Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


2 October 2013

Ancient Greek skulls in the Oxford University Museum, Part II: The Rhousopoulos-Rolleston correspondence

Yannis Galanakis & Małgosia Nowak-Kemp Journal of the History of Collections 25:1 (March 2013): 1-17.


This article examines the purchase of skulls, bones and a few archaeological objects by George Rolleston (1829-81), Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Oxford, from Athanasios Rhousopoulos (1823-98), major collector, art dealer and Professor in the University of Athens. Numerous letters, hitherto unpublished, in the Rolleston archive in Oxford dated to 1871-4 give insights into the network, organization and operation of dealers in Greece at the time. The correspondence reveals the prices attracted by various objects, including antiquities and skeletal remains, providing also a means of assessing attitudes to the study and collection of ancient human remains around 1870. With this material it is possible to reconstruct the original assemblage of bones, skulls and antiquities sold by Rhousopoulos to Rolleston, now distributed among several museums in England. Online appendices provide respectively a catalogue of skulls and other material bought by Rolleston from Rhousopoulos and transcriptions and translations of their correspondence.


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