Peter Kolb

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The Africa explorer Peter Kolb

Peter Kolb (born October 10, 1675 in Dörflas ; † December 31, 1726 in Neustadt an der Aisch ) was a German teacher, school principal in Neustadt an der Aisch, as well as an ethnologist and South Africa researcher.


Kolb (also called Kolbe or piston in older literature ) was the son of the princely customs collector Andreas Kolb and his wife Catharina Kripner, who was born in the Upper Franconian district of Wunsiedel in the Fichtel Mountains . Kolb spent his school days in Marktredwitz. At the age of 13, Kolb moved to Wunsiedel on the Alumneum in 1688 . After six school years, he went to Nuremberg at the St. Lorenz grammar school in 1694 on the recommendation of his teachers . There he became a student of Rector Textor.

This placed Kolb as boarder in the household of the mathematician Georg Christoph Eimmart . In 1696 Kolb also became his pupil and switched to the St. Egidien grammar school . In 1700 Kolb enrolled at the University of Halle for the subjects of mathematics and astronomy. Just a year later, he was able to take his exams. On July 1, 1701 Kolb received his doctorate under Johannes Sperlette with his dissertation De natura commetarum .

Immediately afterwards he worked in Halle as a lecturer in mathematics. Through these lectures he made the acquaintance of the Prussian diplomat Baron Bernhard Friedrich von Krosigk . In 1702 he hired Kolb as a secretary on his Poplitz estate . Kolb also worked there as a private tutor for the sons of his employer. Kolb later represented Baron von Krosigk in Berlin . There Kolb obtained a call as professor of mathematics at Moscow University through the Russian embassy .

Kolb refused because his employer offered him the prospect of financing a scientific expedition to South Africa . In 1704 Kolb left for Amsterdam and on December 20 of the same year he set sail for the Cape of Good Hope . After more than five months, he reached Cape Town on June 12, 1705 .

During the next few years Kolb undertook a lot of astronomical - meteorological research at the Cape of Good Hope . When his sponsor and patron died, the financial means also dried up. In 1707 Kolb was therefore forced to hire himself as secretary to Ludwig Assenburg , the administrator of Stellenbosch and Drakenstein .

Until 1712 he held this position in the Dutch East India Company . In the company's files, Kolb operated under the name Pieter Kolb . In addition to his work, Kolb not only continued his research, but also corresponded with many scientists from Germany . There was a lively correspondence not only with Braun, Francke, Christian Ludwig Göckel and Leupold, but also with Johann Georg Pertsch and Hermann Witsius .

In 1711 Kolb also became secretary to Johann Mukder , the Landdrost von Stellenbosch. On the night of April 26th to 27th, 1712, Kolb, suffering from malaria, went almost completely blind due to a detached retina . At the beginning of 1713 he took the opportunity to come home. In mid-1713 he reached Amsterdam by ship. On the way to his homeland, Kolb stopped by his friend and doctor Göckel in Rastatt to undergo therapy.

The Latin school rebuilt in 1567. Peter Kolb's place of work

With some sight he finally reached Dörflas again in 1715. After several petitions to the government in Bayreuth , he was appointed rector of the Latin School of Neustadt an der Aisch with effect from May 7, 1718 . Since his eyesight was still weakened, he turned down an offer to go to Coburg as a professor of mathematics .

In July 1726 he fell seriously ill, was unable to work due to "tuberculous breathing difficulties" and died despite the best medical care at the age of 51 on December 31 of the same year.

In his main work Caput bonea spei hodiernum , completed in Neustadt ad Aisch, Kolb did not only deal with the geography, fauna and flora of the Cape. He also examined the living conditions of the European settlers and the culture of the Khoi Khoi known under the derogatory name " Hottentots " .

He wrote of the San :

“..But generally they are called, so from robbery and
Honoring standing, Boschjes men, that is: such people,
who stay in mountains and forests "

The early travelers in the 17th century believed that so-called "Bushmen" were part of the Khoi Khoi people. But Kolb distinguished them from the same when he wrote:

"... her whole figure is much wilder, defiant and rude than anyone else"

Kolb was the first to describe the national instrument that is typical for cattle-keeping khoi khoi, the goura , the only mouth-blown musical bow .


  • De natura cometarum. Hall 1701.
  • Caput bonae spei hodiernum. That is: Full description of the African good hope preamble. Volkshochschule, Marktredwitz 1975. (Reprint of the Nuremberg 1719 edition). Digitized .
    • Journey to the Promontory of Good Hope. Edited by Dr. Paul Germann. FA Brockhaus, Leipzig 1922. (Contains the ethnological chapters)
  • De natura commetarum. University dissertation. Hall 1701.
  • Among the Hottentots 1705–1713. Peter Kolb's notes. Edited by Werner Jopp. (= Old adventurous travel reports ). Erdmann, Tübingen 1979, ISBN 3-7711-0317-7 .


  • Georg C. Oertel: De vita fatis ac meritis M. Petri Kolbii. sn, Neustadt / Aisch 1758.
  • Friedrich RatzelKolb, Peter . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 16, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1882, p. 460 f.
  • Werner Jopp: The early German reports on the Cape and the Hottentots up to 1750. Göttingen 1960. (Phil. Diss., Masch.-schr.)
  • Richard Elphick: Kraal and castle: Khoikhoi and the founding of white South Africa. Yale University Press, New Haven 1977. (Phil. Diss.) (Important work on the historical background of the time Kolb spent at the Cape of Good Hope)
  • Max Döllner : Development history of the city of Neustadt an der Aisch until 1933. Ph. CW Schmidt, Neustadt ad Aisch 1950. (New edition 1978 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the publishing house Ph. CW Schmidt Neustadt an der Aisch 1828-1978. ) P. 352 f. , 580 and XXXIII.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Max Döllner (1950), p. 352.
  2. Max Döllner (1950), p. 353.
  3. Max Döllner (1950), p. 352.