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Oronzio Gabriele Costa, 1787 - 1867

Oronzio Gabriele Costa was born on August 26, 1787 in Lecce, Italy.  After graduating with a degree in medicine from Naples University he returned to Lecce.  He was self-taught in many sciences, among them botany, natural history, zoology and mineralogy. He began the first systematic meteorological observations in Lecce.

In 1813, in recognition for his work, he was given a teaching position in physics (originally without compensation), at the Collegio Reale of Lecce. In the 1824 he moved to Naples, where, in acknowledgment of his scientific activity, he was appointed as a member of the Reale Academy of Science and the Pontaniana Academy. 

From 1827 to 1839 he traveled for the Reale Academy through several parts of the Italy bringing back numerous items of remarkable scientific interest. Because he was a doctor, he was appointed to a governmental delegation that was sent to Vienna to study the causes and cures of the cholera. In recognition of his work the Neapolitan Government decided to confer on him the chair of Zoology at the University.  However, he had just accepted the invitation of the English Government to a position at to the The Ionian University (the University of Corfù)

Costa continued his fruitful career as a teacher, forming the Academy of the Aspirants Naturalists to improve the preparation of young people interested to natural sciences. It was highly regarded by many of the most famous scientists of the day. But, for political reasons the Academy of the Aspirants Naturalists was dissolved in 1849 and he lost his university chair.

Costa then dedicated himself to paleontology, especially to the determination of the age of the leccese stone. His investigation was based on numerous fossils he had collected from Lecce. With his friend, the Baron Francisco Casotti, he published many studies in several fields of natural sciences, from physics to agronomy, from botany to zoology and anatomy, from mineralogy to paleontology. Two of these works constitute of true touchstones in the naturalistic studies in Italy: Paleontology of the Reign of Naples and Fauna of the Reign of Naples.

With the Union of Italy, in 1860, the Costa returned to his chair at the University of Naples.  He was also sent as a deputy to the Parliament in the first legislature.  The O. G. Costa Technical Institute founded in 1885 in Lecce was named in his honor.

In November 7, 1867 Costa died in Naples.

Biographies of Costa:

  • Casotti F., biographical Signals of Oronzio Gabriel Costa, Tip. L.Lazzaretti and Figli, Lecce 1890
  • AA.VV., Oronzo Gabriel Costa and the southern scientific tradition in the ight hundred, (2 voll. edited by A.Caloro and M.Spedicato), Dismissal Publisher, Galatina 1992
  • Ruggiero L. Loads notes abaut the publishing history of Oronzo Gabriel Costa's Fauna of the Reign of Naples, Archives of natural history 29 (1): 67-71.2002

Material for this page was adapted from:

  • O.G. Costa biography on web of the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy.  Google translation service used.

  • Oronzio Gabriele Costa From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • COSTA ORONZO GABRIELE [Google translation service used.]




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