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Author: Stefan Vatev


Synopsis of Anthropological Studies in Bulgaria

Anthropology of Bulgaria features a long, fruitful and honorable existence. Rooted in the years before and immediately after the Liberation in 1878, right from the start of the 20th century it yielded contributions of national importance with the broad-scale and precise investigations of Prof. Stefan Vatev, and reached its first scientific peak 40 years later with the achievements of Acad. Metodi Popov.

In the monograph of M. Popov — re-issued in 1956 under editorship of Acad. A. Hadjiolov — out of 46 anthropological features and 20 indexes and relative values (totally 66) included in the investigation program, the data about 23 features and 12 indexes were statistically processed and published.

The professional backgrounds, rich culture and humanistic civil position of the researchers during this period protected the young anthropological science in Bulgaria from leanings towards socio-Darwinism, eugenics and "racial hygiene". Rather firmly standing by scientific truth, the anthropological science in Bulgaria contributed greatly to protecting the Bulgarian society and state from the misuse of anthropology and the excesses of the racial doctrine. Thus with the end of Second World War, the pre-war generation of Bulgarian scientists passed on to their followers not only a wealth of scientific information but also an example of morality and civilian position.

With those traditions established, and with the foundation in 1953 of the Institute of Morphology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (the present Institute of Experimental Morphology and Anthropology with Museum) and its Department of Anthropology, a new period in the anthropological studies began in Bulgaria. It was characterized by an enriched methodology, broadened problem scope, qualified scientific staff and material and financial support.

One of the most important endeavors in the various scientific activities of the Department of Anthropology was the development of a large-scale project for an anthropological study of the Bulgarian population. The project was highly appraised by national and foreign experts and received an adequate financial support from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the National Fund for Scientific Studies at the Ministry of Education and Science.

During the period from 1988 to 1993, under the scientific guidance and direct participation of Corresponding Member Prof. Yordan Yordanov, DSc, a team of researchers (anthropologists) collected the primary anthropological data in a field study. In the following years, the enormous amount of anthropological data, including derivative features, indexes and relative values (proportions) were computed, and statistically processed by programmers and statisticians at the Computing Centre at the National Centre of Health Information at the Ministry of Public Health.

The reduced set of features that were subject to analysis in the treatise includes 161 basic or derivative anthropological features, indexes and proportions presented in 12 thematic chapters, five of which are new for Bulgaria. The remaining ones further the anthropological studies of S. Vatev and M. Popov.



First Anthropologic-Ergonomic Study in Bulgaria

Results of the first anthropologic-ergonomic study made in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, covering 9 regions from the Bourgas, Varna, Vidin, Veliko Tarnovo, Kyustendil, Plovdiv, Samokov, Smolyan and Sofia districts are presented. Individuals were selected after the lottery method. A total of 3400 people were included, equally distributed in the following 4 age groups: 16-20, 21-30, 31-40 and 41-55, males and females separately. All basic anthropological and statistical requirements regarding the representation of the population — i.e., the most important ethnic-geographical, urbanization, sociological, economic and other considerations — have been taken into account. This mass anthropologic investigation was preceded by a micro-study, made on individuals of both sexes aged 25 - 35 years in 4 regions of Bulgaria (Varna, Plovdiv, Samokov and Sofia). The individuals investigated were predominantly workers of various workshops and departments in a total of 29 heterogeneous enterprises, state institutions, schools and military units. The regions, enterprises and working places investigated were also selected after the lottery method, and the mentioned anthropologic statistical requirements were observed. Analysis of data obtained in the preliminary micro-study proved that the mass investigation of the Bulgarian population for the purpose stated ought to be accomplished as a representative-typological-cluster one.

The study was carried out in the period from 1983 to 1984. Methodology applied in this study was prepared in advance by Prof. S. Moutafov and S. Tornyova, and combined classical anthropometric methods and equipment with two constructed medical-ergonomic sets of the unique scientific research installation for functional-dynamic anthropometry.



Addendum: We have been trying to elucidate several starting points in the science of physical anthropology — i.e., with its foundation method of anthropometry — subsequently, wherever it should have been easier to give a set of definitions from the international literature and some review material. But the elusiveness of the things we are dealing with threw us on the long way, no matter what our wishes are, and we shall try to attend here some additional material on the Bulgarian case. Find some more references in other works from the booklist (cf., "Mitakov, V (editor). Forensic Medicine with Autopsies. Sofia, 1924"; "Popov, M. Bulgarian Nationality among European Races and Nations. Sofia, 1938"; and "Cheboksarov, N and Cheboksarova, I. Nations, Races and Cultures. Sofia, 1982").

There appears a consistent trend for Prof. Stefan Vatev in the Bulgarian anthropological literature, which starts from the late years of 19th century and continues up to the mid-1940s. The professor was a busy man; apparently, he participated in numerous national and international institutions as physician, pediatrician and social care activist. Thus his occupations in anthropology remained on second plan and no matter the mist of forgetfulness that was imposed by communist rule for long 50 years, we have acclaimed the task to revive his scientific heritage at full to the young coming generations.

Now, good practice to present a scholar is to give a list of literature on the topic. For Prof. S. Vatev — i.e., student of anthropology with Dr. Luschan in Berlin (1897) and follower of Rudolf Virchow — this comprise a dozen of articles and two books. Our catalog consists of titles only in Bulgarian language and given in chronological order:

1. Contributions to Anthropology of the Bulgarian Race ~ an inventory of four articles. In: "Bulgarski Pregled", vol. VI, fasc. 6 to 9, 1900.

2. Foreign Literature on the Anthropology of the Bulgarians /vol. XXV from SNUNK/. Sofia: Darjavna Pechatnitza, 1909, 123 pp.

3. Bulgarian Types in Anthropological Attitude ~ a review. In: "Izvestiya na Bulgarsko Geografsko Druzhestvo", vol. I, fasc. 1, 1933.

4. Anthropological Study in the Region of Lovech ~ a review. In: "Almanah Lovech and Lovchansko", vol. IV, fasc. 5, 1934.

5. Craniometry in Bulgaria /vol. XXXV, fasc. PM-17 from SBAN/. Sofia: Darjavna Pechatnitza, 1941, 224 pp.

With regard to methodology, this particular study on craniometry measurements is based on data from parish registries. Investigations were made at the monastery ossuaries — altogether, 1330 crania from 22 monasteries (nests) which are distributed in three regions of Bulgaria: North, South and South-West.



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