Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

B. Herrmann:

Man is made of mud

“Soil”, bio-logical facts and fiction, and environmental history


This paper aims at resuming aspects of an anthropology of soil. These features are constitutive for human approaches to soil, but are mostly overlooked though in environmental history. The paper starts with a derivation of the term “man” from ideas related to soil in the Old World. It then transforms “soil” into “space” and considers bio-related issues, to what extend soil materials influence the bodily composition of humans. From here reifications lead into the fields of offspring, genealogy and determinism.

Key words: Soil, anthropology of soil, environmental history of soil.