Publikation: Palaeoenvironmental research at Hawelti–Melazo (Tigray, northern Ethiopia)

Attribution & Copyright: German Quaternary Association

Artikel – Projekt 07 – Routes of Interaction

Hardt, J. / Nir, N. / Lüthgens, C. / Menn, T.M. / Schütt, B., Palaeoenvironmental research at Hawelti–Melazo (Tigray, northern Ethiopia) – insights from sedimentological and geomorphological analyses, E&G Quaternary Sci. J. 72, 2023, 37-55. 10.5194/egqsj-72-37-2023

The sites of Hawelti–Melazo in the Tigray region of the northern Ethiopian Highlands is an archaeological hotspot related to the D’mt kingdom (ca. 800–400 BCE). The existence of several monumental buildings, which have been excavated since the 1950s, underline the importance of this area in the Ethio-Sabaean period. We investigated the geomorphological and geological characteristics of the site and its surroundings and carried out sedimentological analyses, as well as direct (luminescence) and indirect (radiocarbon) sediment dating, to reconstruct the palaeoenvironmental conditions, which we integrated into the wider context of Tigray. Luminescence dating of feldspar grains from the May Agazin catchment indicate enhanced fluvial activity in the late Pleistocene, likely connected to the re-occurring monsoon after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The abundance of trap basalt on the Melazo plateau, which provides the basis for the development of fertile soils, and the presumably higher groundwater level during the Ethio-Sabaean Period, provided favourable settlement conditions. The peninsula-like shape of the Melazo plateau was easily accessible only from the east and northeast, while relatively steep scarps enclose the other edges of the plateau. This adds a possible natural protective function to this site.

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