Using Stone Tools: the Evidence from Aksum, Ethiopia 9781407304083, 9781407334394

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Table of contents :
Front Cover
Title Page
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1: Introduction: Archaeological Research at Aksum
CHAPTER 2: The Area Surveyed, Acknowledgements, Problems and Approaches
CHAPTER 3: Surface Collections and Excavated Assemblages
CHAPTER 4: Chronological Summary
CHAPTER 5: Technical and Economic Evidence
CHAPTER 6: Patterns of Site Distribution and Areas for Future Research
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BAR S1926 2009

Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 77 Series Editors: John Alexander, Laurence Smith and Timothy Insoll


Using Stone Tools: the Evidence from Aksum, Ethiopia Laurel Phillipson


B A R Phillipson 1926 cover.indd 1

with an introduction by

Professor Rodolfo Fattovich

BAR International Series 1926 2009

05/03/2009 10:23:10

Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 77 Series Editors: John Alexander, Laurence Smith and Timothy Insoll

Using Stone Tools: the Evidence from Aksum, Ethiopia Laurel Phillipson with an introduction by

Professor Rodolfo Fattovich

BAR International Series 1926 2009

ISBN 9781407304083 paperback ISBN 9781407334394 e-format DOI A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library



Fig. 1 Location maps: Aksum and other sites in the Horn of Africa


Contents Chapter 1 Introduction: Archaeological Research at Aksum ............................................................................................ 1 by Rodolfo Fattovich Chapter 2 The Area Surveyed, Acknowledgements, Problems and Approaches ............................................................... 3 Chapter 3 Surface Collections and Excavated Assemblages ............................................................................................ 10 sector 1, West of Beta Dura .................................................................................................................. 10 sector 2, North of Beta Dura ................................................................................................................. 15 sector 3, Beta Dura ............................................................................................................................... 17 sector 4, South-west of Aksum ............................................................................................................. 22 sector 5, Adi Tsehafi ............................................................................................................................. 22 sector 6, West of Aksum ....................................................................................................................... 25 sector 7, North of Beta Giyorgis ........................................................................................................... 46 sector 8, East of Addi Tsehafi ............................................................................................................... 59 sector 9, Beta Giyorgis.......................................................................................................................... 78 sector 10, Aksum .................................................................................................................................. 88 sector 11, South of Aksum .................................................................................................................... 95 sector 12, Northeast of Aksum.............................................................................................................. 96 sector 13, East of Aksum .................................................................................................................... 100 Comparative Sites Further Afield ..................................................................................................... 100 Chapter 4 Chronological Summary ................................................................................................................................ 109 The Earliest Evidence ......................................................................................................................... 109 Pre-Aksumite Period ........................................................................................................................... 109 Proto-Aksumite Period ....................................................................................................................... 112 Early Aksumite Phase & Classic Aksumite Phase.............................................................................. 113 Middle Aksumite Phase & Late Aksumite Phase ............................................................................... 114 Post-Aksumite Period ......................................................................................................................... 116 Chapter 5 Technical and Economic Evidence ................................................................................................................ 118 General Considerations ....................................................................................................................... 118 Lithic tools .......................................................................................................................................... 119 Commerce and Labour........................................................................................................................ 121 Metals ................................................................................................................................................. 122 Lithic Materials ................................................................................................................................... 124 Chapter 6 Site Distribution and Areas for Future Research............................................................................................ 128 Glossary of Terms Used ............................................................................................................................... 131 Bibliography ................................................................................................................................................. 133 Plates ............................................................................................................................................................ 135




Introduction: Archaeological Research at Aksum by Rodolfo Fattovich Aksum was the capital city of one of the earliest kingdoms in Africa to the south of the Sahara. This kingdom dominated the southern Red Sea in the 1st millennium AD and had a very important role in the development of the trade circuit between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean, as far as the Indian subcontinent, in Roman and Byzantine times.

shelters were used at the top, along the slopes and at the base of the hills. So far, there is no palaeobotanical or palynological evidence of vegetal cover at this time. The large quantity of bovid bones in a rock-shelter at Baahti Nebait on the western slope of Bieta Giyorgis may point to the occurrence of vast open grazing areas in the plain [D. W. Phillipson et al 2000:17-26].

Despite this significant commercial and political role, the history of Aksum is scarcely documented by contemporary textual and epigraphic sources. The textual evidence records the existence of a city at Aksum in the mid-1st century AD, the inclusion of Yemen into the area of Aksumite political influence (and possibly dominion) in the 3rd century, raids to the Nile Valley in the late 3rd – early 4th centuries, the introduction of Christianity as a state religion in the mid-4th century, the re-occupation of Yeman in the 6th century, and the decline of the kingdom with the abandonment of the capital city in the 8th century. For a long time, coins dating to the late 3rd – mid-7th centuries AD were the main evidence to outline the chronological sequence of the Aksumite kings and major changes in the kingship ideology [Munro-Hay 1991].

In the mid-1st millennium BC (circa 700 – 400 BC) the region of Aksum was part of a larger polity (the so-called “kingdom of DMT”) with main centres at Yeha (Tigrai) and Matara (Eritrea). At this time the landscape was characterized by extensive cultivated and grazing areas. Settlements mainly were small villages and hamlets along the slopes of the hills. A small temple was erected in a dominant position on the top of the hill of Abba Panatalewon [Fattovich et al 2000; Michels 2005; Sernicola 2008]. In the late 1st millennium BC (circa 500 – 400 BC) a local polity emerged at Aksum and an elite cemetery was located on the top of Bieta Giyorgis hill. In the early 1st millennium AD (circa 50 BC – 300 AD) a petty kingdom consolidated in the region and progressively emerged as the dominant polity in the northern Horn of Africa. At this time a royal cemetery was established in the so-called Stelae Park at the foot of Bieta Giyorgis. In the mid-1st millennium AD (circa 300 – 700 AD) Aksum was the capital of a large territorial state. Christianity was adopted as a state religion in the 4th century and a monumental church, Enda Marian Tsion, was erected between the 4th and 6th centuries in the centre of the city. Since the late 1st millennium AD, Aksum was no longer the capital of the Christian kingdom, but remained the main religious centre of Christian Ethiopia.

In particular, three projects contributed in the 1990s and 2000s to a better understanding of the social, economic and ideological development in the region of Aksum since late prehistoric times: The Aksum Archaeological Project of the British Institute in Eastern Africa, under the direction of David W. Phillipson [2000]; the Bieta Giyorgis (Aksum) Joint Archaeological Project of the University of Naples, “l’Orientale”, and Boston University, under the direction of Kathryn A. Bard (BU) and Rodolfo Fattovich (UNO) [Bard et al 2003]; and the World Bank Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Project – Aksum Branch, Site Planning and Conservation Component, Archaeological Survey, under the responsibility of Rodolfo Fattovich and Tekle Hagos with the collaboration of Laurel Phillipson and Luisa Sernicola [Fattovich and Tekle Hagos 2005, 2006].

Ox-plough agriculture was surely practised in the region since the mid-1st millennium BC, established in late preAksumite times and remained since then the subsistence base of the kingdom. Free-threshing wheat, bread wheat, emmer, barley and legumes were the main crops. Apparently, the consumption of tef increased during the 1st millennium AD. Cattle and sheep/goats were the main livestock. Agricultural terraces were surely built in the mid-1st millennium AD, but may already have been in use at an earlier time.

The results of these investigations combined with those of previous excavations and survey in the region from Aksum to Yeha, circa 50 km to the north-west of Aksum, in the late 1950s to early 1970s [D. W. Phillipson 1977; Anfray 1990; Munro-Hay 1991; Michels 2005; de Contenson 2005] suggested that the region surrounding Aksum was inhabited since late prehistoric time. In late prehistoric time (3rd/2nd – early 1st millennia BC) the region was scarcely populated. Lithic workshops were located close to streams at the base of the hills, and rock-

In the late 1st millennium BC to the late 1st millennium AD, the landscape was characterized by a vegetation pattern similar to the present one. Cultivated fields and grazing areas occupied most of the region, and the slopes of the hills were terraced. Cisterns and wells were located 1

LAUREL PHILLIPSON excavations as an insignificant component of the socalled “Pre-Aksumite” and Aksumite culture in the region. Sometimes, just the occurrence of microliths was recorded without any attempt to describe them and to interpret their function in the ancient society. Only in 1939 the Italian archaeologist, Salvatore M. Puglisi [1941, 1946] recorded and described a peculiar type of Aksumite scrapers (the so-called Gudit scrapers) and demonstrated the survival of a lithic technological tradition in Aksumite times. A relevant contribution of Puglisi also was the identification of a lithic industry with big blades and Levalloisian-like flakes in the surroundings of Aksum, suggesting that the region was already inhabited in prehistoric times.

close to or within settlements, although direct evidence is very scarce. Towns and larger villages were located mainly at the base or on top of the hills. Small villages and hamlets were also located in the plain. Compounds occurred both in the plain and on the slopes and top of the hills. Roads and paths connected all settlements in a well organized network. Elite residential palaces were clustered mainly around the capital city, but they could also be isolated complexes in the plain or on the top of higher hills. In Christian times, the church of Mariam Tsion became the symbolic focus of the whole landscape. Long distance trade was a major component of the economy since the late 1st millennium BC and apparently reached a peak in the mid-1st millennium AD, decreasing in the late 1st millennium AD, and disappearing at the end of the 1st millennium AD, Specialized craftsmen were surely active in the mid-1st millennium AD, when most likely palatine handcrafts (e. g. the ivory working) existed [L. Phillipson 2000b, 2002].

In this book Dr. Laurel Phillipson presents the results of more than ten years of systematic fieldwork and analysis of the stone tool assemblages in the region of Aksum. The result is a detailed description and interpretation of the different lithic traditions which were incorporated into the local Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite cultural traditions and represented an important component of the ancient polities in the region, providing a much more complicated picture of the social and economic development of these polities than that so far outlined on the basis of the ceramic and architectural evidence.

This sequence is usually divided into four main culture history periods corresponding to the development of the different polities in the region of Aksum: 1) Pre-Aksumite Period (circa 800/700 – 400 BC), when Aksum was part of the so-called “Kingdom of DMT” ; 2) Proto-Aksumite Period (circa 400 – 50 BC), when a local polity emerged at Bieta Giyorgis; 3) Aksumite Period (circa 50 BC – 700 AD), when Aksum was the capital of a larger kingdom; 4) Post-Aksumite Period (from circa 700 AD), when the core area of the Christian kingdom moved to the south. The Aksumite period has been further divided into four phases: Early Aksumite or Aksumite 1 (circa 50 BC – 150 AD), Classic Aksumite or Aksumite 2 (circa 150 – 400/450 AD), Middle Aksumite or Aksumite 3 (circa 400/450 – 550 AD), and Late Aksumite or Aksumite 4 (circa 550 – 700 AD) [Fattovich et al 2000; D. W. Phillipson et al 2000].

The book of Dr. Laurel Phillipson is a very important and precious contribution to the archaeology of Aksum (northern Ethiopia) as well as Ethiopian and African archaeology, as it provides scholars with the first exhaustive analysis and interpretation of the stone tools dating to historical time (1st millennium BC – 1st millennium AD) in the region of Aksum. The book, moreover, is a crucial contribution to the cultural resources management in the archaeological area of Aksum insofar as it provides a complete inventory of all assemblages with stone tools in the region. These assemblages are vanishing very quickly under our eyes because of the fragility of the archaeological deposits and the impressive urban expansion in the area. Therefore, the descriptions of the sites and their assessments are most likely the last record we can have of this evidence.

So far, the cultural history of the region has been mainly outlined on the stratigraphic sequence of the ceramics from elite residential and funerary areas. For a long time archaeologists working at sites of this period around Aksum completely neglected the lithic tools from their





The Area Surveyed, Acknowledgements, Problems and Approaches has… similarly steep slopes. The domes are nepheline syenite plugs that intrude through Adigrat sandstones and are surrounded by later flow basalts. On dome tops, sparse remains of sedimentary formation are found while a crown of intensely fractured and weakly metamorphosed siltstones circles the plug base[s]”. Archaeologically significant outcrops of cherts and of chalcedony occur at several locations near the bases of these plugs; a large chert outcrop is also exposed on the top of Beta Giyorgis. While the hill tops and sides are affected by massive, continuing soil erosion wherever this is not prevented by deliberate conservation measures, the lower margins of the hills and the plain southwest of Aksum have been correspondingly subject to soil aggregation. Until the rapid late twentieth century expansion of the modern city of Axum, this had had the effect of protecting many archaeological sites which have now been or are being destroyed without having been adequately recorded.

The title of this monograph, “Using Stone Tools ….”, refers with deliberate ambiguity both to the ways archaeologists use evidence derived from the study of lithic artefacts – to define material traditions, as temporal indicators and to contribute to the construction of paradigms of human behaviour and cultural evolution – and to the very different ways these artefacts were used by their creators. While consideration of both of these approaches has contributed to the present study, the emphasis tends towards the former: using the lithics for an archaeologist’s purposes. In so far as possible, I have regarded the tens of thousands of individual pieces which are our subject matter not as examples of ideal types, but as unique objects each of which bears potential witness to its own particular history of material procurement, manufacture, use and discard. The theoretical rationale for this approach is explained in L. Phillipson 2007 with reference to unrelated and very much older lithics from a site in southern Africa. In practice, limitations of time and resources did not permit every one of the retouched artefacts, cores, flakes and fragments which comprise the material of this study to be examined and recorded in sufficient detail to reconstruct its unique history, and any attempt to do so for the surface-collected artefacts which comprise the bulk of the material with which this study is concerned would have been plagued by too many uncertainties to make the effort worthwhile. Therefore, the examination of broken chips, chunks and flake fragments, of unretouched whole flakes without obvious signs of use wear, and of casual cores with three or fewer flake removals is slighted, while retouched and utilised pieces are more carefully considered. Except where it is noted in what follows, I have visited every site listed in this study, and every artefact has been examined at least twice, sorted and classified and its characteristics of size, material, colour, condition, retouch, scar patterns, evidence of use wear, and material associations recorded and tabulated by me. In the hope of sparing the patient reader much tedium, only such of this information as has actually contributed to an understanding of the behavioural strategies, economics and social organisation of the people who made and used the lithics is reported in what follows. The principal terms used to describe the lithic artefacts are defined in the glossary at the end of this volume.

This work is divided into three principal sections. The present chapter describes as briefly as possible the background to the study, the area it encompasses, how it was organised, and something of the methodological and theoretical problems encountered. Chapter three is an extended report which comprises the descriptions and illustrations of surface-collected and excavated lithics from sites in and around Aksum. In it, groups of surfacecollected artefacts from a single location are termed “collections”; no temporal or cultural homogeneity may be presupposed for such material. Excavated lithics from apparently homogenous single stratigraphic contexts are termed “assemblages”. It is intended that this section will stand as a permanent record of a major aspect of Aksumite and earlier material culture, to which other researchers may refer and which they may wish to incorporate into their own studies or to re-interpret now that most of the sites from which the material derived are no longer available for further study. In chapter three, and throughout this work, the chronological framework used is that proposed by Fattovich [2008 and in earlier works]: Pre-Aksumite Period Proto-Aksumite Period Aksumite Period Early Aksumite phase Classic Aksumite phase Middle Aksumite phase Late Aksumite phase Post Aksumite Period

The geophysical and geological setting of Aksum and its surroundings is most succinctly described by Ciampalini et al [2008]: “on a plateau ranging from 2000 to 2500 metres above sea level …. a few scattered hills with steep or subvertical slopes standing on a high plain cut by small ephemeral streams. The city of Axum lies between the hill of Mai Qoho and the flat topped dome of Beta Giyorgis, [which] rises 200-300 metres above the main plain. West of Beta Giyorgis the dome of Gobo Dura

circa 700 – 400 BC circa 400 – 50 BC circa 50 BC – AD 700 circa 50 BC – AD 150 circa AD 150 – 400/450 circa AD 400/450 – 550 circa AD 550 – 700 after circa AD 700

The final chapters present my interpretation of the lithic evidence based on more than a decade of close study and hundreds of kilometres of field-walking within a restricted area. When this study of Aksumite and related 3


Fig.2 a) Aksum topography, contours at 50-metre intervals;



b) the sectors as defined in this report



LAUREL PHILLIPSON study because no knapped lithics were recorded from them, have been plotted by Sernicola onto maps, which show the Aksumite archaeological area to comprise an approximately circular area roughly centred on the Great Stela in Aksum within the one-kilometre grid squares 63° to 75° east and 57° to 68° north, with the greatest density of sites in the northern part of this area between 63° to 72° east and 61° to 67° north. Within this area, in addition to the main settlements on top of Beta Giyorgis and in Aksum itself, sites are preferentially located on the lower hill slopes, particularly those encircling Beta Giyorgis and on the north-eastern side of Beta Dura, as well as in the more complex topography of the Adi Tsehafi area. Except on the tops of some of the hills, in the valley bottoms with seasonally active rivers which would have removed signs of human occupation, and in recently eroded areas, few squares lack archaeological sites or remains altogether [fig. 2a].

lithics was begun in 1996, the most immediate concern was to record the presence of a variety of lithic artefact types as economically significant components of PreAksumite and Aksumite material culture, to ensure that their significance was recognised by excavators, and that henceforth these small artefacts would be carefully recovered and properly recorded. This aim was accomplished by the publication of sections on lithics in the report, Archaeology at Aksum, Ethiopia, 1993-7 by D. W. Phillipson et al, 2000, and by subsequent papers listed here in the bibliography. The present work goes well beyond that, to produce a descriptive chronology of the forms of knapped lithic tools and of the ways these were produced and used, extending from the Pre-Aksumite to the Post-Aksumite periods. This chronology, together with discussions of the social, cultural and economic evidence provided by close study of the lithic materials, comprises the three short chapters, four, five and six, of this report. Some readers may find it helpful to refer to the chronological summary in chapter four before considering the detailed evidence as provided in chapter three. However, it may be well to bear in mind, that while the descriptive material is a factual record of the lithic evidence, the concluding chapters are interpretative. Owing to the many ambiguities and uncertainties of working largely with surface-collected material, they are best read with the qualifiers “perhaps”, “probably”, and “apparently” borne constantly in mind.

In the chapter three descriptions of the surface-collected lithics, the individual sites are grouped on the basis of arbitrary geographical areas, or sectors, each of 3 to 15 square kilometres, centred on more or less dense clusters of recorded sites, which I have imposed on maps of the Ethiopian Mapping Authority: sheets 1438-D3, Aksum, and 1438-D4, Adwa [fig. 2b]. The only justification for this grouping of the sites is that of presentational clarity. No claim is made for these sectors having had any particular historic, political or economic significance. This arbitrary method of organising the data is used in order to avoid prematurely imposing or implying temporal or sub-regional affinities between any of the sites. While some such conclusions may be derived from a close consideration of all available information, they would have no validity if made as a priori assumptions. Within most grid squares, the Survey team has located more archaeological sites without than with evidence of lithic tool production and/or use. For the full listing of these non-lithic sites, the reader is referred to the Survey Report.

The question of how to order the material described in chapter three has loomed large. It might have been desirable to classify the sites and collections on a simple temporal basis. For the most part, however, such simple assessments have not proved possible as very many sites have yielded ceramic or other evidence that they were occupied in more than one period; some others have provided no evidence of their most probable period(s) of use or occupation. Therefore, the sites are listed here on the basis of their geographical locations, which have been mapped by L. Sernicola, working as a team member on the Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Project, Aksum Branch, site planning and conservation component, led jointly by Professor Rodolfo Fattovich and by Tekle Hagos. I am particularly grateful to Sernicola for her patient checking and correction of the site designations in this present work to ensure that they agree with those used in the reports by Fattovich, Hagos, et al. With only a few exceptions for sites recorded here which lay outside the survey area, every site is designated by its number as listed in the Archaeological Survey Report, May 2006, of the Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Project, Aksum Branch, site planning and conservation component, followed by its gps (utm) coordinates. Further information about the sites, including their altitude, soil type and land use, is given in the Survey Report and is not repeated here.

