Leshem, Y., Goren, H. & Amit, H. (Eds). 2018. Father Ernst Schmitz, Priest and Zoologist. The Holy Land at the Beginning of the 20th Century


  • Ariel-Leib-Leonid Friedman The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, 12 Klausner Str., POB 39040, Tel Aviv 6139001, Israel. E-mail: laibale@tauex.tau.ac.il


Biography, Ernst Schmitz, Schmitz, zoologist, priest, collector, collection, Holy Land, Israel, Middle East


After nearly of a hundred years of undeserved oblivion, and after around twenty years of painstaking work, the book on the late Father Ernst Schmitz and his zoological collections is finally published.
The book is opened by two prologues by the well-known Israeli zoologists Yoram Yom-Tov and Yossi Leshem, and concluded with an epilogue written by Yossi Leshem, these depicting the mysterious disappearance of Schmitz’s collections and their even more bizarre rediscovery, the past and present of the zoological research in Israel, as well as the role of the late Father Schmitz in the exploration of the wildlife in Israel.
The book is divided into five sections, each with several chapters. The first section includes a short survey of the history of the German Catholics in the Holy Land in XIX–XX centuries and a biography of Father Schmitz; a survey of the fauna and the faunistic research (mainly terrestrial vertebrates) in the Holy Land in late XIX – early XX; and a review of the zoological collections of Father Schmitz, housed in the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Tel Aviv University. The second and the third sections contain articles written by Father Schmitz and published in the German periodical Das Heilige Land in 1910–1923. The 18 articles in the second section are devoted to fauna (large and small felines, rodents, bats, bears, hyenas, wild boars, buffalos, birds of prey, water birds, crocodiles, snakes, ants, locusts, freshwater fish, cave crustaceans etc.), and 15 articles in the third one – to culture and customs of the inhabitants of the Holy Land. The fourth section lists references mentioned in the text, as well as other sources pertaining to the subject and all papers published by Father Schimtz. The fifth section includes reproductions and translations of a few original documents concerning Father Schimtz, such as his appointment in the Holy Land, a letter written in his hand and signed by him, etc.
The book is generously illustrated with 216 images, including unique historical pictures (some of them published for the first time), recent color photographs of places, animals and collection exemplars, old and recent artistic drawings of animals, and nice and impressive old-style engravings of the landscapes, animals and hunting scenes.
Having the multitude of colorful illustrations, historical photographs and documents and rich bibliography, the book can be of particular interest to all nature lovers and bibliophiles.


Cite as: Friedman, A.L.L. 2018. Book review: "Leshem, Y., Goren, H. & Amit, H. (Eds). 2018. Father Ernst Schmitz, Priest and Zoologist. The Holy Land at the Beginning of the 20th Century." Israel Journal of Entomology 48 (1): 143–144.

DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.2529229

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