Advertisement

African Archaeological Review

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 275–290 | Cite as

Reconsidering Yeha, c. 800–400 BC

Original Article

Abstract

Yeha, in Tigray, is the most impressive site with evidence for South Arabian influence dating to the first millennium BC in the northern Horn of Africa (Eritrea and northern Ethiopia). The evidence from this site was used to identify a ‘Pre-Aksumite’ or ‘Ethiopian-Sabean’ Period (mid-first millennium BC) when an early Afro-Arabian state apparently arose in the region. A ‘Pre-Aksumite Culture’, characterised by South Arabian elements, was also suggested as a distinctive archaeological culture in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. However, recent fieldwork in these countries suggests that a Pre-Aksumite culture actually did not exist and South Arabian features were restricted to a few sites, which were scattered in a mosaic of different archaeological cultures in the first millennium BC. This hypothesis is tested through a comparison between the ceramics from Yeha and those from Matara and other sites of the first millennium BC in Tigray and Eritrea.

Keywords

Archaeology Ethiopia Eritrea Pre-Aksumite period Early state development 

Résumé

Yeha (Tigray) est le site du premier millénaire av. J.-C. le plus remarquable du nord de la Corne de l’Afrique (Erythrée et Ethiopie du nord) en matière d’influences sud-arabiques. Les données de ce site ont été utilisées pour définir une période ‘préaksoumite’ ou ‘éthiosabéenne’ (datant du milieu du premier millénaire av. J.-C.), marquée par l’apparente émergence d’un état afro-arabique dans la région. On a aussi suggéré l’existence d’une culture archéologique ‘pré-aksoumite’ en Ethiopie du nord et en Erythrée, caracterisée par la présence d’éléments sud-arabiques. Cependant, des nouvelles recherches mettent maintenant en doute l’existence de cette ‘culture pré-aksoumite’ et suggèrent que les éléments sudarabiques se limitent à quelques sites du premier millénaire av. J.-C. répartis en une mosaïque de différentes cultures archéologiques. Cette hypothèse est ici confrontée aux résultats d’une comparaison systématique entre les poteries de Yeha, Matara, et d’autres sites du Tigray et d’Erythrée datant du premier millénaire av. J.-C.

Notes

Acknowledgments

I am very grateful to Prof. David W. Phillipson and two anonymous reviewers for their useful and constructive comments on my paper.

