Artatomical: The Head of Cesare Lombroso


The head of Lombroso on display, '78. Romano Cagnoni/Hulton Archive/Getty

Ah, what do we have here? Why just a young 1970s couple viewing the preserved head of Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) at an exhibition in Bologna. The photo itself is by acclaimed Italian photographer Romano Cagnoni.

Lombroso advocated anthropological criminology, meaning that he believed one's criminal nature was an inherited trait -- and that criminal humans also possessed more bestial, simian features than their law-abiding brethren. The theory was thoroughly discredited in the years to follow, but Lombroso insisted his head be preserved so that his skull could be measured accordingly.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.