- Museum number
Digital photograph (colour); view of landscape showing a stela standing out of a barrow, with a human-like face carved on the top of the stone. Several other stelae can be seen in the background. Tuto Fela, Ethiopia.
- Production date
31 July 2006 (Date digitized)
November 1999 (Original photograph)
File size: 120 megabytes
Resolution: 300 dots per inch
- Curator's comments
- Tuto Fela is one of the best studied stelae graveyards in the Sidamo region, located to the south-west of Ethiopia and one of the many sites of this type found along the Rift Valley and the series of lakes that occupy its floor. The site is a huge barrow conformed by dozens of small tumuli and other burials, many of them marked with stelae. The site was studied for the first time in the 1930’s by a German team from the Frobenius Institute, and has been comprehensively excavated in the 1990’s by a French team which has documented around three hundred steale in the site. The excavation has documented two different phases for the site, the first one characterized by phallic stelae (long cylindrical stones with a hemispherical top delimited by a groove or ring) while the second stage uses anthropomorphic steale instead with the top of the piece carved to represent a face and the rest of the piece decorated with crossed patterns. These types of steale are characteristic of the south-westernmost area of Ethiopia, while to more to the north the steale are a bit different, usually plainer with swords, anthropomorphs and other symbols carved on them.
Regarding their chronology the Ethiopian stela seem to be relatively new, dated from the 10th to the 13th centuries. All of them seem to have a funerary function, marking the tombs of deceased which were buried in cemeteries sometimes reaching hundreds of graves. The information provided by sites such as Tuto Fela show that not all the burials had an attached stela, and considering the amount of work necessary to prepare them those which had could be interpreted as belonging to high status people. It is difficult to determine who the groups that carved these stelae were, but given their chronology they could have been Cushitic or Nilotic-speaking pastoralist communities absorbed by the Oromo expansion that took place in the sixteenth century.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Previous owner/ex-collection number: ETHSID0010013 (TARA number)