Stojković was born
in Ruma on 20th September 1773.
In Ruma he finished the
Serbian Grammar School, intending to continue
his education. As he did not have the financial means to do it, for a
while he worked as a clerk at the Ruma Geodesic Office, and later even
as a teacher. When he tried to continue his education in Szeged and
Pozsony (present-day Bratislava) he failed to do so because they would
not recognise his previous education. However, as advised by his
teacher from Ruma, Vasilije Krstic, he went to Sopron, where in 1793/94
he first completed six grades of grammar school, and then enrolled in
Grammar School in Szeged, where in 1796 he graduated in Philosophy,
i.e. 7. and 8th grade of grammar school. In the autumn of the same year
and the spring of 1797 he tried to find a benefactor who would enable
him to continue education in Germany. Then, during his short stay in
Vienna, in July 1797 he met Dositej Obradovic and was introduced to his
enlightenment ideas. In the autumn of the same year, he managed to get
300 forints from Metropolitan Stratimirovic to support himself in
Goettingen, where he went to one of the most prominent universities at
the time. In the course of the next two years he managed to get a PhD
in Philosophy (1799), he became close friend with H. Heine
(archaeologist and philologist) and professor Ludwig Schletzer and work
intensively in different scientific disciplines (physics, mathematics,
history...). After a short stay in Ruma in 1799 he moved to Budim where
he finished and published his main work on three volumes “Fisika”
(Physics) (1801-1803), mostly completed during his stay in Goettingen.
In this most proliferate part of his life he also published a
philosophical paper with elements of novel “Kandor or The Revelation of
Egyptian Secrets” (1800); a sentimental novel “Aristid and Natalia”
(1801), the first novel of more contemporary Serbian literature
”Serbian Secretary” (1802), a collection of forms, letters, and other
other type of communication; a collection of poems called “Stihi
kakovim obrazom ljubov u braku sohraniti mozno” and a hymn“On the Death
of the Immortal Jovan Raic”(1802). He became a member of the Goettingen
Academic Community in 1802.
Since it was difficult for
non-Catholics to get state employment in the
Habsburg Monarchy, Atanasije tried to secure his financial status by
becoming a monk, but as it was impossible for him to immediately become
promoted into archimandrite of the monastery in Kovilj (after the death
of Jovan Rajic), he tried to get a position at the Department of
Physics at the Pozsony Academy, but with no success either. That is why
he was very happy to accept the invitation to be elected the first
Professor of Physics at the newly founded Kharkiv University. The
invitation came from the famous Severin Osipovic Potocki, school
curator of the Kharkiv County – the future Russian Minister of
Education, whom he met at the home of Count Josif Osolinski in Vienna.
Soon, Atanasije Stojkovic
became the dean of the Physics and
Mathematics Department, and in two terms (1807-1808 and 1811-1813) also
the Chancellor of the Kharkiv University. Apart from that, he was also
the founder of the Kharkiv Academic Community, and then the holder of
many merits and privileges – he became the member of the Royal Academy
of Sciences, he was awarded the medal of Saint Vladimir of the third
degree by Emperor Alexander I, he obtained material privileges as well
and became a state advisor.
During his stay in Kharkiv,
Atanasije Stojkovic published numerous
works, mostly intended for students, written in Russian. Especially
prominent is the book titled “O vozdushnih kamnjah i jih
proishozdeniji” (On meteors and meteorites and their origin) published
in 1807 and emerged as a result of the fact that, being a university
professor, Stojkovic got his hands on an "air stone", which in 1787.
fell near the village of Zhygaylovka in the Kharkiv County. This book
is considered to be the first ever monograph on meteorites in the
world, and its publication influenced the development of Russian
meteorite science. In Tunguzija region (where a meteorite exploded on
30th June 1908 and caused huge devastation) there is a hill 150 meters
high named after this scientist - Stojkovic Hill.
These are the titles of the
other works written while Stojkovic was a
professor of physics in Kharkiv:
- О јавленијах
городов и прочего в воздух , називајемих фата моргана
(On The Appearance of Hail And Other Things in the Air Called Fata
Morgana (Mirage)) 1808.
основанија умозрителној и опитној физики по новејшим откритијам
(The Basic Foundations of Abstract and Experimental Physics Until the
преохраненији себија от ударов молниј во всех случајах жизни
(On personal protection from the strike of lightning in all life
- О причинах
дјелајушчих воздух неспособним дља диханија и о средствах
предохрањајушчих от совершеној порчи
(On the Causes Which Make the Air Improper for Inhaling and On Ways of
Protection from Complete Damage) 1811.
