Home Archives & Manuscripts Archive Contents BRITISH SOMALILAND ARCHAEOLOGY. ETHIOPIA COMMITTEE (A119)

Correspondence and papers. 1946-54.

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg was interested in archaeology in British Somaliland in 1946 and had already 1500 specimens then; apart from two letters to Sir John Myres there are no further papers at the RAI. In 1950 the Emperor of Ethiopia was anxious for a learned society to explore ‘ancient monuments’ in the country; he would finance the expedition himself. The British Council asked the RAI if it would undertake the work. The RAI was interested and set up an Ethiopia Committee. Although correspondence continued until 1954, the Ethiopia Committee was disbanded in Oct. 1953 as no reply had been received to the RAI letters from the Ethiopian Government.

1/    British Somaliland Archaeology. 1946

1    Lord Rennell of Rod to Sir John Myres, 27 Feb. 1946 – has had correspondence about the archaeology of British Somaliland; anxious for someone to go there; would like to have a meeting about it; would like to work on the material for an article in Man but is not competent and has no time; suggests … Kirwan (tp.); no article appeared in Man

2    [Clarence van Riet Lowe], Archaeological Survey, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg to Brigadier R.H. Smith, Military Governor, Hargeisa, British Somaliland, 12 Mar. – acknowledges receipt of about 1500 specimens of Stone Age man’s activities; collected by Capt. H.B.S. Gilliland and Major P.E. Glover; have material from the western area collected by H.W. Seton-Karr; new material collected from the eastern area is extremely interesting; parallels that collected by L.S.B. Leakey from Kenya; deals at length with the collection (tp. copy)

3    Ibid., to Sir John Myres, 12 Mar. – encloses a copy of the letter he sent to Brigadier R.H. Smith (/2 above); gives details of H.B.S. Gilliland and P.E. Glover (autogr.)

2/    Ethiopia Committee. 1950-4


1    Lt Col. J.G.B. Walker, British Council to RAI, 12 Dec. 1950 – Emperor of Ethiopia anxious for a reputed learned society to explore ancient monuments in Ethiopia; he would finance the expedition himself; asks if the RAI would undertake the work (tp.); see Council minutes, 9 Jan. 1951, Item xiv, f. 622 and Report of the Council, 1950/1, JRAI, Vol. 81, 1951, p. 135


2    Ibid., 5 Jan. 1951 – thinks his letter must have gone astray (tp.)

3    W.B. Fagg, Hon. Secretary (WBF) to Lt Col. J.G.B. Walker, 9 Jan. – first letter arrived after the Dec. Council; now placed before the Jan. meeting; most interested in the project and willing in principle to organize the work provided no financial commitment is involved; a Committee has been set up to advise Council; mentions the Governor of Eritrea’s interest and the German Frobenius Institute’s expedition to Abyssinia (autogr. draft)

4    Ibid., 9 Jan. – ibid. (tpc.)

5    Miss Felicia Stallman (FS), Assistant Secretary to A.J. Arkell, 15 Jan. – explains the expedition and asks if he would serve on an exploratory committee (tpc.); similar letters to Prof. F.E. Zeuner and to the International African Institute (for a representative)

6    A.J. Arkell to FS, 16 Jan. – has no first hand knowledge of Abyssinia; willing to serve provided this is not an objection (tp.)

7    Institute of Archaeology, University of London to FS, 23 Jan. – Prof. Zeuner unable to reply himself owing to the death of his mother; but pleased to accept invitation (tp.)

8    International African Institute to FS, 15 Mar. – reports J.D. Duncanson has agreed to represent the Institute (tp.)

9    Note by FS on the British Council and Frank G. Patten, Deputy Director of the Ethiopian Ministry of Education (autogr.)

10    Notes by WBF for the Ethiopia Committee (autogr.); see Council minutes, 6 Feb. 1951, Item 5c, f. 624

11    Notification of a meeting of the Ethiopia Committee on 18 Apr. 1951 (tp.)

12    Draft of a letter to HE the Ethiopian Ambassador by WBF (autogr.)

13    WBF to HE the Ethiopian Ambassador, 8 Oct. – refers to the correspondence between the RAI and the British Council on archaeological exploration in Ethiopia; the British Council informed the RAI that the Emperor was anxious to promote archaeological exploration; Council affirmed its interest and its willingness to undertake the organization of the work; a Committee was set up to advise Council; asks if he should get in touch with Mr Patten (tpc.); see Council minutes, 9 Oct. 1951, Item 6h, f. 639

14    Chargé d’Affaires, Imperial Ethiopian Embassy to WBF, 18 Oct. – unable to give full information at present; informs of Frank G. Patten’s style and address (tp.)


15    Draft of a letter to Frank G. Patten, Addis Ababa by WBF (autogr.)

16    WBF to Frank G. Patten, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Education, Addis Ababa, 30 June 1953 – sets out position considered by Council in Dec. 1950; Ethiopia Committee set up; asks whether he wishes the RAI to make concrete recommendations; outlines the need of investigation and the likely importance of the results (tpc.); see Council minutes, 8 Oct. 1953, Item 6h, f. 699 on the discharge of the Committee as no reply had been received from the Ethiopian Government

17    ‘Education in Ethiopia: blend of old and new learning’ by Michael Grant, Prof. of Humanity, University of Edinburgh, 4 Aug. 1953 (newspaper clipping)


18    Prof. H.J. Fleure (HJF) to WBF, 4 Mar. 1954 – encloses a draft letter to the Earl of Stamford for WBF and G.W.B. Huntingford to approve [on exploration in Ethiopia]; also mentions J.S. Weiner’s suggestion for the future of the RAI which could be important; suggests names for a Committee (autogr.); see Council minutes, 4 Feb. 1954, Item 9, ff. 713-14 on G.W.B. Huntingford’s increasing difficulty for field work or travel in Ethiopia and 4 Mar. 1954, Item 9, f. 716, 1 Apr., Item 1, f. 718

19    Earl of Stamford to HJF, 9 May – recommends a meeting with the Ethiopian Ambassador to whom he forwarded his letter; knows the Ambassador well and is sure he would be interested and sympathetic (autogr.)

20    HJF to WBF, 11 May – encloses Lord Stamford’s reply; suggests he (WBF) and G.W.B. Huntingford should go to the Embassy; he (HJF) could accompany them if they wished (autogr.)

21    WBF to Prof. R.W. Firth, President, [after 11 May] – encloses copies of letters from HJF and Lord Stamford; suggests he should go to the Embassy with G.W.B. Huntingford and HJF; would be pleased to go if it would not make too large a deputation (autogr. draft)