Erhard Eylmann (1860-1926) was a German scientist who devoted much of his working life to researching Australia, where he travelled extensively during the period 1896 to 1913. His primary field of expertise was anthropology, about which he wrote at great length in his major work Die Eingeborenen der Kolonie Südaustralien (The Aborigines of the Colony of South Australia). This paper places Eylmann and his work in a tradition of German scientific endeavour which can be traced back to William Blandowski and Alexander Von Humboldt. Eylmann's insistence on the primacy of empirical methodology and his belief in the essential unity of all the scientific disciplines characterise his work. At the same time the paper argues that Eylmann's approach to anthropological study was also indebted to practitioners outside Germany, in particular Francis Gillen and Baldwin spencer. similarly, there were other anthropologists in Eylmann's own time - foremost among them Carl Strehlow - who adopted a very different paradigm in their efforts to understand indigenous Australians.