The usual pattern of work which I followed, except when assisting with the work of other researchers, was to spend about six hours each morning walking with a local assistant, locating and recording sites and collecting artefacts. These were cleaned with water and gentle brushing, sorted, measured, recorded, drawn, photographed, and placed in labelled bags by myself in the afternoons. All the artefacts collected were so treated and are deposited in the Aksum Museum. Because nothing was taken abroad, recording and study of the lithics were limited to what could be done with a camera, callipers and a hand lens of 12-power magnification. Time constraints imposed by the desire to “process” what were in aggregate large quantities of artefacts during relatively short field seasons would not have permitted more detailed studies to be undertaken even if additional equipment had been available. Probably in only a few instances and for a few classes of artefacts would more detailed study of the surface collected lithics or their examination at higher levels of magnification have been particularly desirable.

All of the Pre-, Proto- and Aksumite sites recorded by the Survey, except those recorded by David Phillipson and his associates [D. W. Phillipson et al 2000], which were not revisited by the later survey, including the many archaeological remains not mentioned in this present 6



work, by Bard and Fattovich is currently in preparation. I had the honour and privilege to join this group in 2002 in order to study the abundant lithic artefacts which they had recovered from various well documented contexts, a number of which were directly or indirectly dated. Particular importance attaches to material from the excavated lithic tool-production workshop sites of ON I and II and Mai Agam [Usai 1997; L. Phillipson & Sulas 2005]. Equal interest and importance attaches to lithics recovered from the OAZ shaft tombs and overlying platform structure and to the few knapped lithic artefacts found in rooms of the large, complex, multi-period building at Ona Nagast. Material from these sites very conveniently filled parts of the temporal gap between the Pre-Aksumite lithics from Kidane Mehret and the later material from Kidane Mehret, Maleke Aksum, and the Gudit Stelae Field, thus enabling the first tentative outline of a complete lithic sequence to be constructed, as well as giving some valuable insights into cultural practices and economic organisation. I am much indebted to Professors Bard and Fattovich and their colleagues for so generously enabling me to study this material and, subsequently, for sharing with me the fruits of their research and patiently answering my repeated requests for additional information.

~~~~~~~~ In 1996 I joined the team directed by Doctor David Phillipson which had begun an extensive programme of archaeological research at Aksum in 1993, following on from earlier work led by Neville Chittick in 1972-4 [Munro-Hay 1989; D. W. Phillipson et al 2000]. While serving as photographer for the expedition and mainly occupied with those duties, it became apparent that the ubiquity of knapped lithic artefacts on Aksumite sites had not been adequately recognised or described by a long line of previous excavators and researchers. During that season, I examined and recorded all the excavated knapped artefacts from that and the several previous years’ excavations and began locating significant surface occurrences of lithic artefacts. In the final year of the programme, 1997, I returned with the specific brief of studying aspects of Aksumite lithic technologies. Several significant surface collections were studied in detail and a considerable amount of time was spent locating lithics exposures around Aksum, particularly in sectors 6, 8, 10 and 12, as described in this report. Those of the sites located in 1996 and 1997 which were still extant in 2006 are recorded in the comprehensive Survey [Fattovich, Tekle et al 2006] with numerical designations prefixed by the letters LP, and small collections from these sites are described in the present report. Regrettably, the fragility of the sites noticed in 1996 and 1997 was not then recognised and they were neither fully recorded nor were any of them excavated; many of them vanished during the ensuing decade without having been recorded. However, sufficient surface-exposed material was collected in 1997 to supplement that from the major excavations at Kidane Mehret and in Maleke Aksum in demonstrating that lithic tools were a significant part of the local material technology extending from the Pre-Aksumite to the Late Aksumite periods. This material is reported and illustrated in L.Phillipson 2000 a, b, c, 2002, and 2004. The 1993-7 research project was primarily sponsored by the British Institute in Eastern Africa and the Society of Antiquaries of London. I am pleased to have been able to participate in that research, and am grateful to its sponsors and to all the team members who made a study of the lithics possible and enjoyable. I am particularly indebted to and grateful for the support of my husband, the project’s most capable and well-organised director, who facilitated my return to archaeological fieldwork after a long hiatus and who has, among many other supportive acts, drawn the maps presented here as figures 1 and 2, and given timely and meticulous editorial advice on the present report.

Following these first three seasons of fieldwork, it was necessary to clarify initial hypotheses concerning the economic significance of Aksumite knapped tool production and use and to seek further evidence which might be used to construct a temporal sequence in lithic tool forms and technologies analogous to that which was being identified by others for the ceramic wares [Perlingieri 1999]. The opportunity to do this came in 2005, when I was invited to join Professor Fattovich and others, who were conducting research into the palaeoenvironment and ancient landscape of the Aksum area, working especially in sector 7 and parts of sectors 8 and 12 as defined in the present report [Fattovich 2005]. In 2006, I was again able to join Professor Fattovich and Tekle Hagos, who were completing an admirably thorough survey of archaeological sites in the vicinity of Aksum [Fattovich, Tekle et al 2006]. In those two season, my time was divided between contributing to the general programme of locating and recording archaeological sites, particularly in sectors 2 to 6 and 11 to 14, and making detailed studies of the numerous lithic collections which were acquired as a result of extensive fieldwalking. My participation in these two years of work was financed by a research grant from The British Academy, which I acknowledge with gratitude.

From 1993 to 2003, an Italian-American Joint Expedition, sponsored by the University of Naples “l’Orientale” and Boston University, and led by Professors R. Fattovich and K. Bard conducted an extensive programme of archaeological survey and excavation on Beta Giyorgis Hill, in the area encompassed by the eastern portion of sector 6 and most of sectors 7 and 9 as defined in the present report. Preliminary reports of this work have been published in Nyama Akuma. Publication of the final report on this

None of the work described in this report would have been possible without the ever helpful and courteous support of Ethiopian officials, colleagues, students, field assistants, hotel staff, and countless numbers of citizens, farmers and children who generously shared their local knowledge. Without naming individually each of the several hundred people who have contributed in one way or another to this study, I am gratefully indebted to every one of them. Behind the several projects in which I have participated were the regional and national officials and 7

LAUREL PHILLIPSON that such information is not necessarily entirely reliable. Of most use in helping to establish an outline chronology of the Aksumite lithic materials has been the assignment of ceramic sherds surface collected from the same sites as the lithics to the several periods from the Pre- to the PostAksumite and to the several phases within the Aksumite period. Such assignments, based on radiocarbon dates from excavated sites and on associated coins and datable, imported materials, have been made by A. Manzo and C. Perlingieri who, together with Professor R. Fattovich, have intensively studied the Aksumite ceramics [Perlingieri 1999]. Where diagnostic sherds have been observed or collected together with lithic artefacts, the period attributions of the sherds as supplied by these researchers are indicated for each collection described in this work. The chronological outline presented in the fourth chapter of this study is founded on the assumption that the lithic artefacts collected at individual sites can most probably be attributed to the same periods or range of periods as the sherds found exposed at those same sites. Most often, diagnostic sherds attributable to more than one temporal phase were recovered. Without excavation, it was not possible to know whether these sites had been repeatedly or continuously occupied. Whichever was the case, any suggestion that sites which have yielded only undiagnostic sherds or sherds attributable to more than one temporal period may have yielded knapped lithics entirely attributable to a single phase is difficult to defend. A few lithic sites exposed no sherds at all. More frequently, sites with at least some ceramic materials had very few or no knapped lithics; this was usually, but not invariably, the case at sites where the remains of ancient walls, mounds or heaps of drystone building rubble indicated the former existence of major architectural structures. As is discussed in the concluding chapters, knapped lithic artefacts were primarily associated with low-prestige, secular economic activities. Thus, they are found on residential sites which may have been occupied by ephemeral buildings which left no permanent architectural remains, but are largely absent from the near vicinity of non-residential structures, churches, administrative buildings and monuments.

authorities, including the Authority for Research and Conservation of the Cultural Heritage, commonly known as the ARCCH, who permitted and facilitated all aspects of the research, and to them, too, I am gratefully indebted. For better or for worse, all the drawings, photographs, conclusions and opinions presented in this work are my own. It is my hope that they may be bettered by future research. ~~~~~~~~ The definition of lithic industries largely based on unexcavated surface collections is a perilous business owing to the impossibility of establishing a firm chronology independently of the material being studied. It has been suggested that comparison of the thicknesses of naturally occurring hydration layers on obsidian and/or chert artefacts would permit the construction of an independently determined relative chronology for them, and that this type of study may appropriately be applied to surface-collected artefacts from the area between Aksum and Yeha in northern Tigrai [Michels 2005]. However, as is discussed by Anovitz et al [1999], obsidian hydration dating is at best only reliable in broad, relative terms as the rate of hydration formation and hence thickness of such layers is not constant, but is dependant upon the conditions of temperature and humidity to which the artefacts in question have been subjected. Since it cannot be demonstrated and is indeed most unlikely that these conditions were at all times identical for all the artefacts being compared in the present report, no use has been made of this approach. Another method used in the attempt to date lithic artefacts is by their association with other types of materials, most often ceramic sherds, occasionally charcoal, organic remains, coins or architectural elements which have themselves been directly or indirectly dated. While such associated dating is frequently reliable for assemblages of material recovered from the excavation of single-period sites or where a carefully controlled excavation has recorded an unambiguous stratigraphy, as was the case with the excavation of Mai Agam in sector 9 on the top of Beta Giyorgis, it is of uncertain reliability when applied to surface collected material. Since allowance must be made for the possible transportation of artefacts due to unknown chance factors, there can be no assurance that each item found on the surface at any given site is culturally or historically associated with it and, hence, with whatever else was found there. Unless particular styles or types or artefacts are already known from other, dated contexts, it cannot be assumed that the objects comprising a surface collection are necessarily associated with one another or that they may be assigned to a similar position in any absolute or relative chronology. One cannot postulate a priori whatever hypotheses one may wish to demonstrate.

Another set of characteristics of the surface collected lithic materials gives some further clues to assist with the establishment of at least a relative chronology. This concerns their general condition. Since the land around Aksum has been subjected to erosion and soil movement over a long period of time, and especially so within the past few decades, it cannot be assumed that anything found on the surface has been recovered in the same state as it was when its maker or user abandoned it. Sometimes, damage resulting from surface exposure has imposed more or less numerous scalene flake scars, similar to casual retouch, on the edges of flakes and flake fragments. Such random, non artefactual edge modification, which is easily mistaken for deliberate trimming, may entice the unwary to identify incorrectly many pieces as shallow-edged flake scrapers. In fact, shallow flake scrapers are only a very small component of the material recovered from any of the sites in the Aksum area. It has been noted that a few of the artefacts

Where, as in the present study, a plethora of small surface collections constitute most of the available evidence, the researcher is in a difficult position. It is necessary to work with what information is available, even while knowing 8



entered in the survey record, without anything being collected for further study. In addition, some sites recorded by other members of the survey team were noted to have had some exposed lithic material, a few pieces of which may have been collected for my examination. Such pieces are included in the lists, below. At other sites, the presence of lithics may have been noted, but nothing collected or seen by me, in which case the site is mentioned here, but no description of the lithics is possible. It is also likely that at some sites knapped lithics material was present but unobserved by other members of the team doing the field surveys which are recorded in the Survey Report. It is noticeable when reviewing the entirety of sites recorded by the survey team that there is an irregular distribution in the reported occurrence of lithic materials, such reports being much more numerous in those areas where I was one of the surveyors.

in some of the collections described here are more worn by random abrasion and edge chippings than others in the same collection. Where this occurs, it probably but not necessarily indicates that the more worn material is older than the less worn. While differences in the status of artefacts within a single collection at least suggest differences in age of the pieces, such comparisons are very much less significant when made between surface collections from different sites. Owing to the many uncertainties which attend the study of surface-collected lithics, the reader is advised not to suspend entirely his or her critical facilities when considering the material presented in this report. Nevertheless, the conclusions presented here are the result of five seasons of intensive field surveys, surface collecting, a few small excavations and much study of the lithic artefacts recovered from Aksum and its immediate hinterland. They constitute the best, and for the most part now the only source of information available on the Aksum lithics. During the decade in which this study was undertaken, and continuing at an ever increasing rate, the processes of soil erosion, stone quarrying and building consequent on the rapid expansion of the present-day Axum urban area have engulfed and destroyed a very large portion of the archaeological sites in the Aksum area, including almost all of those from which the collections described here were made. It was thus imperative that this material be put on record and that as much use as possible be made of it in assisting us to gain a more complete understanding of the development of the Aksumite material culture and economy.

Surveys of sites and lithics in the Aksum area have also been conducted by N. Finneran and by J. W. Michels, whose works are listed in the bibliography, and by A. L. Hawkins in north-eastern Tigray [D’Andrea et al 2008]. Little reference is made to their reports in this present work as the artefact descriptions in each of the respective publications are insufficiently detailed or illustrated to enable comparisons to be made with the material described here. Michels’ Changing Settlement Patterns in the Aksum-Yeha Region of Ethiopia: 700 BC – AD 850 is particularly inadequate in this respect. In his review of that monograph, Finneran suggests that, “this exercise would bear repeating, especially given the presence today of more advanced technologies and ceramic typologies which could furnish the sort of detailed and nuanced picture that Michels has attempted to produce” [Finneran 2006, p. 229]. For Aksum and its immediate hinterland, an exhaustive exercise of site location and recording conducted by Fattovich and. Hagos, assisted by Sernicola and myself, has produced such a work, which was completed in 2006. This work, referred to here as ‘The Survey’ has formed the basis of the present study. Sites are here listed and identified according to the reference numbers and gps readings recorded for them in this Survey, where additional information about their situations, soil types, present land use, and cross references to sites listed by Michels may be found. Likewise, the ascription in the present work of ceramic sherds and other associated finds at individual sites to particular time periods is as listed in The Survey, these ascriptions being the results of study by Fattovich and colleagues, especially Perlingieri and Manzo.

Almost all of the sites listed in this study have been visited by me and I have been responsible for observing and collecting samples of their lithic material. Owing to the disturbed and heavily eroded nature of all sites, it was considered that no good purpose would be served by making very extensive or systematic surface collections. The aim in every instance was to obtain a small, representative sample of whatever was exposed, including particularly tools, utilised pieces, and a samples of core types. Whole flakes are somewhat underrepresented and lithic fragments very much underrepresented in the collections described here. Where there was a particular reason for following a different collecting strategy, this is mentioned in the discussion for that site. At some sites, usually those which exposed few lithic fragments, but where no tools or cores could be found, the material was only observed in the field and a comment as to its possible or probable temporal period




Surface Collections and Excavated Assemblages As is mentioned in chapter two, above, the listing here of the archaeological sites, surface collections and excavated assemblages is according to the arbitrarily imposed geographical sectors in which they occur. Although each of these sectors tends to encompass a particular topographic feature, such as a hill top or valley slope, they should not be understood as having any particular significance other than that of presentational convenience. The sectors are shown in figure 2. ~~~~~~~~ sector 1 West of Beta Dura: 63° to 64° east/ 60° to 64° north Sector 1 encompasses the valley of the Dura river, with relevant sites clustered in a small area on the western slope of Beta Dura, centred on grid square 64 east/61 north and the northern part of square 64/60. ~~~~~~ 64 EAST 61 NORTH LP 61 1561126N/463759E This disturbed site had a low density of scattered lithics. The flake point has a shouldered, stepped butt with a slightly concave base; the single whole flake has a similarly stepped and shouldered proximal end. 1 chalcedony flake point, 24.6 x 16.6 x 6.5 mm [fig. 3] 1 chert bipolar core, 28.4 x 16.6 x 9.8 mm 1 chalcedony irregular core, 39.2 x 31.9 x 20.5 mm 1 chert irregular flake, 25.0 x 25.3 x 8.4 mm 1 chalcedony & 1 quartz chunks, 15.5 & 15.6 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.3 LP61; chalcedony unifacial flake point

~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-212 1561001N/37463738E This exposure of about 100 square metres, showed a medium density of Aksumite period sherds together with a medium density of lithics, including several cores, flakes and fragments. What are here and elsewhere termed bipolar cores are probably the fully worked-out, or exhausted remains, of the usually larger circumferential cores. Both core types appear to have been struck by indirect percussion, with the core held on another stone, which would have served as an anvil. In the last stages of their use, some of the almost-exhausted cores may have been reversed in order to obtain a few last flakes from them. Even without such a reversal, force would have been transmitted to the core both directly through the percussive tool and indirectly through the anvil. 10



2 chert bipolar cores, 23.5 x 28.4 x 16.4 & 26.9 x 28.2 x 14.3 mm 2 chert circumferential cores, 42.8 x 40.4 x 22.9 & 29.6 x 31.0 x 15.5 [fig. 4] 1 quartz irregular core, 31.4 mm maximum dimension 2 chert & 2 chalcedony parallel-sided flakes, 20.1 to 45.7 mm maximum dimensions 7 chert, 6 chalcedony & 1 quartz irregular flakes, 14.4 to 31.7 mm maximum dimensions 20 chert, 6 chalcedony, 2 siltstone flake fragments & chunks, 12.7 to 58.1 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.4 TgLM 05-06-212: chert circumferential core

~~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-216 1561242N/37463744E This small site, of about 100 square metres, had a medium density scatter of Aksumite and Post-Aksumite sherds, together with a small amount of what is probably a mixed collection of lithic artefacts. While the cores and some of the flakes are likely to be attributable to Aksumite, or even Pre-Aksumite, workmanship, the presence of a high proportion of randomly-struck chips and fragments tends to be characteristic of Post-Aksumite knapping. 1 chert & 1 chalcedony bipolar cores, 24.9 x 19.1 x 12.2 & 25.9 x 25.1 x 15.5 mm [figs 5a,b] 1 siltstone rejuvenating flake, 50.6 x 28.4 x 19.9 mm [fig. 5c] 1 siltstone sub-radial flake, 44.1 x 37.9 x 11.8 mm [fig. 5d] 1 chert, 4 chalcedony & 1 siltstone irregular flakes, 16.2 to 51.3 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert, 17 chalcedony & 6 quartz fragments, 12.4 to 39.8 mm maximum dimensions



Fig.5 TgLM 05-06-216: a) chert bipolar core; b) chalcedony bipolar core; c) chert redirecting flake; d) silicified sandstone flake

~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-220 1561693N/37463258E A site of about 300 square metres had a low density of scattered orange ware sherds with mica inclusions plus a few lithic artefacts which may, perhaps, be attributable to the Proto-Aksumite period. 1 chert & 1 basalt circumferential, sub-conical cores, 34.9 x 23.1 x 26.5 & 62.4 x 56.7 x 51.6 mm [fig. 6a,b] 1 chert radial flake, 43.5 x 44.4 x 19.5 mm 4 chert irregular flakes, 15.4 to 29.1 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~

Fig.6 TgLM 05-06-220: a) basalt circumferential core, note the triangular flake scar; b) chert circumferential core




~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-221 1561761N/37463299E A site of about 150 square metres with a medium density of potsherds attributable to Pre-, Proto- and Aksumite periods exposed a few lithics; the sizes and shapes of the whole flakes and the fact of their apparently having been struck by direct, stone-on-stone percussion suggests that they may be attributable to the Pre- or Proto-Aksumite period. Heavy step flaking at the base of the point is more characteristic of the Pre- and Proto-Aksumite than it is of the Early Aksumite and subsequent industries. 1 chert flake point, tip broken, 31.9 x 22.4 x 7.6 mm [fig. 7] 1 chert rejuvenating flake, 28.2 x 20.3 x 13.1 mm 1 chert & 1 basalt radial flakes, 39.8 x 42.0 x 12.3 & 43.4 x 40.7 x 17.6 mm 3 chert & 1 chalcedony irregular flakes, 20.3 to 35.4 mm maximum dimensions 4 chert chunks, 30.0 to 89.1 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.7 TgLM 05-06-221: chert unifacial flake point with stepped base

