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Department of Physical Antropology

Contact information

Address: 24, Srednii prospect,Vassilievskii Island.
Phone: (812) 323-34-19, (812) 323-40-16, (812) 323-27-19

Head of Department

Valerii KHARTANOVICH, Cand.Sc.

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.

Department Staff

Khartanovich Valerii, Cand.Sc., Head of Department (craniology, paleoanthropology, population history of northern Russia).

Chistov Yuri, D.Sc., Director of MAE (anthropology of ancient and modern populations of the Near East and Central Asia, morphology of the human cranium, application of multivariate statistical methods and databases in anthropological research, computerized catalogs of museum collections, museology).

Gokhman Ilia, Leading Researcher (population history of the world, classification of major geographical groups of mankind, methodology of population research).

Kozintsev Alexander, D.Sc., Chief Researcher, (physical and cultural anthropology, ethology).
Benevolenskaya Julia, Cand.Sc., Senior Researcher (evolutionary and population morphology of the human cranium, human origins, population history of northern Eurasia).

Gromov Andrei, Cand.Sc., Senior Researcher (craniology of Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age populations of Eurasia, artificial cranial deformation, paleodemography).

Moiseyev Vyacheslav, Cand.Sc., Senior Researcher (population history of northern Eurasia, origin of Uralic-speaking groups, integration of data from various systems of biological traits).

Sankina Serafima, Cand.Sc., Senior Researcher (population history of northeastern Europe).
Selezneva (Bogdanova) Vera, Cand.Sc., Chief Specialist (museology, registration and storage; educational programs).

Radzjoen Anna, Chief Specialist (diachronic and territorial variation of the postcranial skeleton, history of anatomy, Kunstkamera’s anatomical collections)

Principal Publications

Works published by the department staff in recent years include the following:

