Encounter at Quhaito, 1969

I spent a considerable length of time absorbed in a project that so occupied my attention as to divert the efforts which I might otherwise have used writing blog posts. I also have had another post in the hopper which for various reasons has been hung up. Whenever I actually post it, it should be understandable why I’ve been hung up. Sometimes one bites off more than can be chewed at one sitting.

Since then, I was afflicted with a severe systemic infection & several side-effects of that infection. I spent several months hospitalized, moving back & forth between ICU & stepped-down care units, & then moved to a rehab facility where I am continuing to restore my strength & ability to get around on my own, in addition to healing a serious decubitus ulcer on my lower back, last vestige of the original infection. I lost my apartment & much of its contents, which has been a major setback which I’m working hard to overcome. Now I am trying to resume work on this blog. Being limited to my iPad & iPhone, I may be limited in the ability to include the sort of illustrations that were part of my previous posts, but until I can get a working computer once more, I’ll do the best I can.

The project that had so occupied my time was a video, which I eventually completed – at least I consider it completed to my satisfaction. There’s a long history behind this project. While I was posted at Kagnew Station in Asmara Eritrea – then part of Ethiopia – I had contacted the Ethiopian Institute of Archaeology, and because I had studied archaeology at university, I was invited to participate in excavations at several important city sites. I’ve introduced Matara (or Metera), one of the two major city sites, where I took part in the 1969 & 1970 excavation seasons, in two previous posts, I Dig It Pt 1 & I Dig It Pt 2.

The left hand photo below shows the entire Matara site; on the right is a closer, more detailed view showing the excavated portions of the site.


My first season working with the team was during June 1969 at Matara, a major city site in Eritrea, an important trading city for nearly 2000 years, and one of the most extensively excavated sites in either Eritrea or Ethiopia. At around the same time I had become friends with an instructor at the University of Maryland extension program at Kagnew. As part of his class on the history & archaeology of the region, he often would host a guided tour of some of the most important historical & archaeological sites in Eritrea & Tigray, the neighboring Ethiopian province. I was invited to join him in guiding the tour he had scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend, both because of my background in archaeology & my recent participation in the dig at Matara. I gladly agreed to participate.

We set out on the morning of 4 July on what became not only an educational tour but a remarkable adventure. Years later, I wrote an essay describing the circumstances. I later recorded my narration of the essay with musical accompaniment which was broadcast on a locally-produced Public Radio literary program called Tales From the South. It was this recorded radio essay that formed the basis of the video which consumed so much of my time & attention for so long, distracting me from posting to this blog.

This is a link to the video, which needs no further introduction:

As mentioned earlier, this video was intended to enhance & expand the radio essay I produced in 2006 for broadcast on Tales From the South, a locally produced program hosted by Paula Morell that was broadcast on KUAR-FM in Little Rock, providing a venue for writers to have their works heard. During the first season, when this was produced & broadcast, the programs were recorded in the KUAR studio, rather than read before a live audience at Paula’s Starving Artist Café, as they were subsequently.