~~~~~~ An additional three sites with Aksumite and more recent sherds plus a few lithic fragments were also noted in this grid square. ~~~~~~ 64° EAST 60° NORTH TgLM 05-06-202 1560813N/37463599E This site of about 600 square metres exposed a high density of scattered potsherds attributable to the Early and Classic Aksumite phases together with a high density of lithic artefacts, probably deriving from several times of the site’s occupation. While the scrapers recorded here are Early and/or Classic Aksumite types, some of the larger flakes and perhaps the flake point may be earlier. Fine, stepped edge preparation on the sub-radial core and on several of the subconical, circumferential cores is comparable to that on cores from the excavated Early Aksumite assemblages from Mai Agam [sector 9] on Beta Giyorgis [L. Phillipson & Sulas 2005]. The chert point has a stepped shoulder similar to, but more pronounced than, those on the Mai Agam points. The largest of the sub-conical cores has been rendered concave on one side by the final flake removed from it. This, too, was a feature noted on some cores from Mai Agam. 1 crystal quartz steep scraper, 85° edge angle, 25.6 x 23.9 x 12.1 mm [fig. 8c] 1 chert convex scraper, 60° edge angle, 25.2 x 34.2 x 9.0 mm [fig. 8b] 1 chert flake point, 30.8 x 18.9 x 8.4 mm [fig. 8a] 1chert & 3 chalcedony bipolar cores, 16.9 to 31.9 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 8d] 3 chert sub-conical cores, 20.4 to 29.7 x 17.7 to 28.9 x 14.3 to 15.6 mm 1 chert sub-conical core, 33.4 x 23.5 x 15.2 mm 1 chert sub-radial core, 36.7 x 33.4 x 11.4 mm 1 chert & 1 chalcedony irregular cores, 37.8 to 54.7 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert overstruck flake, 13.5 x 19.9 x 4.3 mm [fig. 8e] 1 chert sub-radial flake. 32.8 x 31.5 x 9.4 mm 13

LAUREL PHILLIPSON 9 chert & 6 chalcedony irregular flakes,13.7 to 49.8 mm maximum dimensions 12 chert, 49 chalcedony & 5 quartz fragments & chunks, 14.4 to 58.7 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.8 TgLM 05-06-202: a) chert bifacial point; b) chert scraper; c) crystal quartz scraper; d) chert bipolar core; e) chert overstruck flake

~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-210 1560946N/37463599E This site of about 50 square metres exposed a low density of Aksumite orange ware sherds together with a medium density of lithic material. Except in the predominant use of chalcedony rather than chert as a raw material, the small collection from this site looks similar to that from TgLM 05-06-202, with an emphasis on the production of flakes most probably struck by indirect percussion from small pieces of stone held on a hard anvil. This bipolar technique was certainly used for flake removals from what are classed as bipolar cores and was probably also used with the subconical cores. It is unlikely to have been used on the sub-radial core, which would most probably have been struck by direct percussion using a small, hard implement such as the edge of a metal blade. At both sites, the relative abundance of small flake fragments and chunks suggests that they were places where flakes were produced for use or for manufacture into retouched tools. The presence of a variety of core shapes suggests a less standardised system of knapping, and perhaps the production of a greater range of flake tool types, than were found at Mai Agam [sector 9] and at other Early and Classic Aksumite sites in and around Aksum. 1 quartz crystal, 20.8 mm maximum dimension 3 chalcedony bipolar cores, 19.5 to 27.2 x 16.7 to 21.9 x 15.6 to 19.4 mm 1 chalcedony sub-conical core, 22.7 x 22.3 x 16.9 mm 1 chalcedony sub-radial core, 27.7 x 27.4 x 14.3 mm 3 chert, 4 chalcedony & 1 quartz irregular flakes, 20.1 to 42.3 mm maximum dimensions 5 chert, 42 chalcedony & 11 quartz fragments & chunks, 10.2 to 42.3 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-211 1560958N/37463612E This site, whose small size of just 25 square metres and high density of lithic materials identifies it as a workshop for the production of small flake tools, exposed just two sherds of Aksumite orange ware. If, as is likely in view of the larger sizes of the multiplatform relative to the bipolar cores, the multiplatform cores represent earlier stages in a knapping process which when carried to its conclusion produced bipolar cores as a discarded waste product, it is possible that we have here the evidence of a single knapping strategy carried out by a single individual, perhaps over a very short period of time. A particularly interesting piece is the rejuvenating flake – a narrow flake struck along the core’s edge, at right angles to the principal direction of flake removals. This example has a curved dorsal surface which resembles that of a crescent or a unifacially backed blade and signs on the opposed long edge of its having been utilised, probably as a small knife. 14



1 crystal quartz flake point, 29.9 x 16.7 x 7.5 mm [fig. 9a] 3 chalcedony bipolar cores, 19.3 to 23.5 mm maximum dimensions 2 chalcedony multiplatform cores, 25.7 & 35.8 mm maximum dimensions 2 chalcedony irregular cores, 23.4 & 30.8 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert rejuvenating flake, utilised on long edge; 43.0 x 21.2 x 13.2 mm [fig. 9b] 5 chert & 1 chalcedony parallel-sided flakes, 27.1 to 38.6 mm 8 chert, 20 chalcedony & 1 quartz irregular flakes, 16.5 to 30.8 mm maximum dimensions 10 chert, 66 chalcedony & 10 quartz fragments & chunks, 10.9 to 36.8 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.9 TgLM 05-06-211: a) crystal quartz unifacial flake point; b) chert redirecting flake from a circumferential core, not a backed flake

~~~~~~ sector 2 North of Beta Dura: 64° to 66° east / 63° to 66° north & 66° to 67° east / 64° to 65° north This area, Ketet Ekeli and Golo, at the north-western extremity of the Aksum conurbation, had only limited evidence of Aksumite, sensu lato, occupation. ~~~~~~ 65° EAST 64° NORTH TgLM 05-06-122 1564958N/37464858E A settlement of about 40 000 square metres is reported to have had a low density of Aksumite orange ware sherds, grinding stones and some lithics including obsidian flakes. ~~~~~~ 66° EAST 64° NORTH LP 51 1564966N/37465097E Local people report finding small amounts of native gold, as well as Aksumite pottery and occasional coins here in an exposure of sandy, disintegrated-rock soil. This site is less than 3 km distant from Mistah Werki Asbah, which may have been used for the recovery of locally-occurring native gold [L. Phillipson 2006]. No lithic artefacts were found at this site, but we were shown a finely retouched, bifacial obsidian tanged point, about 35 mm long, which was said to have come from “a place near by”. ~~~~~~


LAUREL PHILLIPSON TgLM 05-06-126 1564167N/374657008E A unifacial flake point, perhaps a spear head, is the only lithic artefact found at this site of about 5000 square metres, where Proto- and Early Aksumite sherds, brick and dressed stone remains are exposed. The style of the point, which has been knapped by stone-on-stone direct percussion, is unlike that of the fine knapping techniques characteristically used for Early Aksumite tool production, but would not be out of place in a Pre-Aksumite collection. It is not, however, possible to make a definitive attribution on the basis of single finds such as this. 1 chert flake point, 52.6 x 40.9 x 11.7 mm [fig. 10]

Fig.10TgLM 05-06-127: sandy chert unifacial point

~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-127 1564184N/37465800E A high density of Early and Classic Aksumite red ware sherds and extremely sparse lithics, including a single polyhedral chert core, were reported to have been found here on the site of a recent, ruined house. ~~~~~~ 67° EAST 64° NORTH LP 53 1564945N/374661638E Beta Melata was climbed to see whether at any earlier period there had been occupation on exposed hill tops where there are not now settlements or homesteads, as this might give an indication of former population pressures and settlement distribution. At an altitude of 2250 metres, this small site is located on a bleak, windy slope which retains only a thin remnant soil cover and has much exposed bare rock, near the summit of the hill. It is well above other sites in the surrounding areas. All that remained to be seen of what may have been an isolated homestead were a few chalcedony chips and fragments, 1 utilised quartz crystal and some small, very attrited fragments of coarse red, generic Aksumite sherds. ~~~~~~ Two additional small sites, probably individual homesteads, with a little chert, chalcedony and obsidian knapping debris were located in this grid square; one had a few associated sherds of Aksumite coarse red ware. ~~~~~~




66° EAST 63° NORTH TgLM 05-06-129 1563464N/37465923E Approximately 10 square metres’ exposure of sparse chert flake fragments and a few flakes with no associated ceramic material may be the remnants of a minor lithic workshop. ~~~~~~ sector 3 Beta Dura: 64° to 66° east / 60° to 63° north This sector covers the top of Beta Dura plus its northern, Golo, and southern, Gobo Dura, slopes. Most unfortunately, the many archaeological sites and dense scatters of lithic material noted on the southern slopes of Beta Dura in 1996 and 1997 were not then recorded, as, when revisited a decade later, they had been entirely destroyed and obliterated by recent stone quarrying. More numerous and somewhat better preserved sites on the northern slope of Beta Dura include both isolated homesteads and much larger sites. Not included in the area surveyed in 2006, several intensively worked syenite quarries on the summit of Beta Dura were recorded [Phillips and Ford 2000]. ~~~~~~ 65° EAST 62° NORTH Two basalt, irregularly sub-radial flakes (52.6 & 48.9 mm) and a few other artefacts whose abraded condition and general appearance suggest that they may perhaps be attributable to a mode 3 or “Middle Stone Age” industry were found at two sites in this square. The attribution of cultural affiliations or temporal periods to such isolated finds is at best problematic. ~~~~~~ LP 49 1563319N/37466158E This was a small exposure of lithic material of indeterminate period, possibly Pre- or Proto-Aksumite, without associated sherds. 1 chert multi-platform core tending towards radial, plano-convex, 47.5 x 36.8 x 26.1 mm 1 chert casual core, 63.7 x 38.8 x 33.7 mm 1 chert parallel sided flake, weathered, 79.7 x 34.9 x 15.8 mm [fig. 11]



Fig.11 LP49: sandy chert blade

~~~~~~ TgLM 04-06-112 1562453N/37464479E This site of about 100 square metres exposed a probably mixed collection of redeposited lithic material, including two cores of heavy, coarse brown chert; these may be described as being of “Middle Stone Age type”, but such a designation is only tentative as limited collections made at Hwalti [sector 16] and at Melka [sector 17] demonstrate that the production sub-radial cores, core tools and of non-microlithic flakes by direct, hard-hammer percussion was also characteristic of a macrolithic Pre-Aksumite tradition. Whether the pieces found here are additional examples of the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite as the term is used in this publication, or derive from a much earlier time period or periods cannot be determined from the available evidence. The same uncertainty applies with equal force to surface-collected artefacts from this and other sites which are described as possibly attributable to periods before the Pre-Aksumite; available evidence makes it clear that morphological characteristics cannot be equated with temporal attributions. 1 basalt trimmed flake, 37.9 x 37.1 x 23.2 [fig. 12b] 1 chert multiplatform core, 54.1 x 44.5 x 44.3 mm [fig. 12e] 1 chert biconvex radial core, 70.2 x 61.3 x 31.6 mm [fig. 12a] 1 basalt parallel-sided flake, 58.3 x 36.0 x 16.7 mm [fig. 12c] 1 basalt irregular flake, 43.9 x 44.5 x 8.7 mm [fig. 12d] 1 chert & 1 basalt fragment, 52.6 & 35.7 mm maximum dimensions




