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© MAP Monaco

Since 1902, Monaco’s Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology has preserved and showcased human heritage.

The Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology was founded in 1902 by Prince Albert I. With a passion for the origins of Man, the “Scholar Prince”, who also established the Institute of Palaeontology in Paris in 1910, wanted to “conserve traces of early humankind exhumed in the Principality and neighbouring regions.” Prince Albert I had commissioned and funded a dig in the Grimaldi caves (1895–1902) and wanted to bring the archaeological heritage which had been collected together in a single location.

The first Museum of Anthropology was located on the Rocher, in the former Government House building. In 1959, during the reign of Prince Rainier III, the museum moved to the west of Monaco, within the Exotic Garden. Since then, it has been located next to the Observatory Cave, an important site in prehistory, used for 400,000 years by various groups of prehistoric hunter-gatherers (Homo erectus, Homo Neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens).

As a research institute, the museum conducts field digs and carries out laboratory studies. Its collections offer a chance to explore the glacial and interglacial periods.

© MAP Monaco
© MAP Monaco

Visitors to the museum can discover a Siberian woolly mammoth dating back 31,000 years. Over the course of several expeditions (from 1991 to 2003), numerous fragments of the animal’s skeletal remains were collected from the Siberian permafrost and have now been affixed to a metal structure. The resulting reconstruction of a mammoth is impressive, at 5 metres long, 2.20 metres wide and 3.30 metres tall at its highest.

Having been temporarily exhibited in Japan and the United States, this remarkable specimen has been kept in Monaco since 2013 to allow scientific work (palaeontology, dating) to be carried out.

Led by young Monegasque Elena Rossoni-Notter, Monaco’s Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology has a scientific committee chaired by Yves Coppens.

The renowned palaeontologist, a professor at the Collège de France, co-led the team that discovered Lucy in Ethiopia in 1974. A skeleton standing one metre tall and dating back 3.2 million years, the discovery of Lucy played a decisive role in our understanding of human history.

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Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology of Monaco

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