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Hidden Treasures of A Young Nation (PART II)


what used to be Adulis Port
Adulis is one of the ancient port cities of the world. Located around the towns of Foro and Zula, Adulis used to be the trading center of the Axumite kingdom and had political and economic ties with the Far East from 400 BC to 7th century AD. The settlement in the area is believed to have started around 6th century BC with the coming of Romans, Arabs and Egyptians to the area. The word “Adulis” in Greek means “serfs”. The Sabaen scriptures, small obelisks, marble and pictures engraved in stone and other artifacts found in area are a testimony to the development in the area at that period of time.  According to Periplus of the Erithraean Sea, a sailors’ handbook of the first century AD, the city was not only a harbor, but also a source for various materials such as ivory, tortoise-shell and rhinoceros horn.

Though there is no record that shows how and when the city of Adulis was destroyed, it is believed that the city was destroyed during the dervish invasion of the area or by a natural disaster.  The ancient city of Adulis is one of the historical places in the country that are proposed for registry in UNESCO as world heritage.

All the above-mentioned ancient places in the country were found as a result of small excavations and few researches after independence. Other small scale excavations were also carried out in different parts of the country. The University of Toronto estimated the broken potteries, bracelets and beads found in Mai-Temenay in 1996 to be 2 million years old. Another artifact found in 1998, near Embaderho was also estimated to be from the 3rd century BC.

In the 1998 excavation by the University of Asmara around Sembel: broken potteries, grinding stone and other traditional equipments aging to three thousand years and in the 2002 excavation in Mendefera, an ancient graveyard were found.

There are other small findings like traces of life and ancient tools around Denkel aging to 2 million years and the skull found in 1995 in Buya in Southern Red Sea region to be 1 million years old. The cave paintings in Karora and Beilul, the mummified bodies in Belew Kelew, Guna, Ham and Kisad Da’ero, the half woman half lion statue found in Geramaten are the few historic artifacts and sites discovered in the country.  

Since majority of the artifacts and antiques mentioned-above were found or discovered by individuals, there is a need for proper and detailed research and excavation in discovering and preserving the cultural and historical heritages of the country.

The already discovered historical sites are but a very small portion of the country’s rich history and heritage. Extensive efforts and the necessary attention are required so as to explore the many other sites that have yet to be discovered and studied.  Parallel with this, the importance of preserving and maintaining the already found historical treasures is equally important since they are the ones that define the country’s history and identity.


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