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[PANEL] 0102 PRACTICES OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCHES AND CONSERVATION OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES IN ETHIOPIA
TEKLE Hagos, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Mangement, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
TEMESGEN Burka, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Mangement, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
HASEN Seid, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Mangement, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
GOITOM Weldehawerait; AGAZI Negash; KIFLE Zerue; HILUF Berhe; BRHAN Teka Teklu;
KASSAYE Begashaw; Sarah JAPP; BLEN Taye Gemeda; FEYISSA Hailu; Mike SCHNELLE;
HADGU Zeru Gebregergis; ABDU Ahmed Aliyu; Till Jakob Frederik TROJER; TEKLE Hagos
This archaeology panel is planned to consist of two interrelated themes: archaeological research and conservation practices of archaeological sites in Ethiopia with the objectives of presetting the current status of archaeological researches and current practices of archaeological sites conservation in Ethiopia to the participants of the conference in particular and to the local and international communities in general. Theme I: This research theme will focus on archaeological surveys and excavations that have been conducted or currently being conducted on various types of sites found in different parts of Ethiopia dating from the prehistoric times up to the medieval period. Under this theme archaeologists can present the results of their researches that are undertaken in Ethiopia focusing on archaeological discoveries, explorations and finds that are believed to contribute to additional knowledge to the Archaeology of Ethiopia and the Horn in particular and to humanity in general. Theme II: This conservation theme will focus on the current conservation practices of archaeological sites in Ethiopia. Papers can be presented on the current challenges, practices and opportunities of conservations on the archaeological sites of Ethiopia: current management-conservation and present restoration practices on archaeological sites including regulatory, research permits, monitoring and planning issues. In addition, papers that focus on the adverse impact of the massive development projects of Ethiopia on the archaeological sites can be presented on this panel that are hoped to give positive inputs for future directions on Ethiopian archaeological sites conservation to the policy makers, regulators, site custodians and to regional and Federal cultural heritage authorities.
A NEW COMMUNITY-BASED PRESERVATION APPROACH FOR HERITAGE MANAGEMENT IN SHIRE AREA [Abstract ID: 0102-10]
The archaeological site of May Adrasha is found in the nonwestern zone of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. It is among the most archaeologically important sites revealing an enormously rich material culture roughly dated to proto-Aksumite, pre-Aksumite and to the Aksumite times. It is among the rare sites in northern Ethiopia which yielded some evidence from pre-Aksumite through the so called proto-Akusumite to the Aksumite culture and its relationships with the contemporaneous Middle Nile Valley cultures. An archaeological field survey and direct observation conducted in this area in June 2015 revealed that, despite its scientific and historical significance, the archaeological sites in this are experiencing growing and devastating damage through illegal excavations of in-situ archaeological materials. The research also indicated that the area is attracting local residents not only for its rich gold mine but also for treasure hunting to be sold in the nearby town Indaslassie. Though gold mining in this area was reported in previous studies as a main threat to the site, hunting for the heritage materials for their market value was still growing, devastating destruction being a challenge even for another yet intact archaeological site nearby. Since the last two years, the community seems to understand the historic and economic importance of saving the site with a new concept of community education and engagement introduced by a new archaeological research project in the area. The aim of this study is to discuss and evaluate the new method of archaeological research in Shire as for archaeological management and monitoring of the site in the study area.
A NEW LOOK AT THE ROCK ART OF ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0102-06]
Rock art in Ethiopia is mainly concentrated in the North, East, South, and South-Central part of the country. Previous investigations focused on description and stylistic distribution of the art. The preoccupation with stylistic similarity lumps the rock art together, warps their differences, and precludes their symbolic interpretation. This paper presents a new look at the distribution of the rock art.
