AIMS AND TIMELINE
This multi-disciplinary, mainly archaeological, project seeks to further our knowledge of the Amhara populations that took control of the Lalibela region (Lasta) in the late 13th century. We are interested in the people themselves and their culture, and hope to elucidate the biological, social, cultural and material context and consequences of the encounters that took place between the local Agäw speakers and the incoming Amharic speakers. For this, we are constructing a comparative database on the sites we are investigating, looking at key parameters such as landscape use, architecture, ceramics and other material culture, metal production, wall paintings and other forms of expression, such as the carved low-reliefs that decorate the cave walls of Wašša Mika’el church alongside medieval wall paintings clearly associated with Yǝkunno Amlak.
We plan to produce a typology of medieval ceramics in the area and compare it with material recovered from other Ethiopian sites. Human remains found at each of the sites associated with King Yǝkunno Amlak will be compared with the skeletonised and mummified remains at the Zagwe site of Yǝmrǝḥannä Krǝstos.
Although we are focusing on the Christian medieval period in the area, it cannot be understood without reference to what existed there before. We therefore take a holistic approach and investigate all evidence, historical and prehistoric, that may help in modelling the period in which we are primarily interested. All levels and periods of occupation are taken into consideration and accurately recorded and interpreted, not only to provide contextual material for our own analyses but also to inform future archaeological work.