Fig.12 TgLM 04-06-112: a) basalt biconvex radial core, weathered; b), c) basalt trimmed flakes; d) basalt flake; e) chert core

~~~~~~ 66° EAST 62° NORTH LP 32 = TgLM 109 1562921N/37465390E This heavily disturbed site, which encompasses an area of at least 20 000 square metres and is probably that of a large Aksumite building excavated by de Contenson [1981] in 1958, is marked by a large quantity of undressed building rubble whose distribution suggest the former presence of at least two monumental buildings on a small knoll. The site exposed a moderate density of Aksumite sherds, but only sparse lithics which may perhaps have derived from several 19

LAUREL PHILLIPSON Aksumite periods. A light hydration layer on all surfaces of a rectangular flake scraper indicates that it is most probably older than the other, unhydrated, artefacts found at this site, without giving any indication of its probable age. 1 chert rectangular flake scraper, 60° edge angle, 43.8 x 25.8 x 11.2 mm 1 chert denticulate flake scraper, 80° edge angle, 24.3 x 26.7 x 9.0 mm 1 chert notched flake, 31.2 x 21.3 x 9.4 mm 1 chert opposed-platform core 1 irregular chert core, 43.2 mm maximum dimension 1 chert irregular flake, 37.8 mm maximum dimension 3 chert fragments, 23.6 to 37.9 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~ LP 33 = TgLM 102 1562875N/37465767E Except on its western edge, where it has been destroyed by recent quarrying, this important site of more than 10 000 square metres has an apparently intact archaeological deposit with a high density of lithic material, a medium density of Proto-Aksumite and Aksumite sherds including an almost complete flat-rimmed vessel with an applied snake; there is almost no building rubble. Its name, Mai Aine Ambesa [lion spring], may be of considerable antiquity. This site may have been a clustered residential area associated with the nearby site LP 32, particularly if the monumental building on that site was preceded by earlier phases of occupation. A local farmer reported that one of the existing houses on this site has Aksumite foundations, but we did not have permission to visit it. He also told us that in 2004 he had collected from the area many cupfuls of obsidian chips and some quartz crystals, which he sold to a visiting foreigner. A concatenation of features including heavy step flaking on core and flake platform edges, the absence from this collection of small steep scrapers, the frequent presence of bipolar cores and flakes, and the variability of core and flake morphologies distinguishes this collection from others which are attributable to Early Aksumite and subsequent industries. Most probably, the entire collection may be attributed either to the Proto-Aksumite period or to a mixture of Proto- and Early Aksumite material. Comparison of the flake points illustrated here [fig. 13b,c] with those from Mai Agam in sector 9 shows the much heavier step-flaked striking platform edges which are characteristic of ProtoAksumite flakes and flake tools as compared with the same feature on similar Early Aksumite artefacts. Except for their material being chert rather than obsidian (and consequently having less pronounced core detachment features on the ventral faces of their distal ends), the bipolar flakes are similar to the Likanos flakes recovered from excavations at Kidane Mehret in sector 12. Wear on the obsidian crescent, which is heavier than but similar to that on specimens from Kidane Mehret [L. Phillipson 2000c, fig. 318], is discussed and illustrated in chapter five, below. 1 obsidian flake point, broken, 24.8 x 19.2 x 4.6 [fig. 13b] 1 chert flake point, 25.7 x 17.6 x 5.9 [fig. 13c] 1 chert convex scraper, 60° edge angle, 33.9 x 31.6 x 12.8 mm 1 obsidian crescent, heavily utilised, 22.1 x 7.1 x 2.7 [fig. 13a, pls 13, 14] 11 quartz crystals, crushed, utilised tips, 17.3 to 31.5 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert bipolar cores, 24.7 x 22.3 x 11.8 & 49.5 x 29.2 x 12.8 mm [fig. 13e,f] 1 chert & 3 chalcedony multiplatform cores, 35.5 to 52.3 mm maximum dimensions 4 chert & 1 chalcedony sub-radial cores, 42.4 to 54.1 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 13h,i] 1 chalcedony conical, circumferential core, 29.6 x 27.7 x 21.6 mm [fig. 13g] 2 chert, 4 chalcedony & 1 quartz irregular cores, 25.7 to 56.4 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert & 1 obsidian rejuvenating flakes, 57.0 x 30.7 x 17.6 & 40.5 x 18.7 x 12.4 mm 3 chert bipolar, parallel-sided flakes, 39.9 to 46.8 x 20.0 to 31.8 x 7.1 to 11.0 mm [fig. 13d] 1 chalcedony radial flake, 27.0 mm maximum dimension 18 chert, 3 chalcedony, 3 quartz & 8 obsidian irregular flakes, 10.6 to 50.1 mm maximum dimensions 24 chert, 34 chalcedony, 7 quartz & 20 obsidian fragments and chunks, 7.7 to 48.6 mm maximum dimensions




Fig.13 LP33: a) obsidian crescent, unifacially trimmed, heavily worn at tip; b) obsidian unifacial, shouldered flake point, broken; c) chert unifacial, shouldered flake point; d) sandy chert flake, possibly a broken point; e), f) chert bipolar cores; g) chalcedony conical core; h) chert radial core, bipolar on reverse; i) chert sub-radial core, partly bifacial

~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-124 1562622N/37465138E This site of approximately 300 square metres exposed low density scatters of lithics and of Early Aksumite sherds. 3 chalcedony bipolar cores, 15.2 to 22.9 x 18.0 to 24.5 x 10.5 to 17.1 mm 1 utilised quartz crystal, 28.9 x 13.3 x 12.1 mm 1 chalcedony rejuvenating flake, 15.7 x 29.5 x 9.1 mm 5 chalcedony irregular flakes, 15.9 to 25.6 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert, 13 chalcedony & 2 quartz fragments & chunks, 12.8 to 39.6 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ Among other sites recorded in this square are the remains of a possibly Aksumite wall alongside the road from Golo to Filfil, two large sites with Early and Middle Aksumite sherds but almost no lithic material, and another settlement site with Aksumite sherds and the mounded remains of a monumental building which likewise exposed almost no lithic material. Two small sites, probably of isolated homesteads, had small amounts of Aksumite sherds and sparse, perhaps Proto- or Early Aksumite, lithics including a chert biconvex, radial core (19.8 mm). Chisel marks indicative of ancient 21

LAUREL PHILLIPSON quarrying of an iron-rich stone (perhaps ferrocrete) at 1562648N/3746533E were noted in 2005, but had been entirely obliterated by stone quarrying in 2006. A black-stained circular patch of soil, about 3 metres in diameter, with many lumps of heavy, glassy slag at 1562277N/37465279E with no evidence of a built furnace or kiln structure may have been pre-modern, but is unlikely to have been ancient. ~~~~~ 66° EAST 61° NORTH Two very large sites with much undressed building rubble including the remnants of ancient drystone walls are located in this square, at each of which a very few non-diagnostic chert flakes and fragments were found in association with Early Aksumite and generic Aksumite ceramic sherds. ~~~~~~ sector 4 South-west of Aksum: 64° to 68° east / 58° to 60° north Sector 4 covers Adi Hankera, a sparsely settled hill about 2.5 kilometres south-west of central Aksum and the valley bottom between it and Beta Dura. Lithic material was found at only two sites in this sector. ~~~~~~ 65° EAST 58° NORTH TgLM 05-06-223 1558054N/37464484E This very eroded site of about 2500 square metres exposed a low density scatter of Aksumite sherds together with a small amount of lithic material. 1 chalcedony multiplatform core, 53.4 x 44.1 x 37.2 mm 1 chert sub-radial core, 1.9 x 33.7 x 21.4 mm 1 chert parallel-sided flake, 24.1 mm maximum dimension 4 chert & 2 chalcedony irregular flakes, 19.8 to 30.6 mm maximum dimensions 31 chert, 21 chalcedony & 2 obsidian flakes and fragments, 12.5 to 47.4 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~ Another site of about 400 square metres in this square exhibited a small amount of knapping debris, including a few flakes with heavily step-flaked edges to their striking platforms. ~~~~~~ sector 5 Adi Tsehafi: 66° to 68° east / 65° to 67° north This densely settled hilly area north of Aksum is centred on several monolithic carved stone tanks whose function has been interpreted as vessels for the water-assisted recovery of native gold [L. Phillipson 2006]. In many places this area has been subjected to more than a metre in depth of soil loss between 1995 and 2006. Virtually all hill slopes have been severely eroded by the recent cultivation of grazing lands that were formerly left unploughed. Consequently, there has been an extensive loss of archaeological information and the disappearance of sites which had been noticed, but unfortunately not recorded, a decade previously. In addition to the sites listed here, numerous places were seen where a few lithic artefacts may have marked a previously intact site, but might equally probably have been redeposited out of context. The locations of such findspots were not recorded and material was not collected from them. ~~~~~~ 22



68° EAST 66° NORTH One site in this square had an exposure of Post-Aksumite brown ware sherds and a few haphazardly struck lithic fragments and chunks, such as result from the non-systematic bashing of stone on stone. Three other sites had small scatters of probably Early or Classic Aksumite lithics associated with low densities of orange ware sherds; a chert bipolar core measured 41.4 x 48.5 x 34.4 mm. ~~~~~~ 68° EAST 65° NORTH TgLM 05-06-172 1565648N/37467229E This site, of about 200 square metres, exhibited a low density scatter of Aksumite orange ware sherds and PostAksumite grey ware, together with a medium density scatter of lithics. Among the lithics, the presence of a relatively large proportion of unsystematically struck chunks together with few flakes is attributable to a Post-Aksumite period of occupation. The more carefully struck cores, however, were most probably produced during Aksumite times. 1 chert high-backed, circumferential core on a thick flake, 57.5 x 51.8 x 27.2 mm 3 chalcedony sub-conical cores, 26.0 to 31.7 x 23.0 x 26.5 x 11.6 x 19.2 mm 1 chalcedony multiplatform core, 34.9 mm maximum dimension 1 chert & 1 crystalline quartz irregular cores, 40.7 & 42.4 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony bipolar struck flake, 17.9 x 20.2 x 6.5 mm 2 chert & 4 chalcedony irregular flakes, 17.0 to 36.2 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert, 24 chalcedony & 1quartz chunks & fragments, 9.5 to 40.1 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-174 1565822N/37567387E This small site, of about 200 square metres, had a low density of Post-Aksumite, black ware sherds together with a medium density of rough and irregular lithics including cores and flakes and a large preponderance of chunks and fragments, only a small sample of which was collected. The lack of standardisation, use of a simple stone-on-stone hard hammer technique for the almost uncontrolled striking of irregular flakes, and the absence of finely trimmed microliths are characteristic features of Post-Aksumite knapping. However, the use of hard hammer, stone-on-stone knapping applied to sub-radial cores with heavily step-flaked edges is also characteristic of the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite tradition as found at Hwalti [sector 16]. Whether any portion of the material found at this site may be attributed to the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite tradition cannot be determined from the surface collection. 1 chalcedony sub-conical core, 26.4 x 25.7 x 19.9 mm 1 chalcedony multiplatform core, 53.1 x 38.7 x 29.2 mm 2 chert sub-radial cores with heavy battering and step flaking on their edges, 29.0 & 44.2 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony & 1 silicified sandstone irregular cores; 34.7 & 40.2 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert, 6 chalcedony, 2 quartz & 2 silicified sandstone irregular flakes, 12.1 to 34.6 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert, 20 chalcedony 3 quartz & 3 silicified sandstone fragments & chunks, 13.2 to 42.4 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-185 1565736N/37467465E This site of about 400 square metres, where a very little nondiagnostic lithic material was exposed together with a few Aksumite sherds, was probably that of an isolated farmstead. 1chert sub-radial flake, 29.0 x 34.5 x 0.3 mm 3 chalcedony irregular flakes, 13.7 to 25.3 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony, 5 chert, 4 quartz & 4 silicified sandstone fragments, 14.7 to 34.4 mm maximum dimensions


LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-186 1565710N/37467537E This site of approximately 2500 square metres is on a hill top with dispersed drystone rubble probably indicative of a collapsed building. Found at the site were sherds attributable to the Early and Classic Aksumite phases together with a very few pieces of knapped lithics. The small, steep scraper with its neatly trimmed and smoothly rounded distal edge is a good example of the most typical Classic Aksumite form. 1 grey chert steep scraper, heavily utilised, edge angle 75°, 25.4 x 21.1 x 12.9 [fig. 14] 1 irregular chert flake, 60.9 mm maximum dimension 1 quartz fragment, 16.8 mm maximum dimension

Fig.14 TgLM 05-06-186: chert scraper, heavily use-worn

~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-187 1565723N/37467617E This site, of approximately 400 square metres, had a medium density of scattered orange ware sherds mainly attributable to the Aksumite period and some lithics which probably derive from several periods. While the multiplatform core, obsidian flake and a basalt object are probably Aksumite, the preponderance in the material exposed of randomly shaped chunks and fragments looks indicative of Post-Aksumite stone bashing. A unique sub-cylindrical basalt object is broken at one end and has opposed, end-stopped, longitudinal, rubbed grooves; no suggestion is offered as to its possible purpose. 1 chalcedony multiplatform core, 35.5 x 27.6 x 21.4 4 chert, 1 chalcedony, 1 obsidian irregular flakes, 16.8 to 21.1 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert 5 chalcedony, 2 quartz & 17 silicified sandstone chunks and fragments, 11.2 to 229.2 mm maximum dimensions 1 basalt, smoothed, sub-cylindrical object with longitudinal grooves, 60.5 x 48.5 x 49.9 mm; grooves 8.0 to 10.0 mm deep ~~~~~~ Two other sites, each of about 5000 square metres, in the same square had scatters of what appeared to be mainly PostAksumite lithic fragments associated Post-Aksumite black and brown ware sherds and some Aksumite orange ware. A third site exposed a chalcedony irregular core, a few chalcedony flakes and an obsidian bipolar flake (57.3 x 25.7 x 9.3 mm) similar to the Likanos flakes illustrated in L. Phillipson 2000c, fig. 320 a, b, c. ~~~~~~




sector 6 West of Aksum: 66° to 68° east / 60° to 64° north The area between Beta Giyorgis and Beta Dura, encompassing parts of Golo, Gobo Dura, Asbah, Sefeho and Mai Abeqat Godif, was noted in 1995 and 1996 to abound with small sites typified by clearly defined surface exposures of ceramic and lithic material. These sites were regularly spaced out along the eastern footslope of Beta Dura and the western slope of Beta Giyorgis. In the southern part of the area, where it opens out onto the wide plain west of Aksum, extensive surface exposures of lithic and ceramic remains were noted [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 433-49]. Few of these sites and very little of the formerly abundant archaeological material could be re-located in 2005 and 2006. Urban expansion, heavy soil erosion and extensive stone quarrying during the intervening years has erased many sites and reduced those which could be relocated to thin superficial smears of redeposited material. Especially on the central and northern part of the western foot slopes of Beta Giyorgis and on the eastern slopes of Beta Dura, the sites of isolated homesteads are marked by the presence, in varying proportions, of small amounts of ceramic and lithic material. Usually, as at LP 8, these sites occupied a levelled space, cleared of rocks or obstructions, on the uphill side of one or several large boulders or rock outcrops, sometimes on the edge of an informally terraced area, at the margin of cultivable fields. They are rarely indicated by any remains of stone building rubble or compound walls. In all instances where diagnostic sherds were found, such sites are attributable to the Early and/or Classic Aksumite periods, but are not more closely dateable. Larger walled sites, residential compounds or hamlets, are found nearer to Aksum, in the southern part of this sector and also around the northern slopes of Beta Dura. At these larger sites, lithic artefacts tend to be few in number and concentrated near the margins rather than evenly distributed throughout the area of later and larger Aksumite sites, as at LP 19 and LP 37; they are more abundant and widely distributed on earlier sites, as at LP 33 in sector 3. A third type of site, that of monumental, non-residential buildings, usually has very little or no evidence of lithic tool production or use. ~~~~~~ 68° EAST 63° NORTH LP 8, Dembe Bereka 1563510N/37467447E When the areas on the western foot-slopes of Beta Giyorgis and the eastern slopes of Beta Dura were visited in 1996 and 1997, the presence was noted of many apparently intact small archaeological sites, each marked by a clearly delineated scatter of variable amounts of microliths and Aksumite potsherds, very few of which showed any signs of stone walls or other masonry features. These sites, preferentially situated in small, flat, probably artificially levelled areas on the uphill sides of large boulders or natural rock outcrops close to the junction between the hill slopes and the valley bottom soils, were tentatively identified as the remains of moderately prosperous rural houses, farmsteads or workshops. It was planned in 2005 to excavate several such sites in order to recover economic and other information from this as yet uninvestigated type of Aksumite residence. Unfortunately, soil erosion, intensive cultivation and, in some instances, quarrying for building stone had removed all visible traces of many sites and reduced others to slight, superficial traces of redeposited lithics and degraded potsherds. Only this one site looked as if it might have retained some intact archaeological deposits. The site of Dembe Bereka is an artificially levelled area, devoid of rocky scree, on a low western spur of Beta Giyorgis Hill, close to the Aksumite road around the western flank of the hill. It is sheltered on its east by the steep hillside and on its west by a large, upstanding rock outcrop, and overlooks cultivatable fields to the north and south. Two surface collections were made: collection A from the lower margins of the site; B from the ploughed field immediately adjacent to the site on its northern edge. Lithic material in these two collections, both of which included Late Aksumite sherds, appeared to be homogenous. A grid of 4 metres by 3 metres was marked out, but owing to the paucity of material found in the first two 1-metre squares, these were not extended. The excavations were stopped when it became clear that stratigraphic unit 3 was devoid of artefacts. All material from square 1C was sieved through a 10 mm mesh screen; square 1B was not sieved. The top 100 mm of deposit, su1, was a moderately compacted, fine, silty red coluvial soil, almost free of stones, with no large roots, no plough marks on the surrounding rocks or other signs of significant disturbance. The next level, su2, was steeply sloped on its interface with su3, being 300 mm deep on its eastern edge, 480 mm deep on its western edge. The soil of su2 was similar in texture to su1, but slightly browner and with sparser grass and small plant roots. Large, dark grey, undecorated sherds from a single vessel recovered from su2 were the only artefacts found in any part of the excavation. The top of su3 was an old land surface with natural stone spalls, mainly with maximum lengths of 150 to 250 mm, lying horizontally and a compacted area of reddish clay, probably related to an ants’ nest in one corner of square 1C. 25


Study by Perlingieri has attributed the surface-collected sherds to generic Aksumite and/or Late Aksumite phases, but the excavated sherds to the Post-Aksumite. This unexpected attribution raises some interesting questions about the dating of the lithics recovered from redeposited superficial contexts. These surface-collected lithics appear to be Aksumite, not Post-Aksumite, with the one distinctive piece, the obsidian bipolar core, probably attributable to not later than the Classic Aksumite phase. Unless the production of carefully made microlithic tools continued into the PostAksumite period, a possibility for which there is no evidence from any sites within the surveyed area, more complicated stratigraphic processes may have been at work than were revealed by the small trial excavation. The most probable explanation is that, as elsewhere, soil erosion had displaced the scanty Aksumite remains which were found on the surface, while the buried sherds were a later feature with no significant stratigraphic relationship to the surfacecollected lithics. However, much further research remains to be done on the material culture, economics and dating of sites in Aksum’s immediate rural hinterland. Surface Collection A 1 obsidian bipolar core, 17.6 x 16.6 x 7.2 mm 2 chert & 2 chalcedony irregular flakes, 26.3 to 23.0 mm maximum dimensions 4 chert, 21 chalcedony & 1 quartz fragments, 10.1 to 32.5 mm maximum dimensions Surface Collection B 1 polyhedrally trimmed basalt cobble with a flat face, perhaps an upper grindstone [cf. L. Phillipson 2001], not utilised, 88.6 x 95.5 x 63.9 mm 1 chert blade, 21.8 mm maximum dimension 4 chert & 3 quartz irregular flakes, 16.0 to 40.1 mm maximum dimensions 3 chert fragments, 22.7 to 25.6 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ LP 17 1563942N/37467048E This is an isolated homestead, of about 150 square metres, on top of a small knoll, with a medium density exposure of Early and Classic Aksumite sherds plus some lithic material. 1 yellow chert, high-backed endscraper, 37.1 x 20.8 x 18.7 mm [fig. 15] 1 chert casual core, abraded and patinated, 56.1 x 39.8 x 36.0 mm 1 chert triangular flake, 46.4 mm maximum dimension 1 chert & 1 obsidian radial flakes, 38.5 28.7 mm maximum dimensions 3 chert fragments, 26.7 to 32.9 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.15 LP17: yellow chert scraper with finely denticulated edge (=Gudit scraper that has not been resharpened)




~~~~~~ An additional four small sites in this square exposed a few chert, chalcedony, quartz and obsidian flakes and fragments together with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds. Also in this square, close to LP 17, is an exposure of grey-green, fine-grained siltstone or silty chert which matches in appearance the material used for the manufacture of macrolithic blades excavated by Finneran from two rockshelters, both in the Aksum area, [ Finneran 2000a; 2000b; 2000c pp 22-26]. The assemblages with those blades have been dated to approximately 10 000 years ago; the material of which they were made was not much used in later times. ~~~~~~ 67° EAST 63° NORTH LP 18 1563555N/37466867E Here, the main exposure with a high density of Early and Classic Aksumite potsherds covered an area of about 500 square metres of what was in fact a larger site with remains of ancient drystone walling. A sparse scatter of lithic flakes and fragments was associated with the ceramic material. Although of different shapes, the one being high-backed with a splayed plan shape and the other more simply convex, the two scrapers are of similar very fine workmanship and material. Aksumite lithic tool production was at its apogee for quality and, most probably, quantity during the Early and Classic phases, and these scrapers are good examples of that quality. 2 glassy chert convex scrapers, 29.2 x 24.5 x 10.3 & 24.7 x 25.4 x 13.2 mm [fig. 16a,b] 1 chert casual core, 70.1 x 64.1 x 32.8 mm 1 chalcedony flake, 21.6 mm maximum dimension 1 chert & 1 obsidian fragments, 18.2 & 17.2 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.16 LP18: a), b) glassy chert scrapers, utilised

~~~~~~ LP 40 1562987N/37466403E This is the find-spot of a redeposited, abraded and more recently damaged, cordate shaped biface which may perhaps be described as of “Early Stone Age” or “early Middle Stone Age” type and compared with other isolated finds of bifaces previously made in the same general area [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 17-22]. There is, however, no evidence of its actual age. The macrolithic Pre-Aksumite tradition [cf figs 73 & 75] may have produced similar roughly-trimmed bifaces, and on some parts of the African continent, the production of stout bifacial forms continued alongside the production of much smaller flake tools until comparatively recent times [L. Phillipson 1978]. Although this particular implement may have derived from any period up to and including the Pre-Aksumite, a much earlier age, previous to the harsh climatic conditions which ameliorated about 10 000 years ago, seems more probable on account of its heavily weathered condition. The same can also be said for the occasional isolated finds of rolled and abraded large flakes and radial cores 27

LAUREL PHILLIPSON made in this general area and which are described as being of “Middle Stone Age type”. Such pieces are perhaps best attributable to sometime(s) before the climatic deterioration which ameliorated with the ending of the last ice age, but nothing more can be surmised about them. 1 chert cordate biface, 72.8 x 63.6 x 33.0 mm [fig 17]

Fig.17 LP40: chert biface, heavily weathered

~~~~~~ LP 41 1563070N/37466361E Careful search of this site, of about 450 square metres, revealed a medium density scatter of lithics, which included no tools or utilised pieces, together with two Proto-Aksumite sherds. The lithics found here closely resemble those in the larger collection made at the site of Mai Aine Ambesa, LP 33 in sector 3. As LP 41 seems to have been a single-period residential site, which unlike many others was not repeatedly reoccupied, these cores and flakes may all be representative of a local Proto-Aksumite tradition. 1 chalcedony multiplatform core, 34.6 x 31.7 x 15.5 mm [fig. 18a] 1 chert & 1 chalcedony irregular cores, 31.8 & 41.2 mm maximum dimensions 6 chert & 7 siltstone irregular flakes, 17.3 to 42.7mm and 29.6 to 56.8 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 18b,c,d] 4 chert & 2 siltstone flake fragments, 23.6 to 54.5 mm maximum dimensions 14 chert, 8 chalcedony, 1 siltstone chunks, 13.7 to 43.5 mm maximum dimensions




Fig.18 LP41: a) chalcedony bipolar core; b) sandy chert core

~~~~~~ 05/19 1563426N/3746692E This isolated homestead site of about 240 square metres exposed a moderate density of lithics together with a high density of red sherds attributable to the Early and/or Classic Aksumite phases and two glass fragments. The presence of exclusively obsidian lithics recovered here is unusual in the Aksum area. 1 obsidian crescent, bifacially backed, broken tip & utilised edge, 17.3 x 5.9 x 2.5 mm [fig. 19] 1 obsidian core fragment or irregular core, 29.9 x 23.5 x 17.4 mm 1 obsidian triangular flake, 45.4 mm maximum dimension 2 obsidian irregular flakes, 15.2 & 20.1 mm maximum dimensions 6 obsidian fragments, 6.4 to 24.2 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.19 05/19: obsidian crescent, bifacially backed, utilised tip and edge

~~~~~~ Slight scatters of non-diagnostic knapped fragments were noted at two additional sites.


LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~~ 67° EAST 62° NORTH The sites LP 3, 6 and 7 are representative of the remains of Early or Classic Aksumite dispersed rural houses or isolated farmsteads, not clustered into hamlets or villages, the relative wealth of their former occupants perhaps being indicated by the density and variety of artefactual material exposed. Four similar nearby sites exposed less lithic material. It is a notable feature of the pattern of artefact distribution in the Aksum area, that small quantities of assorted knapped lithics together with a variable density of ceramic sherds are most frequently found associated with Classical Aksumite sherds at isolated residential, sites such as these, especially on the western periphery of the Aksum conurbation. The hope of finding one of these sites with a sufficient un-eroded depth of deposit to permit excavation and the recovery of reliable dating evidence was not realised. ~~~~~~ LP 3 = TgLM 04-06-94 1562699N/37466990E Collections made in 2005 and in 2006 at this exposure, of about 400 square metres, are here tabulated together. The site also exposed a high density of Early and Classic Aksumite sherds and a few glass beads and glass fragments. Each of the three quartz crystals have had both ends crushed from utilisation, which appears to have been percussive rather than fricative. One of the three crystals has slightly polished sides, perhaps from contact with the user’s fingers. The use of quartz crystals is discussed and illustrated in chapter five, below. Alone among the lithics from this site, a steeply trimmed flake has been weathered as if from prolonged surface exposure. 1 glassy chert pointed bladelet, 29.7 mm maximum dimension [fig. 20b] 1chert flake steeply trimmed, either a scraper or a core, 26.4 x 23.5 x 13.8 mm 3 quartz crystals with utilised tips, 21.6 to 24.1 mm long 3 chert & 3 chalcedony multiplatform cores, 26.0 to 74.0 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert ovate, unifacial, radial cores, 59.2 x 42.8 x 21.7 & 30.6 x 27.2 x 9.7 mm [fig. 20c] 1 chert single-platform core, 33.0 x 25.4 x 15.1 mm 1 chert rejuvenating flake, broken, 18.2 mm maximum dimension [fig. 20a] 1 chert parallel-sided flake, 44.2 mm maximum dimension 6 chert, 1 chalcedony, 1 quartz & 2 obsidian irregular flakes 12.2 to 29.8 mm maximum dimensions 14 chert, 6 chalcedony & 10 quartz flake fragments & chunks, 12.8 to 55.9 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.20 LP3: a) chert rejuvenating flake, broken, tip utilised; b) chert fragment, tip utilised (= piercing tool); c) chert radial core, partly bifacial





