Bertillon system (bərtĭlˈyən) [key], first scientific method of criminal identification, developed by the French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon (1853–1914). The system, based on the classification of skeletal and other body measurements and characteristics, was officially adopted in France in 1888 and soon after in other countries. Fingerprinting, added later as a supplementary measure, has largely replaced the system (see fingerprint).
See biography of Alphonse Bertillon by H. Rhodes (1956, repr. 1969).