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Nature volume 128, pages 306308 (22 August 1931) | Download Citation



The Roman Neanderthal Skull.—A description of the Neanderthal skull found at Saccopastore, near Rome, as first announced to the Société romaine d'Anthropologie on June 1, 1929, is given by Prof. Sergio Sergi in L'Anthropologie, t. 41, Nos. 3–4. It is one of the best preserved of the Neanderthal skulls, and the condition of the base affords an exceptional opportunity of appreciating its characteristics. The cranial capacity is 1200 c.c, which makes it the smallest known of the Neanderthal skulls. This fact, combined with its refinement in character, suggests that it is the skull of a female, and, judging from the state of the sutures and dentition, it is that of a young woman. The position of the foramen, which is farther forward than in the Chapelle-aux-Saints skull, in which, however, the position may be due to faulty orientation and reconstruction, indicates that the head was carried as erect as in modern man. The cephalic index is approximately 78.4. The horizontal contours of the Saecopastore and La Chapelle skulls, taken in the plane of the lambda, coincide in a surprising manner. The horizontal perimeter is, at the maximum, 520 mm., La Quina being 515 mm. Near the lambda is a complex system of wormian bones, a common phenomenon in Neanderthal skulls. The significance of this feature has hitherto been overlooked; but it points to instability in the occipital region over the inion, which is here in course of evolution. In norma lateralis the whole peribregmatic region shows flattening, the frontal inclination (74 °) and occipital (70.5 °) being comparable to that of the Gibraltar skull. In a posterior segment the skull shows a certain degree of roundness, contrasting with the bun-like projection of the occiput in La Chapelle and La Quina. The face and its features are very large. In its general dimensions and its morphology the skull is nearest to the Gibraltar skull. The associated fauna point to a dating at the Riss-Würm Interglacial.

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