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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KASSAYE Begashaw, Addis Ababa University, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Management, Ethiopia

National heritage legislation and UNESCO’S conventions and guidelines are the major benchmark for the management and conservation of archaeological sites in Ethiopia. However, the introduction of modern legislation and international guidelines in Ethiopian cultural institutions has given the state an exclusive responsibility to manage and conserve the heritage of the country in collaboration with international organizations. This approach has created a serious impact on safeguarding and protecting the heritage of the country. Absence of a clear archaeological research policy with a well defined strategy, planning and priorities as well as the inability of the legislation to provide the necessary directives within the general framework of different national and international laws have also contributed to misunderstanding and conflict among various researchers and stakeholders. In a broader perspective, archaeological site conservation should be seen as a conjoint enterprise to stop further deterioration of sites. This paper, therefore, tries to analyze the critical challenges of Ethiopian site conservation caused by incompatible national and international regulations. Whatever the nature of the problem, the big issue is to understand the principal causes and the concern for conserving the site and keep its authenticity in the process of stabilizing the problem of the site. In the final analysis, archaeological site conservation in this century is expected to go beyond the stabilization of the site. It should enhance a variety of perspectives and concerns about the site and the commitments of different stakeholders that are more inclusive and allow us to treat our heritage with rigorous care within the context of a comprehensive and effective heritage management of the country. In this regard, the principal question is what heritage legislation and guidelines can do for Ethiopian heritage sites in the 21st Century.