Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald 1937 in Bandung, Indonesia. In front of him on the table is, among other things, the Sangiran II skull (right next to his left hand).


19th von Koenigswald-Lecture

now online

Film and discussion in german!

“Was macht uns zum Menschen?”

film by Oliver G. Becker (2021)

The german film project “Was macht uns zum Menschen?”, “What makes us human?” Is a visual reflection, a reconciliation of fact-based natural science with the poetic search for the identity of Homo sapiens.

G. H. R. von Koenigswald (1902–1982) was a passionate scientist who conducted research on Java in the 1930s and 1940s. He fought there on the side of a Dutch volunteer corps against the Japanese occupation and was taken prisoner of war. In Chinese pharmacies he discovered the fossilized teeth of Gigantopithecus, a pre-human giant: a scientific sensation! Was it an ape-like human or a human-like ape? In any case, the history of human descent is by no means straightforward – there are a number of intermediate forms of apes and humans scattered around the world and on winding paths.

This unusual film visualizes along contemporary film documents, authentic photos, of Koenigswald’s moving correspondence with colleagues in Asia, Europe and America. We embark on an inspiring search for traces of human history: Where do humans come from? How is the rise of Homo sapiens to be explained? What makes us “Higher Order Mammals?”

The film is followed by a Discussion with

Oliver G. Becker, Frankfurt (Drehbuch & Regie)

Mika Puspaningrum (Institut Teknologi, Bandung, Indonesien)

Christine Hertler (Forschungsprojekt ROCEEH, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften)

Albrecht Graf von Kalnein (Werner Reimers-Stiftung, Bad Homburg)

Diskussionsleitung: Michael Stang, Köln

link to film: koenigswald-lecture


“Windows into human diversity”

In honour of GHR v Koenigswald, more than 40 colleagues from all over the world outline in homemade videos their research activities to decipher the early history of humankind until today, and explain how palaeoanthropological research contributes to our understanding of evolution and the biocultural diversity of humans living today.