Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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NEGASI Awetehey Nega, Ethiopian Archaeology

The Horn of Africa has numerous rock paintings and engravings. They are composed of both representational and non-representational images. These corpses of rock art, according to the recently accepted stylistic classification, are called Arabian-Ethiopian styles. Two patterns of development of rock art in the region are identified: the earliest style as "Surre-Hanakiya’’ (c.3000-1000bc) where as the second stage is called "Dahthami Style Proper’’ (after 1000bc). The dominant theme of the rock art in the region is pastoralism- cattle are the dominant motifs. The rock art studied, emba Tsegurom paintings lies on the Tigrean plateau, in one of the hills surrounding the pre-Aksumite main ceremonial center Yeha. With a departure point to contribute documented material data and help compensate the dearth of archaeological evidences in the early historic periods in the Northern Horn, the researcher photographed, traced and described the paintings meticulously. The documented data was tested against the archaeological and rock art literatures mainly of the Northern Horn of Africa. The subjects in the art include animals, humans, and other non-representational images. Thematically, the rock art depicts hunting scenes, pastoral scenes, plowing scenes and a fighting figure. The rock paintings in the dominant paintings have three layers of color paintings. The 1st layer beneath all is black with red above then thickly above all white. The rock art created there seems mainly because of the presence of human access to the area with geological suitability and presence of people with such tradition inheritance. The overall comparison indicates that the art be dated to the transition periods from BC to AD. The question of authorship as substantiated with contemporary civilizations tends to indicate the ancient Ethiopians, themselves. The paintings are also informative of ancient environment and subsistence, art and chemistry knowledge, selective preference on communication mediums and human attachment to animals. The art seems a legacy from earlier Ethiopian rock art, roots for later traditional paintings. Finally, the researcher hypothesized such arts are depicted by the local specialists to create communication among peoples. The rock art is in peril because of both natural and anthropogenic factors. Hence, they need urgent preservation measures.