Illustration of Ethnography

1743 Ethnography

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Gerhard Friedrich Müller ethnography Illustration of Ethnography


Russian Emperor Peter I the Great and the Empresses Anna and Elizabeth sent Gerhard Friedrich Müller on the Second Kamchatka expedition along with the Danish Captain Vitus Bering who is credited with the discovery of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Müller’s plan was to compile histories of the towns they would visit, and to describe the languages, clothing, and religions of the ethnic Siberians. On this expedition Müller realized the value of a study of a culture written from the point of view of the people being studied. He taught the value of using primary sources and looking at a culture holistically.


Sociology cultural anthropology social anthropology economics history historical economics education psychology ethnomusicology folklore religious studies and linguistics. Many disciplines use the ethnographic method.

Saved for eternity

Someone thought it was worth documenting before the language was lost before the way of life disappeared leaving us with an emotional attachment to a few facts and images of a landscape we will never live in. It’s so far away, so long ago, that if we’ve forgotten, we need to be reminded they were almost entirely the same as us.

Primitive notions of how other people differ from us continue to persist in many ways, nurtured by ignorance, religion, and nationalism. Johann Georg Gmelin, who went with Müller on the second expedition, was charged with learning “whether the peoples of Siberia could move their ears, whether their uvulas were simple, or split into two or three parts, whether Siberian males had milk in their breasts, etc.”

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