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Archive for May, 2009



Leaving on Research

Published on May 25, 2009

I am heading out in the morning for Lalibela, Gonder, and Andabet, working on research. I will be posting intermittently or not at all for the next few weeks, as I will likely only have internet access for a small portion of the trip.


New Church of St. Mary of Zion, Axum, Ethiopia, April 2009

Published on

A boy walks past the entrance to the new Church of St. Mary of Zion (Maryam Tsion), in the compound of the old church (which women are not allowed in). The new church is a Haile Selassie I foundation, and reflects the Emperor’s (one might say questionable) taste for modernist building. The St. Mary of […]


Waiting for services at the Old Church of St. Mary of Zion, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, April 2009

Published on May 22, 2009

Old men wait outside the door of the old Maryam Tsion (St. Mary of Zion) Church, arriving early for the start of Easter festivities. Most worshippers will celebrate in the new church, which was built in the reign of Haile Selassie, and is found in the same compound.


Dungur and the Gudit Stelae Field, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, May 2009

Published on May 20, 2009

Dungur, locally known as “The Queen of Sheba’s Palace,” in front of the “Gudit” Stelae Field. Dungur is the smallest of four major ‘palace’ structures discovered in Axum. Unfortunately, the largest, the 80 x 120 m Ta’akha Maryam structure, was obliterated when the Italian occupying forces decided that they didn’t want to re-route a road […]


Haleka Woldegabriel, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, April 2009

Published on May 18, 2009

Haleka Woldegabriel is a artisan in Axum, primarily producing fairly low-quality woodcrafts for the tourist shop market, but in the past, he produced books and magic scrolls. Like many other scribes, he says that he has had to give it up because the economic situation of the scribe is no longer tenable, and other crafts […]


Bazen’s Tomb, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, May 2009

Published on May 14, 2009

The interior chamber of Bazen’s tomb. There are seven funerary niches in the walls. Stairs to the surface. Another four niches are at the base of the stairs, just outside the main chamber–two can be seen in this photo.  The side-street leading to Bazen’s tomb, which is under the shelter and marked by the stela […]


Stela 3, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, May 2009

Published on May 12, 2009

The base of Stela 3, showing the false door and the altar area, with holes for offerings (or perhaps supports for some kind of furniture?) and a series of holes thought to be for an African game.  The top of Stela 3, showing the brace currently installed as part of a project to lay new […]


Naptime, North Stelae Field, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, April 2009

Published on May 11, 2009

A dog (one of the family that apparently lives in the Stelae Field) naps on top of the Nefas Machew ruin, with part of the Great Stela in the background. Nefas Machew was a substantial tomb, with a huge single-slab roof, which collapsed when the Great Stela fell upon it, snapping the substantial supporting stones, […]


The Mausoleum,’ North Stelae Field, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, May 2009

Published on May 8, 2009

The Mausoleum, under Stela 1. The side-chambers are all extensively robbed, but only partially-excavated during the Phillipson excavations (1993-7). The fallen stones at the end were a door-frame. The East Tomb (behind the camera) is thought to have been intended to resemble this one, but was never finished. The sky-lights are, of course, a modern […]


Stela 1, the “Great Stela,” Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, April 2009

Published on May 7, 2009

The remaining pieces of the fallen megalith. A detail of the carvings. a view showing a large crack in the stela; the door is the modern entrance to the Mausoleum. The unworked stone of the base. Given the size of the stela, the centre of gravity would have been much to high to be stable.  […]




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