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The Lalibela Rock Hewn Site and its Landscape (Ethiopia): An Archaeological Analysis

The Lalibela Rock Hewn Site and its Landscape (Ethiopia): An Archaeological Analysis This article presents the methods employed at the site of Lalibela, Ethiopia during the 2009, 2010, 2011 and part of the 2012 campaigns, as well as the first results obtained. This site consists of a group of rock-cut churches attributed to the sovereign of the same name, King Lalibela, who we know to have reigned in the late 12 th century and in the first third of the 13 th century. Cut out of solid rock, Lalibela is an exceptional archaeological site since most of the traces of its early phases were eliminated in the process of its transformation. The site thus presents a significant challenge for historians and archaeologists. How is it possible to write its history without excavation? Geomorphological observations of the region offer new keys for understanding Lalibela; identification of the spoil heap, in which we discovered a clear stratigraphy confirming the existence of different cutting phases; the topographic and taphonomic analysis of the remains, and investigations in the cemetery of Qedemt, revealed that the site was formed in multiple phases, probably reflecting a long occupation sequence spanning at least eleven centuries (from the 10 th to the 21 st century). http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of African Archaeology Brill

The Lalibela Rock Hewn Site and its Landscape (Ethiopia): An Archaeological Analysis

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2014 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1612-1651
eISSN
2191-5784
DOI
10.3213/2191-5784-10261
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article presents the methods employed at the site of Lalibela, Ethiopia during the 2009, 2010, 2011 and part of the 2012 campaigns, as well as the first results obtained. This site consists of a group of rock-cut churches attributed to the sovereign of the same name, King Lalibela, who we know to have reigned in the late 12 th century and in the first third of the 13 th century. Cut out of solid rock, Lalibela is an exceptional archaeological site since most of the traces of its early phases were eliminated in the process of its transformation. The site thus presents a significant challenge for historians and archaeologists. How is it possible to write its history without excavation? Geomorphological observations of the region offer new keys for understanding Lalibela; identification of the spoil heap, in which we discovered a clear stratigraphy confirming the existence of different cutting phases; the topographic and taphonomic analysis of the remains, and investigations in the cemetery of Qedemt, revealed that the site was formed in multiple phases, probably reflecting a long occupation sequence spanning at least eleven centuries (from the 10 th to the 21 st century).

Journal

Journal of African ArchaeologyBrill

Published: Nov 1, 2014

Keywords: Medieval Ethiopia; Lalibela; rock-hewn site; rock-cut archaeology; funerary practices; geoarchaeology

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