физики (The System of Physics ) 1813.
основанија физическој географији
(The Basic Foundations of Physical Geography) 1813.
основанија физическој астрономији
(The Basic Foundations of Physical Astronomy) 1813.
Atanasije travelled to Austria,
visited his mother in Ruma, as well as his friends in Srem and
Slavonia, but because of suspicion that he was actually sent on a
secret mission by Russia, and due to some public appearances where he
glorified Russia and promoted the creation of a country of South Slavs,
he was sent back to Russia in October that year following the Emperor's
After his return to Kharkiv
he became the object of an affair which
claimed that on his his way back from Austria (and later with the help
of his friends), he imported large quantities of goods (wine, silk,
gems, art...) which he sold illegally. The investigation went on for
years, and was later extended on Stojkovic's relationship with his
colleagues and other professors. Probably in order to prevent
tarnishing the reputation of the University, the investigation was
never closed, the charges were never proven, but the affair was most
likely the reason for the end of Atanasije Stojkovic's university
career. In May 1813 he was approved a sick leave, when he was relieved
of his duty as chancellor, and once he returned from his leave,
Stojkovic personally wrote to the Emperor Alexander I requesting to be
relived of professorship.
After he left the
University, Atanasije Stojkovic lived in Bessarabia,
where in 1815 he received a large estate (15 000 hectares) from
Alexander I. In this period Stojkovic did not practice physics very
much. He had the idea of writing or publishing a comprehensive history
of Serbs, but he could not come trough with it. Living far away from
Serbia, he was also far from the necessary sources, аnd he failed to
find the right person capable of writing such a history, although he
had a wish to finance printing of that kind of a book. He persists in
trying to realise his idea with the help of Metropolitan Stratimirovic,
who he was constantly corresponding with.
The final years of his life
Stojkovic spent in Petrograd in close
contact with representatives of Russian central authorities, and in
1826 he also became the representative of Montenegro at the Russian
court, thanks to his acquaintance with Montenegrin Metropolitan Petar I
Petrovic. He spent most of his time doing translations, one of which is
the New Testament in Serbian, published in Petrograd in 1824. The is
dispute as to whether it is a plagiarism of Vuk Karadzic's translation
or independent work, but a fact remains that this trnaslation was
printed more than 20 years before Karadzic's.
These are the titles of the
works by Atanasije Stojkovic created in th
elast decade of his life:
- О саранче и
способах истребљенија јеја (On grasshoppers and ways of
exterminating them) 1825.
- О отводах
молниј и града (On coduction – derivation of lightning and hail)
градових отводов (Protection of anti-hail conductors) 1826.
(A systematic presentation of draining watelogged land) 1827.
(Theoretical – practical advice on wine production) translation from
show that Atanasije Stojkovic died in
Kharkiv on 2nd June 1832 Where he most probably stopped by on his way
to, or return from Bessarabia.
Atanasije Stojkovic was
obviously a hard-working man of great abilities
and lively and restless spirit, but also very successful and respected.
He spoke several languages: German, Latin, French, Italian, English,
Greek, Hungarian, and almost all Slavic languages. He used his diverse
interests, ambition and intelligence, probably under the influence by
Dositej Obradovic, to enlighten his nation and develop their science
and culture in not so favourable conditions. Sentimental by nature, he
invested strong emotions in his works, even in “Physics”, a scientific
piece, where each phenomenon described overwhelmed him. Unfortunately,
Atanasije Stojkovic is little known and even less respected with his
own people. His name fell into oblivion, his work remained little
known, very likely as a result of the conflict with Vuk Karadzic
regarding the translation of the “New Testament”. Because of the
conflict, Karadzic tried to diminish the reputation and importance of
Stojkovic's work, and was rather successful at it, primarily thanks to
his great reputation and influence on his contemporaries. By naming
this fund “Atanasije Stojkovic” we wish to contribute to the efforts
retrieve the name of this great man from oblivion and to find it a
suitable place in history, culture and science of the Serbian people.
the NEW TESTAMENT
by Atanasije Stojković
Letter from Dositej
Atanasije Stojković rregarding publishing
"Фисика" (Physics), 1802