Felix von Luschan → German.

Felix von Luschan, also Felix Ritter von Luschan (b. 11 August 1854 in Hollabrunn, Austria; d. 7 February 1924 in Berlin) was a doctor, anthropologist, explorer, archaeologist and ethnographer.


He studied medicine in Vienna and anthropology in Paris. Between 1878 and 1879 he was an army doctor in Bosnia and travelled through Dalmatia, Montenegro and Albania. In 1882 he became a lecturer (Privatdozent) at Vienna University, and in 1885 assistant director at the "Royal Anthropological Museum" (now the Ethnological Museum in Berlin), where from 1904 to 1911 he was Director of the Africa and Oceania Department. In this capacity he acquired the "Benin Antiquities", a group of ivory carvings and bronze figures.

He inaugurated his academic career in 1888, and in 1904 was appointed Reader and in 1911 Professor in the first Chair of Anthropology at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

At the beginning of his career he explored in Lycia in southern Turkey together with Otto Benndorf. At Zincirli he discovered the ruins of Sam’al, capital of a small principality of the late Hittite period, which he excavated between 1888 and 1902.

In 1905 he undertook expeditions to South Africa. In 1919 he discovered Warra in Louisiana, the only traditional mancala game in the USA, which was still played in the early 20th century.

He is also remembered for creating the von Luschan's chromatic scale for classifying skin colour, which consisted of 36 opaque glass tiles which were compared to the subject's skin.

(Note: Ritter here is not part of the name but a title, equivalent to the English knighthood or baronetcy).

Selected Works

  • Beiträge zur Völkerkunde der deutschen Schutzgebiete. Reimer, Berlin (Germany) 1897.
  • Anthropologie, Ethnographie und Urgeschichte. Jänecke, Hannover (Germany) 1905.
  • Die Altertümer von Benin. Berlin (Germany) 1919.
  • Zusammenhänge und Konvergenz. In: Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien, 1919; 48: 51-58.
  • Völker, Rassen, Sprachen. Deutsche Buch-Gemeinschaft, Berlin (Germany) 1927.


  • Furtwängler, Andreas E.:Luschan, Felix von. In NDB, vol 15. (Historische Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1987, ISBN 3-428-00196-6
  • Knoll, Liselotte: Felix von Luschan. Ergänzungen und Beiträge zu biographischen Daten eines Pioniers der Ethnologie (Thesis, University of Vienna 2004)
  • Stelzig, Christine: Felix von Luschan. Ein kunstsinniger Manager am Königlichen Museum für Völkerkunde zu Berlin. In „... Macht und Anteil an der Weltherrschaft.“ Berlin und der deutsche Kolonialismus (eds Ulrich van der Heyden, Joachim Zeller; Unrast, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-89771-024-2)
  • Zeller, Adelheid: Felix von Luschan. Seine Bedeutung für die Beninforschung. Ein Beitrag zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte (Thesis, University of Vienna 2004)


Adapted from the Wikipedia article, "Felix von Luschan" (as of 4/22/2007), used under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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