  • Benevolenskaya J.D Problemy etnicheskoi kraniologii [Problems in Ethnic Craniology]. Leningrad: Nauka, 1976. 152 p.
  • Benevolenskaya J.D Priznaki cherepnogo svoda kak markery razlichnykh urovnei differntsiatsii ras [Features of the cranial vault as markers of various levels of population differentiation] // Novye kollektsii i issledovaniya po antropologii SSSR. Leningrad: Nauka, 1991. P. 126–152. (MAE Collection. Vol. XLIV).
  • Benevolenskaya J.D Kraniologicheskie aspekty mezolita v svete yavlenii dimorfizma litsevogo skeleta i garmonizatsii cherepa [Cranial variation in the Mesolithic with reference to the dimorphism of facial skeleton and harmonization of the cranium] // Voprosy antropologii. 1996. Vol. 88. P. 124–139.
  • Benevolenskaya J.D. , Gromov A.V. Morfologiya zatylochno-temennoi oblasti cherepov okunevskoi kul’tury [Morphology of the occipito-parietal region in Okunev crania] // Okunevskii sbornik. SPb., 1997. P. 288–293.
  • Chistov Yu.K. Kraniologicheskie materially iz Yuzhnogo Yemena [Cranial remains from South Yemen] // Antropologiya segodnya. SPb., 1995. Vol. 1. P. 42–70.
  • Chistov Yu.K. Anthropometry of the South Yemen population: between-group multivariate analysis. // Homo. Vol. 47/1-2, 1996. P. 3–22.
  • Chistov Yu.K. The use of multivariate statistical analysis in biological anthropology for studying intergroup variation // Intensive Programme: Mathematics in Biological Sciences – Application in Anthropology. Vol. 1. 1996. P. 87–129.
  • Chistov Yu.K. Antropologiya drevnego i sovremennogo naseleniya Yuzhnogo Yemena. Ch. I. Paleantropologiya, antropometriya, antroposkopiya [Anthropology of the Ancient and Modern Population of South Yemen. Part I. Palaeoanthropology, Anthropometry, Anthroposcopy]. SPb.: Evropeiskii Dom, 1998. 274 p.
  • Chistov Yu.K. Matematicheskie metody v antropologii: novye idei, sovremennaya tekhnika, razreshayuschie vozmozhnosti metodik [Mathematical methods in anthropology: new ideas, modern techniques, and resolution of methods] // Teoriya antropologii i ee metody: istoki i razvitie (k 110-letiyu V.V. Bunaka. V Bunakovskie chteniya). M. 2001. Pt. I. P. 86–96.
  • Chistov Yu., Osintsov Yu., Gerasimov D. The computer catalogue of the Kunstkamera museum collections and perspectives of an Internet-shared anthropological database // Computer Applications and Quantative Methods in Archaeology Conference 2001, Proceedings Archaeopress (British Archaeological Reports – B.A.R. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. 2002. P. 475–490.
  • Chistov Yu.K. Traditsionnye formy braka i ikh vliyanie na formirovanie antropologii naseleniya Yuzhnoi Aravii [Traditional forms of marriage and their implication for the population history of southern Arabia] // Etnograficheskoe obozrenie. No. 1. 2004. P. 32–36.
  • Chistov Yu.K. Mnogomernyi statisticheskii analiz antropometricheskikh priznakov v territorial’nykh gruppakh i sotsial’nykh stratakh provintsii Khadramaut [Multivariate statistical analysis of anthropometrical features in the territorial groups and social strata of Hadramaut Province] // Paleoantropologiya, etnicheskaya antropologiya, etnogenez. SPb., 2004. P. 159–171.
  • Gokhman I.I. Naselenie Ukrainy v epokhu mezolita i neolita (antropologicheskii ocherk) [Population of the Ukraine in the Mesolithic and Neolithic: Physical anthropology]. Moscow: Nauka. 1966. 224 p.
  • Alekseev V.P.Gokhman I.I. Physical anthropology of Soviet Asia // Rassengeschichte der Menschheit. Lieferung Asien II: Sowiet-Asien. Munchen-Wien. 1983. 186 S.
  • Gokhman I.I., Alekseev V.P. Antropologiya Aziatskoi chasti SSSR [Physical Anthropology of the Asiatic Part of the USSR]. Moscow, 1984. 208 p.
  • Gokhman I.I. (Ed.) Problemy antropologii drevnego i sovremennogo naseleniya Evrazii [Issues in Physical Anthropology of Prehistoric and Modern Populations of Eurasia]. Leningrad: Nauka, 1984. 160 p.
  • Gokhman I.I. (Ed.) Novye kollektsii i issledovaniya po antropologii SSSR [New Skeletal Collections and Studies in Physical Anthropology of the USSR]. Leningrad: Nauka, 1991. 216 p. (MAE Collection. Vol. XLIV).
  • Gokhman I.I., Bogdanova V.I., Chistov Yu.K. Nekotorye itogi antropologicheskogo izucheniya sovremennogo naseleniya Yuzhnogo Yemena [Some Results of the Anthropological Study of the Modern Population of South Yemen] // Antropologiya segodnya. Vol. 1. SPb, MAE RAN. 1995. P. 6–41.
  • Gokhman I.I., Kozintsev A.G. (Eds.) Antropologiya sovremennogo i drevnego naseleniya Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR [Physical Anthropology of Modern and Ancient Populations of the European Part of USSR]. Leningrad: Nauka, 1986. 224 p.
