Adolf Overweg

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Adolf Overweg

Adolf Overweg (born July 24, 1822 in Hamburg , † September 27, 1852 in Maduaria on Lake Chad ) was a German astronomer , geologist and Africa researcher . Together with Heinrich Barth and under the direction of the Englishman James Richardson , he set out to cross the Sahara from Tripoli .


After attending school in Hamburg, Overweg studied geology and astronomy in Bonn and Berlin . In 1844 he became a member of the Fridericia Bonn fraternity . In 1847 he received his doctorate with a geological thesis. Through the mediation of his teacher, he had the opportunity to take part in an expedition to inner Africa planned by the British government.

Overweg was active as a gymnastics warden in Bonn. Since October 4, 1837, he was a member of the Hamburg gymnastics association from 1816 , of which Barth was also a member, and was a gymnast there. On January 3, 1846, the local gymnastics council decided to give him a power of attorney to represent the gymnastics community at the southern German gymnastics festivals. A seal required for such purposes was then obtained for the first time by the gymnastics community.

Overweg arrived in Tripoli on January 18, 1850. Because the start of the expedition was still delayed, he first set off with Heinrich Barth on a short expedition to the Garian Mountains in the Sahara, which had not been topographically or geologically explored until then . The knowledge obtained by Overweg about the geology of the Sahara are mainly communicated in Heinrich Barth's letters. After the return of the two researchers, the British expedition finally set out south on March 24, 1850. The route of the well-equipped expedition leads first via Murzuk and Ghat over the desert-like high plateau Tassili n'Ajjer into the Aïr mountains and finally into the Damergou landscape . The arduous journey is overshadowed by numerous attacks. The maps of the areas that Richardson carried with him also turned out to be faulty and ultimately unusable. Overweg then uses his astronomical knowledge to determine the latitude and longitude of locations and landmarks, thus enabling the drawing of new, more precise maps. During the trip there were repeated differences of opinion between Richardson and Barth. Finally, in January 1851, the expedition participants split up in Taghelel . A reunion in Kuka is arranged. Adolf Overweg travels via Zinder , Mariadi and Gober to Kuka, where he arrives at the beginning of May with a fever. Heinrich Barth tells him about the death of James Richardson there. Overweg, who is believed to have malaria , needs a break. Therefore, Barth travels on alone. After his recovery, Adolf Overweg explores Lake Chad and the lake islands with a boat he brought with him . In the months that followed, he set off again and again, both alone and with Barth, to intensively explore the area around Lake Chad. However, these trips are repeatedly interrupted by attacks of fever. A last six-day attack of fever finally led to the death of Adolf Overweg on September 27, 1852.

In addition to the topographical determinations already mentioned, Overweg dealt particularly with astronomical, meteorological, hypsometric and geological observations during the entire expedition . He wrote these down on individual pieces of paper in pencil over the course of the trip. After the death of the geologist, Barth received this slip of paper with his estate. However, these notes could no longer be used due to the illegible writing. Therefore, in contrast to Richardson and Barth, von Overweg does not have a report on the Africa expedition.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Franz Richarz: List of members of the Fridericia fraternity in Bonn (February 18, 1843 to autumn 1847) as well as the Arminia fraternity in Bonn (1847 to 1849) and the fraternity association Germania in Bonn (1843 to 1849). Bonn 1894, p. 14.
  2. ^ Carl Heitmann: Timeline of the history of the Hamburg gymnastics club from 1816: 1816–1882. Herbst, Hamburg, 1883, p. 6. ( online )