Student Voices

Travel Report: Habtamu Taddesse, Archaeology, Ethiopia

December 16, 2014

My PhD research topic is “The Pre-Aksumite to Aksumite Transition in Eastern Tigrai, Ethiopia: The View from Ona Adi”. My overall goal is to investigate the nature of the pre-Aksumite to Aksumite transition periods (PA-A) and Aksumite ceramic assemblages collected from the site of Ona Adi. To achieve this objective I have to travel to Ethiopia and do the analysis there because the antiquity law of the country prohibited exporting artifacts.  Supported by GIRTA award I was fortunate enough to go to Ethiopia and accomplished the following important activities in the summer of 2014.

At the beginning of my field season I traveled from Vancouver to Aksum to work on the Aksumite ceramic collections held in the museum and assisted Dr. Perlingieri to analyze Aksumite ceramics from the site of Baita Semati, excavated by Johns Hopkins University. Working with Dr. Perlingieri was a great experience and exposed me to current methods and approaches of ceramic analysis in Aksum area to ensure that my own work at Ona Adi will be comparable. One of my overall research objectives is to compare and contrast Ona Adi ceramics with that of Aksum-Yeha area to understand the role and place of our site in inter-regional trade during the pre-Aksumite to Aksumite transition period. My work in Aksum assisted me to familiarize myself with ceramic types in that area better.

I spent much of the summer filed season in Adigrat analyzing Ona Adi ceramic collections held in an ETAP storage magazine in Adigrat. The main objective of Ona Adi ceramics analysis is to establish a regional chronology for PA-A transition and ksumite ceramics in eastern Tigrai. We are also expecting to understand Ona Adi’s relationships with the neighboring regions and social structure of the site by combining formal and functional ceramic analysis with other sources archaeological data. I was systematically sorting about 10,000 diagnostic sherds and able to establish seven formal and functional and eleven fabric groups which will be the basis of my next intensive investigations. This pilot research gave us an important insight about Ona Adi and was the basis of my prospectus and colloquium.  

In addition to laboratory analysis in Adigrat, I made a lot of trips to the site of Ona Adi to check on the site, carried out five weeks of excavations and met and discussed with local officials about the condition of the site and inform them of my progress in ceramic studies.

After this effective filed season, I came back to Vancouver in September 2014, completed my comprehensive exams in November 2014 and presented my colloquium in December 2014.  I am leaving Vancouver today (15 December2014) to conduct my intensive ceramic analysis in Ethiopia and will come back to Vancouver in September 2015 to start writing up my dissertation. 

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