  • Gromov A.V. Naselenie yuga Khakasii v epokhu pozdnei bronzy i problema proiskhozhdeniya karasukskoi kul’tury [Population of southern Khakasia in the Late Bronze Age and the origin of Karasuk Culture] // Antropologiya segodnya. SPb., 1995. Vol. 1. P. 130–150.
  • Gromov A.V. Naseleniye Yugo-Zapadnogo Turkmenistana v epokhu pozdnei bronzy [Population of southwestern Turkmenistan in the Late Bronze Age] // Antropologiya segodnya. SPb., 1995. Vol. 1. P. 151–160.
  • Gromov A.V. Proiskhozhdenie i svyazi okunevskogo naseleniya Minusinskoi kotloviny [Origin and affinities of the Okunev population, Minusinsk Basin] // Okunevskii sbornik. SPb., 1997. P. 301–345.
  • Gromov A.V. K voprosu ob iskusstvennoi deformatsii cherepov okunevskoi kul’tury [On the artificial deformation of Okunev crania] // Sibir’ v panorame tysyacheletii: Materialy mezhdunarodnogo simposiuma. Novosibirsk, 1998. Vol. 1. P. 147–156.
  • Gromov A.V. Drevnee naselenie doliny r. Sumbar (Yugo-Zapadnyi Turkmenistan) [Prehistoric populations of the Sumbar Valley, southwestern Turkmenistan] // Paleoantropologiya, etnicheskaya antropologiya, etnogenez. SPb., 2004. P. 8–20.
  • Khartanovich V.I. Novye materially k kraniologii saamov Kol’skogo p-va [New Saami cranial remains from Kola Peninsula] // Issledovaniya po paleoantropologii i kraniologii SSSR. Leningrad, 1980. P. 35–47. (MAE Collection, Vol. XXXVI).
  • Khartanovich V.I. Kraniologiya karel [Craniology of the Karelians] // Antropologiya sovremennogo i drevnego naseleniya Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR. Leningrad, 1986. P. 63–120.
  • Khartanovich V.I. K kraniologii naseleniya severo-zapadnogo Priladozh’ja XIX – nachala XX vv. [Cranial features of the population of northwestern Ladoga in the 19th – early 20th century] // Balty. Slavyane. Finny. Riga, 1990. P. 87–124.
  • Khartanovich V.I. Kraniologiya komi-zyryan [Craniology of the Komi-Zyryans] // Novye kollektsii i issledovaniya po antropologii i arkheologii. Leningrad, 1991. P. 108–125. (MAE Collection, Vol. XLIV).
  • Khartanovitch V.I.  Origin of the Baltic Finns on the basis of craniological series // Physical anthropology and population genetics of Vologda Russians. Helsinki, 1993. P. 12–22.
  • Khartanovich V.I. Materialy k kraniologii finnov [Craniology of the Finns] // Antropologiya segodnya. SPb., 1995. Vol. 1. P. 71–80.
  • Khartanovich V.I. Kraniologiya izhor [Craniology of the Ingrians] // Rasy i narody. M., 2004. Vol. 30. P. 96–124.
  • Khartanovich V.I. Novye kraniologicheskie materialy po saamam Kol’skogo poluostrova (mogil’nik Severnaya Salma) [New Saami crania from Kola Peninsula (Severnaya Salma cemetery)] // Paleoantropologiya, etnicheskaya antropologiya, etnogenez. SPb., 2004. P. 108–125.
  • Kozintsev A.G. Antropologicheskii sostav i proiskhozhdenie naseleniya tagarskoi kul’tury [Anthropological Composition and Origin of the Tagar Population]. Leningrad: Nauka, 1977. 144 p.
  • Kozintsev A.G. Etnicheskaya kranioskopiya [Ethnic Cranioscopy]. Leningrad: Nauka, 1988. 168 p.
  • Kozintsev A.G. Smekh, plach, zevota: psikhologiya chuvstv ili etologiya obscheniya? [Laughter, crying, yawning: Psychology of emotions or ethology of communication?] // Etologiya cheloveka na poroge XXI stoletiya. Moscow, 1999. P. 97-121.
  • Kozintsev A.G. Evolyutsiya chelovecheskikh populyatsii v yuzhnoi chasti Tikhookeanskogo basseina [Evolution of human populations in the Southern Pacific] // Avstraliya, Okeaniya, Yugo-Vostochnaya Aziya. Narody, kul’tura, istoriya. SPb., 2001. P. 90–96.
  • Kozintsev A.G. (Ed.) Smekh: Istoki i funktsii [Laughter: Origins and Functions] SPb.: Nauka, 2002. 224 P.
  • Kozintsev A.G. Kety, ural’tsy, “amerikanoidy”: integratsiya kraniologicheskikh dannykh [Kets, Uralians, “Americanoids”: An integration of cranial data] // Paleoantropologiya, etnicheskaya antropologiya, etnogenez. SPb., 2004. P. 172–185.
  • Kozintsev A.G. Proiskhozhdenie yazyka: novye fakty i teorii [The origin of language: New facts and theories] // Problemy teoreticheskoj lingvistiki (Sbornik statei k 140-letiyu kafedry obschego yazykoznaniya SPBGU). SPb., 2004. P. 35–50.
  • Kozintsev A.G. (Ed.) Paleoantropologiya, etnicheskaya antropologiya, etnogenez. K 75-letiyu Ilii Iosifovich Gokhmana [Paleoanthropology, Population History, Ethnic Origins. Ilia Iosifovich Gokhman Festschrift (on the Occasion of His 75th Birthday] SPb.: MAE RAN, 2004. 246 p.
