Melka-Kunture, Tiya and Adadi-Mariam

Melka Kunture archaeological site, Adadi Mariam rock church and the Tiya Stelae field can all be visited  as a day trip out of Addis or on route south to the Gurage town of Butajira.

Tiya Stelae Field

There are a number of fascinating and little understood stelae fields in southern Ethiopia. The stelae is the northernmost stelae field and is located  in the village of Tiya 85 km south of Addis on the route to Butajira.

Archaeological research has revealed more than 40 stones.The tallest the is 5 meters high but is broken and the top part is now at Addis Ababa University in front of ethnographic museum. 

Little is known about the origins of the stones and the meaning of the carvings on them. It is believed that this is a funerary site for both men and women. Engraved swords on some of the stelae suggest the people were soldiers. Tentative evidence suggest the site is 14 century. A visit to Tiya raises many questions as to who these people were. it is a place of mystery and imagination.

 Melka Kunture.

Lying in the Awash Valley, Melka Kunture is one of the most important sites for paleontology in Ethiopia. It was originally excavated during the 1960s by French archeologists. Preserved in layers of volcanic deposits from nearby Mount Zuqualla, human remains as well as weapons and tools from several time periods have been excavated from this ancient site. A small museum displays some of the archeological findings – some dating to almost 1 million years ago.

Adadi Mariam.

Adadi Mariam is a subterranean rock-hewn church similar to those of Lalibela. This church is unique as it is the southern-most church of its type, and stands alone – no other rock-hewn churches are in the area. It has been surmised that King Lalibela ordered the construction of Adida Mariam for his visit to southern Ethiopia. The site dates to the 13th century but is still an active site of worship. While it dates to around the same time as the Tiya stelae and is only ~30km north of them, Adadi Mariam provides a strong contrast to the pagan-like aura at Tiya

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