Anthropology - Hektoen International

Marc Ruffer, founder of paleopathology

Mummy. Photo by Paul Hudson on Flickr. CC BY 2.0. Sir Marc Armand Ruffer (1859–1917) is considered the founder of paleopathology, the study of disease in human remains. He was born in Lyons, France, the son of Swiss banker Baron Jacques de Ruffer and a German mother. He was educated in Germany and France, Oxford […]

More on Arthur Aufderheide, the mummy doctor (1922–2013)

Arthur C. Aufderheide (1922–2013) received his undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1943 and his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1952. After completing his education, he became a professor at the University of Minnesota in Duluth and spent most of his active life there. Aufderheide’s major contribution to anthropology […]

The pyramids of Petach Tikvah

Simon Wein Petach Tikvah   Dead bodies may be burned, buried, left for carrion animals,1 dropped into the sea, mummified, made into fertilizer or diamonds,2 or sent to universities to be dissected. However, there are several reasons why in many cultures the dead are buried in cemeteries and mausoleums: Respecting the dead focuses survivors on […]

Tattoos in the twentieth century

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   “It was in 1972 and you didn’t really go around showing tattoos or talking about them… And now all of a sudden it has become the thing to do.”1 – Cher, American singer, actor   Sailor being tattooed by a fellow sailor aboard USS New Jersey in 1944. Photo by […]

Rudolf Virchow and the anthropology of race

Friedrich C. Luft Detlev Ganten Berlin, Germany   Fig. 1. Rudolf Virchow as anthropologist. Portrait by Hanns Fechner (1891). Rudolf Virchow, born in 1821, was arguably the most important German physician, biologist, social scientist, and anthropologist of the nineteenth century. His establishment of cellular pathology is known by all and his comment that “politics is […]

Dr. Aufderheide and the mummies

Philip R. Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   Curator for the Department of Physical Anthropology at the San Diego Museum of Man prepares a 550-year old Peruvian child mummy for a CT scan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Samantha A. Lewis/Released). Via Wikimedia. Public Domain. Paleopathology, the study of early animal […]

The role of lullabies in mother-baby attachment

Özge Suzan Nursan Çinar Sakarya, Turkey   Lullaby by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. 1875. From Bartoli, Damien & Ross, Frederick C. William Bouguereau: His Life and Works. Via Wikimedia. A lullaby is defined as a sweet, gentle song that is sung to entice a baby to sleep. In Turkish folklore, a mother’s voice is very important for […]

Obstetrical fistula: A malady hidden by shame

Layla A. Al-Jailani Yemen   Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels. Nouria strolls across the kitchen, making lunch for her family as she does every day. Her stride is slightly wobbly, but any observer would think this was a healthy young woman. What they do not see, however, is the hidden anguish, pain, and shame […]

The snake, the staff, and the healer

Simon Wein Petach Tikvah, Israel   The Rod of Asclepius, graphite on paper, by Daniel Wein, 2021. Introduction In some ancient cultures, especially around the Near East, the snake was involved in healing. Today this seems counterintuitive. There are as many as 130,000 deaths from snake bites worldwide each year and three times that number […]

Female Genital Mutilation: cultural practices, historical moments, and medical issues

Alexandros Argyriadis Agathi Argyriadi Limassol, Cyprus   Photo UNICEF / Olivier Asselin. Accessed via MONUSCO on Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0 Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as any procedure that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for […]