References

  1. Adams, W. Y. (1962). An introductory classification of Christian Nubian pottery. Kush, 10, 145–288.Google Scholar
  2. Adams, W. Y. (1964). An introductory classification of Meroitic pottery. Kush, 12, 126–173.Google Scholar
  3. Adams, W. Y. (1967-8). Progress report on Nubian pottery, 1: the native wares. Kush, 15, 1–50.Google Scholar
  4. Anfray, F. (1963a). Une campagne de fouilles à Yeha (Février-Mars 1960). Annales d’Éthiopie, 5, 171–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anfray, F. (1963b). Note sur les brule-parfums antiques d’Éthiopie. Bollettino dell’Istituto di Studi Etiopici (Asmara), 3, 1–5.Google Scholar
  6. Anfray, F. (1966). La poterie de Matara. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici, 23, 5–19.Google Scholar
  7. Anfray, F. (1967). Matara. Annales d’Éthiopie, 7, 33–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Anfray, F. (1968). Aspects de l’archéologie éthiopienne. Journal of African History, 9, 345–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Anfray, F. (1971). Les fouilles de Yeha en 1971. Documents pour servir à l’histoire des civilisations éthiopiennes, 2, 31–39.Google Scholar
  10. Anfray, F. (1972a). Fouilles de Yeha. Annales d’Éthiopie, 9, 45–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Anfray, F. (1972b). Les fouilles de Yeha, Mai-Juin 1972. Documents pour servir à l’histoire des civilisations éthiopiennes, 3, 57–64.Google Scholar
  12. Anfray, F. (1973a). Les fouilles de Yeha, Mai-Juin 1973. Documents pour servir à l’histoire des civilisations éthiopiennes, 4, 35–38.Google Scholar
  13. Anfray, F. (1973b). Yeha. Archeologia–Trésors des âges, 64, 34–44.Google Scholar
  14. Anfray, F. (1973c). Nouveaux sites antiques. Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 11, 13–20.Google Scholar
  15. Anfray, F. (1990). Les anciens éthiopiens. Paris: Colin.Google Scholar
  16. Anfray, F. (1994). Considérations sur quelques aspects archéologiques des relations de l’Éthiopie et de l’Arabie antiques. In Beyene Yaqob, R. Fattovich, P. Marrassini & A. Triulzi (Eds.), Etiopia e Oltre: studi in onore di Lanfranco Ricci (pp. 17–25). Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale.Google Scholar
  17. Anfray, F. (1997). Yeha, les ruines de Grat Be’al Gebri: recherches archéologiques. Rassegna di Studi Etiopici, 39, 5–23.Google Scholar
  18. Anfray, F., & Annequin, G. (1965). Matara: deuxième, troisième et quatrième campagnes de fouilles. Annales d’Éthiopie, 6, 49–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Beckingham, C. F., & Huntingford, G. W. B. (1961). The Prester John of the Indies: A true relation of the lands of the Prester John, being the narrative of the Embassy to Ethiopia in 1520 written by Father Francisco Alvares. London: Hakluyt Society.Google Scholar
  20. Bent, T. (1893). The Sacred City of the Ethiopians. London: Longmans, Green.Google Scholar
  21. Bernand, E., Drewes, A. J., & Schneider, R. (1991-2000). Receuil des inscriptions de l’Éthiopie des périodes pré-axoumite et axoumite. Paris: Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  22. Brandt, S. A., Manzo, A., & Perlingieri, C. (2008). Linking the highlands and lowlands: Implication of a test excavation at Kokan rockshelter, Agordat, Eritrea. In P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis & Z. Teka (Eds.), The archaeology of Ancient Eritrea (pp. 33–47). Trenton: Red Sea.Google Scholar
  23. Buffa, V., & Vogt, B. (2001). Sabir—Cultural identity between Saba and Africa. In R. Eichmann & H. Parzinger (Eds.), Migration und Kulturtransfer (pp. 437–450). Bonn: Habelt.Google Scholar
  24. Cerulli, E. (1960). Punti di vista sulla storia dell’Etiopia. In: Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi Etiopici, Roma 1959 (pp. 5–27). Rome: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.Google Scholar
  25. de Contenson, H. (1961). Les principales étapes de l’Éthiopie antique. Cahiers d'Études Africaines, 2(5), 12–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. de Contenson, H. (1963a). Les subdivisions de l’archéologie éthiopienne: état de la question. Revue archéologique, 189–191.Google Scholar
  27. de Contenson, H. (1963b). Les fouilles à Haoulti en 1959–rapport préliminaire. Annales d’Éthiopie, 5, 41–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. de Contenson, H. (1981). Pre-Aksumite culture. In G. Mokhtar (Ed.), UNESCO General History of Africa, vol. 2 (pp. 341–361). London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  29. Conti Rossini, C. (1928). Storia d’Etiopia. Bergamo: Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche.Google Scholar
