On the Megalithic Sites of the Gurage Highlands: A Study of Enigmatic Nature of Engravings and Megalith Builders
The megalithic culture in Ethiopia consists of stelae, dolmens, and tumuli which are extensively distributed throughout the country. Compared to the extent of the distribution, however, the initial tasks of methodical survey and locating them have been conducted relatively less. As part of the ventures in megalithic studies, this inventory was aimed at identifying, locating and describing megalithic sites in the Gurage highlands, principally those in the districts of Sodo and Mehur-Aklil. The investigation has unearthed the existence of a montage of megalithic culture, comprising tambourines associated with a tumulus and decorated flat stelae in Sodo, and dressed but undecorated stelae of such diverse shape as flat, rectangular, pentagonal and cylindrical in Mehur-Aklil. The decorated stelae in Sodo bear engravings representing humans, daggers and some other enigmatic decorations with symbolic significance hitherto unknown. Ethnographic data may help to arrive at a plausible meaning signified by the representations engraved on these stelae. Aside from the problems related to the meanings of symbols, it is quite difficult to establish relative chronology of the sites based on technological variation centering on the level of refinement.
Keywords: Ethiopia, Gurage Highlands, Sodo, Mehur-Aklil, Megalithic, Stela, Dolmen, Tumulus
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