LP 6 1562791N/37466900E This site, of about 60 square metres, exposed a low density of Aksumite sherds and a few lithics, several of which are abraded and/or patinated. Their larger sizes distinguish them from most lithics found near Aksum. While they might perhaps be described as of mode three, or “Middle Stone Age”, type, there is nothing to support a conjecture that they are earlier than the Pre-Aksumite period. They may perhaps be ascribed to a macrolithic Pre-Aksumite tradition, perhaps analogous to those found at LP 11 or at Hawlti. 1 chert convex scraper on a thick flake, 36.2 x 25.1 x 1.8 mm 2 chert & 1 chalcedony polyhedral cores, 41.4 to 71.1 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert radial core, 46.8 x 41.2 x 17.9 mm 2 chert blades, 35.4 & 46.5 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert & 2 chalcedony fragments, 20.7 to 36.8 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ LP 7 = TgLM 04-06-97 1562943N/37466925E A medium density of Early and Classic Aksumite sherds and lithics was exposed over an area of about 400 square metres. A small collection was made at this site in 2005 and additional material collected in 2006. The siltstone biface is heavily weathered and is of a size and shape that suggests it might be designated as of “Middle Stone Age” or even “Early Stone Age” type. The comments made with respect to the chert biface from LP 40, above, apply equally to this piece. An equally weathered chert flake was also found at this site; a few similar pieces found in the same area in 1997 were given a possible Middle Stone Age attribution [L. Phillipson, 2000c, fig. 14 & 15]. 1 yellow chert scraper, broken, heavily worn edge, 85° edge angle, (13.1) x 24.2 x 10.5 mm [fig. 21a] 1 siltstone biface, weathered, 50.9 x 53.8 x 27.2 mm [fig. 21b] 1 chalcedony rejuvenating flake, 35.2 mm maximum dimension 6 chert & 1 chalcedony irregular flakes, 18.2 to 28.0 mm maximum dimensions 1 yellow chert flake, weathered, 62.4 x 60.9 x 18.4 mm 4 chert, 4 chalcedony, 1 quartz & 2 obsidian fragments and chunks, 12.3 to 52.2 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.21 LP7: a) chert scraper, heavily use-worn, broken; b) basalt bifacially trimmed cobble, heavily weathered

~~~~~~ near LP 7 In the area between LP 7 and Mistah Werki Asbah, 3 sub-rectangular yellow chert pre-cores [138, 95 & 89 mm maximum dimensions] with some preliminary flaking, and 1 yellow chert casual core [52 mm maximum dimension] were noted as isolated stray finds which were not collected. Another, similar yellow chert pre-core was seen near LP 8 Dembe Bereka, at the edge of an exposed section of the anciently paved roadway that runs north-south, leading to Aksum around the western side of Beta Giyorgis. It is surmised that these pre-cores had been lost or abandoned while


LAUREL PHILLIPSON being transported from the yellow chert quarry outcrops near LP 10 to tool manufacturing workshop sites closer to Aksum, such as that represented by the surface collections J and K in sector 10. ~~~~~~ LP 20 1562565N/37466422E This is a small site with a relatively intact but probably not deep deposit below a shallow rock overhang. Many lithic artefacts, but only a few Aksumite sherds, are scattered on the eroding surface. Most of the chert is ochre yellow to yellow-brown like that of the chert exposures near LP 10 in sector 7. The largest polyhedral core is in fact a pre-core, that is the form in which quarried chert was transported to the place where it was knapped. The preponderance of cores and fragments in this collection and the location, in a small natural shelter rather than in an open cleared area, indicate that this was a small tool-production workshop rather than a residential or a tool-using site. In keeping with the evidence from other locations for the existence of workshops dedicated to the specialised manufacture of single tool types, it would seem that only bifacially backed flakes and blades were produced here. The quartz crystal, which has been crushed at its tip from forceful percussive use, apparently served as an intermediary tool either for punching flakes from the cores or for their subsequent retouching. 2 chert bifacially backed flakes, 27.1 x 14.7 x 6.8 & 31.1 x 11.6 x 8.4 mm 1 chalcedony bifacially backed, diagonally truncated bladelet, 23,5 x 9.7 x 4.1 mm 1 quartz crystal, utilised tip, 26.9 mm maximum dimension 6 chert polyhedral chert cores, 19.3 to 444.9 mm maximum dimensions 4 chalcedony irregular cores, 26.6 to 40.5 mm maximum dimensions 22 chert & 5 chalcedony irregular flakes, 8.4 to 60.8 mm maximum dimensions 68 chert, 72 chalcedony & 1 quartz fragments & chunks, 7.9 to 44.3 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ LP 21 1562412N/37466539E This is an isolated site with lithics and a low density of generic Aksumite sherds eroding out. It would appear from the site’s location and the presence of an unfinished scraper as well as some knapping debris, that this was a homestead where some probably non-specialist lithic tool production took place. 1 chert, unifacially backed flake fragment, 21.9 mm maximum dimension 1 chert scraper, splayed U-shaped, unfinished, 28.2 x 27.9 x 13.7 mm 3 chert irregular flakes, 28.4 to 49.1 mm maximum dimensions 10 chert & 4 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 13.5 to 45.2 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ LP 22 1562146N/37466953E This much eroded small site with lithics and Aksumite ceramics exposed in the hill wash may have been a small toolproduction workshop similar to LP 20. 1 chert single-platform core, 44.5 mm maximum dimension 1 chalcedony irregular core, 36.4 mm maximum dimension 1 chert parallel-sided flake, 33.2 mm maximum dimension 1 chert & 2 chalcedony irregular flakes, 18.3 to 27.6 mm maximum dimensions 10 chert, 7 chalcedony & 3 quartz fragments & chunks, 12.8 to 42.5 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ LP 23 1562006N/37466420E This is a dispersed scatter of Aksumite potsherds, sparse lithics, and some undressed stone building rubble. Both quartz crystals have crushed utilisation at their tips and bases, tangential to their long axes, such as would have arisen from their use as small punches or intermediary tools for an indirect technique of stone knapping. Use of the crystals as drills 32



or as engraving tools would have resulted in very different wear patterns for which there is no evidence, with rubbed and/or scaled modification extending from the tip along their edges. The utilization of quartz crystals is discussed and illustrated in chapter five, below. The presence of cores, knapped debris and the utilised crystals indicates that this had been a small tool-production site similar to LP 20. 2 quartz crystals, utilised, 20.4 & 42.7 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony blade core, 37.3 mm maximum dimension [fig. 22] 1 chert single-platform core, 23.5 mm maximum dimension 4 chert, 2 chalcedony & 1 obsidian flakes, 12.4 to 35.0 mm maximum dimensions 20 chert, 20 chalcedony & 2 quartz fragments & chunks, 12.9 to 48.4 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.22 LP23: chalcedony bipolar core

~~~~~~ LP 28 1562272N/37466516E This small site, an isolated homestead with a medium density of potsherds and some lithics, was almost entirely eroded away. The silicified sandstone disc, which is flat and almost perfectly circular, is artificially abraded on all surfaces; no conjecture is offered as to its purpose. 1 silicified sandstone disc, 23.0 x 21.2 x 5.8 mm 1 basalt radial flake with possible scraper retouch, 41.1 mm maximum dimension 1 chert & 1 basalt irregular flake, 28.8 & 42.6 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~ Of the 12 small sites recorded in this square, nine including LP 3, LP 6, LP 7, LP 21 and LP 28, plus four others not described separately, were probably individual homesteads where a few lithic tools were knapped and utilised. Three other sites, LP 20, LP 22 and LP 23 appear to have been workshops where somewhat greater quantities of material were knapped, presumably for use elsewhere. ~~~~~~


LAUREL PHILLIPSON LP 37 1562302N/37466607E This large, ploughed out and heavily eroded site (which was completely destroyed between 2005 and 2006) was marked by much dispersed drystone building rubble, Aksumite potsherds and lithics. A small collection was made of the numerous, finely trimmed, U-shaped and splayed scrapers in various stages of manufacture found particularly adjacent to, rather than in, the rubble area on the south-eastern part of the site; no other lithic tools were found. Most of the scrapers are of the yellow ochre chert which outcrops in extensive exposures at and near the site of LP 10 in sector 7. This material was apparently transported from where it was quarried in the form of angular, roughly knapped, ovoid or brick-shaped pre-cores. Three pre-cores [89 to 138 mm maximum dimensions] of this same yellow ochre chert were noted as isolated finds in the fields near Mistah Werki Asbah, but were not collected. A similar pre-core was found at LP 8 and a few other examples noticed while field walking between LP 37 and LP 10. It seems that conveniently sized chert lumps were quarried from the chert exposures, where they were roughly knapped to a convenient size and shape, then brought to another site for manufacture into a single tool type, which was then used elsewhere. The spatial separation of quarrying, tool production and tool use is indicative of a specialist activity and, by implication, the incorporation of lithic tool production and use as a significant element in a complex, multi-facetted economy. This is discussed further in chapter five, below. The proximity of this site to the place in the Gudit Stelae Field where Late Aksumite Gudit scrapers had been used raises the question of whether these particular scrapers might have been manufactured at LP 37. However, differences in the sizes of the scrapers and in the qualities of their edges make this unlikely. Gudit scrapers had denticulate or worn down denticulate edges, and sample dimensions of 21 to 58 x 21 to 41 x 7 to 24 mm, depending on how frequently they had been resharpened. The scrapers from LP 37 are generally smaller and have finer working edges. A significant feature of the Gudit scrapers is that they were repeatedly resharpened, and had initially been made large enough to accommodate such resharpening. The scrapers found at this site, like all other Early and Classic Aksumite steep scrapers, were manufactured to a small size that did not allow for subsequent resharpening. Furthermore, while circumstantial evidence suggested that the Gudit scrapers are best attributed to the Late Aksumite period, well after the Gudit Stelae Field ceased to be used as a place of interment, ceramic associations for the site of LP 37 only identify it as generically Aksumite. Steep scrapers such as the ones manufactured at this site are so frequently found associated with Early and/or Classic Aksumite wares at other sites that their presence can be used as a presumptive indicator of Early and/or Classic Aksumite occupation of sites where they occur. While the colour and quality of the chert from which these scrapers were made matches that of the Gudit scrapers, their forms match very closely those of the chalcedony scrapers from another production workshop, 05/70 Ma’ado Gaza in sector 8. 3 chert & 1 chalcedony scraper, 60° edge angles, 22.9 to 29.6 x 20.7 to24.1 x 11.2 to 14.7 mm [fig. 23a,b,c,d] 3 chert unfinished scrapers, 24.6 to 30.3 x 22.6 to 29.8 x 11.9 to 15.6 mm [fig. 23e,f,g] 5 chert scraper blanks or rough-outs, 33.0 to 40.8 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 23h,I,j] 1 chert core or pre-core, 67.5 mm maximum dimension 1 chert irregular flake, 15.9 mm maximum dimension 1 chert fragment, 21.1 mm maximum dimension




Fig. 23 LP37: a), b), c) chert scrapers; d) chalcedony scraper; e), f), g) chert unfinished scrapers; h), i), j) chert scraper blanks (=rough-outs)

~~~~~~ TgLM 04-06-98 1562657N/37466949E A high density of Early and Classic Aksumite sherds was found here together with abundant lithics. This collection is of particular interest in illustrating the close morphological similarity of Aksumite high-backed cores, such as those from Mai Agam [sector 9] and steep scrapers. Each of the 8 pieces listed here as a chert high-backed, steep scraper has areas of step-flaking on parts of its circumference, which suggests that they could have served as cores prior to the imposition of finer retouch or, more probably, that essentially the same technology was used in shaping these scrapers as was used elsewhere to detach utilisable flakes from cores. All of the scraper edges are finely trimmed, gently rounded, and have been smoothed by heavy use wear. Five of the high-backed steep scrapers plus one of the shallower flake scrapers have splayed trapezoidal shapes; the remainder have more evenly convex edges. Five additional chert scrapers were made on thick flakes without heavy stepped flaking except on the unretouched dorsal edges of their striking platforms. Two of these flake scrapers [fig. 24g,j] have the remains of worn-down denticulate edges and, like Gudit scrapers [L. Phillipson 2000a,b], have a spurred corner such as may have resulted from repeated resharpening. This is the only major collection which includes both Gudit-type and smooth-edged, high-backed scrapers. The presence of both scraper types in this collection may indicate that the attribution of Gudit scrapers to the Late Aksumite and smooth-edged forms to earlier phases, especially to the Classic Aksumite, is not an absolute distinction. Equally possibly, the presence of what appear to be two Gudit scrapers could result from the random mixing of surface materials from near-by sites. All the artefacts in this collection appear homogenous in their state of freshness, style of knapping and predominant raw material: ochre yellow to brown chert. Contrary to the evidence from other sites which indicate the spatial separation of lithic tool production and tool use, the presence here of overstruck and core-rejuvenating flakes attests to both sets of activities having taken place at the one location. All five of the rejuvenating flakes and the one overstruck flake have the remains of heavy step-flaking on the


LAUREL PHILLIPSON cores from which they were removed. The hammerstone is a small quartz pebble from which several minor facets have been removed at one end. 8 chert high-backed scrapers, edge angles 70° to 85°, 15.9 to 33.3 x 20.2 to 26.4 x 10.5 to 18.1 mm [fig. 24c,d,e,h,i] 5 chert flake scrapers, edge angles 60° to 65°, 20.3 to 27.4 x 21.5 to 26.1 x 7.3 to 9.2 mm [fig 24f,g,j] 1 quartz hammerstone, 40.1 x 39.7 x 32.3 mm 1 chert overstruck flake, 16.9 x 26.7 x 8.4 mm [fig. 24b] 4 chert & 1 chalcedony rejuvenating flakes, 13.7 to 32.4 x 23.0 to 29.0 x 7.8 x 13.7 mm [fig. 24a] 4 chert, 2 chalcedony & 1 obsidian irregular flakes, 7.9 mm to 20.0 mm maximum dimensions 12 chert & 7 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 8.8 to 42.5 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.24 TgLM 04-06-98: a) chert core rejuvenating flake; b) chert overstruck flake; c) – j) chert scrapers, all heavily use-worn

~~~~~~ Two additional small sites in this square each exposed a few lithic fragments together with generic Aksumite period sherds and, at one of the sites, the rubble remains of a collapsed structure. A third, larger, site had much undressed building rubble and a medium density of sherds attributable to the Pre-, Proto- and generic Aksumite periods, but almost no lithic material. ~~~~~~ 36



68° EAST 62° NORTH LP 19 1562593N/37467767E This site is one of two large residential complexes with the remains of undressed stone walling, LP 37 being the other, located in the same general area as, but somewhat north of the major monumental building site, Dungur, plus another nearby unexcavated monumental building site, perhaps the remains of a church. The site of LP 19 is also indicated by the presence of blocks of dressed stone and Aksumite bricks. The site’s name, Enda Chandug, translates as “the place where foreign merchants come to trade”, as distinct from a local marketplace. The variety of imported as well as local artefacts exposed on the surface of LP 19 suggests that its residents had access to a wider range of imported and domestic luxury goods than has been found at most other residential sites. This in turn suggests that the name of the locality may be of Aksumite origin and that it was here on the outskirts of the conurbation where foreign merchants were received, their goods taxed and, presumably, trade regulated. The site commands sweeping views to the west and south, being located on sloping ground close to the start of the ancient paved road which leads northwards around the western periphery of Beta Giyorgis. In addition to the small finds and remains of undressed drystone walls and Aksumite bricks found mainly on the north-western part of the site, pieces of a red-brown laminar stone partly worn smooth as if having served as floor paving, and steatite (not of immediately local occurrence) were noted. Associated ceramic sherds have been attributed to the Early, Classic, Middle and Late Aksumite periods. The site is partly delineated by natural rock outcrops and large boulders. Superficial evidence indicates that it was a large complex of moderately-sized, but not monumental, buildings and walled courtyards, occupied by people who were wealthier and more cosmopolitan than those of most other sites. I suggest that this may have been the residential community associated with the so-called palace of Dungur and with the other nearby, unexcavated monumental building located southwest of a recently constructed municipal water tank. In 1996, a concentration of finely-made, thin-walled sherds was noted, some samples of which were then collected but were not identified, at this latter site; few such sherds were noted at LP 19. Over the past decade, soil erosion which is both intensive and extensive in this area and which is continuing at an accelerating pace, has removed almost all surface exposures and most deposits of archaeological material. While this had formerly been an area of concentrated remains within a widely and heavily settled landscape, LP 19 now appears as a more isolated remnant site. Small artefacts were collected mainly from the lower, western, margins of the site where they had been redeposited by soil erosion. A single particle of unworked gold (5.4 x 3.6 x 1.9 mm) provides the first archaeological confirmation of the occurrence of native gold at Aksum, corroborating local reports and older published accounts [L. Phillipson 2006]. The broken half of a partly-drilled spherical carnelian bead (12.1 mm bead diameter, 1.7 mm hole diameter, 7.3 & 2.6 mm hole depths) is sufficient to indicate that such beads were locally produced. Shaping and polishing of the bead was completed before drilling from opposite ends was begun. Unlike the carnelian beads recovered from the Tomb of the Brick Arches [D. W. Phillipson et al 2000, fig. 6d], small flakes or chips had not been removed from either side of the bead to serve as centering concavities for the drill bit. The bead broke when the drilled holes, which are perfectly aligned with one another, encountered an internal flaw in the stone. Such a small scrap of waste material as this is most unlikely to have been imported. In addition to multi-coloured, perhaps Sassanian, glass fragments, a piece of a very thin-walled bowl or spherical vessel in purple-brown glass with an unusually porous texture was collected; its shape, colour and texture are similar or identical to that of an unusual, extremely thin-walled glass globe or vessel from the Tomb of Brick Arches [Harlow 2000, figs 59, 60]. Most probably, whatever vessel or object this fragment represents would have been made locally as it would have been too fragile to transport easily and of too poor quality to be worth transporting over any long distance. Other small artefacts collected from this site include glass beads, fragments of turquoise coloured faience, iron, slag fragments of an unknown material, ceramic sherds from diverse phases and of various qualities, and sparse lithics. Except for an amazingly thin, unifacially backed, utilised crescent [fig 25a] and one small blade, lithic flakes and flake tools are infrequent. At the site of Kidane Mehret [sector 12], crescents similarly utilised on their tips and long edges were interpreted as having served as piercing tools for cutting holes in leather, hide or a similar material [L. Phillipson 2000c, p. 359, fig. 318]. Only two small chert scrapers were made on flakes, the remainder having been made on small chunks or fragments whose colours include yellow ochre, glassy black and dark purple examples. All of these scrapers are of high backed or keeled forms. Although similar to Gudit scrapers [L. Phillipson 2000a,b, 2002] in plan shape, they differ in that they are not the worked-down remnants of longer, repeatedly resharpened forms; they lack the corner spurs and chamfered edge profiles of resharpened scrapers and have almost smooth rather than denticulate working edges. Wear on the edges and arrises of these scrapers suggests that they had been subjected to prolonged use on a relatively soft and smooth or fine-grained material. Similar use wear has also been noted on the much more numerous scrapers recovered from the site of 05/61 [sector 7] and elsewhere. What this use may have been is unknown. The recovery of fresh, small chert fragments and broken flakes indicates that some knapping was done at this site. 37

LAUREL PHILLIPSON 1 chert crescent, utilised on long edge & tip broken, 14.4 x 6.1 x 1.9 mm [fig. 25a] 13 chert scrapers, 21.5 to 39.2 x 20.8 to 30.7 x 10.7 to 18.6 mm [fig. 25b-e] 1 unfinished chert scraper, 36.6 x 27.1 x 21.4 mm [fig. 25f] 1 obsidian conical core, 31.2 x 27.1 x 16.4 mm [fig. 25g] 1 chert blade, 30.8 mm maximum dimension 8 chert, 2 chalcedony & 2 obsidian irregular flakes, 16.4 to 34.4 mm 10 chert, 17 chalcedony, 10 obsidian & 1 schist fragments & chunks, 6.3 to 74.2 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.25 LP19: a) glassy chert crescent, unifacially backed, broken; b), c) glassy chert scrapers; d), e) chert scrapers; f) obsidian unfinished scraper or conical core; g) chert conical core

~~~~~~ TgLM 04-06-88 1562308N/37467183E This site, of about 100 square metres, had a medium density of Classic Aksumite sherds together with an abundance of small flakes and chips of various materials: several colours and qualities of chert, chalcedony, quartz and siltstone. This knapping workshop is not located near outcrops of any of these stones. Eight cores were collected, but only one possible tool could be found. While further reduction might have converted the single-platform core [fig. 26b] into a scraper, the preponderance of multiplatform cores in the collection suggests that this is in fact a core that was abandoned at an early stage in the reduction sequence and that, if fully worked out, it would have come to resemble the core illustrated in figure 26a. Most probably, the intention had been to produce small flakes, all usable examples of which were carried away from the site. 1 chert core, 85° edge angle, 22.0 x 28.2 x 11.7 mm [fig. 26a] 38



3 chert, 2 chalcedony, 1 quartz multiplatform cores, 28.6 to 46.4 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert single-platform core, 46.8 x 42.1 x 30.0 mm [fig. 26b] 1 chert overstruck flake, 24.7 x 34.2 x 12.6 mm 16 chert, 8 chalcedony, 3 quartz & 3 siltstone flake fragments and chunks, 5.3 to 49.7 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.26 TgLM 04-06-88: a) glassy chert circumferential core; b) chert casual, single-platform core

~~~~~~ TgLM 04-06-90 1562352N/37467127E This site, of about 2500 square metres, had a low density of Early and Classic Aksumite sherds and a moderate density of lithics. An artefact described here as a circumferentially trimmed steep scraper with a smoothly convex edge might in fact have been a core or a core subsequently used as a scraper. Although this example is unusually large, the artefact type is not uncommon in Aksumite phase collections and assemblages, particularly in those attributable to the earlier part of the lithic sequence, but its probable function remains unknown. This example, like most of the chert lithics found in the Sefeho, Golo and western Beta Giyorgis areas [sector 6], is made of ochre yellow to yellow-brown chert, such as is massively exposed in the area near the site of LP 10 in sector 7. 1 chert steep scraper, 85° edge angle, 50.7 x 64.8 x 33.6 mm [fig. 27] 1 chalcedony multiplatform core, 44.7 x 36.8 x 25.8 mm 1 chert irregular flake, 20.2 mm maximum dimension 2 chert & 3 chalcedony fragments 17.6 to 31.7 mm maximum dimensions.

