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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Jean-François BRETON, CNRS. ArsCAN. UMR 7041. Maison Ginouvès. Nanterre. France / aff. member of the PhD programme in History and Cultural Studies, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
YOHANNES Aytenew, Mekelle University, Department of History and Heritage Management, Head, Ethiopia
Wolbert SMIDT, Research Centre Gotha of Erfurt University, Germany / aff. member of the PhD programme in History and Cultural Studies, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
MULUBRHAN Adane, Mekelle University, Department of History and Heritage Management (PhD candidate) / Kwiha, Ethiopia

This is the second part of the paper presentation on the Kwiha research project carried out at the PhD Programme in History and Cultural Studies at Mekelle University. The town of Kwiha, some 10 km east of Mekelle, shows continuous human occupation starting from Bronze Age (third millennium ca) throughout the Axumite times to the medieval period. Kwiha and its surroundings were occupied during the Axumite period (and maybe during pre-Axumite period?). To the northeast of the city, a stone building consists of carved pillars of a possible church (Inda Qirqos) or a domestic building, and to the northwest, three long stone pillars remain of an important building. Because Kwiha is situated on the trade route linking the Afar depression with its traditional salt-mines, it was considered as a trading center probably from Ancient times and throughout the medieval period. From the Muslim cemetery come a great number of Islamic steles ranging from the 10th cent. till the 13th cent., some of which were translated within this project. The Department of History and Heritage Management of Mekelle University started in 2014 a long-term program of surveys at Kwiha, which consists of two focus areas, corresponding to the main streams of the PhD Programme: (1) Archaeology and ancient history, including long-term surveys of the surroundings, directed by the affiliated member of the PhD Programme J.-F. Breton; (2) Ethnohistory, directed by W. Smidt, including epigraphy. The research groups formed around these topics consist of young staff members of different departments and PhD candidates, based on a cooperation agreement concluded between the French Centre of Ethiopian Studies (cfee) and the MU President’s Office. The basic idea of the research project is not only to document the diverse rich layers of historical and cultural heritage of Kwiha, with focus on the site of Kwiha Ch’erqos (Qirqos) and the nearby Muslim cemetery, but linking this with capacity building under the responsibility of Mekelle University. The project is supposed to strengthen Ethiopian institution-building and wishes to contribute to alternatives to the so far dominating mode of archaeological research directed exclusively by foreign missions. The research group believes that the future needs more collaborative projects under Ethiopian institutions, integrating foreign experts in order to form the upcoming new generation of Ethiopian academics.