  30. Curtis, M. C. (2008). New perspectives for examining change and complexity in the northern Horn of Africa during the first millennium BCE. In P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis & Z. Teka (Eds.), The archaeology of Ancient Eritrea (pp. 329–348). Trenton: Red Sea.Google Scholar
  31. Curtis, M. C. (2009). Relating the Ancient Ona culture to the wider northern Horn: Discerning patterns and problems in the archaeology of the first millennium BC. African Archaeological Review, 26, 327–350. doi: 10.1007/s10437-009-9062-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Curtis, M. C., & Habtemichael, D. (2008). Matara, Keskese and the ‘Classical Period’ archaeology of the Akkele Guzay highlands: A brief overview. In P. R. Schmidt, M. C. Curtis & Z. Teka (Eds.), The archaeology of Ancient Eritrea (pp. 311–327). Trenton: Red Sea.Google Scholar
  33. D’Andrea, A. C. (2009). Early state development in Northern Ethiopia: Eastern Tigrai archaeological project, year 2 (2008). Unpublished report to the ARCCH.Google Scholar
  34. D’Andrea, A. C., Manzo, A., Harrower, M. J., & Hawkins, A. (2008). The Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite settlement of northeast Tigrai, Ethiopia. Journal of Field Archaeology, 33, 151–176.Google Scholar
  35. Drewes, A. J. (1962). Inscriptions de l’Éthiopie antique. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  36. Duncanson, D. J. (1947). Girmaten: a new archaeological site in Eritrea. Antiquity, 21, 158–163.Google Scholar
  37. Durrani, N. (2005). The Tihama Coastal Plain of South-West Arabia in its regional context c.6000 BC–AD 600. Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
  38. Fattovich, R. (1971). Sondaggi stratigrafici, Yeha. Documents pour servir à l’histoire des civilisations éthiopiennes, 2, 41–43.Google Scholar
  39. Fattovich, R. (1972a). Sondaggi stratigrafici, Yeha 1971. Annales d’Éthiopie, 9, 65–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Fattovich, R. (1972b). Yeha 1972, sondaggi stratigrafici. Documents pour servir à l’histoire des civilisations éthiopiennes, 3, 65–75.Google Scholar
  41. Fattovich, R. (1976a). La ceramica preaksumita di Yeha: elementi di comparazione. Documents pour servir à l’histoire des civilisations éthiopiennes, 7, 31–39.Google Scholar
  42. Fattovich, R. (1976b). Osservazioni sulla ceramica preaksumita di Yeha, Etiopia. Africa (Rome), 31, 587–595.Google Scholar
  43. Fattovich, R. (1977). Pre-Aksumite civilization of Ethiopia: a provisional review. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 7, 73–78.Google Scholar
  44. Fattovich, R. (1978a). Traces of a possible African component in the Pre-Aksumite culture of northern Ethiopia. Abbay, 9, 25–30.Google Scholar
  45. Fattovich, R. (1978b). Introduzione alla ceramica preaksumita di Grat Beal Guebri (Yeha). Annales d'Ethiopie, 11, 105–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Fattovich, R. (1980). Materiali per lo studio della ceramica pre-Aksumita Etiopica. Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale.Google Scholar
  47. Fattovich, R. (1981-2). Osservazioni sulla ceramica postaksumita di Yeha (Tigrai). Abbay, 11, 241–247.Google Scholar
  48. Fattovich, R. (1989). The Gash Delta between 1000 BC and AD 1000. In S. Wenig & S. Donadoni (Eds.), Studia Meroitica 1984 (= Meroitica 10) (pp. 797–816). Berlin: Akademie.Google Scholar
  49. Fattovich, R. (1990). Remarks on the Pre-Aksumite period in northern Ethiopia. Journal of Ethiopian Studies, 23, 1–33.Google Scholar
  50. Fattovich, R. (1994). Scavi archeologici nella zona di Aksum, D: Ona Enda Aboi Zaguè (Bieta Gioyorgis). Rassegna di Studi Etiopici, 36, 49–55.Google Scholar
  51. Fattovich, R. (1997). The contacts between Southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa in late prehistoric and early historical times: A view from Africa. In A. Avanzini (Ed.), Profumi d'Arabia (pp. 273–286). Rome: ‘L’Erma’ di Bretschneider.Google Scholar
  52. Fattovich, R. (2004). The ‘pre-Aksumite’ state in northern Ethiopia and Eritrea reconsidered. In P. Lunde & A. Porter (Eds.), Trade and travel in the Red Sea Region (pp. 71–77). Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
  53. Fattovich, R. (2005). The archaeology of the Horn of Africa. In W. Raunig & S. Wenig (Eds.), Afrikas horn (pp. 3–29). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.Google Scholar
  54. Fattovich, R., & Bard, K. A. (2001). The Proto-Aksumite period: An overview. Annales d’Éthiopie, 17, 3–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Finneran, N. (2000). New perspectives on the Late Stone Age of northern Ethiopia: Excavations at Anqqer Baahti, Aksum, 1996. Azania, 35, 21–51.Google Scholar
