Craniometer, Europe, 1895-1905

1895-1905 in Europe

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Craniometer, c. 1900. Front 3/4 view of whole object against graduated grey background
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Craniometer, c. 1900

A craniometer was a measuring instrument used in craniology. This one was donated by University College London’s department of Statistical Science in 1967. Craniology studied the bones of the skull to group people according to intelligence, race and criminal temperament. During the 1800s, anthropological theories used craniology to explain human evolution and justify the colonisation of countries populated by ’less evolved’ peoples. These theories became less popular in the 1900s, but basic instruments like the craniometer were used in introductory statistics classrooms. Students measured the heads of classmates, calculated averages and standard deviations, and drew normal curves to represent the data. Those curves no longer carried profound social consequences.


Psychology, Psychiatry & Anthropometry
Object Number:
ash (wood), brass (copper, zinc alloy), metal, steel
  • furnishing and equipment
  • measuring device - instrument
University College London, Dept. of Statistical Science

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