Felix von Luschan

Felix von Luschan

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Felix Ritter von Luschan (11 August 1854 – 7 February 1924) was an Austrian
Austrians are a nation and ethnic group, consisting of the population of the Republic of Austria and its historical predecessor states who share a common Austrian culture and Austrian descent....

 doctor, anthropologist, explorer, archaeologist and ethnographer.

Note that the Ritter
Ritter is a designation used as a title of nobility in German-speaking areas. Traditionally it denotes the second lowest rank within the nobility, standing above "Edler" and below "Freiherr"...

is not part of the name but a title, equivalent to the English knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 or baronet
A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess , is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown...



He was born the son of a lawyer in Hollabrunn
Hollabrunn is a district capital town in the Austrian state of Lower Austria, on the Göllersbach river.- History :The surroundings of Hollabrunn were first settled in neolithic times. Around 300 B.C...

 in Lower Austria
Lower Austria
Lower Austria is the northeasternmost state of the nine states in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria since 1986 is Sankt Pölten, the most recently designated capital town in Austria. The capital of Lower Austria had formerly been Vienna, even though Vienna is not officially part of Lower Austria...

 and attended the Akademisches Gymnasium
Akademisches Gymnasium (Vienna)
Founded in 1553, the Akademisches Gymnasium is the oldest secondary school in Vienna. The school offers a humanistic education and is known to be rather liberal compared to other traditional secondary schools in the city....

 in Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, whereafter he studied medicine at the Vienna University
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world...

 and anthropology in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, with an emphasis on craniometry. After he gained his doctorate in 1878, he was an army doctor in Austro-Hungarian occupied Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 and, together with the British archaeologist Arthur Evans
Arthur Evans
Sir Arthur John Evans FRS was a British archaeologist most famous for unearthing the palace of Knossos on the Greek island of Crete and for developing the concept of Minoan civilization from the structures and artifacts found there and elsewhere throughout eastern Mediterranean...

, travelled through Dalmatia
Dalmatia is a historical region on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches from the island of Rab in the northwest to the Bay of Kotor in the southeast. The hinterland, the Dalmatian Zagora, ranges from fifty kilometers in width in the north to just a few kilometers in the south....

, Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

 and Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

. From 1880 he worked as a medical assistant at the Vienna General Hospital
Vienna General Hospital
The Vienna General Hospital is the University medical center of the city of Vienna, Austria. The AKH is the largest hospital of Austria and Europe, the second largest hospital in the world, and at 85-m high is one of the tallest hospital buildings in the world...

 and a lecturer (Privatdozent
Privatdozent or Private lecturer is a title conferred in some European university systems, especially in German-speaking countries, for someone who pursues an academic career and holds all formal qualifications to become a tenured university professor...

) at the Vienna University in 1882. In 1885 he married Emma von Hochstetter, daughter of the German geologist Ferdinand von Hochstetter
Ferdinand von Hochstetter
Christian Gottlieb Ferdinand Ritter von Hochstetter was a German geologist.He was born at Esslingen, Württemberg, the son of Christian Ferdinand Friedrich Hochstetter , a clergyman and professor at Bonn, who was also a botanist and mineralogist...

, a close friend of his father.

On 1 January 1886 von Luschan took up his position as an assistant of Director Adolf Bastian
Adolf Bastian
Adolf Bastian was a 19th century polymath best remembered for his contributions to the development of ethnography and the development of anthropology as a discipline...

 at the Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 (the present-day Ethnological Museum
Ethnological Museum of Berlin
The Ethnological Museum in Berlin is one of the largest ethnological museums in the world. It houses half a million pre-industrial objects, acquired primarily from the German voyages of exploration and colonialization of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries...

), where upon Bastian's death in 1905 he became Director of the Africa and Oceania Department. In this capacity he acquired one of the most important collections of Benin
Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

 antiquities, ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 carvings and bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 figures he published in his multivolume opus magnum.

He started his academic career in 1888, in 1904 was appointed Reader
Reader (academic rank)
The title of Reader in the United Kingdom and some universities in the Commonwealth nations like Australia and New Zealand denotes an appointment for a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation in research or scholarship...

 and in 1909 gave up his profession at the Völkerkundemuseum when he was appointed tenured professor at the Berlin Charité
The Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin is the medical school for both the Humboldt University and the Free University of Berlin. After the merger with their fourth campus in 2003, the Charité is one of the largest university hospitals in Europe....

 medical school and in 1911 holder of the first chair of anthropology at Berlin's Frederick William University
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

 (now Humboldt University of Berlin). He is also remembered for creating the von Luschan's chromatic scale
Von Luschan's chromatic scale
Von Luschan's chromatic scale is a method of classifying skin color. It is also called the von Luschan scale or von Luschan's scale. It is named after its inventor, Felix von Luschan. The equipment consists of 36 opaque glass tiles which were compared to the subject's skin, ideally in a place which...

 for classifying skin colour, which consisted of 36 opaque glass tiles which were compared to the subject's skin.

Though Luschan had joined the German Society for Racial Hygiene
German Society for Racial Hygiene
The German Society for Racial Hygiene was an organization founded on June 22, 1905 by the physician Alfred Ploetz in Berlin. Its goal was for society to return to a healthy and blooming, strong and beautiful life" as Ploetz put it...

 in 1908, in his works he rejected the rising ideas of "scientific racism
Scientific racism
Scientific racism is the use of scientific techniques and hypotheses to sanction the belief in racial superiority or racism.This is not the same as using scientific findings and the scientific method to investigate differences among the humans and argue that there are races...

" and stressed the equality of the human races. He died in Berlin at the age of 69 and is buried at his summer residence in Millstatt
Millstatt is a market town in Carinthia, Austria. Within the Central Eastern Alps it is situated on a peninsula on the northern shore of the Lake Millstatt, in the district of Spittal an der Drau....

, Austria.


At the beginning of his career in 1881 von Luschan explored together with Otto Benndorf
Otto Benndorf
Otto Benndorf was a German-Austrian archaeologist who was a native of Greiz, Thuringia.He studied theology at Erlangen, and art history and archaeology in Bonn and Göttingen. Afterwards he worked at several high schools, including Schulpforte where one of his students was Friedrich Nietzsche...

 the ancient Lycia
Lycia Lycian: Trm̃mis; ) was a region in Anatolia in what are now the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of Turkey. It was a federation of ancient cities in the region and later a province of the Roman Empire...

 region in southern Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, where they excavated the heroon
A heroon , also called heroum, was a shrine dedicated to an ancient Greek or Roman hero and used for the commemoration or cult worship of the hero. It was often erected over his supposed tomb or cenotaph....

 of Gölbaşı-Trysa near Myra
Myra is an ancient town in Lycia, where the small town of Kale is situated today in present day Antalya Province of Turkey. It was located on the river Myros , in the fertile alluvial plain between Alaca Dağ, the Massikytos range and the Aegean Sea.- Historical evidence :Although some scholars...

, which is now on display at the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum
Kunsthistorisches Museum
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is an art museum in Vienna, Austria. Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, it is crowned with an octagonal dome...

. The next year he joined Karol Lanckoroński and Alfred Biliotti
Alfred Biliotti
Sir Alfred Biliotti was a levantine Italian who joined the British foreign service and eventually rose to become one of its most distinguished consular officers in the late 19th century. Biliotti was also an accomplished archaeologist who conducted important excavations at sites in the Aegean,...

 on an expedition to Pamphylia
In ancient geography, Pamphylia was the region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus . It was bounded on the north by Pisidia and was therefore a country of small extent, having a coast-line of only about 75 miles with a breadth of...

 and Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...


In February 1883 he accompanied Carl Humann
Carl Humann
Carl Wilhelm Humann was a German engineer, architect and archaeologist...

 on an expedition to Nemrut Dağ
Mount Nemrut
Nemrut or Nemrud is a high mountain in southeastern Turkey, notable for the summit where a number of large statues is erected around what is assumed to be a royal tomb from the 1st century BCE.-Location and description:...

 in historic Commagene
Kingdom of Commagene
The Kingdom of Commagene was an ancient kingdom of the Hellenistic Age.Little is known of the region of Commagene prior to the beginning of the 2nd century BC. However, it seems that, from what little evidence remains, Commagene formed part of a larger state that also included Sophene...

, initiated by the Prussian Academy of Sciences
Prussian Academy of Sciences
The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy established in Berlin on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.-Origins:...

. At Zincirli
Sam'al was a Hittite and Aramaean city located at Zincirli Höyük in the Anti-Taurus Mountains of modern Turkey's Gaziantep Province.-History:thumb|200px|right|Historical map of the Neo-Hittite states, ca...

 he discovered the ruins of Sam'al, capital of a small principality of the late Hittite
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 period, which he later excavated between 1888 and 1902 together with Robert Koldewey
Robert Koldewey
Robert Johann Koldewey was a German architect, famous for his discovery of the ancient city of Babylon in modern day Iraq. He was born in Blankenburg am Harz in Germany, the duchy of Brunswick, and died in Berlin at the age of 70...


All expeditions had profited from von Luschan's medical training. In 1905 he and his wife Emma travelled to South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 on invitation of the British Science Association and in 1913 to Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, where the couple received the message of the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 in Europe and had to proceed to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


Selected works

  • Beiträge zur Völkerkunde der deutschen Schutzgebiete (Reimer, Berlin 1897)
  • Anthropologie, Ethnographie und Urgeschichte (3rd edition, Jänecke, Hannover 1905)
  • Die Altertümer von Benin (1919)
  • Völker, Rassen, Sprachen (Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, Berlin 1927)

External links

Short biography,Österr. Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW) (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

This article is translated from that on the German Wikipedia