Dr. Schuyler Jones, CBE, spoke at the Sedgwich County Historical Museum on Saturday, September 10, 2011.
I traveled to Wichita with my friend Gary Clarke, retired zoo director and African safari leader,
listened to Dr. Jones and purchased his book, A Stranger Abroad: A Memoir.
Heading back to Topeka the western sky at sunset was glorious!
Dr. Schuyler Jones, CBE, retired from Oxford University where he was Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum of anthropology and world archeology. He carried out researcdh in Afghanistan for much of the period from 1958 ro 1970.
Dr. Jones was a good friend of Dr. Ken Campbell, professor of art at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where I had the opportunity to hear him speak to students about his studies of Afghan tribes. He spoke at UW-Eau Claire in late 1987, at the time the Soviet Union was occupying Afghanistan, having invaded in Decenber 1979.
I vividly remember that Dr. Jones showed slides he had taken of various tribesman he had met and studied. He made clear that the Afghans were a tough and determined people, used to living in a harsh environment. I remember seeing slides of men who lived in holes in the ground, and seemed to be well-armed. Dr. Jones voiced the opinion that the Afghans would never be defeated by foreign powers.
Very shortly after Dr. Jones's visit, Soviet troops began to leave Afghanistan. Based on what I had learned, I was most impressed with Dr. Jones's insights and became firmly convinced that he knew exactly what he was talking about.
Later, when President George W. Bush began a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, I had grave concerns and doubts that he knew what he was doing. I figured he had not talked with the right experts...and still feel that he was foolhearty in his invasion plans.
Sculptor Kenneth Campbell and Dr. Jones were connected in friendship by mutual interests in the anthropology of African civilizations, which Dr. Jones had also studied. Dr. Campbell was an expert in African skin-covered masks from the Cross River region of West Africa. Wooden masks covered with animal skin were produced in the region surrounding the Cross River that runs through the border area between Nigeria and Cameroon..
Dr. Campbell has since passed away, but I got a personal tour of his collection of African skin-covered masks while in Eau Claire.
At the time I met Dr. Jones, he was living in Oxford, but was introduced to the audience by Dr. Campbel, as being a native of Wichita, KS. I am a native Kansan, and was pleased to think this intelligent man was a fellow Kansan. Later, I discovered that ancestors of Dr. Jones helped found the city of Wichita.
Peter Jones, son of Schuyler, also visited the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as a guest of Dr. Campbell. Peter had been on archeological digs in Africa and gave us a fascinating demonstration of flintknapping, the craft of fashioning sharp tool points from flint or chert. Peter had been a consultant for the movie Quest for Fire, a story of the discovery of fire by prehistoric man. His demo was my first exposure to the art of flintknapping.
Later I visited Oxford, England, and stopped at the Pitt Rivers Museum, where I spoke with Dr. Jones in person, reminded him of his visit to Eau Claire, and explained the connection we had as Kansas natives. I was delighted by the collection of artifacts at the Pitt Rivers Museum and proud of the accomplishments of Dr. Jones.
Afghan, revisited: "Afghans Fear Downturn as Foreigners Withdraw," NYTimes, by Graham Boley, 1/31/2012