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Eduard Seler

Eduard Seler

German academic
Eduard Seler
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German academic
A.K.A. Eduard Georg Seler, Seler
Was Anthropologist Archaeologist Professor Educator Scientist Paleontologist
From Germany
Type Academia Biology Science Social science
Gender male
Birth 5 December 1849, Krosno Odrzańskie, Poland
Death 23 November 1922, Berlin, Margraviate of Brandenburg (aged 73 years)
Star sign Sagittarius
Spouse: Caecilie Seler-Sachs
The details (from wikipedia)


Eduard Georg Seler (December 5, 1849 – November 23, 1922) was a prominent German anthropologist, ethnohistorian, linguist, epigrapher, academic and Americanist scholar, who made extensive contributions in these fields towards the study of pre-Columbian era cultures in the Americas. He is most renowned for his foundational studies concerning the ethnography, documents and history of Mesoamerican cultures, for which he is regarded as one of the most influential Mesoamericanist scholars active around the turn of the 20th century. Seler laid many fundamentals in understanding and deciphering the aztec pictorial script. A main contribution was the re-discovery and analysis of the basic aztec calendar system: the existence of two aztec calendars, a 365-day solar profane (everyday use) resp. a 263-day lunar religious calendar. He also noted from the sources, that the ceremonial killing victim figures alleged by Spanish priests and military (10.000s or even 100.000s, repeatedly) in their chronicles were most probably vastly exaggerated propaganda. Much later, that was confirmed by excavations end of the 20th century.

Being poor and of ailing health, he was helped and supported for decades by his wife Cäcilie (Cecilia) Seler-Sachs (1855–1935, financially (she was the daughter of Dr Sachs, a wealthy MD), physically (during their long, hard, and insecure travels), and intellectually. Her photos of Aztec temples and pyramids are still useful to scientists, and after her husband's death she went on verifying his works, and publishing them. On the spot, the Selers were helped by Mexican scholar and historian Antonio Peñafiel.

1897 portrait of Eduard Seler and his wife Caecilie Seler-Sachs whose inherited fortune turned Eduard from a penniless lecturer into a traveling scholar.


A page of the Codex Mendoza : the conquests and rules of Itzcoatl tlatoani of Tenochtitlan (1427–1440)
Bottom left page of the Borgia Codex (16th century): a deity spears a woman, while a turtle runs away (the kind of enigmatic drawing Cecilia and Eduard Seler had to ponder upon in their study, between their dangerous and exhausting travels and excavations campaigns)


Caecilie Seler-Sachs and Eduard Seler in 1897
  • Dec 5th, 1849 – Birth in Crossen an der Oder, Prussia
  • 1863-69 – Attendance at Joachimsthalsche Gymnasium, Berlin
  • 1870-71 — Military service (during the Franco-Prussian War)
  • 1871-75 – Studies at University of Berlin
  • 1875-79 – Teaching science and mathematics
  • 1887 – Doctoral degree from University of Leipzig
  • 1895-97 - Investigation of Maya cave sites including Quen Santo
  • 1904-22 – Directorship of American Division, Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin
  • 1922 — Death

Writings by Eduard Seler

  • in the original German :- Gesammelte Abhandlungen zur Amerikanischen Sprach- und Alterthumskunde. 5 vols. Berlin : A. Asher, 1902-1923.
  • translated (by Charles P. Bowditch & Frank E. Comparato) into English :- Collected Works in Mesoamerican Linguistics and Archaeology. Culver City (CA) : Labyrinthos, 1990-1998.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 08 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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