VERNEAU, René.
GRIMALDI MAN
VERNEAU, René. The Men of the Barma-Grande (Baoussé-Roussè). An Account of the anthropological and archæological Specimens in the Museum Præhistoricum founded by the late Sir Thomas Hanbury … near Mentone. Translated from the French … by O. C & B. C. Second Edition.
Published by Fr. Abbo Baoussé-Roussè, near Menton.  1908.
12mo (183 × 110 mm) in half-sheets, pp. 192; edges a little browned, stitching pulling away in first couple of gatherings; uncut in the original printed wrappers, a little soiled and creased, spine rubbed, chipped at extremities.
Second edition, revised and expanded, of a paleoanthropological treatise on the newly discovered ‘Grimaldi Man’. ‘Since the appearance of the first edition [1900] of this little work, important discoveries have been made … Not only have they enabled us to determine with certainty the age of the several layers containing the remains of man or the relics of his handiwork, but they have revealed the existence of a fossil human type hitherto unknown’ (Preface).

René Verneau (1852–1938) was a French anthropologist who led the investigative work on the so-called ‘Grimaldi Man’. This name—given in honour of the principal house of Genoa—was an epithet applied to two Palaeolithic skeletons discovered in the Grotte dei Fanciulli, a series of caves and rock shelters at the base of the ‘Red Cliff’ near Ventimiglia in Liguria, Italy. The cave complex yielded various extraordinary finds, including Cro-Magnon skeletons, but it was not until the discovery of two skeletons in the lowest layer—which appeared markedly different to any previously unearthed—that the site received international attention.

The present work represents Verneau’s findings, and the framework of what would become his theories on evolution. It is broadly expanded from his initial treatise to include conclusions made possible by a full excavation of the site funded by the Crown Prince of Monaco, whom he thanks in his preface. Verneau and his team would later face criticism for their manipulation of the skeletons’ teeth and jaws and partial reconstruction of the skulls, but although his evolutionary theories were later debunked, the Grimaldi project is considered seminal to the development of paleoanthropology.

The artefacts from the caves, including the skeletons, were displayed in the adjacent Museum Praehistoricum, a small building paid for by Thomas Hanbury (1832–1907), the Quaker merchant, philanthropist and botanist. Having made his fortune trading with Chinese silk merchants, Hanbury settled in Ventimiglia where he founded an important botanical garden (the Giardini Botanici Hanbury), as well as two schools school and the museum. His garden and the museum appeared in Baedeker and other guidebooks, and attracted visitors including Queen Victoria.

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