Fig.27 TgLM 04-06-90: chert core for producing flakes with stepped, shouldered butts, note triangular flake scars, also note resemblance to an over-large steep scraper


LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~~ Small amounts of lithic material were also seen at eight other sites in this square. Ranging in estimated size from 900 to just 25 square metres, these were probably individual homesteads or small hamlets; one site was also marked by the presence of some undressed building rubble. Early and Classic Aksumite sherds were recognised at each of these sites and, in addition, Middle Aksumite sherds at three of them. ~~~~~~ 68° EAST 61° NORTH LP 46 1561021N/37467465E An outcrop of white vein quartz rises almost to the land surface on the edge of the plain, southwest of Aksum. The sides and top of this natural rise are covered by much fractured quartz quarrying debris, mainly in the form of fist-sized and smaller angular lumps, among which very many casual cores, but no tools or whole flakes, were found. All the cores, none of which were collected, were in the form of irregularly fractured polyhedrons with maximum dimensions of 70 to 90 mm, from each of which only a few flakes had been removed. If these cores and fragments represent the material that was rejected because it was of too poor quality, the amount of material quarried and taken for use elsewhere may have been substantial. This raises a question as to the use of the quartz, which is only a very minor component of any of the lithic assemblages and collections found in or near Aksum. Was it perhaps destined for tool production somewhere outside the surveyed area? While quartz such as outcrops here might have been usable for glass production, there is no evidence in the form of rock-crushing equipment, furnaces, and by-products that it was so used. Furthermore, had the quartz been employed for an industrial process other than knapping, large quantities of broken quarrying debris and rejected cores probably would not have been discarded on site. A few glassy chert and chalcedony flakes and Classic, Middle and Post-Aksumite sherds found in the same general area are not necessarily associated with the quartz quarry, for which a Classic or Middle Aksumite age is probable and a Post-Aksumite age not impossible. ~~~~~~ Another eroded site, of about 900 square metres, with a low-density exposure of scattered Aksumite orange ware sheds and a few chert and chalcedony flakes and fragments was located in this square. ~~~~~~ 67° EAST 61° NORTH LP 24 1562365N/37466512E This is a moderately extensive exposure of scattered, undressed building rubble together with some Aksumite potsherds and a few lithic flakes and fragments. Occasional glazed and patinated lithic artefacts, most frequently of red-brown chert, occur as isolated surface finds or, as here, singly in surface collections. While the distinctive condition of such pieces indicates that they have had a different history from that of the generally fresh, unpatinated material with which they may be found, little can be said about them except that, as the patina indicates a prolonged period of surface exposure, they may perhaps be attributed to a lithic tradition which predates the Pre-Aksumite as the term is used here. 1 red-brown chert casual core, glazed & patinated, 54.0 mm maximum dimension 2 chert irregular flakes, 10.6 & 18.5 mm maximum dimensions 4 chert, 5 chalcedony & 2 obsidian fragments, 10.4 to 37.7 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~




LP 25 1561928N/37466427E The most prominent features of this site, on a small rise and rock outcrop adjacent to an old fig tree, are two partly exposed, dressed, round-topped stelae. A nearby, presently-occupied house appears to be built on an ancient foundation. Only a very few lithic fragments were found scattered on this much-eroded, ploughed out site. 2 chert endstruck flakes, 36.7 & 41.7 mm maximum dimensions 5 chert irregular flakes, 15.1 to 45.0 mm maximum dimensions 15 chert, 7 chalcedony & 1 obsidian fragments & chunks, 13.4 to 43.3 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ LP 26 1561672N/37466404E Another of the many small, eroded sites with a low density of Aksumite sherds and a dispersed scatter of moderately abundant lithics, this site is located near a conspicuous stone outcrop, known locally as Watam Emmeni [=pointed stone]. It is the largest of several similar, distinct artefact scatters located within a few hundred metres of one another. About half of the irregular flakes have dorsal scar patterns which may reflect their having been struck from somewhat informal, radially worked cores. 1 chert conical blade core, 19.3 mm maximum dimension 1 chert polyhedral core, 31.4 mm maximum dimension 2 chert radial cores, 37.5 & 49.9 mm maximum dimensions 11 chert endstruck flakes, 18.5 to 36.5 mm maximum dimensions 19 chert, 3 chalcedony, 4 quartz irregular flakes 15.0 to 39.7 mm maximum dimensions 29 chert, 25 chalcedony & 6 quartz fragments & chunks, 9.8 to 48.5 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ LP 27 A separate gps reading was not taken for this site, due to battery failure. It is located about 75 metres north-west of LP 26. More abundant Aksumite sherds, but fewer lithics, were seen here than at LP 26. Owing to the eroded condition of both sites and to the absence of reliably datable artefacts, the temporal relationship between them could not be ascertained. However, their proximity suggests that they may have been parts of a single farmstead, in which case the different proportions of lithic and ceramic remains may reflect the pattern of site use. The lithic artefacts from LP 26 and LP 27 could plausibly be attributed to a single tradition of tool manufacture and use. The presence of several cores and of relatively abundant knapping debris indicates that lithic tools were manufactured in both places. The quartz crystal, which is step-flaked and crushed at both ends, was most probably a tool used in the knapping process to apply precisely controlled indirect percussive force. The variety of core types and materials at this site suggest that lithic tool manufacture here was not as uniform or systematic as at some other sites. The two unfinished chert scrapers indicate what tools were produced. 2 chert scrapers, unfinished, 28.5 x 26.7 x 12.2 & 26.0 x 22.6 x 14.0 mm 1 quartz crystal, utilised at both ends, 36.3 mm maximum dimension 1 chalcedony single-platform core, 30.0 mm maximum dimension 1 chalcedony irregular core, 33.6 mm maximum dimension 2 chert & 1 chalcedony irregular flakes 25.3 to 28.8 mm maximum dimensions 11 chert, 18 chalcedony & 1 quartz fragments & chunks, 14.4 to 35.3 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~~ LP 29 1561856N/37466357E The presence of relatively numerous flake fragments indicates that this small site with Aksumite potsherds was a minor workshop for lithic tool production. 8 chert & 5 chalcedony irregular flakes, 11.9 to 66.2 mm maximum dimensions 35 chert, 14 chalcedony & 1 obsidian fragments & chunks, 10.2 to 33.7 mm maximum dimensions


LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~~ LP 30 1561686N/37466345E This is a small, eroded site with a closely defined scatter of lithics and Aksumite sherds, located a short distance uphill from LP 26. 1 chalcedony opposed platform core, 23.1 mm maximum dimension 1 chert radial core, 37.7 mm maximum dimension 7 chert & 2 chalcedony irregular flakes, 9.0 to 32.6 mm maximum dimensions 4 chert & 23 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 7.8 to 32.6 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ LP 31 1561954N/37466375E A sparse scatter of lithics exposed here included an unusually large quartz crystal, heavily utilised at both ends. As is illustrated in chapter five, below, crushing and short hinged fractures at the crystals ends can be experimentally duplicated by resting the tip of a previously unused quartz crystal on a stone anvil while striking heavily on its other end with a hard hammer. This is the same application and transmission of force as would occur when a quartz crystal is used as an indirect percussive instrument in stone knapping. 1 quartz crystal, utilised, 65.3 x 27.5 x 22.4 mm 1 chert polyhedral core, 40.0 mm maximum dimension 1 chalcedony radial core, 29.8 mm maximum dimension 4 chert flakes, 15.4 to 47.5 mm maximum dimensions 4 chert & 3 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 17.9 to 49.7 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 68° EAST 60° NORTH LP 47 1560824N/37467403E This site of about 10 000 square metres exposed scattered, undressed building rubble, orange coarse ware sherds attributed to the Early and/or Classic Aksumite phases and a medium to sparse scatter of lithic fragments. In several collections, a difficulty in distinguishing between some forms of cores and scrapers was encountered. The chert scraper [fig. 28a] in this collection may have been a small core that was subsequently utilised. Unlike most places included in this Survey, this part of the level plain south of Beta Giyorgis and southwest of Aksum is an area where at least until recently soil has been accumulating, which gives the hope that future excavators may be able to recover cultural materials in closely defined, stratified, datable contexts. A decade ago, a wide area was densely carpeted with artefacts including fragments of fine glass and metal, ceramic sherds being denser in some places, lithics in others. Most of this superficial material has since disappeared as what had been grazing land is now ploughed and cultivated. Multi-layered exposures with artefacts in situ were observed in the sides of steep erosion gullies at 1560698N/37467419E and at 1560691N/37477497E. 1 chert scraper, 23.2 x 26.8 x 12.6 mm [fig. 28a] 1 glassy chert bipolar core, 19.5 x 22.5 x 12.8 mm [fig. 28b] 5 chert & 1 chalcedony casual cores, 39.1 to 56.6 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 28c] 5 glassy chert & 1 chalcedony irregular flakes, 11.3 to 35.4 mm maximum dimensions 16 glassy chert, 1 chalcedony & 1 quartz fragments & chunks, 20.3 to 43.3 mm maximum dimensions




Fig.28 LP47: a) chert conical core utilised as a scraper; b) chert bipolar core; c) chert casual, sub-radial core

~~~~~~ LP 55 1560820N/37467913E This site had a very low density of Aksumite and perhaps Proto-Aksumite potsherds together with a medium density of lithic artefacts. The steep scraper is distinguished from similarly shaped cores by having a heavily use-worn, smoothed edge. The quartz crystal has had its irregular sides slightly smoothed, probably from prolonged finger-held use; both ends are also damaged. The concurrence of utilised crystals together with small cores in collections such as this and the presence of stepped and crushed utilisation damage on their tips suggest their most probable use as punches or intermediate knapping tools. 1 chert steep scraper, utilised,70°, 34.7 x 31.5 x 15.9 mm [fig. 29b] 1 quartz crystal, utilised, 46.7 x 20.6 x 12.1 mm [fig. 29a] 2 chert bipolar cores, 39.8 x 36.2 x 13.0 & 31.5 x 35.7 x 16.7 mm 1 chert multiplatform core, 57.9 x 33.8 x 26.5 mm 1 chert irregular core, 40.3 x 27.9 x 19.0 mm 1 chert & 1 chalcedony parallel-sided flake, 25.3 & 32.3 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert & 4 chalcedony irregular flakes, 12.4 to 24.5 mm maximum dimensions 19 chert, 15 chalcedony & 3 quartz fragments and chunks, 11.2 to 58.9 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.29 LP55: a) quartz crystal, utilised (pot decorator or engraving tool); b) chert scraper, heavily use-worn



~~~~~~ LP 54 1560857N/37467639E This site had a medium density of scattered lithics together with a few non-diagnostic potsherds attributable to the Proto-Aksumite and Aksumite periods. Of most interest in this small collection is a chalcedony engraving tool with a worn tip, probably used for decorating pots before they were fired. Similar pot decorators were also recovered as part of the Proto-Aksumite collection from the site of Hamed Gebez in sector 10. A chert rejuvenating flake was struck from a core which had had heavily step-flaked edge preparation. While minute step-flaking is characteristic of much Aksumite core edge preparation, heavy step-flaking is particularly characteristic of collections attributable to the Proto-Aksumite period. 1 chert pot decorator or graving tool, utilised, 25.9 x 12.1 x 7.2 mm [fig. 30a] 1 chert bipolar core, 24.7 x 36.2 x 22.2 mm [fig. 30b] 1 chert & 2 chalcedony multiplatform cores, 28.5 to 42.3 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert irregular cores, 49.2 & 49.9 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert rejuvenating flake, heavily step-flaked, 47.3 mm maximum dimension 9 chert & 6 chalcedony irregular flakes, 16.0 to 33.1 mm maximum dimensions 8 chert, 25 chalcedony & 8 quartz fragments & chunks, 8.6 to 41.7 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.30 LP54: a) chalcedony pot decorator; b) chert bipolar core

~~~~~~ LP 56 1560862N/37467889 A medium density of lithics, with no associated sherds, exposed at this site includes no backed microliths and only a few examples of the finely controlled knapping of small tools which is characteristic of most Aksumite period lithics, together with some relatively large flakes and cores with heavily step-flaked core edges, all of which suggest a PreAksumite date for this material. The cores and flakes are, however, less massive than those collected at the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite sites of Hwalti and Melka [both sector 14]. This feature together with the presence of some careful retouch on the three scrapers and on the nosed flake suggest that the material is best attributed to a Pre-Aksumite tradition which is not the same as that found at Hwalti and at Melka. Artefacts like those from LP56 were also collected at LP58 in sector 9. While it is possible that these lithics are attributable to the same tradition as the microlithic PreAksumite material excavated at Ona Nagast I [sector 9] and at Kidane Mehret [sector 10], it seems likely that they may represent a third Pre-Aksumite tradition which developed independently of the other two. The very limited dating evidence currently available does not indicate whether people practising these several lithic traditions were concurrently or successively present in the Aksum area. 3 chert convex scrapers, 55° to 65° edge angles, 53.2 x 43.8 x 19.6 to 28.3 x 28.4 x 10.3 mm [fig. 31a,b,c] 1 chert nosed flake, 43.6 x 29.4 x 10.4 mm [fig. 31d] 2 chert circumferential cores, 51.3 x 30.5 x 29.6 & 38.0 x 28.1 x 18.5 mm [fig. 31f] 1 chert multiplatform core, 55.4 x 35.7 x 32.4 mm 3 chert sub-radial cores, 53.1 to 41.1 x 44.3 to 37.3 x 29.8 to 13.3 mm [fig. 31e] 2 chert irregular cores, 48.9 & 53.6 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert overstruck flakes, 29.7 x 40.9 x 13.4 & 26.2 x 29.6 x 12.2 mm 3 chert flakes with shouldered butts, 77.9 to 33.0 x 61.5 to 38.8 x 26.4 to 13.3 mm [fig. 31g,h] 44



10 chert & 2 chalcedony irregular flakes, 19.8 to 44.9 mm maximum dimensions 27 chert, 15 chalcedony & 1 quartz fragments & chunks, 14.1 to 62.6 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.31 LP56: a), b), c) chert convex scrapers; d) chert nosed, trimmed flake; e) chert sub-radial bifacial core; f) chert high-backed circumferential core; g), h) chert sub-radial flakes

~~~~~~ One additional site in this square exposed some of what appeared to be Pre-Aksumite lithics similar to those from LP 56. Another site, of about 20 000 square metres, exposed a high density of Early, Classic and Middle Aksumite sherds, but almost no lithic material. ~~~~~~


LAUREL PHILLIPSON sector 7 North of Beta Giyorgis: 67° to 70° east / 64° to 65° north The three grid squares of this sector cover the northern slopes of Beta Giyorgis, an area centred on Enda Giyorgis, in which many Aksumite sites have been located ~~~~~~ 68° EAST 64° NORTH LP 10 1564258N/37467249E This site, of about 60 square metres, exposed a low density of Classic Aksumite potsherds together with several yellowbrown chert pre-cores. These deliberately quarried and roughly shaped lumps of unflawed chert approximate to an elongated cuboidal shape and range from fist-sized to about that of a modern, western house brick, that is between about 80 and 200 mm in their maximum dimensions. The site is adjacent to an extensive and heavily quarried outcrop of yellow ochre to yellow-brown chert from which the pre-cores could have been obtained, and which most probably would have been the source for the yellow-brown chert artefacts found at sites in sectors 3 and 6. Additional stray finds of similar ochre yellow to yellow-brown chert pre-cores were noted at sites LP7 and LP8 in sector 6. . The occasional presence of pre-cores at locations intermediate between the sites where chert was quarried and places where knapping debris and/or tools made of the same material have been recovered gives an indication of the economic processes involved. Raw material procurement and lithic tool production during the Classic, Middle and Late Aksumite phases were apparently increasingly restricted to distinct sites. Whether those who quarried, shaped and transported the pre-cores also knapped them into desired artefacts cannot be determined from the available evidence. However, similarities in the general appearance of pre-cores derived from several different chert quarry sites and recovered from various locations around Aksum, suggests that the quarrying and transportation of lithic raw materials may have been a distinct economic speciality. ~~~~~~ LP 11 1564842N/37467608E This site exposed a low density of Aksumite sherds and sparse lithics over an area of about 300 square metres. The core and the flake are each larger than is general for most Aksumite lithics, but they lack the heavy abrasion and/or patina which are characteristic of presumed much older material. Probably, like the sub-rectangular pre-cores found at LP 10 and elsewhere, they were intended as material for further working which was never carried out. However, the possibility that they belong to another industry that was synchronous with, but distinct from, those of the main Aksumite traditions cannot be ascertained from such a very small sample. The distinctive yellow-grey colour of the chert out of which these pieces were made matches that of the quarry site LP 12, where a few Early and Classic Aksumite sherds were found. The core, which is of a casual sub-radial form, might best be regarded as a pre-core and the flake as an incidental by-product of its shaping. 1 chert sub-radial casual core, 85.4 x 79.9 x 45.4 mm [fig. 32] 1 chert flake from a radial core, 82.7 x 81.8 x 27.7 mm 1 chert, 2 chalcedony & 1 obsidian fragments, 20.3 to 49.5 mm maximum dimensions




Fig.32 LP11: chert sub-radial casual core

~~~~~~ LP 12 1564840N/37467900E This site, of about 250 square metres, exposed a low density of Early and Classic Aksumite sherds together with a large amount of chert quarrying debris of a distinctive yellow-grey colour. The chert quarried here matches that of several artefacts collected at the nearby sites, LP 11 and LP 14. Although the pieces tabulated here were found at the quarry site, they are best considered as stray finds since diligent search discovered no other finished tools, no whole flakes and no evidence of stone knapping as opposed to quarrying having taken place at this site. 1 basalt upper grindstone , broken, tabular, rectangular, 46.1 x 45.0 x 24.8 mm 1 yellow-grey chert flake scraper, 21.2 x 23.3 x 24.8 mm [fig. 33] 1 red chert flake, 36.2 mm maximum dimension

Fig.33 LP12: chert scraper


LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~~ LP 14 1564838N/37467764E A low density of Early and Classic Aksumite sherds plus a very few lithics was exposed over an area of about 80 square metres. This is another outcrop of the same yellow-grey chert as was quarried at LP 12, but with no unequivocal signs of its having been quarried at this location. Careful search found no lithics other than the two pieces listed here, which are probably best considered as stray finds. The flake point has exceptionally fine unifacial trimming. 1 yellow-grey chert point, 22.8 x 13.6 x 5.2 mm [fig. 34] 1 yellow-grey chert fragment, 39.3 mm maximum dimension

Fig.34 LP14: chert unifacial flake point, finely retouched

