S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Schultze, Prof Leonhard S (zoology, anthropology)

Born: 28 May 1872, Jena, Germany.
Died: 29 March 1955, Marburg, Germany.

Leonhard S. Schultze (sometimes identified as Schultze-Jena), German zoologist, geographer, anthropologist and linguist, started studying medicine at the University of Jena but changed to zoology and obtained a doctoral degree (Dr Phil) in that subject with a thesis on the functioning of the heart in Salpidae (an order of the sea squirts). He worked for some time in a zoological institute at Bergen, Germany, and studied the marine life of the Meditiranean in Naples and Messina, Italy. In 1898 he was appointed lecturer in zoology at the University of Jena. In 1902 he described the Anthipatharians (Black corals) collected by the German Deep-sea Expedition of 1898-1899, led by Professor Carl Chun*. His career at Jena was interrupted to undertake an expedition to German South West Africa (now Namibia), sponsored by the Prussian Academy of Sciences. The purpose of the expedition was to conduct zoological studies, and in particular to investigate the possible establishment of a sea fishing industry.

Schultze arrived in the territory in February 1903 and remained until 1905. During these years the Hereros were in revolt against German rule and Schultze therefore sometimes travelled with the headquarters of General Lothar von Trotha*. An account of his investigation of the fisheries in Namibia and parts of the Cape Colony was published as "Die Fischerei an der Westküste Südafrikas" in the Abhandlung des deutschen Seefischerei-Vereins (1907, 57p). The results of his zoological and anthropological studies, including papers by specialist authors, were published in a five-volume work entitled Zoologische und anthropologische Ergebnisse einer Forschungsreise im westlichen und zentralen Südafrika ausgeführt in den Jahren 1903-1905) (Zoological and anthropological results of a research journey in western and central South Africa carried out in the years 1903-1905; Jena, 1908-1928). These volumes constitute a major contribution to particularly the invertebrate zoology of Namibia. Spiders collected by Schultze were identified and described by F.W. Purcell* of the South African Museum, Cape Town. The Coleoptera he collected, belonging to the families Terebrionidae and Curculionidae, were identified by L. Péringuey* at the South African Museum before being forwarded to the Natural History Museum in Berlin. The marine mollusc Polypus schultzei and the non-marine mollusc Ena schultzei were named after him.

Much attention was devoted at the time to possible anatomical differences between the San and Khoi; for example, Péringuey found no significant differences between their skeletons. Schultze addressed this matter by taking measurements of living representatives of the two groups and found that he could indeed differentiate them anatomically. He none the less considered them to be variants of the same racial group, which he proposed to call "Khoisan" - a combination of the Hottentot words "Khoikhoi" (their name for themselves) and "San" (their name for the Bushmen). His study of the two groups was published under the title "Zur Kenntnis des Körpers der Hottentotten und Buschmänner" (Towards knowledge of the bodies of Hottentots and Bushmen) in Volume 5 (1928) of the above work.

Schultze expanded the expedition's field of research to include the geography and ethnology of southern Namibia and part of the Kalahari, as well as the language of the Khoi who lived there. These studies were documented in a separate book, Aus Namaland und Kalahari (From Namaland and Kalahari; Jena, 1907, 752p). The book represented his report to the Prussian Academy of Sciences on the results of the expedition. It included descriptions and illustrations of many cultural artefacts; also many of the legends and animal fables of the region in the original language, with German translations. Although Schultze had no formal training in geography (a new academic discipline at that time) this book made such an impression that he was appointed professor of geography at the University of Jena in 1908. Two years later he finished another book-length contribution to the geography of Namibia. Entitled "Sudwestafrika" (168p), it was included in Das deutsche Kolonialreich (Leipzig, 1909-1910) by H.H.J. Meyer and has been described as "A very thorough, excellent geographical work" (Logan, 1969).

In 1910 Schultze led a German-Dutch boundary commission to New Guinea and described its geography, people, and the Melanesian language in Forschungen im Innern der Insel Neuguinea... (Berlin, 1914). He became professor of geography at the University of Kiel in 1911, then at the University of Marburg in 1913, where he remained for the rest of his career. During World War I (1914-1918) he served as an officer in Macedonia, a region he visited again in 1922, after which he wrote Makedonien, Landschaft- und Kulturbilder (Jena, 1927). His interests gradually shifted more towards languages, particularly those of central America. During 1929-1931 he visited Mexico, Guatamala and El Salvador, studied the Maya language of the Quiché region of Guatamala and translated the Popul Voh (Holy book) from that language into German. He also studied the language of the Aztecs of Mexico and translated a sixteenth century ethnological work by Bernardino de Sahagún from Aztec into German.

List of sources:
Barnard, K.H. Personal names in South African conchology. Cape Town: Conchological Society of Southern Africa, 1965.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Trustees of the South African Museum, 1907, 1908.

Dictionary of South African biography, Vol. 4, 1981.

Gunn, M. & Codd, L.E. Botanical exploration of southern Africa. Cape Town: Balkema, 1981.

Hillebrecht, W. Unpublished notes for a dictionary of Namibian biography. National Archives of Namibia, Windhoek, June 2004.

Logan, R.F. Bibliography of South West Africa, geography and related fields. Windhoek: SWA Scientific Society, 1969.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

Tobias, P.V. History of physical anthropology in southern Africa. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 1985, Vol. 28, pp. 1-52.

Compiled by: C. Plug