A PRELIMINARY SURVEY RESULT CONDUCTED BETWEEN YEHA-FERESMAY CORRIDOR, CENTRAL TIGRAY [Abstract ID: 0102-12]
The idea of conducting archaeological site assessment or survey with an aim of finding evidences of archaeological sites and cultural objects between the area of Yeha and Edaga-Hamus is of first importance. The study area mentioned above had never been surveyed archaeologically, and therefore, we did not know the archaeological potential of the area, type and frequency of cultural objects, the reason of settlement choice by ancient community who had lived perhaps either in the Pre-Aksumite or Aksumite period, or state of preservation of the archaeological heritage before the current archaeological research was conducted. We went to the site with the expectation that any archaeological evidence would be found either on the surface of the ground or beneath the surface overlaid one over the other because of deposition in different period of time. Therefore, there are many pertinent justification objectives why we have planned to conduct an archaeological assessment and documentation of cultural materials, identify potential archaeological sites, establish relative chronology of the sites, overview the overall history of the area and reduce destruction of archaeological sites and artifacts. Hence, to meet the objectives described above, a descriptive type of research design and a qualitative method of data analysis have been employed. The total survey area covers 216km2 and from this total area, 4.8 km2 have been surveyed per a day. Respondents were composed of farmers, religious men, administrators, and agricultural experts. Some of the potential archaeological sites identified during the survey include Enda-Afras, Zban-Emba, Adi-Islam, Mezabr and the rock shelter of Enda Abune-Yima’eta. Most of the sites are located in the tablelands, hills and at the foot, side and top of mountains. This is because the central valley is not preferable for settlement because of malaria and other problems resulting from natural and anthropogenic factors. Our conclusion is based on the evidence collected from surface collection. Based on this, the newly identified sites had different functions such as settlement sites, workshop areas, burial and possibly belief (worship) areas. More importantly, stone artifacts that possibly dated to the MSA and LSA period and other obsidian artifacts are recorded. Generally, the archaeological materials recorded from the identified sites are manifestations of social organization, subsistence of the time, technology and other socio-cultural contacts of ancient communities who permanently settled in the area. However, to understand the history of the area fully, further investigation by excavation is needed. Hence it is better to recommend that excavation should be needed basically at the site of Mezabr where the stone artifacts such as MSA and LSA are found.
AKSUM’S VANISHING PAST: THE NEED FOR DOCUMENTATION AND CONSERVATION OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES IN AKSUM (ETHIOPIA): CASE OF ADDI GUATIYA. [Abstract ID: 0102-08]
The destruction of archaeological sites occurs globally today, largely because of fast growing industrialization, accompanied by mega projects such as urbanization, hydroelectric installations, and road construction. These developments take place at a rapid pace thereby negatively impacting the archaeological heritage resources. The intervention to save cultural heritage resources has proceeded slowly in general for several reasons: insufficient financial resources, lack of awareness, negligence, and absence of prior documentation practice. As a result, non-renewable archaeological resources are too often damaged and lost forever. Aksum, the capital of ancient Aksumite Kingdom, and one of the most important archaeological sites in Ethiopia, was registered on the World Heritage List in 1980. Its archaeological and cultural heritage continues to be a victim of urbanization, road construction, erosion and deposition. Despite increased efforts to create awareness and issues within the field of archaeology, the destruction of archaeological and cultural heritage sites of Aksum has been staggering. This paper examines a case of recently damaged potential site by bulldozer during road construction at Addi Guatiya (Aksum) and provides a call for an urgent intervention to its conservation. It also discusses issues related to heritage management and legislation, and solutions to mitigate cultural heritage destruction in Aksum and its vicinity. The present article suggests one of the effective ways to alleviate destruction of Aksum cultural heritage is through a continued documentation and educational initiative to the general public in order to enhance the level of awareness about heritage management.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVENTORY OF THE MEGALITHIC SITES OF AKSUM VICINITY AND SHIRE AREA [Abstract ID: 0102-16]
