Aleš Hrdlička - Life and Career

Life and Career

His mother, Karolina Hrdličková, educated her gifted child herself; his skills and knowledge made it possible to skip the primary level of school. The family immigrated to the U.S. in 1881, when he was only 13. After arrival, the promised job brought only a disappointment to his father who started working in a cigar factory along with teenage Alois to earn living for the family with 6 other children. Young Hrdlička attended evening courses to improve his English, and at the age of 18, he decided to study medicine since he had suffered from tuberculosis and experienced the treatment difficulties of those times. In 1889, Hrdlička started studies at Eclectic Medical College and then continued at Homeopatic College in New York. To finish his medical studies, Hrdlička sat for exams in Baltimore in 1894. At first, he worked in the Middletown asylum for mentally affected where he learnt of anthropometry. In 1896, Hrdlička left for Paris, where he started to work as an anthropologist with other experts of then establishing field of science.

Between 1898 and 1903, during his scientific travel across America, Hrdlicka became the first scientist to spot and document the theory of human colonization of the American continent from east Asia only some 3,000 years ago. He argued that the Indians migrated across the Bering Strait from Asia, supporting this theory with detailed field research of skeletal remains as well as studies of the people in Mongolia, Tibet, Siberia, Alaska, and Aleutian Islands. The findings backed up the argument which later involved into the theory of global origin of human species that was awarded by the Thomas Henry Huxley Award in 1927.

Ales Hrdlicka founded and became the first curator of physical anthropology of the U.S. National Museum, now the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in 1903. He was the founder of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

He always sponsored his fellow expatriates and also donated the institution of anthropology in Prague, which was founded in 1930 by his co-explorer Jindřich Matiegka, in his natal country (the institution later took his name).

Read more about this topic:  Aleš Hrdlička

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