Peter Simon Pallas

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Peter Simon Pallas

Peter (Petrus, Pyotr) Simon Pallas (born September 22, 1741 in Berlin ; † September 8, 1811 ibid) was a German, Prussian naturalist , geographer and explorer. He was made a full member of the Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg in 1767 and undertook expeditions through Siberia and the southern Russian Empire in 1768–1774 and 1793/1794, supported by Tsarina Catherine II . Its official botanical author abbreviation is “ Pall. "


Portrait medallion on the tombstone

Peter Simon Pallas was the son of Simon Pallas (1694-1770), a surgeon at the Collegium medico-chirurgicum and the first surgeon at the Charité . He was gifted with languages ​​and mastered Latin, Greek, English, French, and in later years also Russian and Tatar . At the age of 13 he attended lectures at the Collegium medico-chirurgicum , where he took the anatomical examination at the age of 17.

Further studies took him to the University of Halle and the University of Göttingen . Here he took part in lectures in mathematics and physics . In 1760 he received his doctorate at the University of Leiden with the writing De infestis veventibus intra viventia (About the intestinal worms) . In this work on the parasitology of the intestinal worms, he assumed that the worms arise from parasite eggs. Despite several publications in zoology , he failed to find a job as a naturalist.

At his father's request, he was to serve as a general practitioner in the Seven Years' War , but the war ended before he was drafted . Therefore he went to Holland for three years, where he devoted himself to the organization and description of collections of natural objects.

At the age of 23, Peter Simon Pallas was elected a member of the Royal Society . In 1764 he was admitted to the Leopoldina . In 1777 he was elected a foreign member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences , 1784 a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and 1790 of the Académie des Sciences in Paris.

Professorship in Russia

After further pressure from his father in 1767, he returned to Berlin and was awarded membership in the there Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences by Jacob of Staehlin . This brought him a conflict with his father, but he accepted the offer and received a professorship for natural history in St. Petersburg .

On April 30, 1767, he was entrusted with the preparation and management of one of five Academy expeditions. This took place from 1768 to 1774 and led him from the central Urals via western Siberia to the Caspian Depression . Other participants were Iwan Bykow, Nikita Petrowitsch Rytschkow, Nikita Petrowitsch Sokolow as well as Johann Peter Falck and Johann Gottlieb Georgi .

Tsarina Catherine II hoped for an improvement in Russia's reputation, so the travel reports were prepared during the expedition. The first edition appeared as a journey through various provinces of the Russian Empire (1771) with a length of 2000 pages. Due to the rapid spread, several editions and reprints were made; they found prevalence outside of Russia. Pallas became very well known in the scientific world and in the ruling houses.

Then the evaluation of the expedition data and collections was the focus of his work. This produced a wealth of publications.

Second expedition and further research

Pallas's grave in Berlin-Kreuzberg
Pallas' house in Simferopol , Crimea . Park “Salgirka”.
Travel report published in 1799, illustrated with etchings by Christian Gottfried Heinrich Geißler

He later financed his own expedition that took him to southern Russia and the Crimea . This awakened in him the desire to live there, which was also fulfilled by gifts of land from the tsarina. However, the stay turned out to be problematic, since his strength was drained by legal disputes, illnesses and bad weather in the years 1795 to 1810. It broke off contact with St. Petersburg, so that although he continued to conduct research, it was only passed on with a delay. A two-volume travelogue appeared in Leipzig in 1799 and 1801, containing numerous suggestions and practical instructions for the governors in New Russia and the Crimea, some of which were implemented. The Bavarian Academy of Sciences accepted Pallas as a foreign member in 1808.

In order to finish the work on the Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica and to speed up the completion of the drawings and printing plates, Pallas separated from his wife and returned in 1810 to his brother August Friedrich Pallas in Berlin with his grandson and widowed daughter . Only a few months later he died there shortly before his 70th birthday after intensive work on the Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica .

Peter Simon Pallas was buried in Cemetery I of the Jerusalem and New Church parish in front of Hallesches Tor . The inscription on the tombstone reads:

"Petrus Simon Pallas / Berolinensis / Eques / Academicus Petropolitanus / multas per terras iactatus / ut naturam rerum indagaret / hic tandem requiescit. / Natus D. XXII. M. Sept. A. MDCCXLI. / Obiit D. VIII. M. Sept. A. MDCCCXI. / Cippum titulumque / ab i [ll] o iussum / Academiae Scient. / Berolinensis et Petropolitana / posuerunt / A. MDCCCLIV. "

By resolution of the Berlin Senate , the last resting place of Pallas (grave site 111-HW-11) has been dedicated as a Berlin honorary grave since 1984 . The dedication was extended in 2005 by the usual period of twenty years.


