Archaeological Expedition at Aksum (Ethiopia) of the University of Naples "L'Orientale" - 2010 Field Season: Seglamen
Fattovich, Rodolfo and Berhe, Hiluf and Phillipson, Laurel and Sernicola, Luisa and Kribus, Bar and Gaudiello, Michela and Barbarino, Marco (2010) Archaeological Expedition at Aksum (Ethiopia) of the University of Naples "L'Orientale" - 2010 Field Season: Seglamen. Technical Report. Università degli studi di Napoli L'Orientale. (Unpublished)
In November 2010 the Italian Archaeological Expedition at Aksum of the University of Naples
“L’Orientale” (UNO), Naples (Italy), conducted the 16th field season in the region of Aksum under
the direction of Rodolfo Fattovich. In 1992-2003 the expedition investigated Bieta Giyorgs hill to
the north of Aksum as a joint research project with Boston University, Boston, USA under the
direction of Rodolfo Fattovich (UNO) and Kathryn A. Bard (BU) (see Fattovich et al. 2000; Bard et
al. 2003; Fattovich 2008). In 2005-2009 the foot hill of Bieta Giyorgis and the plains to the north of
the hill were investigated (Fattovich 2008; Fattovich et. al. 2009). In 2005-2006 the expedition
surveyed the whole archaeological area of Aksum (100 sq km) in collaboration the World Bank
Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Project, Aksum Branch, and produced the detailed archaeological map
of this area (Fattovich and Hagos 2005, 2006; Sernicola 2008). In 2009 the UNO expedition
surveyed the archaeological site of Yeha (Adwa) and mapped with a laser scanner the Great Temple
as a contribution to the archaeological heritage management of the area (Fattovich et al. 2010).
Beginning in 2010 the UNO project included the valley of the Mai Nigus/Haselo from Addì
Hankara (woreda: Medegoy) to Adet (woreda: Hawesta), with the surroundings of the modern
villages of Medegoy, Seglamen, Mirina and Adet as main areas of investigation. The project is
designed to survey this region along a transect about 5 km by 20 km in area and to carry out
excavations at selected sites. This segment of the Mai Nigus/Haselo valley was chosen for
investigation because the valley traditionally was an important route from Aksum to the Tekeze
river and from here to the internal regions of the Ethiopian highlands (Figure 1).
The research has been designed to provide: 1) a reconstruction of the cultural and environmental
history of the region to the south-west of Aksum, 2) a detailed archaeological map of this region for
the cultural heritage management of Central Tigray.
The project is implemented in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology, Aksum
University College (AUC), Aksum (Tigray), represented by Mr. Hiluf Berhe, as part of the
agreement between UNO and AUC in progress since 2009 to conduct joint research and to provide
undergraduate students of the Department of Archaeology, AUC, with a theoretical and practical
training in survey and excavation procedures (see L. Phillipson 2010).
In 2010 the area around the village of Seglamen, where a Pre-Aksumite royal inscription (RIE 1)
was discovered in the early 1970s (Schneider 1976: ; Bernard et al. 1991, I: 68, II: pl. 1), was
investigated and a reconnaissance was conducted around the villages of Merena and New Adet.
Preliminary excavations at Seglamen were carried out in 1974 by the University of Rome “La
Sapienza,” Rome (Italy), under the direction of Lanfranco Ricci (Ricci and Fattovich 1987). These
excavations brought to the light a large Post-Aksumite rural house, which was apparently built on
Pre-Aksumite foundations. The definitive location of the Pre-Aksumite settlement was identified
during the World Bank survey in 2006 (Fattovich and Hagos 2006) and was confirmed in 2009
during a visit to the site by members of the Italian expedition and representatives of the Aksum
University College (AUC), Aksum (Tigray).
Members of the 2010 expedition were Prof. Rodolfo Fattovich, archaeologist, Dr. Luisa
Sernicola, archaeologist, Mr. Marco Barbarino, surface surveyor, and Ms. Michela Gaudiello,
ceramic analyst (UNO); Dr. Laurel Phillipson, UK, lithic analyst; Mr. Hilluf Berhe, Mr. Habtamu
Makonnen and Ms. Berhan Tekie, archaeologists (AUC); Mr. Bar Kribus, assistant archaeologist,
Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Israel). The ARCCH was represented by Ato Alemu Hailu.
The members of the expedition are very grateful to Ato Jara Haile Maryam, Head, ARCCH, Addis
Ababa, Dr Jonas Beyene, Director, Dept. of Anthropology and Archaeology, ARCCH, Addis
Ababa, Ato Fisseha Zibelo, Aksum Site Manager, Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Development
Project, Ato Tedros Abraham, Head, Bureau of Culture and Tourism, Central Zone, Aksum; Dr.
Mebratu and Dr. Aklilu, President and Vice President, Axum University College, Aksum, H.E.
Raffaele di Lutio, Ambassador, Italian Embassy, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dr. Bruno Bellotto,
Director, Italian Cultural Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dr. Francesco Saverio Poliseno, Poliass
Srl Marine & General, Naples (Italy), Dr. Pasquale Romano, Studio Tecnico Navale Romano,
Naples (Italy), and Dr. Enrico Semino, Cambiaso Risso (Insurance Brockers), Genova, Italy, for
their kind support to the expedition.
The expedition has been granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rome, Poliass Srl Marine &
General, Naples, Studio Tecnico Navale Romano, Naples, Cambiaso Risso (Insurance Brokers),
Genoa, and University of Naples “l’Orientale,” Naples (Italy).
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