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Tiya, Adadi Maryam and Melka Kunture

The closest UNESCO World Heritage Site to Addis Ababa, the mysterious Tiya Stelae Field, located 88km south of Addis Ababa, comprises 36 megaliths erected to mark mass graves of young males and females, possibly soldiers, who were laid to rest in a foetal position.

Little is known about the constructors of these monuments, or the meaning behind the stylised swords, unadorned circles, leaf-like symbols and other features engraved upon them, but they are the remains of an ancient Ethiopian culture.

Oddly, the stelae are roughly contemporaneous with nearby Adadi Maryam (68km south of Addis Ababa), Ethiopia’s southernmost functional rock-hewn church, a lovely subterranean semi-monolith attributed by legend to King Lalibela.

Adadi Maryam is easily visited en route to Tiya, along with the Melka Kunture Prehistoric Site, where a museum documents the many important fossils and Stone Age artefacts uncovered there.