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Nature volume 135, pages 272274 (16 February 1935) | Download Citation



The Bones of Comenius, Very shortly after the death of the great Czech scholar, John Amos Comenius, in Holland in 1670, his fame, and even his last resting place were forgotten owing to disturbed conditions both in his native land and in Holland. In the earlier part of the nineteenth century his memory was revived; but notwithstanding an abortive attempt to fix the site of his grave in 1871, it was only after the close of the War that the Czechoslovakian Government was able to make arrangements with the Dutch authorities for the disinterment of his remains. This was made possible by the discovery of the register recording his interment in November 1670, not in the ‘great church’ of Naarden, as had previously been thought, but in the ‘Walloon’ church. This edifice, after a varied history, had long been occupied as a military barracks. The records showed that the body of Comenius had been deposited in a ‘common’ grave, in which two further interments had followed after considerable intervals. Largely owing to the interest of Mr. R. J. Vonka, of the Czechoslovakian Legation, and Dr. R. A. B. Oosterhuis, of Amsterdam, this grave was identified and one of the three skeletons provisionally identified by its position and general condition as that of the great scholar. The remains have been examined and measured in detail by Prof. A. J. P. van den Brock and Prof. J. Matiegka, who after a close comparison with portraits of Comenius and such information as is available, pronounce the identification to be in all probability well founded. The skull is hyperbrachycephalic (cephalic index of 89-71), hypsicephalic (vertical index 77-64), euryme-topic and mesoprosopic. The orbits are large and the nose thin. The form and dimensions of the skull, in fact, are such as are frequently encountered in Czechoslovakia. Among the more noteworthy features are the breadth of forehead and the fact that, notwithstanding the age of the subject at the time of death, the sutures of the skull had not closed. The discovery of the remains and their character and method of identification are described in Anthro-pologica (Academie Tcheque des Sciences et des Arts, Prague, lime Classe, 1933, just received).

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