- We speak today to young archeologist Abraham Zerai, currently working at the National Museum of Eritrea. He was born in 1986 in Asmara and got his degree in Sociology and Archeology in 2007, he is a dedicated professional, who broadened his knowledge in the field by traveling to Portugal, Italy and Greece.
Today he shares with us, of his educational endeavors and experiences as archeologist.
- -Just for a lighthearted opening; what is a fossil?
Putting it as simple as possible, a fossil is a substantial matter which, depending on its circumstantial context and its age, in-calculates: societal, traditional, political counts of a society or anything else related.
It could be a tone, artifact, piece of bone, figurines and so on; all of these might give tangible and non-tangible data. In few words though, we can say that it is a valuable apparatus hinting always to preceding times.
- -How did you end up studying Archeology, and eventually being the archeologist that you are now?
When I was a student I first wanted to study political sciences until when I found out about the depth of archeology. It is a field that has openings penetrating every aspect of human beings: socially, culturally, societally, historically and politically.
- -Care to share with us recollections of when you were an archeology student?
Truthfully my professors provided us with all of the knowledge needed to know and eventually work by the principles of archeology.
In fact, when my school mates and I actually ventured as professionals, all the expertise and tips we gained from our professors resulted to be chief ingredients to our endeavors.
I appreciate my time in school; also the reason why I got high credentials as a graduate. The senior year paper I presented back then was recently published in the Journal of Eritrean Studies.
I studied in Portugal, Italy and Greece, thanks to the effort of an Italian colleague. My experience there, was a total personal development as a professional. It gave me the chance to realize and appreciate furthermore the depth of my field. Coming together with students and professors in this field from all over the world, to share subjective perspectives was truly eye opening and even challenging at times.
- -How so?
It was challenging because we normally attribute time, hence history to archeology, whereas archeology should be, and in fact is, in modern times attributed to many more fields of study, such as that of; chemistry, biology, molecular biology, geology, engineering and an ocean of more. So in my case, having majored in sociology meant additional studying of all of the fields I just mentioned.
- -Alright, so going back to Europe…
Yes, going back to Europe; towards the end, we had to present a research paper. Portugal, Italy and Greece have the legacy of massive advancement in pertinent studies, so it is handy and efficient to study there. Accordingly, afterwards, I think now I have gained enough knowledge, especially in technical methods, needed to dive to the deepest aspect of archeology.
- -To your experience, is archeology a field that attracts young people?
My generation and current generations, yes, definitely. We have many graduates and as many out in several field works. If we work in preparing an efficient podium whereby young archeologist are indorsed to manifest their knowledge and passion, then I definitely see a great future ahead of us, not very far in time.
- -So, as a senior archeologist, what are your expectations from your juniors?
Very good… I want to tell them that, based on the National Legislation on Natural and Cultural Heritage, all remains’ ownership is entitled to the people. As such, it directly means that the youth has full access to them, henceforth, my expectation from the youth and my juniors in general, is to have a wide understanding on their importance as well as a dependable maintenance of national heritages. That is what I expect the most.
- -Eritrea and heritages of all kinds
Our country is beyond imaginable rich in archeology. Meaning, the hidden treasures hinting back to as back as time its self, is just absolutely amazing. So far many activities have been conducted with local and foreign professors, and I believe, that there is more mapped out for the future. I could mention the excavations of Buia, the rediscovery of the ancient port city of Adulis and also the project to put Asmara’s heritages in UNESCO, as recent instances.
For it to be brought to light and have it greatly influence international knowledge, I believe that, we will need unremitting efforts in producing enough professionals and well-fitting technological advancement.
And because we are talking about heritages, it is the people’s firsthand homework, to preserve such richness.
- -At the end, what are we to expect from you in the future?
My greatest, most honest and humble desire is to contribute, with all of my might, in all of the archeological advancement our country has been reaching so far and is presently carrying it on.
And if I may, I want to remind young students studying the field in colleges, how valuable they will be in future progresses, I want them to join us with their youthful innovative ideas, so: “Study hard!”