MOTHER TONGUE
Newsletter of the Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory

Issue 25 · Summer 1995


Grains and Monuments at Aksum

At the most famous place in what was Haile Sellassie's empire -- Aksum -- archeologists Katherine Bard (Boston U.), Rudolfo Fattovici and team are settling the mystery of the famous 'phallic' monuments and the domestication of /t'eff/, a very important grain in Ethiopia/Eritrea. The Aksumite stelae are associated with big rock cut tombs which will help define their meaning.

Around the time of Christ, Aksum had wheat and barley, Near Eastern cultigens. By 500 AD /t'eff/ (Eragrostis teff) had been added to the grain supply, along with grape seed and lentils (at least). The source of Teff? Ethiopia, somewhere.

Aksum also shows lots of cattle and shoats but no pigs or donkeys. Trade goods from Roman Egypt show up, as well as evidence of contact with Late Meroitic culture (Nubia).

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(c) 1996 Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory