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SMA Sistema Museale di Ateneo


The Fuegians

The Museum has a collection made up of about twenty skulls and different post-cranial elements belonging to the Yàmana ethnic group who inhabited the extreme south of Tierra del Fuego, and collected by Giacomo Bove during his first expedition to South America (1881). It is a very important collection from a historical, museological and anthropological point of view. The skeletal collections belonging to the Fuegians are very rare (they are held at the Giuseppe Sergi Anthropology Museum of La Sapienza University in Rome, at the Musée de l'Homme in Paris, in Vienna and at Punta Arenas in Chile) and are precious because these populations, which represent an extraordinary example of biological and cultural adaptation to extreme environments, have disappeared following the decimation by Western invaders, the spread of exogenous pathogens, the breakdown of the bio-cultural equilibrium based on a subsistence economy that had supported them for thousands of years.

Activities of the laboratory

For several years, the curators of the Anthropology section of the Museum of Natural History, in collaboration with the researchers of the Anthropology Laboratories of the Department of Biology of the University of Florence, are working in various directions for the valorizatoin of this precious collection.

 CAT scans of the Fuegians' skulls

It allows to collect digital data and make it readily available to researchers, avoiding repeated manipulations of the specimens and ensuring better conservation of this rare collection.

This activity is carried out in collaboration with prof. Jacopo Moggi Cecchi and with the Radiodiagnostic Unit of the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence

Paleogenetic Study

This study involves the removal of a small portion of bone material through the perforation of the mastoid and the analysis of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA). The tool used for pulverizing is a dental drill that produces holes with a minimum diameter.

MARANGONI A., BELLI M. L., CARAMELLI D., MOGGI CECCHI J., ZAVATTARO M., MANZI G., 2012. Tierra del Fuego, its ancient inhabitants, and the collections of skeletal remains in the Museums of Anthropology of Florence and Rome. Museologia Scientifica new series  5(1-2): 88-96,  2011.

Contact: Monica Zavattaro

last update: 12-July-2018
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