Oscar Baumann

Oscar Baumann (June 25, 1864 - October 12, 1899) was an Austrian cartographer with a keen interest in ethnography. He attended classes on natural history and geography at the University of Vienna, and in 1885 was part of an Austrian exploratory expedition of the Congo Basin. However, he had to leave the expedition early due to illness. In 1886 he did ethnographical research on the island of Fernando Po.

Baumann is best known for his exploration of the interior of German East Africa (present-day Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi), and producing maps of the region. In 1888 he accompanied geologist Hans Meyer on a quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Unfortunately both men were captured and held prisoner by Arab rebel Abushiri ibn Salim al-Harthi, and a ransom of 10,000 rupees had to be paid for their release. Baumann's most famous mission was the 200-member "Maasai Expedition" of 1891-1893. On this trek, besides his map-making duties, he was the first European to visit Lake Eyasi, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater. As a result of the journey, he produced a book called Durch Massailand zur Nilquelle (By Massailand to the Source of Nile) in 1894.

In 1896, Baumann was appointed consul to Zanzibar by the Austro-Hungarian government. However, he died a few years later of an infectious disease at the age of 35. Today at the Ethnological Museum in Vienna are nearly 3500 artifacts that Baumann amassed from his African journeys. These include weapons, tools, jewellery, herbal perfumes and musical instruments.

Written works by Oscar Baumann

  • Beiträge zur Ethnologie des Kongo (Contributions to the Ethnology of the Congo), Vienna (1887)
  • Fernando Po and the Bube. Vienna (1888)
  • In Deutsch-Ostafrika während des Aufstandes (In German East Africa during the Rebellion), Vienna (1890)
  • Usambara. Berlin (1891)
  • Karte des nordöstlichen Deutsch-Ostafrika (Map of northeast German East Africa), Berlin (1893)
  • Durch Massailand zur Nilquelle (By Massailand to the Source of Nile), Berlin (1894)
  • Die kartographischen Ergebnisse der Massai-Expedition (The cartographic results of the Massai expedition), In: Petermann's Geographische Mitteilungen, Ergebnisheft 111, Gotha (1894)
  • The Sansibar archipelago. 3 booklets. Leipzig (1896-99)


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