Department of Biological Anthropology,
Eötvös Loránd University
The Department of Anthropology was established as one of the Institutes
of the University of Budapest in 1881, the fourth among such university
institutes in Europe. Aurel Török (1842-1912) was appointed its
first professor and began to courses of lectures. In the university
courses, Török made use of Topinard’s manual, which he together
with G. Pethő translated and published in Hungarian in 1881. In
1882 published at his own expense "Anthropologiai Füzetek"
(Journal of Anthropology), where he included sixteen of his own
studies. His main purpose was to study the origin of the Hungarian
people with the methods of paleoanthropology and ethnical anthropology.
But the lack of financial support of the Secretaries of the State
and other authorities he had to give up his idea. After this he
devoted more and more attention to methodology, particularly connected
with the reform of craniometry and he became the wellknown “reformer
of craniology at Pest”. His book "Grundzüge einer systematischen
Kraniometrie" (1890) is an interesting piece of reading, even
today, for in it he described 5371 measurements and indices. His
biometric methods, especially the introduction of probability theory
into anthropological practice, brought him wide distinction.
Following Török’s death in 1912, the headship of Budapest University
Department of Anthropology passed to directors who had inadequate
grounding in the subject, first A. Koch, then Zs. Tóth, and then
A. Paal. With M. Lenhossék’s (1863-1937) appointment as the head
of Institute of Anthropology (who was that time the Professor of
Anatomy) there was a great step forward. He did not restrict interest
exclusively to osteology and craniology, in his work more modern
topics appeared for the first time in Hungarian anthropological
studies – demonstration of the extent of hominid variation, the
characteristics of growth, numerous examples of disease frequency
variation by sex and by race. Under his direction, the Institute
of Anthropology of Budapest showed marked progress.
Following Wold War I, the zoologist L. Méhely was appointed head
of the Department of Anthropology. He was of strong racist opinions,
but these were not shared by other members of the Institute, or
indeed any Hungarian anthropologists. After Méhely’s retirement
in 1931, L. Bartucz (1885-1966) became the lecturer in Anthropology
in the University of Budapest. He was formerly Török’s assistant,
taking up the study of the anthropology of the Hungarians while
Török was occupied with methodological questions. In 1920 he left
the university, but in the years to follow he had arranged Jankó’s
cranial collection in the ethnographic section of the Hungarian
National Museum, and this workplace allowed him to build up the
anthropological laboratory of the Museum. Bartucz scoped to collaborate
with archaeologists and to collect human skeletal remains from excavations
in the territory of Hungary. In parallel with this activity, Bartucz
also began the study of ethnic groups living in various part of
Hungary. It was Bartucz who reported on the famous Neanderthal finds
of Subalyuk. Besides his work in the fields of palaeoanthropology
and palaeopathology, he discussed the history of Hungarian anthropology
in a number of studies, and indeed his work touched on almost all
the domains of anthropology.
Bartucz recommenced the journal "Anthropologiai Füzetek"
founded by Török in 1923, but was unsuccessful in establishing it
as a regular periodical. Issues appeared sporadically up to the
late 1930s, and this was the sole publication for anthropological
investigations in Hungary at that period.
In the 1930s, M. Malán (1900-1968), a pupil of M. Lenhossék and
E. Fischer from Germany, worked as Associate Professor at the Institute
of Anthropology in Budapest, being particularly interested in human
and population genetic topics. M. Fehér (1914-1975), also an Associate
Professor, introduced into the so-called ethnic anthropological
studies, as well as the investigations of questioned patternity.
J. Nemeskéri (1914-2000), a pupil of L. Bartucz, started also his
career in that period in this Department with studies on the physical
anthropology of the Hajdu ethnical group.
In 1940 L. Bartucz was appointed the Professor of the Department
of Anthropology at the University in Szeged, but he combined his
duties with giving lectures in Budapest. Later, in 1959 he left
the university of Szeged and he was appointed to the professor of
anthropology in Budapest, called from the year 1950 as the Department
of Anthropology at the Eötvös Loránd University. His activity at
that time centered on palaeoanthropology and palaeopathology, and
he published the monograph "Prehistoric Trephining and Grave
Finds relating to the History of Medicine" (1966). Early in
the 1950s, the first published university lecture notes in anthropology,
under the title "Embertan" (Physical Anthropology) and
"Emberszármazástan" (Evolution of Man) in Szeged and in
the early 60’s in Budapest, too.
Up to the 1960’s only one or two assistants worked at the department.
M. Fehér’s twenty-five years’ work as an Associate Professor was
concentrated on ethnic anthropology, human genetics for questioned
patternity, and to a lesser degree, examination of growth and development
of Hungarian children. It is much to be regretted that of the material
he collected on several hundred thousand individuals he hardly published
O. G. Eiben (b. 1931), who joined the Department in 1963 and served
as its head from 1975 to 1996, directed the work in the department
already from 1965. At the close of the 1960s, extensive reconstruction
of the department improved conditions. Early in the 1970s the educational
and research activities of the department were consolidated, and
besides the basic courses in physical anthropology and human biology,
lectures began on human genetics, human ecology, and special topics
in human biology, complemented, with the help of invited lecturers.
Research is pursued mainly on growth and development of children,
variations in human physique, and human population genetics.
O. G. Eiben and his associates carried out the first nation-wide,
representative Hungarian growth study between 1982 and 1984, and
have published national growth standards. Also Eiben organized the
"Budapest Longitudinal Growth Study" started in 1970 with
0-1 year-old babies in collaboration with numerous institutes, several
specialists and 60 nurses.
O. G. Eiben was the Editor of journal "Anthropologiai Közlemények"
In 1974 the Department instituted its own series of monographs with
the title "Humanbiologia Budapestinensis" edited by O.
O. G. Eiben passed away on November 16, 2004, at the age of 74 years.
From 1966 G. Gyenis (b. 1940) began to work in the Department on
the fields of population genetics, dermatoglyphics, and growth and
development of children and youth. In 1996 he became the head of
the department and in 1999 the full professor of the Faculty of
Science of the university.
At the present the head of the Department É. B. Bodzsár was appointed
as an assistant professor of the Department in 1972 (nowadays full
professor). She became the doctor of Hungarian Academy of Sciences
in 2001. Her main fields of research involve growth and aging, as
well as body composition and physique. She has been the Editor of
Anthropologiai Közlemények since 1999.
In September 2001, the department moved to the new campus of the
Faculty of Science of the university, to the Buda part of the city,
at the so called Lágymányos shore of the Danube. At this time joined
to the department A. Zsákai, working as an assistant professor.
Her main fields of research involve growth and development and twin
Our department is involved in Neuroscience and Humanbiology Program
of Biology Doctorate School at Faculty of Natural Sciences. At the
present two full-time fellowship holders and ten correspondence
students study in the Humanbiology Program.
|The Hungarian textbook series in human biology
published by the members of the staff facilitates the studies
of Phd and undergraduate students:
|É. Bodzsár (1999, 2003)
||Human Biology. Development:Growth and Maturation
|G. Gyenis (2001)
||Human Biology. Evolution of Hominids
|É. B. Bodzsár (2003)
||Human Biology. Biology of Aging: Puberty
|É. Bodzsár, A. Zsákai (2004)
||Human Biology. Practical Manual Book
The members of the staff take part in the work of several Hungarian
and international scientific associations, in the leadership of
several Hungarian and international organisations in the fields
of the biological antropology and serve on the editorial boards
of numerous international journals.