Symbol of Anthropology
AT A GLANCE...
A plaster reproduction of a human skull and calipers
Circumstances of Loss:
The skull had been taken from its original location in West Berlin in the spring of 1945 by a U.S. Navy Lieutenant.
The plaster object was returned to the Harnack Haus of the Max Planck Society in April 2016.
Discovery and Research
In the Fall of 2015, the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology — Indiana University in Bloomington requested the Monuments Men Foundation’s assistance in returning a ceiling decoration that once hung in the Harnack Haus of the Max Planck Society, a building in the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute complex in West Berlin.
Featuring a plaster reproduction of a human skull and calipers, the object symbolizes the Anthropology division of the Institute and hung alongside similar symbols that represented the various sciences studied at this learning center. The skull had been taken in the spring of 1945 by Samuel Perkins, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant assigned to the Economics Division of the Office of Military Government, which was converting the building into an officer's mess hall.
Mr. Perkins decided to donate the item to the Glenn A. Black Laboratory in 1987. The Foundation returned the object to the Society in April 2016.