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21 January 2022 – 22 May 2022

Monkey Business! – The life and death of a late medieval pet

During excavations at the St. Alban-Graben in 2020, archaeologists discovered the skeleton of a monkey in a late medieval latrine tower. The find is a rarity throughout Europe.

In cooperation with the Archaeological Soil Research, the Basel Historical Museum is showing in a cabinet exhibition what the investigations so far have brought to light.

Skeletal comparisons suggest that the animal was a macaque. The kitchen utensils, which were disposed of in the latrine together with the carcass, date the monkey's death to around 1350–1400. Healed bone fractures and traces of inflammation testify to a less than species-appropriate animal husbandry.

The issue is very topical, as the vote on «Basic rights for primates» on 13 February in the canton of Basel-Stadt has shown.

In the small presentation, not only the monkey's skeleton and other finds are on display, but also pictures and written sources shed light on the cultural and social environment in which the monkey lived its life as an exotic pet.

Image: Basel Historical Museum
Image: Archaeological Soil Research Basel
Image: Archaeological Soil Research Basel
Image: Basel Historical Museum
Guided tours & poster exhibition

Accompanying programme

Following programme accompanies the exhibition: 

- Guided tours of the small exhibition «Monkey Business!» in the Barfüsserkirche.

- Short guided tours of the monkey skeleton will be offered regularly at the Barfüsserkirche on Museum Night on 20 May.

Small cabinet exhibition in the Barfüsserkirche

Opening timesAdmission


Basel Historical Museum
Management & administration
Steinenberg 4
PO box
CH – 4001 Basel

Reception: +41 61 205 86 00

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