Lost and then found: The Mendes Correia Collection of identified human skeletons curated at the University of Porto, Portugal


  • Hugo Cardoso Department of Archaeology Simon Fraser University http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1338-101X
  • Luisa Marinho Department of Archaeology Simon Fraser University




Physical anthropology, skeletal biology, osteological series, reference collections, biographic records, curation


Among the several human skeletal reference collections that have been amassed in Portugal, there is one that has remained in nearly anonymity for its almost entire existence. The collection was initiated by Mendes Correia who collected abandoned skeletal remains from cemeteries of the city of Porto circa 1912-1917. Over the years and for unknown reasons its original documentation was lost and the collection has been treated as an unidentified assemblage of specimens for many years. Two previously unnoticed publications from the 1920’s were found to have published basic biographic data for each individual in the collection, thus restituting some of the lost information. The surviving Mendes Correia Collection is currently located at the Natural History Museum and at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto. It is comprised of 99 individuals of known sex, age, and nativity, whose skeletons are found in various states of completeness. They represent a segment of the population of the city of Porto who were born throughout the 19th century. It is hoped that the information gathered and provided here can restore some of the lost research value of the Mendes Correia skeletal reference collection.


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