Ethiopia 2011 Day 09

This morning we flew from Lalibela to Axum. In addition to being a possible location of the Ark of the Covenant, the city of Axum is famed for its giant granite stelae. Dating from around 300-500 AD, most the Axum stelae seem to predate the arrival of Christianity to Ethiopia. Their purpose is almost certainly religious, but the details are not known for certain. The stelae were most likely funeral monuments for Axum’s ancient rulers, who may have been buried in tombs beneath them. Some have altars at the base with grooves cut into them to carry away blood from sacrifices. Christianity was adopted by the royal family in Axum in the 4th century AD, and by the population at large in the 5th century, which means these stelae date from a fascinating period of religious change. It was great to be back in Axum but all I could honestly think about all day was that tomorrow we were going back to the Zata School.

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