In addition to the botanical, zoological, geological, geographical and ethnological research results, he also reports in his expedition records about a large amount of "solid iron" (original quote from PALLAS 1771–1776: Reiseberichte III, p. 411), which the locals told him about told that she fell from the sky in 1749 near the Siberian village of Ubeisk south of Krasnoyarsk . The sensational find, initially also known as “Pallas iron” and later recognized as a meteorite , played an important role in the book published in 1794 by the natural scientist Ernst F. F. Chladni , who at that time dealt intensively with the formation of such “iron masses”. Today officially called " Krasnoyarsk ", this historical meteorite represents the "prototype" of the pallasites , a subgroup of the stone-iron meteorites named after P. S. Pallas .


In his honor were the lunar crater Pallas , the asteroid (21087) Petsimpallas , the genus Pallasia Scop. from the plant family of the sweet grasses (Poaceae) and the Pallasstrasse in Berlin-Schöneberg named after him. The plant genera Petrosimonia Bunge from the foxtail family (Amaranthaceae) and Neopallasia Poljakov from the sunflower family (Asteraceae) have also been named in his honor.


Peter Simon Pallas
  • Elenchus zoophytorum, sistens generum adumbrationes generaliores et specierum cognitarum succinctas descriptiones, cum selectis auctorum synonymis. van Cleef, The Hague 1766. doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.6595
  • Miscellanea zoologica, quibus novæ imprimis atque obscuræ animalum species describuntur et observationibus iconibusque illustrantur. The Hague 1766.
  • Spicilegia zoologica. Berlin 1767-1780. doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.39832
  • Lyst der Plant-Dieren, bevattende de algemeene treasure the slaughtered en korte beschryvingen der bekende zoorten. van Paddenburg & van Schoonhoven, Utrecht 1768.
  • Natural history of remarkable animals. Berlin 1769–1778.
  • The knowledgeable quantity work, in het wilted de nieuwe of nog duistere zoorten van dieren, door naauwkeurige afbeeldingen, beschryvingen en negotiating was opgehelderd. van Paddenburg & van Schoonhoven, Utrecht 1770. doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.46936
  • Travel through different provinces of the Russian Empire. St. Petersburg 1771–1801.
  • Continens quadrupedium, avium, amphibiorum, piscium, insectorum, molluscorum aliorumque marinorum fasciculos decem. Berlin 1774.
  • Collections of historical news about the Mongolian peoples. St. Petersburg, Frankfurt, Leipzig 1776–1801.
  • Reflections on the nature of the mountains and changes in the globe, especially in relation to the Russian Empire. Hartknoch, Frankfurt 1778.
  • Miscellanea zoologica. Leiden 1778.
  • Novae species quadrupedum e glirium ordine, cum illustrationibus variis complurium ex hoc ordine animalium. Walther, Erlangen 1778. doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.15686
  • Natuurlyke historie van nieuwe en nog little known soorten van dieren. van Esveldt & Holtrop, Amsterdam 1779.
  • Observations on the formation of the montagnes et les changements arrivés au globe. Segaud, St. Petersburg 1779.
  • Сравнительные словари всех языков и наречий, собранные десницею всевысочайшей особы. St. Petersburg 1787–1789.
  • Comments on a trip to the southern governorships of the Russian Empire in 1793 and 1794. Martini, Leipzig 1799–1803. doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.48470 doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.48469
  • Observations faites dans un Voyage entrepris dans les Gouvernements méridionaux de l'Empire de Russie dand les années 1793 et ​​1794, traduit de l'allemand. Godefroi Martini, Leipzig 1801.
  • Enumeratio plantarum in horto Procopii a Demidof. St. Petersburg 1781.
  • Diary of two journeys made in the years 1727, 1728 and 1736 from Kjachta and Zuruchaitu through Mongoley to Beijing by Lorenz Lange ... Communicated by Prof. Pallas Leipzig, with Johann Zacharias Logan, booksellers in St. Petersburg. ( )
  • Icones Insectorum praesertim Rossicae, Sibiriaeque peculiarium. Walther, Erlangen 1781–1798. doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.15809
  • Nordic contributions to the physical and geographical description of the earth and peoples, natural history and economics. Logan, St. Petersburg 1781–1796. (3rd volume ) doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.48495 doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.48496 doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.48498 doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.48400 doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.48493 doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.48494
  • Observations on the formation of the montagnes et les changemens arrivès à notre globe. Méquignon, St. Petersburg 1782.
  • Flora Rossica seu Stirpium Imperii Rossici per Europam et Asiam, indigenarum descriptiones et icones. Weitbrecht, St. Petersburg 1784–1788. ( Digitized version )
  • Linguarum totius orbis vocabularia comparativa. St. Petersburg 1786.
  • Путешествие по разным местам Российского государства. St. Petersburg 1786–1809.
  • Characteristics of animal plants, in which general sketches of the genera of the same and brief descriptions of the species belonging to them are given, together with the most distinguished synonyms of the writers. Rasp, Nuremberg 1787.
  • Voyages de MPS Pallas en différentes provinces de l'empire de Russie, et dans l'Asie septentrionale. Maradan, Paris 1788-1793.
  • Flora Rossica. Frankfurt 1789/90.
  • Voyages en Sibérie, extraits des journaux de divers savans voyageurs. Bern 1791.
  • An account of the different kinds of sheep found in the Russian dominions and among the Tartar hordes of Asia. Chapman, Edinburgh 1794.
  • Voyages du Professeur Pallas dans plusieurs provinces de l'empire de Russie et dans l'Asie septentrionale. Maradan, Paris 1794.
  • Краткое физическое и топографическое описание Таврической области. 1795.
  • Tableau physique et topographique de la Tauride. St. Petersburg 1795.
  • Physico-topographical painting of Tauria. Logan, St. Petersburg 1796.
  • Diary of a journey made in 1781 from the frontier fortress Mosdok to the inner Caucasus. Logan, St. Petersburg 1797.
  • Plantae novae ex herbario et schedis defuncti Botanici Ioanni Sievers, Hannoverani, descriptae , Nova acta Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae, Petropoli (St. Petersburg) 1797
  • Observations faites dans un voyage entrepris dans les gouvernements méridionaux de l'empire de Russie, dans les années 1793 et ​​1794. Martini, Leipzig 1799–1801.
  • Species astragalorum. Martini, Leipzig 1800. doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.46625
  • Travels through the southern provinces of the Russian empire, in the years 1793 and 1794: in 2 vol .; with many colored vignettes, plates, and maps . Longman and Rees, London ( urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-76724 - University and State Library Düsseldorf )
  • Illustrationes plantarum imperfecte vel nondum cognitarum. Leipzig 1803.
  • Travels through the southern provinces of the Russian empire, performed in the years 1793 and 1794. Ridgway & McMillan, London 1803.
  • Voyages entrepris dans les gouvernemens méridionaux de l'empire de Russie. Paris 1805.
  • Physical-topographical painting of Tauria. Leipzig 1806.
  • Description du Tibet, d'après la Relation des Lamas Tangoutes, établis parmi les Mongols. Bossange, Masson & Besson, Paris 1808.
  • Animalia monocardia seu Frigidi sanguinis imperii Rosso Asiatici. 1811.
  • Travels through the southern provinces of the Russian empire, in the years 1793 and 1794. Stockdale, London 1812.
  • Viaggi del signor Pallas in diverse province dell'imperio Russo sino ai confini della China. Sonzogno, Milan 1816.
  • Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica, sistens omnium animalium in extenso Imperio Rossico et adiacentibus maribus observatorum recensionem, domicilia, mores et descriptiones anatomen atque icones plurimorum. St. Petersburg 1831. doi: 10.5962 / bhl.title.42222