~~~~~~ LP 15 1564768N/37467660E This site, at which a few Early and Classic Aksumite sherds were found, is part of a large and intensively quarried outcrop of intact and disintegrated pure white chalcedony, much of it in nodular form, some of the nodules having a thin, friable, green mineral coating. These green nodules were discarded onto the talus heaps together with flawed laminar chunks and fragments of the chalcedony, not collected or removed for use elsewhere as would almost certainly have been the case if they contained any recoverable amounts of copper or other metallic ore. No lithic artefacts other than large heaps of broken quarrying debris and no signs of any activity other than quarrying were found either here or at LP 16, where the talus heaps were even larger and more extensive. Clearly, a large amount of stone was taken from these outcrops. It might be conjectured that, if glass were made at Aksum from basic raw materials, rather than by reworking imported material, this chalcedony could have served as a source of pure silica. However, had that been the case there would have been no reason to discard the large heaps of small chalcedony fragments. It looks, rather, as if substantial pieces of unflawed chalcedony were quarried from a matrix of disintegrated, stained or flawed material, probably tested for knapping quality and roughly trimmed to suitable sizes and then removed from the site for use elsewhere, perhaps for commercial exchange. The evidence that large quantities of small pieces of pure chalcedony were rejected as unwanted waste and the absence from the wider area of any pure silica sands are between them sufficient to indicate that while glass was most probably melted and shaped at Aksum, it was almost certainly not manufactured ab initio. ~~~~~~ LP 16 1564740N/37467578E Two small obsidian fragments and a very low density of Aksumite sherds were found at this site of at least 300 square metres extent which is characterised by large quantities of chalcedony quarrying debris. The two sites, LP 15 and LP 16 mark the eastern and western ends of the same chalcedony outcrop and quarry. The chalcedony obtainable from LP 15 and 16 appears similar in quality and translucency to that used for the Pre-Aksumite crescents recovered from several contexts at Ona Nagast on Beta Giyorgis [L. Phillipson in Bard & Fattovich in prep.], and it may be that this source was used in Pre-Aksumite as well as in Aksumite times. The chalcedony found here is not, however, the same as that used




for scraper production at the site of 05/70 in sector 8, the latter having been obtained from somewhat flattened and irregular geodes and nodules rather than from a laminar formation. ~~~~~~ 05/10 1564205N/37467218E Associated sherds of Classic and Middle Aksumite red and orange wares plus a fragment of an imported ribbed amphora, indicate that this isolated homestead, of about 672 square metres extent, may have been repeatedly reoccupied. The few lithics found appear to be equally mixed. These include a patinated and much abraded yellow chert pick. Another similar, but slightly stouter (114.7 x 96.2 x 34.3 mm) patinated yellow chert bifacial pick [fig. 36] was collected as a stray find close to Mistah Werki Asbah. A few other equally patinated and abraded non-microlithic artefacts were found in the same general area in 1996 and 1997 [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 17-22, figs 13-15]. While heavy trimming scars indicative of direct stone-on-stone percussion on the pick are similar to those on the on the PreAksumite bifacial hoes found at Hwalti [sector 14], no particular affinities can be presumed on the basis of such slight evidence. The remaining pieces in this collection are unpatinated. The ochre yellow chert of the pick matches the material derived from the quarry at LP10, in sector 7, while the yellow-grey chert of the other artefacts matches that from the quarry at LP 12, also in sector 7. 1 chert pick, patinated & abraded, 132.1 x 50.5 x 26.1 [fig. 35a] 1 chert radial core, 57.0 x 45.7 x 21.2 mm [fig. 35b] 1 chert casual core, 45.4 x 35.7 x 26.9 mm 1 chert flake, 34.4 mm maximum dimension 1 chert fragment, 28.3 mm maximum dimension

Fig.35 05/10: a) tabular chert unifacial pick, weathered; b) chert plano-convex, bifacial radial core




Isolated find near Mistah Werki Asbah: chert bifacial pick, weathered

~~~~~~ A few lithics, including chert, chalcedony and obsidian flakes, blades and fragments, none of diagnostic significance, were collected from each of nine additional sites in this square. Most of the associated ceramic sherds were identified as attributable to the Early and Classic Aksumite periods, with sherds of later periods recovered from two of these multiperiod sites. ~~~~~~ 69° EAST 64° NORTH 05/62 1564607N/3746972E Locally attributed to a third-century King Endybis, this is a very large site with much building rubble in a steep-sided mound, characteristic of monumental building remains, on a hilltop with a wide outlook over the church of Beta Giyorgis, towards Adi Tsehafi and beyond. On the upper portion of the site, where the undressed, drystone building rubble is concentrated, very little pottery and no lithics were found. Surface scatters of lithics and some sherds variously attributed to the Early and Classic Aksumite phases and to the Post-Aksumite period were concentrated below the summit, on a levelled terrace adjacent to a ploughed field. 1 chalcedony flake sidescraper, 70° edge angle, 19.2 x 32.3 x 13.1 mm [fig. 37c] 3 chalcedony scrapers, each 60° edge angles, 19.9 x 19.8 x 10.4 & 22.7 x 18.2 x 8.6 mm & 28.4 x 30.9 x 10.0 mm [fig 37a,b,e] 2 chalcedony flakes, utilised as sidescrapers, 30.5 & 38.7 mm maximum dimensions 1 quartz crystal, crushed utilised tip, 29.3 mm maximum dimension [fig. 37d] 2 chert & 1 chalcedony flakes, 17.9 to 43.1 mm maximum dimensions 16 chert, 91 chalcedony & 4 obsidian fragments & chunks, 17.9 to 43.1 mm 50



Fig.37 05/62: a), b), c), e) chalcedony scrapers, all heavily utilised; d) quartz crystal with heavily utilised tip

~~~~~~ 05/66 1564508N/37469675E A few utilised chert scrapers [fig. 38a-g] were collected at this site of just 28 square metres extent, where Early and Classic Aksumite sherds were also exposed. Although the piece illustrated as figure 38g has the form of a conical core, and may have originated as such, its most intensively and minutely trimmed edge has flake arrises that are smoothed and polished from use as a scraper.

Fig.38 05/66: a) – g) chert scrapers


LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~~~ 05/67a 1564750N/37468450E This small site with abundant lithic fragments and some Aksumite sherds was quite clearly that of a specialist workshop, probably with a house alongside, dedicated to the sole task of breaking open hollow chalcedony geodes to obtain the quartz crystals which they might contain. These crystals would have been sold or otherwise distributed for use elsewhere. The presence of utilised quartz crystals, with usually their tips and frequently both ends heavily scarred by crushed and/or stepped damage has been noted at many sites, particularly at those where evidence was found of Aksumite lithic tool production, but only un-utilised examples were found at this site. It is suggested that the crystals were used as punches or intermediate tools for the production of small flakes or blades and possibly for their subsequent retouch. Unlike the artisan at site 05/70 [sector 8] who used relatively flat, larger nodules or geodes with solid centres in order to obtain useful pieces of chalcedony for fabrication into a single type of scraper, the artisan here used only smaller, rounder geodes with hollow centres. Comparison of the lithic debitage at these two sites makes it clear that the work done here was simply that of opening geodes, and did not involve any stone knapping or lithic tool production. Relative to the actual surface exposure of lithic debris at this site, broken geodes and geode fragments are very much underrepresented in the collection tabulated here; chert and obsidian fragments and flakes are over-represented, as all nonchalcedony artefacts found were collected, but only a small sample of the chalcedony debris. 27 quartz crystals, all imperfect and unutilised, 8.7 to 36.2 mm maximum dimensions 4 chert & 4 chalcedony flakes, 9.6 to 41.6 mm 267 chalcedony, 34 chert & 2 obsidian fragments & chunks, 8.1 to 36.8 mm maximum dimensions 14 polyhedral geode fragments, 28.8 to 54.7 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 05/67b 1564750N/37468450E Immediately adjacent to the site of 05/67a, but not evidently part of it, is an outcrop of ironstone, perhaps ferrocrete, with metal-chiselled quarrying marks. Except that the quarrying marks are old enough to have become heavily weathered and partly effaced, there is no apparent means of ascertaining their age. As they are part of a large outcrop of ironstone in an area which was densely populated in Aksumite times, this resource would have been easily accessible to, and must have been known by, the inhabitants of nearby sites. The probability is that the ironstone was quarried in Aksumite times. The fact that this is almost the only possible evidence we have found for the production of iron, suggests that if there was any local Aksumite iron smelting, it must have been on a very small scale. During the course of enquiries as to whether iron ore had been locally quarried and smelted in the recent past, and thus whether these quarry marks might be recent, an informant who appeared to be about eighty years old and who had previously been a skilled blacksmith said that he knew as a piece of ancient wisdom that people used to get iron in the form of black stones from the earth. He did not know where these stones could be found, but he did know that they made iron that was too hard and that bought iron was better and easier to work. This information leaves open the question as to whether the quarrying marks noted here are most probably attributable to an Aksumite or to a more recent period. ~~~~~~ Also in this square, is the site of Enda Giyorgis excavated by C. Perlingieri, from which the only knapped lithic artefact recovered is a chert flake utilised as a knife [fig. 39]. This came from su 7 of room 2. The absence of any other knapped lithic material may relate to a postulated clearing of the abandoned building before its reoccupation in Post-Aksumite times or to its original use for non-domestic purposes. A radiocarbon age determination of 1740±80 BP was obtained on a sample taken from stratigraphic unit 2, room 2 of this structure (A. Manzo, pers. comm. 2008). An additional eight sites with small amounts of lithics, mainly chert and chalcedony fragments plus a few flakes, have been recorded in this square, mainly associated with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds.




Fig.39 Enda Giyorgis su 7, room 2: chalcedony flake, tip and edge worn from use as a finger-held cutting tool

~~~~~~ 70 EAST 64 NORTH 05/01 1564246N/37469728E A low density scatter of red Early and/or Classic Aksumite sherds over an area of about 480 square metres, on a nonforested hill slope marked the location of an isolated homestead. 1 chert crescent, bifacially backed, weathered, broken, 34.1 x 13.6 x 8.4 mm [fig. 40] 3 chert flakes, 22.9 to 51.3 mm maximum dimensions 3 chert & 1 obsidian fragments, 13.1 to 34.1 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.40 05/01: chert bifacially backed crescent, broken, utilised sharp edge, backing arrises use-worn

~~~~~~ 05/02 1564202N/37469772E Most of the chert lithics collected from this site of about 160 square metres are lightly patinated. This may be a mixed collection with some material attributable to the Early or Classic Aksumite period and some to an older industry. A few red ware sherds were found associated with the lithics. Possibly this was the site of a small amount of lithic knapping and/or a very minor residence. 1 silty-red grey chert core, 43.7 x 37.5 x 23.1 mm 5 silty-red grey & 4 yellow chert flakes, 19.0 to 38.9 mm 18 chert, 2 chalcedony & 1 obsidian fragments & chunks, 16.3 to 36.4 mm


LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~~ 05/40 1564427N/37469449E This approximately 250 square metre site with a low density of associated Early and/or Classic Aksumite red and orange sherds was probably an isolated homestead where some knapping took place. Traces of Aksumite undressed, drystone walls mark the site. Also found here, nine small discs trimmed from potsherds have been interpreted by R. Fattovich as “tokens” [pers com 2006], and by further inference the site described as one where “administrative activities” may have been performed. The lithic evidence neither substantiates nor contradicts such an interpretation. 1 obsidian crescent, unifacially backed, weathered, 17.6 x 7.2 x 2.9 mm 1 green chert & 1 obsidian core rejuvenating flakes, 26.4 & 22.7 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony irregular flake, 23.8 mm maximum dimension 3 yellow chert, 14 chalcedony, 3 quartz & 1 obsidian fragments & chunks, 8.0 to 34.5 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 05/55 1564380N/37469045E This very small site, of just 42 square metres, with a few associated Early and/or Classic Aksumite red sherds may have been that of an isolated, perhaps temporary, dwelling or of a very small knapping workshop. 1 yellow chert scraper, 85° edge angle, with stepped retouch, 21.5 x 21.5 x 13.7 mm [fig. 41a] 3 chert blades, 24.6 to 41.9 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 41b,c] 2 chert flakes, 22.8 & 32.0 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 41d] 1 chert & 1 chalcedony fragments, 26.1 & 13.9 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.41 05/55: a) chert scraper; b), c) chert blades; d) chert flake

~~~~~~ 05/57 1564326N/3746954E This small, 224 square metres, isolated homestead with a low density of associated Early and/or Classic Aksumite red sherds may have been wealthier than most. It is marked by the remains of collapsed undressed, drystone walling, and glass beads; a glass fragment and a small ceramic disc, or “token”, were also found here. 1 chalcedony crescent, unifacially backed, broken, (19.2) x 5.7 x 4.4 mm 3 chert, 3 chalcedony & 1 obsidian fragments & chunks, 8.8 to 23.0 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~




05/60 1564411N/37469704E This site, extending to somewhat less than 100 square metres, exposed a low density of very eroded, generic Aksumite period sherds and a small amount of lithic material. 2 grey-black chert scrapers, 29.6 x 30.2 x 10.8 & 24.6 x 35.7 x 8.1 mm [fig. 42] 2 yellow & 2 grey-black chert flakes, 14.2 to 22.6 mm maximum dimensions 6 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 13.2 to 23.9 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.42 05/60: chert scraper, heavily utilised

~~~~~~ 05/61 1564868N/37469809E This site is the last, eroded remnants of what may have been a compact residential compound or hamlet with many very small fragments of generic Aksumite pottery, on a north-facing hill slope. There was no evidence of stone walling or monumental building remains at this site, in the road cutting which truncates it, nor elsewhere in the vicinity. However, such may perhaps once have existed in the major portion of the site, which has recently been quarried away for road ballast. Everything that could be found of artefactual remains other than the numerous non-diagnostic sherds was collected. The 102 scrapers from this site are all made on chunks, thick flakes or core-rejuvenating flakes. Except for six endstruck examples with subrectangular plan shapes and triangular or keeled profiles, they tend to be either sub-conical or flat in cross section and sub-triangular or splayed trapezoidal in plan, with edge angles of 50° to 75°. Arrises on the working edges of almost all examples are dulled and rounded as compared with the fresher trimming scars elsewhere on the pieces, as if from prolonged abrasion against some relatively fine, soft or delicate surface. None of the scrapers have denticulated edges and there is no evidence that any of these tools were ever resharpened. Evidence from other sites shows that while production of these scrapers does not entail the prior production of cores, it does result in the production of large quantities of knapping debris. The relatively low proportion of knapping debris to finished scrapers, the absence of unfinished scrapers, and the utilised condition of almost all examples make it clear that while some chert knapping was conducted here, this site was primarily dedicated to the use of these tools rather than to their production. Many of the site’s inhabitants must have engaged in an occupation that involved the intensive use of small scrapers, most or all of which had been produced elsewhere. The quantity of scrapers recovered from this one partial site plus the numerous similar examples found at other sites indicates that this activity was carried on at an industrial or nearindustrial scale; what this activity may have been remains frustratingly unknown. Contradicting a too simplistic interpretation of this site as one exclusively devoted to the utilisation of these scrapers, is the inclusion in the collection of two pointed hammerstones [fig. 43i,j], both of which appear to have been deliberately shaped or at least selected for their similar forms and for the happy conjunction of a quartz tip and basalt body on the larger hammerstone, the smaller hammerstone being entirely of quartz. These most likely served as tools for carefully controlled, direct percussive knapping, with the size and weight of the hammerstone selected according to the work to be done. That the hammerstones were themselves deliberately fashioned tools is substantiated by the recovery of a third very similar example [fig. 60c] from the surface of Enda Teklewene in sector 8. Evidence for a staged sequence of knapping processes involving a number of different intermediate tools, most probably including hammerstones such as these, is provided by the collection of unfinished and partially finished scrapers made at the workshop site 05/70, Ma’ado Gaza, in sector 8. 55

LAUREL PHILLIPSON Although all the scrapers found here are utilised, while the Ma’ado Gaza specimens are all unutilised and mainly unfinished, the two sites cannot be directly associated with one another; scrapers found here are of yellow, grey, black or red chert, while the Ma’ado Gaza scrapers are made of chalcedony. Between them they do, however, show very clearly that the production and use of these scrapers were for the most part separate, specialised activities, each carried on at distinct sites and presumably by different individuals. Comparison of the utilised chert scrapers from this site with those found elsewhere, including at LP 37 in sector 6 [fig. 23], LP 19 in sector 6 [fig. 24], and at Ma’ado Gaza [fig. 63], demonstrates that the large-scale manufacture of lithic artefacts as closely standardised products was not confined to a few sites nor to the work of a few individuals, but was a significant feature of the Aksumite material culture and economy. Although the collection made at this site had no associated dating evidence, the style of the scrapers closely matches that of scrapers found elsewhere in association with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds. 1 quartz & 1 quartz-and-basalt hammerstone, both utilised, 33.0 x 25.6 x 22.4 & 54.6 x 40.0 x 31.4 mm [fig. 43i,j] 6 chert endscrapers,36.8 to 45.9 x 19.2 to 24.9 x 15.4 to 21.3 mm [fig. 43k] 96 chert scrapers, representative measurements: 33.2 x 28.0 x 12.8 & 21.6 x 20.9 x 15.8 & 18.7 x 17.7 x 8.3 mm [fig. 43a-h] 91 chert & 1 chalcedony irregular flakes 10.4 to 48.3 mm 171 chert & 4 chalcedony fragments & chunks 8.9 to 56.7 mm Also found here at Mai Kerah 05/61 were a few presumably older chert artefacts characterised by having a hydration layer on their knapped surfaces and accidental edge damage subsequent to their acquisition of the hydration layer. Additional such artefacts were found in a diffuse area, which was not geo-referenced, about 0.25 kilometre above and to the south of Mai Kerah 05/61. There was no associated ceramics or other dating evidence with this material, which evidences various levels of natural abrasion and patination. The hydrated pieces from Mai Kerah 05/61 and from the hillside above this site are here tabulated together. 2 chert scrapers, lightly hydrated, 70° edge angles, 36.4 x 26.8 x 15.0 & 33.7 x 35.9 x 16.5 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 45a,b] 3 siltstone patinated blades, 52.6 & 69.6 mm maximum dimensions 5 chert & 4 siltstone hydrated or patinated irregular flakes, 29.2 to 69.5 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 44a,b,c] 9 chert, 2 quartz & 4 chalcedony hydrated fragments & chunks, 13.8 to 60.0 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony nodule with a rubbed, utilised end, 53.3 x 34.9 x 32.6 mm [fig. 45c]




Fig.43 05/61: a) – h) chert scrapers, all utilised; i) quartz & basalt hammerstone, quartz at utilised pointed end; j) quartz hammerstone, utilised at pointed end; k) chert scraper made on a core-redirecting flake



Fig.44 05/61 older series: a), b), c) hydrated chert flakes with post-depositional edge damage

Fig.45 Site above 05/61: a), b) lightly hydrated chert scrapers; c) chalcedony nodule with use-rubbed, worn end

~~~~~~ A chert scraper [fig. 46] and a few chert, chalcedony and obsidian flakes and fragments were found at seven additional sites located in this square, associated mainly with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds, with Middle Aksumite sherds also being identified at two of the sites and Late and Post-Aksumite sherds at one of them.




Fig.46 05/66: chert scraper

~~~~~~ sector 8 East of Adi Tsehafi: 68° to 72° E / 65° to 68° N This sector, north of Beta Giyorgis and west of Adi Tsehafi, near an ancient route crossing the Mai Goda river, centred on some important, but now mostly destroyed, syenite quarries and vanished rock engravings of cattle, also encompasses individual farmsteads and small chert quarries spaced along the southern and western flank of a stretch of drier, hilly country, with some less closely spaced sites extending further north. When visited in 2006, it was found that important sites which had been noted a decade previously, including major quarries for stelae and dressed stone with engraved letters on the rocks, an anciently constructed slipway or approach to the river crossing, and the site with cattle petroglyphs, had been obliterated or removed by modern rock quarrying. A partial record of these now-vanished sites is published in L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 243-5, 423-4, and figures 220, 221, 375 and 376. Although recording these syenite quarries was not a particular aim of the present study, the locations of those that remained were recorded in the 2006 Survey. ~~~~~~ 70 EAST / 67 NORTH LP 62 1567661N/469279 E This site, which lies the furthest north of all the recorded sites in the Aksum area, has a surface area of about 900 square metres. It exhibited a moderate density of lithic artefacts and a low density of Aksumite sherds which could not be attributed more precisely. While the lithics cannot be attributed to any single phase, the preponderance of bipolarly struck flakes and cores and the presence of flakes with heavily stepped butts suggest that most of it may belong to the Proto- or Early Aksumite. A small, unretouched, foliate shaped flake has a markedly worn area at one side of its tip and a slightly scaled, utilised area at the other side, probably from having been used to cut two different sorts of material [pl 15]. A single bipolar struck, rectangular obsidian flake resembles similar specimens, termed Likanos flakes, recovered from Pre-Aksumite and later excavated contexts at Kidane Mehret [sector 12], where they were interpreted as having been set in a handle as components of harvesting knives [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 360-1 and passim, figs 311d,e, 320]. While generally homogenous in their style of working and artefact sizes, the variety of core forms and of materials in this collection suggests that they are the work of many individuals rather than the produce of one or a few specialist tool makers. The characteristic of artefact variability may have a temporal significance. Lithic assemblages attributable to the ProtoAksumite period tend to be more varied, while those of the Aksumite phases are more specialised, becoming increasingly so with the passage of time from the Early to the Late Aksumite phase. In several notable instances Aksumite lithic tool production workshops are restricted to the use of material from a single quarry to produce just one type of tool. However, it is also possible that there was a spatial component to this distinction; specialised lithic tool manufacture sites were perhaps more closely centred on Aksum, where some forms of centralised production and/or


