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Metera / Belew Kelew

Situated 20km south of Qohaito, near the little village of Metera, are some of Eritrea´s most important historical sites. Like Qohaito, Metera flourished around the time of the ancient civilisation of Aksum. The scattered ruins testify to the existence of a once large and prosperous town.

Metera is important for three main reasons: for its age - some of it, from about the 5th century BC, actually pre-dates Aksum; for its huge size - it spreads over at least 20 hectares, so it is much the largest Aksumite site after Aksum itself and Aksum´s port, Adulis; and for its unusual character - it is the only place in the Aksumite civilisation where a large bourgeois community is known to have thrived.

The Stele

One of Metera´s most important objects is its enigmatic stele. Unique in Eritrera, the stele is known for its pagan, pre-Christian symbol of the sun over the crescent moon, engraved on the top of the eastern face. Like the famous Aksum stelae, it faces eastwards.



"Standing" 2.5m tall, the stele has an inscription near the middle in Ge´ez. An unknown king dedicates the stele to his ancestors who had subjugated the "mighty people of Awannalon, Tsebelan".



Inexplicably, the stele was uprooted from its original position on the hill, and was at one time broken into two pieces. Today it sits/lies in its new location at the foot of the hill Amba Saim, infront of the open plain.

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