The first forensics

Mina Minovici (April 30, 1857 - April 25, 1933) was a Romanian forensic scientist, famous for his extensive research regarding cadaverous alkaloids, putrefaction, simulated mind diseases, and criminal anthropology. Professor Mina Minovici, Director of the first Institute of Legal Medicine built in Romania in 1892, corresponding member of the French Academy of Medicine, and the founder of the modern medico-legal system, was one of the most prominent personalities in this field of activity in Europe at that time.

Minovici was born in 1858 in Brăila. In 1883, he graduated as a pharmacist and, as an assistant professor, worked with the famous Romanian physician Carol Davila (1828-1884), the “father of modern Romanian medicine,” and with Alfred N. Bernath Lendway (1836-1924), a toxicologist. After receiving his degree, Minovici was awarded a grant that allowed him to pursue postgraduate training in forensic medicine in Paris, France. He wrote a thesis on medicolegal medicine for which he received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Paris in 1888. He remained in Paris for 2 more years as an assistant to Professor Brouardel.

In 1890, Minovici returned to Romania after being appointed head of the service of forensic medicine for the city of Bucharest and in 1892 he became head of the 'City Morgue', the first medico-legal institute in the world, now bearing his name. Soon, Brouardel copied it and founded a similar institute in Paris and same did the Americans, with their institute in Pennsylvania; Minovici stayed 2 years in Egypt and created a forensic institute in Cairo. In 1900, he founded a journal that was dedicated to fighting alcoholism, published until 1915. In 1913, Mina became head of the Romanian Health Services and was involved in controlling cholera during the campaign in Bulgaria (second Balkan War, 1913). In 1920, he was elected dean of the School of Medicine in Bucharest, a position he held for another 3 terms. Between 1928 and 1930, Mina published several volumes of Treatise on Forensic Medicine.

At the beginning of the XX century, Mina Minovici was considered the greatest specialist in the conservation of the human body. For this reason, he was invited to the death of many members of the royal houses of Europe. Minovici Mina's recipe consists of two formulas: one for embalmment and one for mummification. With this recipe, Mina Minovici bodies could be preserved without extracting internal organs from the inside. In the museum of the IML, there is still a mummy preserved in this way and that all internal organs are preserved. Recently, this mummy has undergone a tomography examination. CT examination revealed that the mummified man probably died because of advanced pulmonary tuberculosis.

Mina Minovici retired at the age of 74 (1932), and died the next year.

Mina Minovici’s brother Nicolae (1868-1941) was also a distinguished specialist in medicolegal medicine and succeeded Mina as head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine. Nicolae is featured on several postmarks issued by Romania and is credited with founding the ambulance service in Bucharest. Another brother, Ştefan (1867-1935), was professor of analytical chemistry and toxicology as a member of the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest and was the first dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy in Bucharest. All three brothers were prominent art collectors and founded two museums in Bucharest (1916).

Mina Minovici Museum (Western Art)

Nicolae Minovici Museum (Ethnology)