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As a part of the ongoing collaborative project between GSI and University of Colorado, USA, Prof. Roger Bilham studied the GSI archives during his visit to GSI, Kolkata in June 2009. GSI acknowledges Prof. Bilham for compiling this content from the GSI archive.
Further photographs by C. L. Griesbach on the Afghan Boundary Commission may be seen on the website www.phototheca-afghanica.ch
C. L. Griesbach - A Brief Biography

Carl Griesbach was born and educated in Vienna, and died at the age of 60 in Graz. Despite his Austrian links he was a third generation British citizen. His grandfather settled in England at the time of George III and his father George Griesbach lived in England. He worked initially for the Austrian Geological Survey(1867/8). In 1869 Carl married Emma Griesbach, the daughter of the Rev. W.R. Griesbach of Millington, Yorkshire. In 1869-70 at the age of 22, he led a German scientific expedition to Portuguese East Africa. On his return in 1871 he resided in London. In 1878 he joined the Geological Survey of India. The GSI photo below is probably from 1878.

C. L. Griesbach

While in England he joined the 6th Battalian Royal Fusiliers and rose ultimately to the rank of Lt. Colonel. On 6 March 1880 he was deputed on special service in Southern Afghanistan and was present in battles at Girishk (14 July 1880), Maiwand (27 July 1880), and at the siege of and battle for Kandahar 1 Sept 1880.


C. L. Griesbach - A brief Lifecycle in Chronological order

  • Born 11-Dec-1847 Vienna
  • 1869-1870 :Natal and E. Africa
  • 1871-78 :London
  • 1878 :Joined GSI
  • 1882-83 :Hundes/Spiti /GarwalHimalaya.
  • 1884/886 :Geologist to the Afghan Boundary Commission
  • Feb 1887 awarded CIE (Companion of the Indian Empire)
  • Jan 1888-July 1889 :Geologist to the Amir of Kabul.
  • 1894 to 1903 :Director GSI
  • 13-Apr-1907 :Death in Graz


His 26 articles concerning African and Indian geology are illustrated with numerous sketches. The photographs preserved in Calcutta show his interests in local people and architecture matched his interest in geological features. see "Obituary" Geological Magazine, New Series Decade 5, Volume 4, 1907, 240.


The following 3 mm high monogram is inscribed lower left on some of Griesbach's early plates.

Note on GSI numbering scheme

No complete index has been found for the early GSI archive, but it appears that photo numbers for each geologist were assigned a contiguous block (e.g. the attached sequence for Griesbach is 714 to 1009. Where a photo is missing it is either damaged or not yet recovered. The primary number on the negative envelope is a copy of one usually scratched lower right on the plate. Occasionally an earlier number inscribed by Griesbach is ignored. A red number is also present on each negative envelope - a secondary GSI numbering system that was added later and which follows the same sequential numbering with occasional deviations. The caption beneath each photo is the verbatim caption on the storage envelope.


C.E.D. Black writes in his Memoir on Indian Surveys, 1875-1890.London, 1891.
"On the termination of Mr. Griesbach's short leave in England (in 1882) Mr. Griesbach obtained permission to visit some places on the Continent, the collections made in Armenia by Staatrarth von Abich proving especially interesting in their close relationship to some of the Himalayan fossils.On his return Mr. Griesbach headed for the Tibetan frontier, but the cold was so intense as to impede his explorations considerably.
Of the work achieved during 1883 Mr. Griesbach's was probably the most interesting, dealing as it did with the main Himalayan range and its grand formation. He completed the survey of Hundes basin to its western limit on the flanks of the geneissic mass of the Porgyal mountain that separates Hundes from Spiti. From this region Mr Griesbach had to hurry late in October to join the expedition to the Takht- e-Suliman on the NorthWest Frontier.
Mr Griesbach was unfortunately taken seriously ill at Kohat, after the expedition to Takht-e-Suliman (Records G. S. I 17(4), but after recovering his strength, at Simla, he was appointed (in 1884) to accompany the Afghan Boundary Commision in the capacity of Geologist.
On the 1st November (1886) Mr. Griesbach returned to India with the Afghan Boundary Commimission not much the worse for his two years' wanderings. His notes appear in the Records GSI . The geology of the Herat valley is shortly described in 18(1). Afghan and Persian field notes, dealing with Eastern Khorasan and the Herat province , are contained in 19(1), while a very full, and valuable sketch of the geology of Afghan Turkistan appears in 19(4). The fourth or concluding batch of notes treats of the return march of the commision from Turkistan over the Hindu Kush and through Kabul to India.

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