General News

Germany launches probe into African colonial skulls

Date: Oct 6, 2017

Germany has launched a two-year study to determine the origins of more than 1 000 human skulls, mostly from Rwanda, which were brought to Europe during the colonial era for racial “scientific” research.

Hermann Parzinger, Head of Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which is leading the project, says in a statement: “We’re now looking at the circumstances surrounding the origins of these skulls.” He adds that Germany and the origin countries would then decide the appropriate manner to resolve the issue.

The skulls were sent to Germany by expedition forces around 1907-8 for the anthropologist Felix von Luschan, who was studying the development of mankind. But the study was forgotten in storage as Germany became involved in the two world wars. 

The skulls were turned over to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which runs most of Berlin’s museums, libraries, archives and research institutes, in 2011 by Berlin’s Charite hospital.

The condition of the skulls; including 986 from Rwanda, 41 from Tanzania, four from Burundi and 54 from various other parts of Germany’s East African colonies was so poor that years have been spent cleaning them, putting fragments together and creating an inventory while sorting them out geographically.


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