Monday, September 10, 2012

stelae, new years eve and fleas

Axum in the north of Ethiopia was the capital of the ancient Aksumite Empire which ruled the Northern regions of the country for around 8 centuries from around 100 AD onwards.

Its main claims to fame are the monumental stone stelae (stone columns usually flat on two sides like giant dominoes), the purported resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the supposed home of the Queen of Sheba.  

With all of these I was surprisingly underwhelmed after my visit. Perhaps I really am suffering monument-ennui.  

Being such a small town, it was easily possible for me to visit all of the major attractions in less than 5 hours. So for the rest of my day here I relaxed over a particularly good shero (a type of chick pea puree) and injera (traditional bread made from teff aka known as lovegrass! Truly!) and hung out at the front of my hotel watching children run up and down the street clutching bunches of burning branches. (some NYE type of tradition I believe).

Tonight is the end of the Ethiopian year (which in their calendar is 2004). They use the Julian calendar and the year has 13 months. If this isn't confusing enough the Ethiopian clock runs 6 hours ahead of the rest of the world!. So when it is 9pm in Ethiopia it is, in our eyes, really 3pm. (They begin their day at dawn or 6am rather than at midnight as we traditionally do.)  

So when catching flights it is really important to know which clock system you are using.

(Oh...and I caught a sizeable dose of fleas from my hotel.)

2nd largest stele

third largest

largest stele


ark house

old church

new church - St Mary of Zion

new church interior

axum street

another street

axum critter

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