December 4, 2021

Urban Hinterlands in Antiquity:
Reflections from Matara and Keskes

Abraham Zerai
The archaeological site of Matara is located about 1km south of Senafe in the southern region of Eritrea. The archaeological site has for long been recognized by surrounding communities as Belew-Kelew. Matara´s visibility in various documents started to feature during the 19th century when various Europeans visited the site and documented their observations. Different aspects of the site, including fragments of ancient inscriptions, architectural remains and pottery fragments were recorded during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Matara´s prominence, however, came in the 1960s and 1970s when Anfray conducted multiple seasons of field surveys and excavations. The excavations involved a sustained archaeological research at Matara, though destructive, as the excavations did not allow proper conservation in the aftermath. Matara is most closely associated with the 1st millennium A.D. (100-900 A.D.) cultural period as much of the focus of research in the area has been on the architectural features pertaining to the period. Yet, 1st millennium B.C. (900-100 B.C.) deposits were documented by Anfray´s excavations.


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