S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science




Rehbock, Dr Theodor (hydrology, civil engineering)

Born: 1864, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Theodor Rehbock, a German civil engineer, made a contribution to the theory of arched bridges early in his career, with his paper, "Beitr?ge zur theorie der versteigter Bogenbr?cken" (1892). A few years later he was appointed by the Syndikat f?r Bew?sserungsanlagen in Deutsch-S?dwestafrika, established in 1895, to lead an expedition to German South West Africa (now Namibia) to study its water resources and their scientific exploitation. The expedition, which included J.C. Watermeyer* of the Government Analytical Laboratory in Cape Town, spent eleven months in the central and southern parts of the territory, from October 1896 to September 1897. Rehbock described his findings and recommendations in a book, Deutsch-S?dwest-Afrika. Seine wirtschaftliche Erschliessung unter besonderer Ber?cksichtigung der Nutzbarmachung des Wassers (German South West Africa. Its economic development with special consideration of the utilisation of water; Berlin, 1898, 237p., with maps, plans, etc). The book contained a very fine presentation of the territory's water resources and their development, ground water extraction, the supply of drinking water, and related topics. Most important, however, were Rehbock's detailed proposals for the possible construction of six dams, four close to Windhoek and two in the south of the territory. He urged especially that an immediate start be made with a large dam and associated agricultural scheme at Hatsamas, some 80 km south-east of Windhoek Two of his proposed dams were eventually built.

Other publications resulting from his expedition included an album of 96 photographs taken during the expedition (1898), a paper on the settlement of German South West Africa (1900), and a report on its agriculture (1901-1902). In 1905 he contributed two papers (in French) to the meeting in Rome of the International Institute of Political and Social Sciences Concerning Countries of Differing Civilisations. These dealt with the utilisation of water in subtropical countries, and methods of irrigation in the arid parts of southern Africa, and were no doubt also largely based on his experience in Namibia.

Rehbock reported on the design of water power works on the Murg River (a tributary of the Rhine in southern Germany) in 1910. By 1917 he was at the Flussbaulaboratorium (water works laboratory), part of the Department of Civil Engineering of the Technischen Hochschule (Technical University) at Karlsruhe, and reported on his hydrological investigations at Zurich, Switzerland. He remained at the laboratory for the rest of his career and in 1931 reported on his use of a model in an hydraulic engineering study of the Zuiderzee, the Netherlands.


List of sources:
Becker, K. & Hecker, J. (eds). Vom Schutzgebiet bis Namibia: 1884-1984. Windhoek: Interessengemeinschaft deutschsprachiger S?dwester, 1985.

Kienetz, A. Nineteenth-century South West Africa as a German settlement colony (pp. 896-906). PhD thesis in social geography, University of Minnesota, 1976. Facsimile by University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1977.

Logan, R.F. Bibliography of South West Africa, geography and related fields. Windhoek: SWA Scientific Society, 1969.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.


Compiled by: C. Plug


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