The Northwestern and Central regions of Tigray (including Shire and Aksum areas) were one of the major areas of Ethiopia where ancient civilizations occurred. The study area, being situated in this environment, is full of archaeological remains attesting past human achievements and stage of technological developments. Ruins of ancient settlements, center of rituals and religion, cemeteries (mostly rock cut tombs), megaliths and so on are some of the archaeological records found widely distributed in the vicinity of the research areas. The environments, especially the plain areas are littered with ceramics and lithics of different time periods indicating the continuous occupation of the area since pre-history to later times. The identification of several megalithic sites in the study area most of the time encircling the settlement sites do not only give clues for the stage of stone curving technologies but also the settlement patterns of the area under consideration. Hence settlement sites tend to be located in geographically commanding area near permanent water sources and fertile soils. The stela sites, assumed to be grave markers, are situated not far from the settlement areas relatively in less fertile spots. Possible means of transportations, mode of productions and ways of erecting big stela are suggested based on the results of the archaeological investigation (with the support of oral tradition) that I conducted.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE CONSERVATION AND HERITAGE LEGISLATION IN ETHIOPIA [Abstract ID: 0102-05]
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.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEYS IN THE REGION OF YEHA AND HAWELTI/MELAZO [Abstract ID: 0102-14]
Since 2009 within a cooperation project of the ARCCH, the TCTB and the Sanaa Branch of the German Archaeological Institute, surveys were conducted in the region of Yeha and Hawelti/Melazo. Around the ancient settlement of Yeha, almost 25 sites of different periods have been recorded which can be differentiated into settlement areas, farmsteads, dwellings and other kinds of building structures such as dams. Moreover, areas with signs of human utilization such as a high amount of pottery or remains of crafts activities visible on the surface were included into the investigations. Around the stelae field in Hawelti and on the plateau of Melazo a survey was executed too, where often only pottery shards scattered on the ground or the findings of the inhabitants provide an indication of ancient settlement activities. Nevertheless, at least 20 areas bearing ancient relics were able to be observed ranging from the pre-Aksumite to the Aksumite periods. These sites will be presented with a proposed dating and context estimation.
DETERIORATION OF THE ROCK-HEWN CHURCHES OF LALIBELA, ETHIOPIA: WEATHERING OF BASALTIC SCORIA [Abstract ID: 0102-11]
Rock-hewn churches are made using the existing setting of the stone outcrop and adopting the natural morphology of a site to create new spaces. This style of construction has been employed to construct over two hundred churches in Northern Ethiopia. Some of the most famous churches built in this style are the eleven rock-hewn churches of Lalibela which were built in the medieval times. These churches are carved into the slope of a basaltic scoria hill and are found at an elevation of 2430–2550m a.s.l. Its unique architectural style has earned this site a place in the UNESCO world heritage list. Studies on the churches of Lalibela have mainly focused on the method of construction, analysis of archaeological evidence, and the historical significance of the town of Lalibela. More recently, researchers have studied the petrographic characterization of the stone, the slope stability of the site, and the geotechnical properties. These papers have shown that cracks and fractures are common features on all the churches and that there is an urgency to understand their vulnerability to environmental and manmade agents. Therefore, the objective of this research will be to determine the extent to which cracks, fractures, and discontinuities destabilize the structural integrity of the churches and the role inherent properties of the stone plays in developing these cracks and fracture. The following methods will be employed to carry out this research: 1) laboratory techniques will be used to investigate the stress swelling clay mineral may be causing on existing fractures with repeated wetting and drying cycles; 2) non-destructive techniques will be used to investigate the material properties of the stone in situ; 3) finite element modelling will be used to map the stress distribution and to simulate the response of the structures to additional loads. Such a holistic approach is necessary to characterize the properties of a heterogeneous and anisotropic lithotype like the basaltic scoria. Moreover, measuring the stability of the cracks and fractures will be useful for future research work in conservation of these monuments as well as for restoration works being conducted in Lalibela.
