Southern Ethiopia contains few paintings but many rock engravings and carvings including remnants of megalithic cultures in the form of tall phallic monoliths sometimes several metres high and some large anthropomorphic monoliths. The latter are thought to be between 3,000 and 2,000 years old, while other grave-marker monoliths (stelae) decorated with human faces, rams’ horns and geometric designs may date to around 1,000 years. Of greatest significance is the Tiya megalithic site located south of Addis Ababa. The site contains 36 monuments; remains of medieval Ethiopian culture dating from the 12th to 14th centuries and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Cultural Landscape). The most important Ethiopian engraving site is Sheppe in the Rift Valley near Lake Awasa. Here large numbers of stylised cattle are carved on the cliffs of a small gorge in bas relief. In north eastern Ethiopia are large numbers of painting sites, most of them virtually unknown in the outside world and in Tigre province are many other important painting sites.
TARA is an international, Nairobi-based organisation committed to recording the rich rock art heritage of the African continent, to making this information widely accessible and, to the extent possible, safeguarding those sites most threatened by humans and nature. To achieve its mission, TARA works closely with communities where rock art is found as well as with national and international heritage bodies including the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
“Africa’s rock art is the common heritage of all Africans, but it is more than that. It is the
common heritage of humanity.”
President Nelson Mandela