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NEW ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES FROM MEDEBAY (WEREDA MEREB LEKE AND LA'ELAY MAYCHEW), CENTRAL ZONE OF TIGRAY [Abstract ID: 0102-17]
This research was carried out in the archaeological regions of Medebay, La’elay May-chew and Mereb Leke weredas, located about 15-30 kilometers north of Aksum, in the core province of the historical Aksumite kingdom, south of the River Mereb. Previous archaeological research did not reach this area in contrast to the work done at Aksum town and its environs. The primary objective of this work is to document potential archaeological sites, to review the current condition of their management, to suggest ideas on the possible settlement period, to assess its future value to the scientific community, and finally to indicate the way how to protect and save the described heritage sites. Systematic archaeological survey, repeated field observation and interviewing local communities were carried out. As a result, sixteen new archaeological sites, as well as four sites barely reported, were identified. These sites are situated from the highland of Welel in the east up to Addi Shumbruh qebele in the west, directly bordering to the River Mereb. The major archaeological features of the sites include the following: a concentration of small stelae, constructional bricks, potsherds including not yet explainable figurines and ritual ceramics, grinding stones, obsidian tools, and an accumulation of iron slags, Aksumite coins and Aksumite lion headed water spouts and a stone seal. All of the archaeological sites were located with GPS and the observed artifacts were qualitatively analyzed. Moreover, the present conditions of the sites were documented. Based on the surface archaeological evidence, most of the sites are possibly dated back from the early to late Aksumite period, while few of them are tentatively dated to the pre-Aksumite period. Their possible function ranges from ancient settlements to administration and ceremonial centers. Land degradation, flooding, looting, agricultural and various modern developmental activities are identified as the major potential cultural and natural challenges to the preservation of these archaeological sites. Thus, the concerned bodies, local and regional tourism offices, the ARCCH, Aksum University and other stakeholders should take urgent measure to secure these endangered archaeological sites. This can be done through public archaeology and awareness creation to the local people.