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This report is taken from PN Review 124, Volume 25 Number 2, November - December 1998.

Midnight Plane to Georgia Roger Matthews

The Turkish Airlines 737 from Istanbul touched down at midnight, bumping along the runway at Tbilisi. We eased through passport control and collected our bags. We had been told that someone would be there to meet us, but as we scanned the lines of faces we were met by blank stares. It felt strange. I couldn't recall the last time I had arrived in a foreign country where I didn't know how to say, 'Hello, please help me'. Perhaps they had forgotten we were coming, or got the arrival time wrong, or we had got the wrong day, the wrong flight, the wrong country...

What had led to our making this trip from Ankara to Georgia in the late autumn of 1997? Earlier in the year we had spent a lively evening in the company of Stephen Nash, the British Ambassador to Georgia, who had been passing through Ankara. Over beer and snacks at one of the restaurants on the old citadel we talked over shared experiences in Baghdad in years long gone, and we discussed the possibilities for strengthening the British archaeological presence in Georgia. Stephen wondered if the Ankarabased British Institute of Archaeology might be interested in some involvement in Georgia. I was taken with the idea and began communicating with Professor Otar Lordkipanidze, Director of the Centre for Archaeological Studies of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, who invited my wife and myself to a conference in Tbilisi on the topic of 'Caucasian Iberia and ...


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