  • István Fodor: Pallas and other African vocabularies before the 19th century. A contribution to the history of research. Buske, Hamburg 1975. (= Comments on Peter Simon Pallas: Linguarum totius orbis vocabularia comparativa; 1)
  • Rainer W. Gärtner:  Pallas, Peter Simon. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 20, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-428-00201-6 , pp. 14-16 ( digitized version ).
  • VI Pallas & Osipov: Научное наследие П. С. Палласа. Письма. 1768–1771 гг. Tialid, St. Petersburg 1793.
  • Pallas (pm): A naturalist in Russia, letters from Peter Simon Pallas to Thomas Pennant. Minneapolis 1967.
  • Andrej K. Sytin: Пётр Симон Паллас, ботаник. KMK Scientific Press, Moscow 1997. ISBN 5-201-11103-3
  • Friedrich Ratzel:  Pallas, Peter Simon . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 25, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1887, pp. 81-98.
  • Folkwart Wendland: Peter Simon Pallas, 1741–1811, materials for a biography. de Gruyter, Berlin a. a. 1991/92. ISBN 3-11-012997-3
  • Folkwart Wendland: Peter Simon Pallas, 1741–1811. Darwin, Munich 2001.
  • Eduard Winter: Lomonosov, Schlözer, Pallas, German-Russian economic relations in the 18th century. Akad. Verl., Berlin 1962. (= sources and studies on the history of Eastern Europe; 12)

Web links

Commons : Peter Simon Pallas  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Volume 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Series 3, volume 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 184.
  2. ^ Fellows Directory. Biographical Index: Former RSE Fellows 1783–2002. (PDF file) Royal Society of Edinburgh, accessed March 27, 2020 .
  3. ^ Directory of members since 1666: Letter P. Académie des sciences, accessed on January 30, 2020 (French).
  4. ^ Hans-Jürgen Mende : Lexicon of Berlin burial places . Pharus-Plan, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86514-206-1 , p. 215.
  5. Honorary graves of the State of Berlin (as of November 2018) . (PDF, 413 kB) Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection, p. 64; accessed on March 13, 2019. For a time limit of 20 years see: Implementing Regulations for Section 12 Paragraph 6 of the Cemetery Act (AV Ehrengrabstätten) (PDF, 24 kB) of August 15, 2007, Paragraph 10; accessed on March 13, 2019.
  6. Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymous plant names - Extended Edition. Part I and II. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin , Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-946292-26-5 doi: 10.3372 / epolist2018 .