  56. Finneran, N. (2007). The archaeology of Ethiopia. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Finneran, N., & Phillips, J. (2003). The Shire region archaeological landscape survey 2001: A preliminary report. Azania, 37, 139–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Finneran, N., Phillips, J., Dessie, A., Cain, C., Harlow, M., & Hagos, T. (2005). The archaeological landscape of the Shire region, western Tigray, Ethiopia. Annales d’Éthiopie, 21, 7–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Glaser, E. (1895). Die Abesseiner in Arabien und Afrika. Munich: Lukaschik.Google Scholar
  60. Leclant, J., & Miquel, A. (1959). Reconnaissance dans l’Agamé: Goulo-Makéda et Sabéa. Annales d'Éthiopie, 3, 107–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Littmann, E., Krencker, D., & von Lüpke, T. (1913). Deutsche Aksum-Expedition. Berlin: Reimer.Google Scholar
  62. Ludolf, J. (1682). A New History of Ethiopia. London: Godbid & Playford.Google Scholar
  63. Manzo, A. (2009). Capra nubiana in Berbere sauce? Pre-Aksumite art and identity building. African Archaeological Review, 26, 291–303. doi: 10.1007/s10437-009-9066-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Michels, J. W. (2005). Changing settlement patterns in the Aksum-Yeha Region of Ethiopia, 700 BC - AD 850. Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
  65. Phillips, J. S. (2004). Pre-Aksumite Aksum and its neighbours. In P. Lunde & A. Porter (Eds.), Trade and travel in the Red Sea Region (pp. 79–85). Oxford: Archaeopress.Google Scholar
  66. Phillipson, D. W. (1977). The excavation of Gobedra rockshelter, Axum. Azania, 12, 53–82.Google Scholar
  67. Phillipson, D. W. (1998). Ancient Ethiopia: Aksum, its antecedents and successors. London: British Museum.Google Scholar
  68. Phillipson, D. W. (2000). Archaeology at Aksum, Ethiopia, 1993–97. London: British Institute in Eastern Africa and Society of Antiquaries.Google Scholar
  69. Phillipson, D. W. (2009). The first millennium BC in the highlands of northern Ethiopia and south-central Eritrea: A reassessment of cultural and political development. African Archaeological Review, 26, 257–274. doi: 10.1007/s10437-009-9064-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Ricci, L. (1984). L’expansion de l’Arabie Meridionale, vol. 1. In S. Chelod (Ed.), L'Arabie du Sud: histoire et civilisation (pp. 249–257). Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose.Google Scholar
  71. Ricci, L. (1994). On both sides of al-Mandab, vol. 1. In H. G. Marcus (Ed.), New Trends in Ethiopian Studies (pp. 409–417). Lawrenceville: Red Sea.Google Scholar
  72. Robin, C., & de Maigret, A. (1998). Le grand temple de Yéha (Tigray, Éthiopie) après la première campagne de fouilles de la mission française (1998). Comptes-rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 1998, 737–798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Salt, H. (1814). A Voyage to Abyssinia, and travels into the interior of that Country, executed under the orders of the British Government in the years 1809 and 1810. London: Rivington.Google Scholar
  74. Schmidt, P. R. (2009). Variability in Eritrea and the archaeology of the northern Horn during the first millennium BC: Subsistence, ritual, and gold production. African Archaeological Review, 26, 305–325. doi: 10.1007/s10437-009-9061-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Schmidt, P. R., Curtis, M. C., & Teka, Z. (Eds). (2008). The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea. Trenton: Red Sea.Google Scholar
  76. Schneider, R. (1973). Deux inscriptions sudarabiques du Tigré. Bibliotheca Orientalis, 30, 385–389.Google Scholar
  77. Schneider, R. (1976). Documents épigraphiques de l’Éthiopie–V. Annales d’Éthiopie, 10, 81–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Schneider, R. (2003). Remarques sur les inscriptions sabéennes de l’Éthiopie pré-aksumite. In J. Lentin & A. Lonnet (Eds.), Mélanges David Cohen: études ... présentées à l’occasion de son 85e anniversaire (pp. 609–614). Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose.Google Scholar
  79. Sernicola, L. (2008). Il modello d’insediamento sull’altopiano Tigrino (Etiopia settentrionale / Eritrea centrale) in epoca Pre-Aksumita e Aksumita (ca. 700 a.C.800 d.C.): un contributo da Aksum. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Naples ‘l’Orientale’.Google Scholar
  80. Tringali, G. (1978). Necropoli di Cascase e oggetti sudarabici dalla regione di Asmara (Eritrea). Rassegna di Studi Etiopici, 26, 47–98.Google Scholar
  81. Ullendorff, E. (1973). The Ethiopians. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Studi e Ricerche su Africa e Paesi ArabiUniversità di Napoli ‘l’Orientale’NaplesItaly

Personalised recommendations