Short Portrait: Horst Nachtigall

Horst Nachtigall
Horst Nachtigall

Horst Nachtigall was born in Berge near Berlin in 1924. He spent his childhood and youth in Nauen. At early age he had to participate in World War II and eventually became a prisoner of war.

Disbanded in 1945 Nachtigall did several post-war jobs before taking up his studies of Anthropology, African Languages, Early and Prehistory as well as Archaeology at the Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz. A. E. Jensen, Adolf Friedrich, E. L. Rapp and Roland Hampe were among his teachers.

Horst Nachtigall graduated in 1950. Due to his interest in museum work, he furthermore did some training at the at the Anthropological Museum in Frankfurt (now: Museum for the Cultures of the World) , where Hermann Niggemeyer was his teacher.

In 1952 Nachtigall became chairman of the Department of Archaeology at the "Instituto Colombiano de Anthropologia" in Bogota. During his stay in Colombia, Nachtigall also established a photo library of the Archaeological Collection of the National Museum.

In 1957 Nachtigall finished his habilitation thesis on Ancient American Megalith-Cultures. Eventually he did several field researches: not only among nomadic people in Tunisia between 1960 and 1965 but also in Peru and Bolivia. Moreover, Nachtigall held a professorship at the University in Buenos Aires in 1961/62.

Nachtigall took up a professorship  for Völkerkunde (Cultural Anthropology) at the Philipps-University in Marburg in 1963.  Besides lecturing, Nachtigall also took care of the Ethnological Collection of Marburg.

Throughout the 1970s Nachtigall continued his field researches in Central America (e.g., Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and Northern Africa. Furthermore, he conducted field work in Mexico in the 1980s and did research trips to China and Tibet during the following years.

Nachtigalls main interests include the Anthropology of Religion and the research on Shamanism as well as the Archaeology of American Megalith Cultures. Moreover, his scientific work is concerned with questions of acculturation and uses the method of empirical field work.

Nachtigall died 18.06.2013 in Mainz.

(Text written by Vincenz Kokot in June 2012, based on an article in Paideuma, 2004; photo source: Paideuma 2004, Vol. 50, pg 7)

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