CFEE Seminar in Historical Archaeology

SEMINAIRE / SEMINAR

Efficacy of traditional conservation methods for the protection of rock-cut heritage site: lessons from Lalibela, Ethiopia

 By Blen Taye

Megalithic Landscapes in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia: Inferences of Recent Archaeological Fieldworks

 By Alebachew Belay

 

 Date : Jeudi 22 août 2019, 14h30-17h00 / Date: Thursday August 22, 2019, 2:30-5:00pm

À / Venue: Berhanou Abebe Library, French Center for Ethiopian Studies (JanMeda, https://goo.gl/maps/sutSritp3MU2)

Efficacy of traditional conservation methods for the protection of rock-cut heritage site: lessons from Lalibela, Ethiopia

By Blen Taye

Previous studies have identified the use of butter, animal fat, cow urine, thatched-roof shelters, and mud as the most common materials used in the conservation of the churches in Lalibela. Butter and animal fat were being used as a water repellent, cow urine as a biocide, and mud and thatched roof shelters to protect roofs from heavy rains.  Although these churches have survived for nearly 700 years without modern conservation treatments, traditional conservation methods have now been abandoned for modern conservation techniques that use synthetic materials to conserve this historic site. Yet, the effectiveness of traditional conservation methods has not been properly investigated. In this study, the effectiveness of these traditional techniques is compared to modern conservation techniques that use the same principles to determine what the advantages of traditional conservation techniques are for rock-cut heritage sites.


 

Blen Taye is a Ph.D. student at the University of Oxford. Her Ph.D. research focuses on developing a methodology to diagnose deterioration of rock-cut heritage sites using non-destructive and laboratory techniques. She is currently studying the deterioration of a group of rock-hewn churches at the UNESCO world heritage site in Lalibela (Ethiopia).


Megalithic Landscapes in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia: Inferences of Recent Archaeological Fieldworks

By Alebachew Belay

Megalithic sites in the Central Highlands of Ethiopia are recent additions to the corpus of megalithism in the country. An organized study of these sites was conducted by Ethio-French archaeologists between 1997 and 2010. The project brought to light nearly 90 tumuli and conducted test excavations on five monuments. The team termed this megalithic culture the “Shay Culture” after River Shay in Menz Gera District. Furthermore, based on the study of the collected artifacts, it is identified as a “pagan culture” and dated between 10th and 14th centuries AD. However, many questions were left unresolved in our understanding of the Shay culture which led to the commencement of the present (Ph.D.) project. This project is the continuation of the preceding studies which is principally targeted to: map the spatial distribution of megalithic monuments in the region; analyze the typo-morphological features of monuments and identify settlement traces of the megalithic builders. To this end, fieldworks were conducted in 2017 and 2018 for about two months. These missions resulted in the identification of hundreds of new megalithic monuments, and collection of diverse archaeological surface data which are being processed. Thus, this presentation is intended to communicate the outputs of the last two seasons archaeological fieldwork in the Central Highlands and interim results obtained. It encompasses overview of state of the art, extent of the fieldwork; implications of the collected data and future directions.

Alebachew Belay is a Ph.D. student at the Université  Toulouse -Jean Jaurès (UMR 5608 TRACES) and a fellow researcher at the CFEE. His research focuses on the megalithism of Ethiopia.


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