe side. Besides, you can’t really express the sense of history and awe.

  5. Once he was the head of the anatomy department, now he’s just a head in the anatomy department.

  6. “Case of 2000 Skulls”… wasn’t that a Russ Meyer movie? Or maybe a White Zombie album… I forget…

  7. The Capuchin crypt is all right (and sipping cappucino at one of the cafes nearby seems oddly appropriate). I can’t believe I was in Bologna a couple of months ago and missed that museum. Reason to go back I guess. Of course there are ossuaries all over Europe (the Catacombs in Paris are first-rate).

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