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Dead Men Do Tell Tales

A 1930's Archaeological Expedition into Abyssinia

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Count Byron Khun de Prorok. 1933 [reprinted 2001]. Dead Men Do Tell Tales: A 1930's Archaeological Expedition into Abyssinia. Narrative Press, Santa Barbara, California.
The Narrative Press is a small press that is dedicated to reproducing true, first-person accounts of adventurers, primarily as electronic books, but also in a paperback format. Byron Khun de Prorok's 1933 memoir of Ethiopia called "Dead Men Do Tell Tales" is one of those that recently found its way to my desk.

De Prorok's adventures take place during the tumultuous rule of Haile Selassie. In fact much of the book is the story of how de Prorok gained a permit to excavate from Selassie, but couldn't use it after war broke out. The only excavation--if you can call it that--described in the book takes place in Somaliland, a chapter almost added on as an afterthought. But, nevertheless, the book makes for interesting reading, as along the way de Prorok encounters thieves, slaves, eunuchs, and warlords and describes incredible situations and events from rituals he shouldn't have been watching to deals he shouldn't have made.
While this book is not for the squeamish--nor is it politically correct in either archaeological or ethical senses of the word--it is a trip back into the mind of a professional archaeologist at time when, as Howard Carter said, "... anything to which a fancy was taken, from a scarab to an obelisk, was just appropriated, and if there was a difference with a brother excavator, one laid for him with a gun."

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