Forgotten city discovered in Ethiopia

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“This discovery revolutionises our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia What we have found shows this area was the centre of trade in that region,” said Timothy Insoll, professor at University of Exeter in the UK

London, Jun 18 Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient, forgotten city in Ethiopia that unveils the origin of Islam in the country and its trade relations with India between the 10th and early 15th centuries.

A dig of Harlaa – a city 120 kilometres (km) from the Red Sea coast and 300 km from Addis Adaba – revealed a 12th- century mosque, evidence of Islamic burials and headstones, glass vessel fragments, rock crystal,glass beads, imported cowry shells and pottery from Madagascar, maldives, Yemen and China.

The architecture of the mosque is similar to those found in Southern tanzania and Somaliland, showing connections between different Islamic communities in Africa, researchers said.

“This discovery revolutionises our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia. What we have found shows this area was the centre of trade in that region,” said Timothy Insoll, professor at University of Exeter in the UK.

The settlement, which is around 500 metres by 1,000 metres has buildings and walls constructed with large stone blocks – leading people to assume only those with enormous stature or strength could have built it.

The size of some of the building stones found created a local legend that the area had been home to giants.

“The archaeological findings suggest this place was home to a very mixed community. Farmers had been finding strange objects, including Chinese coins, as they were working on their land, and a legend began that the area was home to giants,” researchers said.

The team also found bronze and silver coins from 13th- century Egypt. The remains found suggest jewellers were making high-quality, delicate pieces in silver, bronze and semi- precious stones and glass beads.

They used some technology usually associated in that period with jewellers in India, suggesting trade or immigration from there to Harlaa, researchers said.

“We know jewellery was being made here for trading into the African interior, and materials to do this came in from the Red Sea, East African Coast and possibly India, but we don’t know what was given in exchange for that jewellery,” Insoll said.

The discoveries will be exhibited in a heritage centre. Some findings will be displayed in the country’s national museum in addis ababa.

3 Responses to Forgotten city discovered in Ethiopia

  1. Please read that as: The more sites like this uncovered the more historic links that should be taken as something binding us together but not sending us asunder.

    Ittu Aba Farda
    June 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm
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  2. Discovered is wrong word. Most Hararies were traveling to Harala village to pay tribute to their ancestors for the last 900 years. As a child I used to go to this village with my parents every year and used to preform Sufi rituals (religious ceremony) to pay respect to ancestors. Therefor, discovering what was known for local people is like telling about the discovery of America by Coulombs to American Indians.

    Sami
    June 19, 2017 at 12:14 pm
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  3. This is amazing discovery. There are quite a few mysterious stories told embedded in the folklore of the area including in some of the very gerersaa of my own Itu clan. There is a lot of history buried in that part of the country. You scratch the surface you will be rest assured that there is something historic underneath. The more sites like this one uncovered the more historic links that should be taken as something binding us together but not sending us asunder. I know how some of you Wahhabi boot lickers spin this. But no dice for that! That is my, yours and every one of us history. That was locally concocted and established legacy and not a Saudi created system. Period! Just like any one of our past proud history, many glorious empires like this rose and disappeared after a few centuries. From what I read since I turned a history buff about 15 or so years ago, I have realized that there were strong dynasties and systems that survived side by side trading and bartering peacefully. There were also wars among them provoked by outside forces. Am I wrong about that? It is excruciatingly clear that those rival neighbors prospered during peaceful coexistence and perished during and after destructive wars. Am I wrong about that also? When these systems fell they took their social fabrics with them. People that originated from the same ethnic group got separated and due to lack of written history and extremely low literacy rate clan of the same tribe went to live in total separation from each other. I will give you a perfect example. My grandfather and his brother had fought the invading army headed by Aba Shaitan in the 1870-80’s. Majority of his army consisted of the cavalry force from those Oromo clans in the Shewa region, Abichu in all. According to my father and uncle Aba Shaitan himself was fluent in Oromifaa. There is also a legend told in my own Itu folklore how other Barentu and Mecha clans went their separate ways from my own Itu clan in the 16th or 17th century after a massive ‘conference’ at a certain location alongside the Awash valley . It was told that tears were flowing alongside the Awash River amid goodbyes in all. Tears flowed just like the river itself is what one ancient gerersa tells us. Centuries later, they ended up fighting each other. That is why I detest violence like a nagging sickness. But in all, our history is such unique and ever glorious. That is why I urge our own historians to dig and dig until you drop. Besides rich untapped natural resources there is a lot of history buried just below the deep layer of the top soil, Dig, dig and dig!!! I am done!!!

    Ittu Aba Farda
    June 19, 2017 at 7:55 pm
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