Monday, 24 March 2014

Axum Stele Field

One of Axum's biggest (tallest?) attractions is an impressive stele field, located across from the main church in the center of town. Imagine if those Easter Island figures had babies with Stonehenge. OK, maybe don't imagine that scenario.

The field consists of dozens of stele of various heights and refinements, scattered in two main areas. The biggest ones are together and seem the most complete. But, exactly what are they?

No one knows for sure. The stele date to about 300-500 BC and face south. Some stele have elaborate carvings to resemble architectural features, other stele do not. Perhaps funeral markers? Why not.

The field.

The biggest stele, unfortunately now toppled, with no plans for re-erection. The tallest stele left standing. Mussolini took this stele in 1937, as a really big war souvenir and it was finally returned about six years ago. Welcome home!

Plenty of rough, unfinished (or purposefully left rough) stele are also in the field.

Details. Carvings on the stele emulate architectural features, whether building blocks or doorways.

Exit through the gift shop.    

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