The Linnean Society of London and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science and the Society for the History of Natural History, hosted a joint symposium “Visions from the Blind Seer of Ambon – A celebration of Georg Everard Rumphius (1627-1702) and his Ambonese Herbal” recently, supported by Annals of Botany and Yale University Press.
Georg Eberhard Rumpf (1627-1702), later Rumphius, was a young Hessian mercenary soldier who was able to flee Europe during the Thirty Years Way by joining the Dutch East India Company. He never returned to Europe and eventually settled as a merchant in the island of Ambon in eastern Indonesia in 1653. Over the course of five decades, Rumphius assiduously gathered information on the native plants of the Island and its archipelago. By presenting descriptions of the plants and their multiple uses, he succeeded in creating a cultural and scientific treasury of incomparable value not only for his contemporaries but also for today’s botanists, anthropologists, ethnobotanists, science historians, medicinal chemists, and other scholars.