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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Journal contents:


Vol. 12 (2) 2014

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C. Bosc-Tiessé, M.-L. Derat, L. Bruxelles, F.-X. Fauvelle, Y. Gleize & R. Mensan

The Lalibela Rock Hewn Site and its Landscape (Ethiopia): An Archaeological Analysis

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 12 (2), 2014, pages 141-164, DOI 10.3213/2191-5784-10261

Abstract


This article presents the methods employed at the site of Lalibela, Ethiopia during the 2009, 2010, 2011 and part of the 2012 campaigns, as well as the first results obtained. This site consists of a group of rock-cut churches attributed to the sovereign of the same name, King Lalibela, who we know to have reigned in the late 12th century and in the first third of the 13th century. Cut out of solid rock, Lalibela is an exceptional archaeological site since most of the traces of its early phases were eliminated in the process of its transformation. The site thus presents a significant challenge for historians and archaeologists. How is it possible to write its history without excavation? Geomorphological observations of the region offer new keys for understanding Lalibela; identification of the spoil heap, in which we discovered a clear stratigraphy confirming the existence of different cutting phases; the topographic and taphonomic analysis of the remains, and investigations in the cemetery of Qedemt, revealed that the site was formed in multiple phases, probably reflecting a long occupation sequence spanning at least eleven centuries (from the 10th to the 21st century).


Résumé

Cet article présente les méthodes mises en œuvre durant les campagnes qui se sont déroulées en 2009, 2010 et 2011 et en partie en 2012 sur le site de Lalibela (Ethiopie) et leurs premiers résultats. Ce site est un groupe d'églises rupestres attribuées au souverain homonyme, le roi Lalibela, dont nous savons avec certitude qu'il régnait au tournant des xiie et xiiie siècles. Creusé dans le roc, Lalibela est un site archéologique hors du commun car la plupart des traces de conception les plus anciennes ont été éliminées au fur et à mesure de son excavation. Ce site met au défi les archéologues et les historiens. Comment rendre compte de son histoire sans pouvoir fouiller les lieux ? Les observations géomorphologiques de la région nous ouvrent de nouvelles perspectives pour comprendre Lalibela ; l'identification des déblais issus des creusements dans lesquels nous avons découvert une stratigraphie confirme l'existence de différentes phases de creusement ; l'analyse topographique et taphonomique des vestiges et les recherches dans le cimetière voisin de Qedemt ont permis de mettre en évidence le multi-phasage du site et certainement une longue séquence d'occupation du site, de l'ordre de onze siècles au moins (du xe au xxie siècle). 



Keywords: funerary practices, geoarchaeology, Lalibela, Medieval Ethiopia, rock-cut archaeology, rock-hewn site


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Editors:
Sonja Magnavita, Peter Breunig, Sam Nixon

Book Reviews Editor:
Jonathan R. Walz, USA

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Graham Connah, Australia
Shadreck Chirikure, South Africa
A. Catherine D'Andrea, Canada
Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
Elena Garcea, Italy
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, USA
Timothy Insoll, UK
Tom Huffman, South Africa
Eric Huysecom, Switzerland
David Killick, USA
Savino di Lernia, Italy
Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Belgium
Scott MacEachern, USA
David Mattingly, UK
Susan Keech McIntosh, USA
David W. Phillipson, UK
Gilbert Pwiti, Zimbabwe
Peter Robertshaw, USA
Robert Vernet, France
Lyn Wadley, South Africa

Copy Editors:
Nikolas Gestrich, UK
Gaby Franke, Germany
Annabelle Gallin, France
Richard Byer, Germany

Editorial Assistance:
Anna Rybar, Germany
Carlos Magnavita, Germany


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