Original paper

Ambiguous provenance? Experience with provenance analysis of human remains from Namibia in the Alexander Ecker Collection

Wittwer-Backofen, Ursula; Kästner, Mareen; Möller, Daniel; Vohberger, Marina; Lutz-Bonengel, Sabine; Speck, Dieter

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 71 No. 1-2 (2014), p. 65 - 86

published: Mar 1, 2014

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2014/0382

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP140007101007, Price: 29.00 €

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The project's aim is to verify the existence of Herero and Nama skulls among the roughly 1370 skulls in the Alexander Ecker collection (AEC). Methods include historical research, which was mainly concerned with the AEC and especially Eugen Fischer during his time as curator, as well as the methods of acquisition of human remains and scientific methods to verify the identity of the relevant skulls. Scientific methods include morphological sex and age-at-death verification, morphological estimation of ancestry, morphometric analysis and the application of UV light to decipher old labels on the skull surfaces, as well as a molecular biology approach (mtDNA) and stable isotope analyses. Out of 19 preselected skulls, 14 revealed a significant probability for a Herero/Nama ancestry, although identification of specific skulls according to the historical documentation was not possible.


history of anthropologyosteologyprovenance analysisskeletal collections