Theodor Poesche

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Theodor Poesche (1824 – 27 December 1899) was a German American anthropologist and author, specializing in historical anthropology.

Born in 1824 in Zoeschen (now part of Leuna) in the Province of Saxony of the Kingdom of Prussia, Poesche became a student of philosophy at the University of Halle and later a revolutionary. Following the disappointments of 1848, in 1850 he emigrated to the United States. In 1853, he published with Charles Goepp The New Rome, or The United States of the World, a book in which they compare the United States to the Roman Empire.

In 1878 he published The Aryans: A contribution to historical anthropology. Based on the physical characteristics attributed to Indo-Europeans (fair hair, blue or light eyes, tallness, slim hips, fine lips, a prominent chin) by the philologist Ludwig Geiger, Poesche placed the origin of the Aryans in the vast Rokitno Marshes, then in the Russian Empire, now covering much of the southern part of Belarus and the north-west of the Ukraine, where albinism was common. Similarly, he argued that the Lithuanian language is as near to the parent language of Indo-European as Sanskrit. Adding linguistic and archaeological arguments, Karl Penka later expanded the area of origin to include northern Germany and Scandinavia.

Poesche died in Washington on 27 December 1899.


  • The New Rome, or The United States of the World (with Charles Goepp), New York, 1853
  • Die Arier, ein Beitrag zur historischen Anthropologie, Jena, 1878


  • Anton Bettelheim, Biographisches Jahrbuch und deutscher Nekrolog (G. Reimer, 1900, p. 206) *Frank Spencer, History of Physical Anthropology, 1997, p. 110 (ISBN 0815304900)
  • Bruce Lincoln, Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship, University of Chicago Press, 1999, p. 253, note 18 (ISBN 0226482014)
  • Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 32 (ISBN 0195137779)