Carl Sophus Lumholtz → German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish.


Carl Sophus Lumholtz (1851 – 1922), a Norwegian discoverer and ethnographer, best known for his meticulous field research and ethnographic publications on indigenous cultures of Australia and Mesoamerican central Mexico. Born in Faberg, Norway, he graduated in theology in 1876 from the University of Christiania, now the University of Oslo.

Lumholtz travelled to Australia in 1880, where he spent ten months from 1882-1883 amongst the indigenous inhabitants of the Herbert-Burdekin region in North Queensland. The resultant book, Among Cannibals: An Account of Four Years' Travels in Australia and of Camp Life with the Aborigines of Queensland, first published in 1988, is regarded as the finest ethnographic research of the period for the northern Queensland Aborigines. Whereas previous authors had commented only upon the aesthetic physical appearances and material culture of the region's indigenous inhabitants, Lumholtz supplied a level of academic research which was unique for the period. Social relationships, attitudes and the role of women were all aspects recorded for the first time.

Lumholtz later travelled with the Swedish botanist C. V. Hartman to Mexico, where he stayed for many years and conducted several expeditions paid for by the American Museum of Natural History from 1890 through to 1910. One result of these expeditions was Unknown Mexico, a 1902 two-volume set describing many of the indigenous peoples of northwestern Mexico, including the Cora, Tepehuán, Pima Bajo and especially the Tarahumara, among whom he lived for more than a year. He was one of the first to describe artifacts from the ancient shaft tomb and the Tarascan cultures and described archaeological sites as well as the flora and fauna of the region of the northern Sierra Madre called the "gran Chichimeca".

Lumholtz was a founding member of the Explorers Club, an organization formerly established in 1905 dedicated to promoting exploration and scientific investigation in the field.

Lumholtz then briefly explored India from 1914-1915, followed by Borneo from 1915 to 1917 which was to be his last expedition. He died in Saranac Lake, New York, USA in 1922, having published six books on his discoveries.

The Lumholtz National Park of North Queensland was named in his honor when it was created in 1994. However, it was subsequently changed to Girringun National Park in 2003. Also, a Mexican conifer, Lumholtz's Pine Pinus lumholtzii; and a marsupial species, Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo are named after him.


Brayshaw, H.
Well Beaten Paths: Aborigines of the Herbert/Burdekin District, North Queensland; An Ethnographic and Archaeological Study, Studies in North Queensland history, no. 10. Townsville, Qld: Department of History, James Cook University of North Queensland 1990.
Cedano, L. R.
Carl Lumholtz y El México desconocido. In: Manuel Ferrer Muñoz (Ed.). La imagen del México decimonónico de los visitantes extranjeros: ¿un estado-nación o un mosaico plurinacional? (PDF online facsimile), Serie Doctrina Jurídica, no. 56, México D.F.: Instituto de Investigaciones de Jurídica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2002, 331–368.

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