Ethiopian World Heritage under threat in times of conflict

Aksum – A unique world heritage Site under threat

Aksum is one of the most important heritage sites of Africa and the site of not only the first Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa but also the site of the first Hijra in Islam. The obelisks of Aksum dating back to the 3rd and 4th century AD is part of important cultural sites in Tigray that are under threat of the current conflict. The Art Newspaper has reported that the sixth-century Debre Damo monastery was bombed. Precious manuscripts have been removed from the monastery. It is difficult to know how much of the important cultural sites have been damaged due to insufficient information. Horn Heritage’s Sada Mire worked with University of Aksum surveying the sites in this area including Gudit Stelae Field.

Lalibela – A unique world heritage Site under threat

Roughly 800 years ago, king Lalibela commissioned a new City that would be the new Jerusalem for Christians. The city on Ethiopia’s northern plateau has with its eleven rock hewn churches came to be known as Lalibela. Every church is cut out of the plateau as a single rock. This stunning heritage of Christianity is under threat to day of the civil war in Ethiopia. Horn Heritage’s Sada Mire has researched the site for her book Divine Fertility and written about it as a sacred landscape pointing out its relations with indigenous ideologies beyond Christianity and its association with Aksum and other rock hewn sites in the Horn of Africa such as Sameeno Furte in Somaliland.

Heritage Under Threat: Free Online Course

If you are interested in learning how to protect Ethiopian and other cultural heritage in times of conflict, please enrol for the free online course Heritage under threat. It is what is known as MOOC ( Massive Online Open-access Course) and run by Coursera. It is created by our director Dr Sada Mire. Topics you will learn include “What is your heritage? Who defines heritage? Why is heritage under threat? How can we protect heritage? Visit the Coursera website to register.