Eugen Oberhummer – A German Geographer and Classical Scholar Travelling in Cyprus in the Late 19th Century
The German geographer and classical scholar Eugen Oberhummer (1859-1944) was a passionate traveller, and he normally kept diaries during his travels. The countries of the Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Turkey, Near East, Egypt) were his favourite destination. In 1887 and 1891, during extensive travels in the Near East, he also visited Cyprus, where he went on several tours throughout the island; each of these Cyprus stays lasted for about six weeks. His diaries, kept in Vienna, in the Academy of Sciences, comprise 20 volumes and cover the period from 1878 until 1935. In the 1990s a group of archaeologists, ancient historians, classicists and ethnologists started to prepare those parts of Oberhummer's diaries dealing with his travels in the "ancient world" for publication. They transcribed the manuscripts from the old German lettering and produced an annotated edition published in 2004. Among this group the ethnologist Margit Krpata and I have been in charge for the Cyprus diaries, which contain very detailed information about his two visits to the island. They offer a good look at the situation in Cyprus (especially with regard to its antiquities) in the first decades of British rule over the island, which had started in 1878 – and should last until 1960, when the island finally became a sovereign state. Scientifically these two visits to Cyprus have been very fruitful. Apart from many Cyprus related entries in the famous Realencyclopädie (classical studies' encyclopedia) and a number of articles published in periodicals, it is Oberhummer's voluminous book Die Insel Cypern, eine Landeskunde auf historischer Grundlage (The island of Cyprus, regional studies on historical basis; Munich 1903), which resulted from these two travels in Cyprus.