Department of Physical Anthropology

Contact information

Address: 24, Srednii prospect,Vassilievskii Island.

Phone:+7 (812) 323-34-19, +7 (812) 323-40-16, (812) 323-27-19

Department Staff

Valerii KHARTANOVICH, Head of Department, Cand.Sc., (craniology, paleoanthropology, anthropological composition and origin of ancient and modern population of the northern East Europe, West Siberia).

Andrei GROMOV, Senior Researcher, Cand.Sc., (physical anthropology, craniometry, osteometry, geometrical morphometry, paleodemography, methodology of anthropological research, artificial cranial deformation).

Aleksei KAZARNITSKIY, Junior Researcher, Cand.Sc. (anthropology of the Eurasian Steppe; cranial deformation  paleodemography).

Alexander KOZINTSEV, Chief Researcher, D.Sc. (physical and cultural anthropology, ethology).

Vyacheslav MOISEYEV, Senior Researcher, Cand.Sc. (population history of northern Eurasia, origin of Uralic-speaking groups, cross-system and cross-disciplinary comparison).

Olga PANARINA, Leading Curator (curator of anatomical, illustrative and photo collections).

Anna RADZJOEN, Leading Curator  (scientific curator of anatomical collections, including Frederick Ruysch’s collection, museology, history of anatomy, popularization of Kunstkamera’s collections).

Vera SELEZNEVA (BOGDANOVA), Leading Curator, Cand.Sc.  (curator of craniological and osteological collections, museology, organization of collections registrations and keeping; museum educational programs).

Ivan SHIROBOKOV, Cand.Sc., Researcher, Cand.Sc. (paleoanthropology, dermatoglyphics , origin of peoples of European Russia). 

Evgenia UCHANEVA, Leading Curator (origin of peoples of South Siberia by paleoanthropological data).

Alisa ZUBOVA, Senior Researcher, Cand.Sc. (analysis of morphology of dental system of ancient and modern population of the Old and New World. Interspecies differentiation of odontologic complexes within Homo, taxonomical hierarchy of odontologic complexes of ancient and modern representatives of Homo sapiens. Migration processes among ancient populations of Eurasia. Reconstruction of paleodiet and other aspects of ancient populations’ habits of life based on odontological data, paleoecological research). 


History of the Department

The Department of Physical Anthropology is one of the oldest in the museum, in fact, the oldest one of this profile in Europe. Its first research directions were envisaged when Karl Ernst (Karl Maksimovich) von Baer, Professor of Embryology at Derpt (Tartu) University and Member of St.-Petersburg Academy of Sciences, joined the staff of the Kunstkamera and then of the Anatomical Chamber which later separated from it. In 1842 Baer became Head of the Anatomical Chamber, and later on together with A.A. Schiefner, Director of the Ethnographical Museum, he made a proposal of creating joined Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. In 1846, Baer’s first study in physical anthropology was published, prepared at our museum. On his initiative, human crania were acquired on a large scale. In 1878 the department received its present name.

Later, prominent physical anthropologists such as G.A. Bonch-Osmolovskii,V.V. Bunak, V.V. Ginzburg, B.V. Firstein, K.Z. Jazuta, Ju.V. Ludewig, G.I. Petrov, B.N. Vishnevskii, V.P. Yakimov, A.N. Yuzefovich, and E.V. Zhirov, worked at the museum.

In 1968–2002 the department was headed by I.I. Gokhman, thanks to whom it has become what it is today: the huge depository of skeletal and other materials was put in order, large-scale acquisition of new skeletal collections was initiated, and their registration and study was intensified. Most of the present department staff are Gokhman’s students, trained by him at St.-Petersburg University Department of Ethnography and Anthropology and/or through a postgraduate course at MAE.

Main Research Areas

The department is one of Europe’s oldest centers concerned with physical anthropology of prehistoric and modern populations. Its main research lines are human evolution, population history of Russia and other regions, methodology of population studies, and ethology.

The principal themes are metric and nonmetric cranial variation, integration of data from various trait systems, and biological and cultural factors of human behavior. The staff members participate in the joint program Ethno-Cultural Interactions in Eurasia sponsored by the Russian Academy of Sciences, and in the project Physical Anthropology of Human Populations of North Eurasia, Based on Collections  and Databases of MAE. The third project is Play Negativism: Biological Basis and Cultural Dynamics.

Principal Publications

For the full list of publications in Russian see the page in Russian.