  • Kozintsev A.G., Butovskaya M.L. Disinhibition of anti-cultural behaviour: a means of adaptation in early hominids? // Hominid Evolution: Lifestyles and Survival Strategies. Gelsenkirchen-Schwelm, Archaea, 1999. P. 262–268.
  • Kozintsev A.G., Butovskaya M.L. Sexual dimorphism and the evolution of gender stereotypes in man // Darwinian Heritage and Sociobiology. Westport, Praeger, 1999. P. 261–272.
  • Kozintsev A.G., Gromov A.V., Moiseyev V.G. Collateral relatives of American Indians among the Bronze Age populations of Siberia? // American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 1999. Vol. 108, N 2. P. 193–204.
  • Moiseyev V.G. Problema proiskhozhdeniya narodov Zapadnoi i Yuzhnoi Sibiri: kraniologicheskii aspekt [Origin of the peoples of western and southern Siberia: Cranial evidence] // Sibir’ v panorame tysyacheletii: Materialy mezhdumarodnogo kongressa. Novosibirsk, 1998. Vol. I. P. 410–418.
  • Moiseyev V.G. Proiskhozhdenie uraloyazychnykh narodov po dannym kraniologii [Origin of the Uralian-Speaking Peoples: The Cranial Evidence]. SPb.: Nauka, 1999. 133 p.
  • Moiseyev V.G. Severnaya Evraziya: yazykovaya differentsiatsiya i dannye fizicheskoi antropologii [Northern Eurasia: Linguistic differentiation and the evidence of physical anthropology] // Arkheologiya, etnografiya i antropologiya Evrazii. 2001. Vol. 4 (8). P. 154–159.
  • Moiseyev V.G. Origins of Uralic-Speaking populations: Cranial evidence // Homo. 2002. Vol. 52/3, P. 240–253.
  • Moiseyev V.G. Opyt integratsii dannykh chetyrekh sistem antropologicheskikh priznakov (kraniometrii, kranioskopii, odontologii i dermatoglifiki) [Integration of data from four systems of biological traits (craniometry, cranial nonmetrics, dental anthropology, and dermatoglyphics)] // Paleoantropologiya, etnicheskaya antropologiya, etnogenez. SPb., 2004. P. 186–200.
  • Moiseyev V.G., Kozintsev A.G. Kraniologicheskie dannye o proiskhozhdenii uralo-yazychnykh narodov [Cranial evidence on the origin of Uralian-speaking peoples] // Etnograficheskoe obozrenie. 1998. No. 2. P. 140–150.
  • Murphy E., Gokhman I., Chistov Yu.K., Barkova L. Prehistoric Old World scalping: New cases from the Cemetery of Aymyrlyg, South Siberia // American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 106 (2002). P. 1–10.
  • Sankina S.L. Novye antropologicheskie materialy k normanskoi probleme (Mogil’nik Kurevanikha-2) [New skeletal remains relevant for the Norse problem (Kurevanikha-2 burial ground)] // Etnografichsekoe obozrenie. 1998. No. 2. P. 150-156.
  • Sankina S.L. Etnicheskaya istoriya srednevekovogo naseleniya Novgorodskoi zemli po dannym antropologii [Ethnic History of the Medieval Population of Novgorod: Based on Skeletal Data]. SPb.: Dmitrii Bulanin, 2000. 109 p.
  • Sankina S.L. Antropologicheskii sostav srednevekovogo naseleniya Novgorodskoi zemli [Anthropological composition of the medieval population of Novgorod] // Narody Rossii. Antropologiya. M., 2000. Pt. 2. P. 5–65.
  • Sankina S.L. Skandinavskie gruppy Drevnei Rusi [Scandinavian groups in Old Rus]  // Evropa i Aziya: Problemy etnokul’turnykh kontaktov. SPb., 2002. P. 131–149.
  • Sankina S.L. Antropologiya srednevekovogo naseleniya Russkogo Severa (X – XIV vv.) [Physical anthropology of the medieval population of northern Russian (10th – 14th centuries] // Paleoantropologiya, etnicheskaya antropologiya, etnogenez. SPb., 2004. P. 83–107.
  • Shevchenko A.V. Antropologicheskaya kharakteristika srednevekovogo naseleniya nizov’ev Volgi [Physical characteristic of the medieval population of the Lower Volga] // Issledovaniya po paleoantropologii i kraniologii SSSR. Leningrad, 1980. P. 139–168. (MAE Collection, Vol. XXXVI).
  • Shevchenko A.V. Paleoantropologicheskie dannye k voprosu o proiskhozhdenii naseleniya srubnoi kul’turno-istoricheskoi oblasti [Skeletal evidence on the origin of the population of Timber-Frame Culture] // Problemy antropologii drevnego i sovremennogo naseleniya Severa Evrazii. Leningrad, 1984. P. 55–74.
  • Shevchenko A.V. Antropologiya yuzhno-russkikh stepei v epokhu bronzy [Physical anthropology of southern Russian steppes in the Bronze Age] // Antropologiya drevnego i sovremennogo naseleniya Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR. Leningrad, 1986. P. 121–215.
  • Shevchenko A.V., Firstein B.V. Paleoantropologiya naseleniya Kobyakova gorodishcha I-III vv. n.e. [Skeletal data on the population of Kobyakovo Gorodishche in the 1st – 3rd centuries AD] // Novye kollektsii i issledovaniya po antropologii i arkheologii. Leningrad, 1991. P. 5–41 (MAE Collection, Vol. XLIV).

