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Two Centuries ago Ethiopia had a number of world class granaries. A first one is found within Addis Ababa city limits. Its elliptical roof had a major axis of 100 metres

First evaluation of a new archaeological site on Korke Meda, near Wechacha Mariam, above Addis Ababa, local source identify consistently with a huge granary built by King Sahle Selassie of Shoa, ca 1830 c.e. Supposition it may lie on the site of a
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  Ethiopia had ninety metres diametre granaries, hardly rivaled in Europe, in 1830 Famines were the tragic recount of a grandfather, in Ethiopia, until a generation or two ago. They happened every sixty years or thereabouts, once in over two generations, as Richard Pankhursts reconstructions clearly show. ! have attempted a detailed explanation of their tragic recurrence approaching, once every seven years approximately, in what are now the black spots, Tigray, "idamo and #ararge, obtaining a clear response$ crop failing is a direct conse%uence of man made climate change alone. &hile the number of deaths of people and animals is contained by organised early warning systems and the Ethiopian government, in these times of rapid economic growth has  proven capable of stemming its worse immediate effects, the nearing of droughts has dire conse%uences on families, that have no time to recover, and on the whole economy."ahle "elassie, 'ing of "hoa, experienced directly one of those historic famines in ()*+, followed  by a tragic cholera outbreak.  young "overeign, he saw his proximity suffering, his people die. #e was to be all his life a wise, provident and skilfully organised leader since.#e is noted in #istory for having -opened his granaries to all in times of want. Thanks to him no famine struck Ethiopia until more modern times, not under his son #aile /alakot or his grandson /inilik, not to that extent and never in the core central area of "hoa, at least. #e had the first solid agricultural reports produced, according to /c0ann. #is measures proved well 1udged and effective, he 2iblically accumulated in times of plenty to donate in times of paucity. The sight of a huge mountain fort from google earth on a flat top of /t &echacha, at exactly 3*44 m, above our capital town, prompted me to visit, first with my family in ddis, then with a few academic friends, including noted ddis baba 5niversity rcheologist Tecle #agos and 6eologist sfawosen srat. From the top, ! noted a spiral like structure others on our little mission were rapid to define as an 7romo village. This did not convince me at all, in fact, satellite views ! checked as soon as we got home that very evening disproved it$ nothing the like was seen far around.! later visited, to be soon informed locally that was a granary built by "ahle "elassie, the charitable, loved 'ing of "hoa who defeated hungers8  The first satellite view I found. Worth checking, indeed. What lies under the granaries?   The granaries lied above a tell, indication of a prior edification area. ! was in !taly, immediately after those first, summer *44+ visits. ! did check again from satellite  photoes, and soon found a less visible, but notably bigger walled area a mile to the south of the granaries, that appeared to be articulated, with different sets of defending and structural walls. Sahles' residence, Beta Menghist, seat of overn!ent as seen fro! googleearth "oon ! was to find out, from priests of the nearby, "ahle "elassie built &echacha /ariam splendid  painted church, that it was "ahles fortified palace. Examining the perimetral walls easily shows they must be much older, though. 9ot strange, as fortresses the world over are rebuilt over time.   Wechacha Maria!, the "hurch Sahle built in the area, between the palace and the granaries, nearer the first.Sahle Selassie's ban#uet hall, hi! giving $udg!ent. %.M. Bernat& engravings, Scenes in ethiopia ()ondon *+- the first has been colori&ed, the second di!l/ reveals the Wechacha top behind, siege of the !edieval fortress. The 0hurch dates from soon before the great famine of ()*+, so does the palace, while the granaries must have been 1ust posterior, or represent a big extension of smaller existing storages, ! logically  presume. 0overing a surface of :,::4 m * , with an elliptical compound roof reaching a longer diagonal span of exactly one hundred metres, and the shorter one of seventy five, the granary represents a real feat, so far unknown. 9ot uni%ue, though, as "ahle had granaries, it is mentioned, spread over "hoa, so a few more did exist, certainly, unrivaled around most of frica at the times. s for Europe, ! have found notes on granaries that big, not of this build, only in the Prussia of contemporary Frederick !! the 6reat, also a noted peace and war times supply organiser. The European inventor of modern "tate 6ranaries, a great Prussian feat in the global war on want, had an frican competitor of weight, we discover.&ere the grains stocked four or five metres high, not at all unlikely, we are at around *:,444 cubic metres, some *4,444 tons of cereals, enough to feed reasonably, 344g a day or about (;44 kilocalories One Million  male workers for a two months planting seasons. From a single granary, so four of these stunning giants, taking losses into account, would have sufficed to take out of the worst of famine the whole of "hoas population, not likely to reach three millions by then./y son ndrea, at one of a few visits we made there, found a field rich in obsidian tool of varied forms and identities, to the 9orth of the granaries, proof of long residence, and... of his habit to look well around, when strolling with dad to see what those things we find from the satellites really are.   0bsidian cutters upper row, flint or obsidian s!ashers, arrows or s!aller cutting edges, low. ndrea's finds here Recently, the area has other looks. 1orke bo "hurch, under co!pletion, in earl/ -2*- and the site fro! space in %anuar/ -2*3.  church, tiny compared with the granaries, has sprout up within months, in *4(*. /e and friend Tecle #agos did note the site was better untouched, but the pertinent answer from one of the  builders was$ we know, an ancient Tabot was here. That translates$ this is the site of a forgotten, medieval 0hurch. 9o doubt about the age, neither about the emplacement, seeing the tell from the side. !f there was a 0hurch, it had to be ma1or, and be exactly there. fter the #arari invasion of (:*+, there is no historic record of ma1or buildings or settlements here, and the area was occupied  by 7romos who did not sustain similar 0hristian material culture.&hile the site has been slightly modified, and a nearby peasant has profited to well defend his own home and inner fields with stones from the granary foundations, this is an absolute priority for excavations and further study around ddis baba. The fertile and now perfectly exploited high fields around the 6ranary left, actually, no other free space for todays 0hurch builders, either."ahle chose a good place to build a granary, indeed. <ields of :4 %uintals per hectare, )4 bushels per acre on that fertile volcanic high plain are now fairly common, told me peasants themselves.  This part, the inner elliptic pillar wall, has now been de!olished. I show the !ountain fortress e!place!ent. !ts looks can be guessed easily. The roof had to be two layered, as the central elliptic thick walls suggest, storage in bulk did not re%uire it to be particularly high. ! based my capacity calculations above on a supposition the building could have been six metres high, with a taller central room."omething akin to present day !ndiana mish barns, a type of present day wooden construction ! have also seen near "igtuna, "weden, recently. The restoration of one barn gives an idea of how b/ssinians would have !ade it4 fro! here, the fra!e would have been filled with $uniper chippings and chika, the resistant !ud and straw !i5. Sufficientl/ !ite resistant.


May 17, 2018


May 17, 2018
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