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Peter Artedi

Peter Artedi

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Peter Artedi or Petrus Arctaedius (February 22, 1705 – September 27, 1735) was a Swedish
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 naturalist
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

 and is known as the "father of Ichthyology."

Artedi was born in Anundsjö
Anundsjö
-History:The Anundsjö church is located in the community of Bredbyn in Örnsköldsvik Municipality and has a detached belltower.-Notable inhabitants:*Peter Artedi or Petrus Arctaedius *Frideborg Winblad, educator and administrator-References:...

 in the province of Ångermanland
Ångermanland
' is a historical province or landskap in the north of Sweden. It borders to Medelpad, Jämtland, Lapland, Västerbotten and the Gulf of Bothnia. The name "Ångermanland" comes from the Old Norse "anger", which means "deep fjord" and refers to the deep mouth of the river Ångermanälven...

. Intending to become a clergyman, he went, in 1724, to study theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 at Uppsala University
Uppsala University
Uppsala University is a research university in Uppsala, Sweden, and is the oldest university in Scandinavia, founded in 1477. It consistently ranks among the best universities in Northern Europe in international rankings and is generally considered one of the most prestigious institutions of...

, but he turned his attention to medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 and natural history
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

, especially fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

es. In 1728 his countryman Carolus Linnaeus
Carolus Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

 arrived in Uppsala, and a lasting friendship was formed between the two. In 1732 both left Uppsala, Artedi for England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and Linnaeus for Lappland; before parting they reciprocally bequeathed to each other their manuscripts and books in the event of death.

Artedi accidentally drowned at Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, where he was engaged in cataloguing the collections of Albertus Seba
Albertus Seba
Albertus Seba was a Dutch pharmacist, zoologist and collector.-Career:Born in East-Frisia, Seba moved to Amsterdam as an apprentice and opened around 1700 a pharmacy near the harbour. Seba asked sailors and ship surgeons to bring exotic plants and animal products he could use for preparing drugs...

, a wealthy Dutchman
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, who had formed what was perhaps the richest museum of his time. According to agreement, his manuscripts came into the hands of Linnaeus, and his Bibliotheca Ichthyologica and Philosophia Ichthyologica, together with a life of the author, were published at Leiden in 1738 under the title "Ichthyologia sive opera omnia de piscibus ..." .

Artedi was buried in a pauper's grave in St Anthony's churchyard in Amsterdam on 2 October 1735. His grave was never marked and the churchyard site has since been appropriated for other purposes.
An epitaph
Epitaph
An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial...

, written in Latin by Anders Celsius
Anders Celsius
Anders Celsius was a Swedish astronomer. He was professor of astronomy at Uppsala University from 1730 to 1744, but traveled from 1732 to 1735 visiting notable observatories in Germany, Italy and France. He founded the Uppsala Astronomical Observatory in 1741, and in 1742 he proposed the Celsius...

, and translated into English by George Shaw
George Shaw
George Shaw was an English botanist and zoologist.Shaw was born at Bierton, Buckinghamshire and was educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, receiving his M.A. in 1772. He took up the profession of medical practitioner. In 1786 he became the assistant lecturer in botany at Oxford University...

, is known because it was inscribed on the back flyleaf of Linnaeus's own copy of "Ichthyologia":
Here lies poor Artedi, in foreign land pyx'd
Not a man nor a fish, but something betwixt,
Not a man, for his life among fishes he past,
Not a fish, for he perished by water at last.


A memorial stone to Peter Artedi was erected in Amsterdam Zoological Gardens and unveiled on 28 June 1905; it is inscribed in Latin. Other stone memorials are in Anundsjö
Anundsjö
-History:The Anundsjö church is located in the community of Bredbyn in Örnsköldsvik Municipality and has a detached belltower.-Notable inhabitants:*Peter Artedi or Petrus Arctaedius *Frideborg Winblad, educator and administrator-References:...

and Nordmaling in Sweden.

Linnaeus named Artedia (Apiaceae), a monotypic genus from the eastern Mediterranean, after his friend.

Further reading