Expeditions

The department conducts a systematic field work. Since 1976 the Northern European paleoanthropological team has been excavating cemeteries in northwestern Russia to acquire new skeletal collections. The staff members have taken part in many archaeological expeditions excavating Mesolithic and Neolithic burial grounds in Russia, and in field trips to Mongolia, Vietnam and Yemen.

Collections
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.

The department’s staff is currently working on a computer catalogue of anthropological collections and on the Russian craniological data bank. The catalogue of Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic skeletal materials is available in printed form:

  • Gokhman I.I., Kozintsev A.G. Sistematicheskoe opisanie kollektsii otdela antropologii MAE. Ch. 1. Osteologicheskie kollektsii. Razdel 1. Paleolit, mezolit, neolit i eneolit [A systematic description of the collections of the Department of Anthropology of MAE. Part 1. Osteological collections. Section 1. Paleolithic, Mezolithic, Neolithic and Eneolithic Epochs] // Issledovaniya po paleoantropologii i kraniologii SSSR. Leningrad, 1980. P. 182–222. (MAE Collection. Vol. XXXVI).

Expositions

In autumn 2003 the museum opened a new permanent exhibition titled Early Natural History Collections of Peter’s Kunstkamera. Designed in cooperation with Amsterdam Historical Museum and supported by Wilhelmina Jansen Foundation, the Netherlands, under the joint project commemorating St.-Petersburg tercentenary, the exposition illustrates the history of the Anatomical Cabinet of Peter’s Kunstkamera. Specimens prepared by the Dutch anatomist F. Ruysch are demonstrated alongside the Russian 18th–19th-century anatomical collection and separate specimens related to natural history (they had been assembled by the Amsterdam apothecary Albert Seba and were also acquired by Peter I during his visit to Holland). The exhibition features Peter I as a collector, a naturalist, and a quasi-surgeon.

The originators of the exposition (Anna Radzjoen and Jozien Driessen-Van Het Reve) endeavored to decorate it with analogues of the early naturalia so as to reconstruct, at least partly, the atmosphere and the elements of the 18th-century Kunstkamera exposition. The Tsar’s personal possessions and surgical instruments from his Cabinet, now owned by the Hermitage, are displayed along with things from St.-Petersburg Zoological Museum, formerly owned by the Kunstkamera: shells of exotic mollusks, mounted skeletons of fish, stuffed armadillos, crocodiles, snakes, a dry specimen of a Surinamese pipa, colorful eggs, etc.). There are also facsimile copies of documents and books from St.-Petersburg branch of the Academy of Sciences Archives and the Russian National Library.

The cultural context of the new permanent exposition is provided by a multimedia program. Visitors are introduced to anatomical studies by Ruysch’s predecessors and contemporaries (Andreas Vesalius, Ulysses Aldrovandius, etc.). They make a virtual tour around Europe’s most famous kunstkameras and see how collections were stored in 17th–18th–century museums.

While preparing the new exhibition, Russian and Dutch specialists (A. Radzjoen, W. Mulder, etc.) restored more than seventy specimens made by Ruysch. A new lighting system was installed so as to spare sensitive three-century-old specimens.

Regrettably, rooms featuring human evolution have been closed down for many years. The roof and the attic above them require an overhaul, which is due in 2005. When it is completed, the exhibition will reopen on a hopefully modern technical and informational basis. Its three parts will be Human Origins, Early History of Mankind, and Biological Unity and Diversity of Modern Human Populations.