DOCUMENTATION AND CONSERVATION STATUS OF BETE MULU CASTLE IN WELQAIT, WESTERN TIGRAY [Abstract ID: 0102-04]
This study presents the documentation and conservation status of Bete Mulu Castle in Welqait district, Ethiopia. This castle is found in a bad conservation state from various problems, both natural and anthropogenic. The government of Ethiopia, as part of its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), has launched several large development projects which are apparently being carried out or in the planning phases. Subsequently, the implementation of these large developmental projects has contributed for regions or localities to experience modern development projects which consequently alter the cultural landscapes and the age-long livelihood of the local people. Among many areas that are being opened up for development is Western Tigray, in general, and Welqait district, in particular, is an area for the establishment of commercial plantation of sugar and oil seed. While this huge project brings its own opportunities, on the other hand it brings challenges to the conservation of archaeological and historical heritage sites in the area, in general, and Bete Mulu Castle, in particular. As a result, this study was intended to identify and discuss the castle's historical context, its current condition and factors affecting it, its architectural design, and finally, the conservation and management aspects of the castle. While studying about historic buildings various approaches could be employed. Qualitative study, as one of the approaches in social sciences, was used. The data were collected using interviews, field observation, and secondary data were used to supplement the survey data. Based on the findings of the castle's architectural design analysis, the study gave a glimpse and attempted to bring light on the correlation of its design and location with other buildings in the country, and politics during the period. The management aspect of the study was also carried out. Similarly, the possible required conservation activities have been studied and a possible recommendation is forwarded.
MONUMENTAL ARCHITECTURE FROM THE 1ST MILLENNIUM BC IN YEHA – CURRENT INVESTIGATION AND RESTORATION [Abstract ID: 0102-13]
Since 2009 the ancient site of Yeha – known as the center of the community D’MT - has been investigated and touristy developed within an Ethiopian-German cooperation project accomplished by ARCCH (Addis Ababa), TCTB (Mekkele) and the German Archaeological Institute. Topic of the presentation is the examination and restoration of two monumental structures in Yeha. One is the so called Great Temple of Yeha, the other one the so called Grat Be’al Gebri. Both structures dates to the first half of the first millennium BC and show clearly hints of the participation of South Arabian master builders during its construction process. These buildings show completely different construction techniques and building materials. They were destroyed by fire, maybe already in ancient times. In addition to the comprehensive restoration measures of these structures results of the investigations and considerations concerning the building process in ancient times will be discussed.
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.
PRESERVING THE HISTORICAL AND RELIGIOUS HERITAGE OF THE AFAR: THE CASE OF KONABA SAHABAH TOMB [Abstract ID: 0102-07]
During the Sahabah migration to Abyssinia in the year 615, followers of the Prophet Muhammad, including his daughter Rukiya, crossed the Lelegedi River and reached the area of present day Konaba District of the Afar Region. Some of the followers died on the journey and their graves were erected around the place of Easi. Today the site, also known as the Sahabah Tomb, is facing various threats by natural hazards (erosions, seasonal floods, etc.) as well as tramping of animals and human population living in the area. Based on intensive qualitative (recording of oral histories and interviews) and quantitative (analysis of written sources including diaries) research started in 2016, the presentation shows that the Sahabah Tomb is not only an important religious and historical heritage site for the Afar people, but for followers of the Islamic faith in general. Further archaeological surveys and excavations are, however, necessary to contribute to additional knowledge of the Islamic history in Ethiopia. The conservation of the Sahabah Tomb as a historical and religious heritage site can only be done with the involvement of local communities, who have shown explicit interest to preserve the heritage of the Sahabah Tombs and to transfer the religious and historical knowledge to next generations.The presentation projects huge potential of the Sahabah Tombs as an important pilgrimage site as well as tourist attraction that can empower and strengthen the local communities in the Konaba District of the Afar Region.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THREE ROCK ART SITES OF NORTHWESTERN TIGRAY, ETHIOPIA. [Abstract ID: 0102-01]
This article presents the unpublished result of the archaeological reconnaissance carried out in early 2000s in what are now the districts of Tselemti and Tahtay Koraro in the Northwestern Tigray Administrative Zone that resulted with the discovery of three rock-art sites dating to between about 3000-2000 BP. The paintings that portray scenes of domestication of cattle, sheep, goat and fighting can be categorized into the two conventional phases of the Ethiopia-Arabian Styles and provide evidence of contacts between the populations of the Nile Valley with those of Northern Horn (Eritrea and Northern Ethiopia) in the aforementioned period.