Gudrun Corvinus

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Gudrun Corvinus (1932 Stettin, Poland - 2006 Pune, India) was a Polish geologist, paleontologist and archaeologist. She attended the University of Bonn and performed her research out of the University of Tübingen, both of which are located in Germany.

Her work consisted of Vertebrate Paleontology and Palaeolithic Archaeology research in areas of Africa, India, Tibet, and Nepal.[1] Her interests in music, culture, people and travelling combined with her passion for science, lead her to many different countries to work in the field. Corvinus was competent in all three disciplines of Geology, Paleontology and Archaeology and often worked alone in the field. She is credited as a pioneer in the field of paleoanthropology. She was part of a team of paleoanthropologists that discovered ‘Lucy’ in Hadar, Ethiopia in the early 1970s. Another effort credited to her was the discovery of Paleolithic sites in the same country thereby setting the pace on archeological works in this country. Her work took her to Namibia where she discovered Miocene fossils amongst others. More importantly, her efforts on Early Man in India and Maharashtra earned her a research fellowship from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (New Delhi). Sadly, her life came to an abrupt end after she was brutally murdered in India, 2006.

Early life[edit]

Gudrun Corvinus was born in Poland in 1932 but spent most of her early years in Germany. She studied at the University of Bonn and she collaborated extensively with other researchers University of Tubingen. She pursued studies and research in geology, vertebrate paleontology and Paleolithic archaeology. She gravitated towards Jurassic Ammonites in France in her doctoral dissertation, however she found satisfaction in vertebrate paleontology and Paleolithic archaeology.[2] She later got married to an Indian man in Pune, Maharashtra. Due to marital affiliation with India, she established both a short-term and long-term friendship with many academic and scientists in India.

Notable Research[edit]

  • Dr.Corvinus conducted her research in the fields of Vertebrate Paleontology, Paleolithic Archaeology and, Geology. During the 1970s Dr.Corvinus was a member of the International Afar Research Expedition[1] team that discovered the Australopithecus afarensis species hominid fossil of "Lucy" in Hadar, Ethiopia.
  • In 1975/1976 she discovered paleolithic sites in the same area, which are known to be some of the oldest in the world[3]
  • She also worked in Namibia performing geo-archaeological investigations for De Beers Diamond Company,[2] where she investigated diamond yielding sediment
  • During the 1970s, Gudrun Corvinus directed a survey for archaeological and paleontological materials in the Southwest corner of Namibia, Africa. She was invited to perform geoarchaeological investigations along the coastal zones of Namibia, regarding the diamond-yielding sediments. The discovery of a rich Miocene fossil source, and numerous Pleistocene Stone Age Sites were obtained through her fieldwork in Africa.[4]
  • In 1964, Corvinus examined the Pravara drainage system in the Nevasa area of Maharashtra through an independent multi-disciplinary project. After a survey on the geomorphology of the entire Pravara Valley, suggested by H.D. Sankalia, Corvinus came across the Archeulian factory site at the junction of Chirki with the Pravara, 2 miles downstream from Nevasa.[5] After being funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (the German Research Council), she decided to excavate the site, which lasted 3 winter seasons from 1966-1969. The lengthy excavation resulted in the revelation of rich Early Archeulian assemblage in fine-grained context in the gullies of Chirki area. Besides this, a great number of well-preserved fossil wood pieces and tree trunks were found in the alluvium. In 1981, Corvinus published two of the most classic monographs, “ A Survey of the Pravara River System in Western Maharashtra, India” and “ A Survey of the Pravara River System in Western Maharashtra, India” in 1983.[4] This makes her the first to publish monographs on the geology and archaeology of an Archaeulian site in the entire Indian subcontinent.
  • In 1985, following her work at Chirki-on-Neval (India), Gudrun Cornivus began explorations in the foothills of Siwalik Hills of Western Nepal. In the span of twelve years (1988-2006), she was rewarded with findings and discoveries of numerous Paleolithic sites and rich faunal and floral assemblages ranging from the Miocene to the Pleistocene.[4] The discovery of an unexpected wealth of occupation sites from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic were found in the Dun Valleys of Dang-Deokhuri District in the Siwalik Hills, and an area along the Rato River in East Nepal. Evidence of hand axe indicate human occupation can be dated back at least the late Middle Pleistocene. Most significantly, her finding of the Acheulian sites demonstrates that despite the scarce materials, the early South Asian Acheulian hominins were able to cross the vast Indo-Gangetic floodplain.[4]


Gudrun Corvinus was found stabbed and beheaded in her apartment in Pune, India on January 7, 2006. Her head was found near a riverbed. Fakir Mohammed Shaikh was arrested 7 hours later for the crime. Shaikh, a real-estate agent was found guilty for the murder of Dr. Corvinus and sentenced to life in prison. The public prosecutor at the time, Neelima Vartak said that she was most likely killed for her property.[6]


  • 1981: A Survey of the Pravara River System in Western Maharashtra, India.
    • (Volume 1: The Stratigraphy and Geomorphology of the Pravara River System.)
    • By Gudrun Corvinus, Tübingen (Verlag Archaeologica Venatoria) -- ISBN 3-921618-13-4
  • 1983: A Survey of the Pravara River System in Western Maharashtra, India.
    • (Volume 2: The Excavations of the Acheulian Site of Chirki-on-Pravara, India.)
    • By Gudrun Corvinus, Tübingen (Verlag Archaeologica Venatoria) -- ISBN 3-921618-14-2
  • 2005: Prehistoric Cultures in Nepal from the Early Palaeolithic to the Neolithic and the Quaternary Geology of the Dang-Deokhuri Dun Valleys


  1. ^ a b Corvinus, G. (1 June 1976). "Prehistoric exploration at Hadar, Ethiopia". Nature. 261 (5561): 571–572. Bibcode:1976Natur.261..571C. doi:10.1038/261571a0. 
  2. ^ a b Chauhan, Parth R.; Patnaik, Rajeev (1 December 2008). "Gudrun Corvinus (1932–2006)—Pioneering paleoanthropologist". Quaternary International. 192 (1): 1–5. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2007.11.023. 
  3. ^ Semaw, S.; Renne, P.; Harris, J. W. K.; Feibel, C. S.; Bernor, R. L.; Fesseha, N.; Mowbray, K. (1997-01-23). "2.5-million-year-old stone tools from Gona, Ethiopia". Nature. 385 (6614): 333–336. PMID 9002516. doi:10.1038/385333a0. 
  4. ^ a b c d Chauhan, Parth R.; Patnaik, Rajeev (2008-12-01). "Gudrun Corvinus (1932–2006)—Pioneering paleoanthropologist". Quaternary International. 192 (1): 1–5. ISSN 1040-6182. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2007.11.023. 
  5. ^ Sankalia, Hasmukhlal Dhirajlal; Deo, Shantaram Bhalchandra; Dhavalikar, Madhukar Keshav (1985-01-01). Studies in Indian Archaeology: Professor H.D. Sankalia Felicitation Volume. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 9780861320882. 
  6. ^ "Realtor gets life term for murder of German archaeologist - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2016-11-03. 

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