Известные имена

Famous names

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Humboldt A.

Humboldt A. Alexander von Humboldt (1769 - 1858), traveler-scientist

If it is obvious that Goethe was an outstanding figure in the era of German classic literature, the creator of a worldwide fame of German poetry, then traveler-scientist Alexander von Gumbolt was a figure of the same importance in the era of German science, he was one of the founders of German natural science.

He was born on September 14th, 1769 in Berlin. His youth concurred with a huge number of oceanic expeditions and geographic discoveries, with a big break in different spheres of science and technology, industrial revolution and its consequences - sociopolitical transformations. He studied in the universities of Frankfort on the Oder and Gottingen. In 1790 Humboldt set out to his first journey to France, Netherlands and England. Upon returning to Paris, he started to publish his first works. Relatively fast the name of Humboldt became well known not only in France, but even beyond it.

He started his famous journey to America in 1779. He visited countries of Latin America, Mexico, Cuba, and explored upper reaches of the Amazon river, Orinoco, Atabapo and Casiquiare. 5 years later he returned from this expedition. By that time his name, as a name of a first-grade scientist and fearless traveler, had become world-famous.
All these years Humboldt was thinking about visiting Russia and travel through its infinite territories. His interest grew even stronger after he got acquainted with a Russian mining engineer V.U. Soimonov. But only in December, 1827 the scientist got permission of the Russian highest quarters to travel around the country. Humboldt started his preparation for this expedition - he was studying all available literature about geography and history of Russian population and was planning a route.

The expedition headed by Humboldt left Moscow on May 16th and headed for Yekaterinburg, Tobolsk, Barnaul and further for the east of Kazakhstan. Scientists wanted to see the main mines of Altai mining district. Over a three days period the expedition was studying Ridder and Kryukovsky mine workings, rich in gold and silver, located near each other in the upper reaches of the Ulba river. About 3 kilometers away from Ridder there was a mountain "Kruglaya sopka", rich in ore and covered with thick, high and varied vegetation. The members of expedition enriched their herbariums with new types of plants there. On a mountain "Prohodnoy belok" they took a lot of porphyry, granite, albite, quartz samples and on the top of the mountain they found beautiful grainy diorite with greenish crystals.

The next day they visited Zyryanovsk mine, which was the most productive at that time in the whole Altai region. Zyryanovsk mine produced 8400kg of silver and employed about 700 workers. Neighbouring villages, e.g. Cheremshanka, looked prosperous. Its inhabitants had farms and were famous for their fragrance honey.

The road, which the scientists took to get to Bukhtarminskaya stronghold, went through five villages: Ulbinskaya, Feklistovka, Severnaya, Alexandrovka and Berezovka. Cossack immigrants lived there. Their main occupation was apiculture, gardening and hunting. Near Bukhtarminskaya stronghold there were yurts of Kazakh. Eastwards of the stronghold there was a mine developing copper ore and southwards - a mine developing magnesium ore.

The expedition went to Ust-Kamenogorsk by the Irtysh waterway. On the Irtysh deserted banks for over 5 thousand meters they saw granite stratified almost horizontally and poured out above the shale mass. The left bank of the Irtysh was steppe and it was inhabited by migrant Kirghiz (Kazakh).

On August 8th the expedition left Ust-Kamenogorsk and went to Semipalatinsk. After his visits to the towns of Siberia and the Caspian Sea, Humboldt returned to Moscow in November 1829.

When he finished his Russian journey and collected a lot of new information and observations on the huge territory (especially, in the Asian part of the country), he and his traveling companions returned home and diligently for a long period of time were working on their editing. "I've never been able to collect so much observations and ideas for such a short period of time (6 month) in my whole restless life. The territory was very big though", - Humboldt wrote in the letter to the Russian ambassador in St. Petersburg. - "The most pleasant memories are about the territory southeast of Tobolsk, between Tomsk, Colivan and Ust-Kamenogorsk; such a beautiful Swiss area near Zyryanovsk snow mountains of Altai. As a bright points and pleasant memories I can also call horse races and Kazakh musical holiday…"

Humboldt never stopped watching for scientific expeditions to Asia and particularly to the Asian part of Russia afterwards. With a particular interest he studied materials about the places, which he had visited himself.

He died on May 6th, 1859, four month prior to his 90th birthday.

Translated by Yuliya Visloguzova, 2nd year translation major student of KAFU