  • Godina E., Butovskaya M., Kozintsev A. The History of Biological Anthropology in Russia and the Former Soviet Union . Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1993. 
  • Kozintsev. A. The Mirror of Laughter. New Brunswick and London: Transaction, 2010. 235 p.
  • Kozintsev A.G. Kukly: rage and jest // Uncensored? Reinventing Humor and Satire in Post-Soviet Russia. Bloomington: Slavica, 2008. P. 183-199.
  • Kozintsev A.G. Stalin jokes and humor theory // Russian Journal of Communication. 2009. Vol. 2, № 3-4. P. 199-214.
  • Moiseyev V.G. Origins of Uralic-speaking Populations: Cranial Evidence //HOMO - Journal of Comparative Human Biology. 2001. V. 52. № 3. Pp. 240-253.
  • Moiseyev V.G. Northern Eurasian populations: Linguistic versus Biological Differentiation // Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia, № 4, 2001. P. 154-159.
  • Moiseyev V.G. Nonmetric traits in early Iron Age cranial series from Western and Southern Siberia //  Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia, № 1 2006. P. 145-152.
  • Moiseyev V.G. On the origin of Okhotsk populations of Northern and Eastern Hokkaido: cranial evidence // Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia, № 1. 2008, P. 134-141.
  • Belyaeva V.I., Moiseyev V.G. Statistical analysis of Kostenki shouldered points: a trial // Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia. 2007. № 3. P. 16-28.
  • Moiseyev V.G. On the origin of the Ryukyu islanders the integration of craniometric and cranial nonmetric data // Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia. 2009. № 4. P. 146-152.
  • Moiseyev V.G., Khartanovich V.I. Early Metal Age Crania from Bolshoy Oleniy Island, Barents Sea // Archaeology, Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia. 2012. № 1. P. 145-154. 
  • M.V. Dobrovolskaya, A.P. Buzhilova, M.B. Mednikova,, A.V. Tiunov  V.I. Seleznyova, V.G. Moiseyev and V.I. Khartanovich  A Palaeodietry Investigation of Carbon (13C/12C) and Nitrogen (15N/14N) Stable Isotopes in Human Bone Collagen from Early Iron Age Burials at Aimyrlyg, Tuva // The 18th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. August 29 - September 1, 2012. Helsinki – Finland. P. 162.
  • Vyacheslav Moiseyev and Valery Khartanovich. Ancient Human Migrations from Siberia to Fennoscandia: Cranial Evidence // The 18th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. August 29 - September 1, 2012. Helsinki – Finland. P. 163
  • Clio Der Sarkissian, Alan Cooper, Wolfgang Haak, Oleg Balanovsky,Valery Zaporozhchenko, Elena Balanovska, Guido Brandt, Kurt W. Alt, Valery Khartanovich, VyacheslavMoiseyev,, Alexandra Buzhilova, Sergey Koshel (Moscow State University, Russia), Vladimir Shumkin, Eugen Kolpakov. Ancient Mitochondrial DNA from Archaeological Sites in North-east Europe Unravels Complex Human Population History // The 18th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. August 29 - September 1, 2012. Helsinki – Finland. P. 164.
  • Clio Der Sarkissian, Oleg Balanovsky, Guido Brandt, Valery Khartanovich, Alexandra Buzhilova, Sergey Koshel, Valery Zaporozhchenko, Detlef Gronenborn, Vyacheslav Moiseyev, Eugen Kolpakov, Vladimir Shumkin, Kurt W. Alt, Elena Balanovska, Alan Cooper, Wolfgang Haak, the GenographicConsortium. Ancient DNA Reveals Prehistoric Gene-Flow from Siberiain the Complex Human Population History of North East Europe // PLOS Genetics,|, 1 February 2013. Volume 9, Issue 2, e1003296.
  • Anna Radziun, Yuri Chistov. The first scientific collections of Kunstkamera. Saint-Petersburg, 2012. P.3-79. 
  • Shirobokov I.G. Age estimation, sexual dimorphism and inter-population variability studies in paleodermatoglyphics: pros and cons // 18th annual meeting of European Association of archaeologists. Abstracts. Helsinki, 2012. P. 163.


Anthropological collections of the Kunstkamera are among world’s largest. The museum’s depositories related to the department contain 761 collections (mostly skeletal) totaling nearly 380 000  items.

The earliest anatomical collections of MAE (late 1600s – early 1700s) come from the so-called Chamber of Naturalia in Peter the Great Kunstkamera. Their history begun when Peter I purchased in Holland the anatomical specimens made by the famous Dutch anatomist Frederick Ruysch and brought them to Russia. Later, Peter’s decree On Furnishing Born Freaks and Unusual Finds marked the beginning of so-called “Russian anatomical (teratological) collection”, which consisted of specimens prepared and acquired in Russia by Peter’s order and sometimes under his personal participation. The Russian anatomical collection, like that of F. Ruysch, reflects an important stage in the growth of anatomical knowledge and excites much interest on the part of science historians.

Anatomical collections consist of liquid (preserved in ethanol) and dry anatomical specimens from the early years of the Kunstkamera, and a number of other anatomical materials. The depositories contain 24 anatomical collections comprising 1,388 specimens. They also house F. Ruysch’s materials totaling 937 preparations. The Russian anatomical collection consists of 144 specimens made in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Apart from these, the department owns many later teratological collections comprising malformed foetuses, both human and animal.

Most collections of the department (599) are osteological and total about 15 thousand skeletons acquired through archaeological excavations of burials dating from various epochs from the Upper Paleolithic to the present. Especially unique are Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic remains.

Most skeletal finds are from the former USSR, but some represent prehistoric and modern populations of Western Europe, foreign Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Oceania.

The first skeletal collections were received by the Anatomical Cabinet of St.-Petersburg Academy of Sciences (later Department of Anthropology of MAE) in the 1830s and 1840s. Intense accumulation and study of human crania was initiated by Academician K. von Baer, the founder of Russian physical anthropology. After he became Head of the Anatomical Cabinet of St.-Petersburg Academy of Sciences, he managed to interest Academy members in physical anthropology and established contacts with Russian archaeologists and ethnographers. As a result, cranial remains began to arrive from different places. By 1858 the Kunstkamera had owned as many as 350 crania.

The most rapid influx of skeletal materials took place in the 1930s – 1970s, when most human remains excavated by archaeological expeditions in this country were shipped to MAE. Moreover, the museum set up its own expeditions to collect skeletal material.

Also, there are some 2,200 samples of hair of people inhabiting various geographic regions, masks and busts of representatives of various physical types both Russian and foreign, negatives and photographs of people, taken throughout the world, plaster casts of fossils, sculptural reconstructions of prehistoric people and of certain historical figures.

In 1995 the department together with all its collections (except anatomical ones) moved to a separate building at 24, Srednii prospect, Vassilievskii Island.