LAUREL PHILLIPSON monetised exchange may have prevailed, while knapping at outlying sites may have continued to be practised on an asneed basis throughout the entire Aksumite period. 1 utilised chalcedony flake, 22.1 x 16.7 x 5.6 mm [fig. 47] 3 bipolar chalcedony cores, 29.3 to 33.4 mm maximum dimensions 1 multiplatform chalcedony core, 34.5 mm maximum dimension 1 chert casual, irregular core, 39.2 mm maximum dimension 2 bipolar chert flakes, 18.7 to 19.4 mm maximum dimensions 1 bipolar obsidian flake, 19.9 x 23.3 x 5.3 mm 1 chert, 2 chalcedony, 1 obsidian fragments, 19.0 to 20.9 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.47 LP62: chalcedony flake, tip worn from use as a finger-held cutting tool, note lack of a stepped or shouldered butt

~~~~~~ Tg LM 05-06-170 15667563N/469236E This diffuse site of about 150 square metres exposed a low density of scattered potsherds attributable to the ProtoAksumite and Aksumite periods and a medium density of lithics. All of the cores and whole flakes have heavily stepped edges to the striking platforms, most probably resulting from hard hammer, stone-on-stone knapping. The heaviness of the step-flaking and depth of flake scars is not, however, as pronounced as that on characteristic macrolithic PreAksumite pieces, which suggests that this is most likely a collection of Proto-Aksumite material not unlike that recovered from the site of Ona Nagast I on the top of Beta Giyorgis [sector 9]. The circumferential cores are similar in appearance to the early stages in the production of steep scrapers. As noted above, these two artefact types cannot always be distinguished except by the assumption that in places where the predominant activity was flake production several or many cores may be recovered, while in places where scrapers were used, a plurality of those artefacts will be found. In other words, the pieces in question here are classed as cores both because they bear no evidence of having been utilised as scrapers and because they were found in association with other cores. 1 chert bipolar core, 26.6 x 26.1 x 21.2 mm [fig. 48c] 1 chalcedony bipolar core, 22.6 x 22.5 x 21.7 mm [fig. 48d] 1 chert multiplatform core, 37.4 x 32.7 x 21.1 mm 2 chert circumferential cores, 38.5 & 22.4 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 48a,b] 1 chert & 1 chalcedony irregular cores, 31.5 & 45.5 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert parallel-sided flakes, 40.5 & 44.6 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 48e,f] 3 chert irregular flakes, 24.6 to 42.3 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 48h] 2 chert, 2 chalcedony & 1 obsidian fragments & chunks, 15.6 to 42.3 mm maximum dimensions




Fig.48 TgLM 05-06-170: a), b) chert cores; c) chert bipolar core; d) chalcedony bipolar core; e), f), g) chert flakes

~~~~~~ 05/72 1565598N/37469928E This site of about 340 square metres, with remains of ancient, undressed drystone compound or field walls, exposed a low density of Early and Classic Aksumite potsherds and a few lithic fragments plus two use-worn scrapers, both of which are of characteristic Classic Aksumite appearance. 2 chert scrapers, utilised, 23.5 & 22.0 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 49a,b]



Fig.49 05/72: a), b) chert scrapers

~~~~~~ 05/74 1565623N/37469968E This small site differed from the probably contemporaneous, adjacent site 05/72 in that it exposed a somewhat lower density of ceramic sherds, but rather more of lithic artefacts, of which only a few pieces were collected. Wear on the backed flake is consistent with its having been used unmounted as a small knife. 1 chalcedony flake, unifacially backed, heavily utilised, 25.8 mm maximum dimension [fig. 50a] 1 chalcedony unfinished scraper or core, 36.1 mm maximum dimension [fig. 50b] 1 glassy chert scraper pre-form, 30.1 mm maximum dimension [fig 50c]

Fig.50 05/74: chert unifacially backed flake, very heavily utilised on sharp edge, backing arrises worn; b) chert core

~~~~~~ 70° EAST /66° NORTH Four relevant sites were located in this square. These include two mounds with evidence of undressed, drystone walls, stone building rubble, Aksumite brick at one of these sites, plus generically Aksumite ceramic sherds which are not attributable to any specific phase. There were also a few small obsidian and chalcedony fragments and flakes, the largest being parallel-sided and 27.1 mm long, at each of these sites. Another small site without evidence of masonry construction exposed a few lithic flakes and fragments together with Early Aksumite sherds. The fourth site exposed a few Post-Aksumite sherds together with 2 irregular chert flakes, 41.9 and 38.4 mm in their maximum dimensions, and a chalcedony chunk. ~~~~~~




69° EAST 66° NORTH TgLM 05-06-147 1566214N/37468676E An area of boulders on a small rise, close to where the ancient route from Aksum to Adi Tshafi crossed Mai Goda on a constructed incline or slipway, formerly defined a now almost totally destroyed site of about 200 square metres with a low density of scattered lithics and Aksumite and Post-Aksumite potsherds. The site, which had been noted a decade previously to have had a dense scatter of lithic and ceramic material, was that of now-vanished cattle petroglyphs [L. Phillipson 2000c figs 375, 376]. While nothing can be said about the attribution of the irregular flakes and fragments, some of which may well be of Post-Aksumite origin, the somewhat irregular cores are perhaps best attributed to the Pre- or Proto-Aksumite periods. 2 crystal quartz bipolar cores, 14.3 x 35.5 x 19.4 mm & 49.7 x 27.0 x 23.0 mm 1 chalcedony multiplatform core, 30.3 x 29.6 x 21.2 mm 1 bipolar chalcedony flake, 24.1 x 9.9 x 6.1 mm 2 sandy chert & 1 chalcedony irregular flakes, 19.9 to 49.1 mm 6 chert, 13 chalcedony & 1 quartz fragments, 16.8 to 42.4 mm ~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-150 1566182N/37468627E This large site, of about 10 000 square metres, was undoubtedly one of multi-period occupation. Covering part of the site are a large mound of building rubble from former constructions and evidence of at least one ancient drystone wall, with a general low-density scatter of orange- and black-ware ceramic sherds and lithics. Like the pottery, which is variously attributable to the Aksumite and Post-Aksumite periods, the lithics are probably attributable to several periods including the Post-Aksumite. A few artefacts may be older; these include a pronouncedly shouldered and tanged flake point [fig. 51a], the three formal cores and the parallel and radial flakes which can, perhaps, be attributed to a Pre- or Proto-Aksumite tradition. The point is larger than those recovered from more certain Early and Classic Aksumite contexts and its material, siltstone, was more used in the Pre- and Proto-Aksumite than in later times. Two large, thick flakes [fig. 51b,c] likewise appear to be of a different and probably older style than the remainder of the collection. Irregular pieces from which four or more flakes have been removed are here counted as cores; those with three or fewer flakes removed are termed chunks. While the two groups of artefacts can be seen to grade into one another, they represent different levels of skill and persistence applied to the task of knapping flakes. In the latter case, a likely stone was unsystematically struck a few times in the hope that a few useful pieces might be produced along with a plethora of smaller chunks and flake fragments; this opportunistic strategy is characteristic of Post-Aksumite knapping in the Aksum area. 1 siltstone shouldered & tanged point, 59.6 x 25.2 x 10.0 mm [fig. 51a] 1 chalcedony bipolar core, 2.9 x 26.2 x 16.0 mm 1 chalcedony multiplatform core, 45.3 x 39.2 x 36.4 mm 1 chert sub-radial core, 45.9 x 40.6 x 21.9 mm 6 chalcedony irregular cores, 29.2 to 48.8 mm maximum dimensions 1 siltstone parallel-sided flake, heavily weathered, 43.3 x 34.5 x 10.6 mm [fig. 51c] 1 sandy chert radial flake, 46.4 x 42.7 x 21.9 mm [fig. 51b] 2 chert, 5 chalcedony, 1 obsidian flake fragments, 10.5 to 32.5 mm maximum dimensions 6 chert & 50 chalcedony chunks, 14.9 to 55.2 mm maximum dimensions



Fig.51 TgLM 05-06-150: a) siltstone unifacial flake point with shouldered butt; b) chert radial flake; c) siltstone flake

~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-151 1566181N/37468504E This site of about 900 square metres has a sparse scatter of Post-Aksumite sherds together with lithics which may be attributable to several periods. While the absence of flakes, the very opportunistic and unsystematic working of the irregular cores, and the high proportion of random chunks indicate that the lithics are predominantly Post-Aksumite, small bipolar cores and utilised quartz crystals are best attributed to an earlier period, perhaps to the Early or Classic Aksumite. 1 quartz crystal with bilateral, micro-scaled utilisation at the tip, 21.6 x 17.8 x 11.6 mm 1 chalcedony bipolar core, 31.5 x 17.8 x 11.6 mm 5 casual or irregular chalcedony cores, 36.4 to 53.2 mm maximum dimensions 1 irregular chalcedony flake, 31.1 mm maximum dimension 1 chalcedony flake fragment, 21.2 mm maximum dimension 2 chert & 13 chalcedony chunks, 14.5 to 51.3 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-152 1566301N/37468422E About 1000 square metres in extent, this site exposed a low density of generic Aksumite orange ware sherds and lithics. The quartz crystal had near its tip micro-scalene scars which indicate that it was utilised, but, unlike most utilised crystals found at other Aksumite sites, not in a way that exerted sufficient pressure to crush the tip. The shouldered, subtriangular flake may have been intended for use as a point, but as it shows no signs of having been retouched or utilised, perhaps it was rejected for use on account of its size thickness. Both the flake point [fig. 52a] and the triangular flake [fig. 52b] found here resemble that from TgLM 05-06-150 [fig. 51a] and may likewise be attributable to the Pre- or Proto-Aksumite. 1 chert flake point with stepped butt & retouched tip; 46.9 x 38.2 x 13.7 mm [fig. 52a] 1 quartz crystal, utilised, 29.6 x 16.0 x 8.1 mm 1 chalcedony irregular core, 41.0 x 36.1 x 26.4 mm 1 chalcedony sub-triangular, shouldered flake, 58.5 x 37.4 x 17.5 [fig. 52b] 2 chalcedony fragments, 23.6 & 40.7 mm maximum dimensions





TgLM 05-06-152: a) chert flake point with shouldered butt, heavily utilised; b) chert flake, possibly a failed point, not utilised

~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-153 1566178 N/37468400E This is a small quarry site which had a scatter of chalcedony fragments and quarrying debris, but no associated sherds, knapped lithics or other artefactual material. ~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-156 1566004N/37468962E This is a site of about 300 square metres with a low density of generic Aksumite orange ware sherds and lithics including a shouldered point and two shouldered, parallel-sided flakes. The sizes of the point and flakes and their marked shoulders suggests that they are best attributed to the Proto-Aksumite period. 1 chert shouldered flake point, 30.6 x 17.7 x 7.2 [fig. 53a] 1 chalcedony & 1 quartz parallel-sided flake, both shouldered, 37.5 & 40.6 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 53b,c] 1 chert radial flake. 30.4 mm maximum dimension 1 chert & 2 chalcedony radial flakes, 20.6 to 33.7 mm maximum dimensions



Fig.53 TgLM 05-06-156: a), b) chalcedony flake points, both shouldered; c) quartz shouldered flake, possibly a point, broken


TgLM 05-06-164 1566024N/37468956E Associated sherds at this site of about 20 000 square metres were identified as Proto- and/or Early Aksumite; a so-called “foot washer” was among the ceramics found here. The lithics appear to be similarly early, best compared with ProtoAksumite material excavated at Ona Nagast I on Beta Giyorgis [sector 9]. The preponderance of cores and flakes suggest that this was a tool knapping site, perhaps for the production of flake points, four examples of which were collected. If so, the variety of core shapes indicates that a less standardised knapping procedure had been used here than at sites such as Mai Agam [sector 9] and that probably more people were involved in the work. Although very similar to one another in size, these flake points are less uniformly standardised than are the Mai Agam Early Aksumite points. All four of these points have stepped, shouldered butts; the two radial flakes have similarly stepped edges to their striking platforms. Two of the parallel-sided flakes, one in chert and one in chalcedony, have opposed bulbs of percussion similar to those on the Pre-Aksumite Likanos flakes recovered from excavated contexts at Kidane Mehret [sector 12]. Also present on this site is a mound of undressed building rubble, probably indicative of a collapsed structure. 1 chert & 3 chalcedony flake points , 21.0 to 29.3 x 18.9 to 20.5 x 7.3 to 7.9 mm [fig. 54a-d] 1 quartz crystal, 26.8 x 15.6 x 12.5 mm 6 chalcedony bipolar cores, 21.1 to 33.9 mm maximum dimensions 6 chalcedony & 1 basalt multiplatform cores, 26.9 to 43.4 mm maximum dimensions 2 chalcedony sub-conical cores, 24.9 & 37.8 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony radial core, 34.8 x 31.4 x 13.8 mm 3 chalcedony irregular cores, 21.3 to 57.4 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert & 6 chalcedony parallel-sided, bipolar flakes, 18.9 to 42.9 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 54 g-j] 1 chert & 1 silicified sandstone radial flakes, 27.3 x 36.1 x 6.9 & 41.5 x 52.6 x 15.6 mm [fig. 54e] 2 chert & 15 chalcedony irregular flakes, 14.8 to 37.7 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 54f] 9 chert, 85 chalcedony & 2 quartz fragments & chunks, 10.4 to 53.6 mm maximum dimensions




Fig.54 TgLM 164: a) – d) chalcedony unifacial flake points with stepped bases; e) silicified sandstone radial flake with stepped butt; f) chert flake with heavily stepped butt; g) chert bipolar flake; h), i), j) chalcedony parallel sided bipolar flakes

~~~~~~ Four additional sites in this square exposed small amounts of artefactual material, including non-diagnostic sherds and a few lithic flakes and fragments. Heavily stepped edges to the striking platforms of several flakes and core fragments from two of these sites, TgLM 199 and AT06/1, [figs 55 & 56] suggest that they may be attributable to the Pre- or Proto-Aksumite period.



Fig.56 AT 06/1: obsidian parallel sided flake with shouldered butt

Fig.55 TgLM 199: chert radial flake

~~~~~~ 71° EAST 65° NORTH 05/76 1565071N/37470271E Abundant chert fragments, chunks, and broken cores indicate that this site was a workshop for the production of roughly shaped pre-cores similar to the whole and broken examples included in this collection. Several additional, subrectangular, banded chert pre-cores were noted, but not recorded, as isolated stray finds in fields along the route between the quarry at 05/89 [sector 8] and the ancient ford across the Mai Goda on the way to Adi Tsehafi [sector 5]. Fragments and chunks are very much under-represented in the collection tabulated here, whole flakes and cores overrepresented relative to their actual exposure at the site. While the presence of a single utilised quartz crystal suggests that some production of finished flake tools may also have been done here, the fewness of the cores and of whole flakes relative to the very large quantity of broken fragments and chunks that was not collected or tabulated, indicates that the production of finished tools may have been on a very minor scale as compared with the earlier stages of the knapping process. All of the chert artefacts from this site are of the same banded chert as was quarried at the nearby site 05/89, and was also worked at 05/79. Some generic Aksumite sherds found here are most likely ascribable to the Early or Classic Aksumite phase, as are the sherds from 05/79. 1 chert polyhedral core, 78.1 x 76.4 x 59.9 mm 1 chert biconvex core, 78.1 x 58.2 x 35.5 mm 11 chert irregular flaked, 23.5 to 43.9 mm maximum dimensions 1 quartz crystal, utilised, 15.2 mm maximum dimensions 7 chert broken cores, 40.5 to 88.2 mm maximum dimensions 109 chert & 1 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 10.6 to 49.2 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 05/79 1565001N/37470490E Except for two small chalcedony fragments, all the lithic material found at this site is of banded chert like that quarried from 05/89 and also knapped at 05/76. The absence of lithic materials other than knapping debris suggests that this was a workshop similar to, but smaller than, the one at 05/76. A few associated red ware sherds are attributable to the Early and/or Classic Aksumite phases.




3 chert irregular flakes, 28.9 to 33.3 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert broken cores, 58.9 & 60.3 mm maximum dimensions 17 chert & 2 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 13.2 to 37.4 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 05/89 1564053N/37470326E This is a quarried exposure of a very distinctive, multi-coloured banded chert which outcrops locally in several other places that lack evidence of having been quarried. No signs of lithic tool manufacture and no ceramic sherds were found here, but there was very abundant quarrying debris, only a little of which was collected or recorded. The presence of several pre-cores was also noted, only one of which was collected and measured. These are unflawed pieces of chert which have been roughly shaped into sub-rectangular or ovate forms, about 150 to 200 mm long with smaller, equilateral cross sections. Similar pre-cores of this banded chert were noted as isolated finds at several other places in the general area, but were not collected; knapping debris of this same banded chert was also found at the two nearby sites, 05/76 and 05/79. The probability is that these three sites are of similar age and may have been in simultaneous use. The presence of generic Aksumite and of Early and Classic Aksumite sherds at the two knapping sites suggests that the sites may date to the Early or Classic Aksumite phase. The type of knapping evidenced and the lack of variety in the material produced at these three sites is consistent with such an attribution. 1 chert proto core, 154.4 x 85.4 x 79.8 mm 8 chert irregular flakes, 30.3 to 48.2 mm maximum dimensions 5 chert chunks, 44.4 to 82.6 mm ~~~~~~ Two further sites in this square each produced a few chert, chalcedony and obsidian artefacts, including an obsidan piece which is either a small core or an unfinished scraper, 18.3 x 21.4 x 10.3 mm [fig. 57], and a very finely made convex scraper, 20.2 x 20.6 x 7.0 mm with a 50° edge angle [fig. 58], associated with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds. No surmise is offered as to the possible or probable use of this and other very small, finely trimmed scrapers, which are not uncommon components of Early and Classic Aksumite assemblages. An even smaller example was recovered from the lowest excavated level of site 03/03 in this sector.

Fig.57 05/35: obsidian core

Fig.58 05/36: glassy chert scraper

~~~~~~ 70 EAST 65 NORTH 03/03 = MW 1 1565581 N/3746981E This non-domestic, monumental building site, known as Mistah Werki Gumala, was the subject of a major excavation directed by Dr A. Manzo, which is not as yet published. Only a very few lithic artefacts were found in the excavated rooms, and it is not clear which, if any, of these derived from the building’s primary occupation and which from random 69

LAUREL PHILLIPSON intrusions or from subsequent reoccupation. All of the lithic artefacts are plausibly Aksumite. A radiocarbon age determination of 1640±60 BP on a charcoal sample from soil unit 33, room 2 accords with ceramic and other evidence for dating the lower levels of this structure, which experienced several phases of structural alteration (A. Manzo, pers. comm. 2008). Like those from several other sites, the scraper illustrated in figure 59a and the even smaller example recovered from the lowest excavation level at this site are so remarkably small as to raise questions not only about the purpose for which they had been used, but also how they had been held or secured while sufficient force was applied to shape them. The designations for these tabulated lithics are those of the excavated stratigraphic units from which they were recovered as given by the excavator, su1 being the highest and su36 the lowest. su1 su1 su3 su3 su4 su11 su11 su13 su13 su31 su32 su32 su36

1 chalcedony micro core, 17.6 x 15.2 x 12.5 mm 1 basalt flake, edge worn smooth from utilisation, 19.2 x 29.4 x 6.6 mm [fig. 59d] 1 tabular schist rubbing or whet stone, trimmed edges, utilised, 93.7 x 62.0 x 23.8 mm [fig. 59c] 1 basalt burnishing stone (velum burnisher), utilised, broken, 25.2 mm maximum dimension [fig. 59e] 1 obsidian scraper, utilised, 16.4 x 14.5 x 3.9 mm [fig. 59a] 1 basalt core-rejuvenating flake, 4.9 x 20.7 x 3.1 mm 1 obsidian fragment, 7.8 mm maximum dimension 1 yellow chert convex scraper, lightly utilised, 22.4 x 19.5 x 8.0 mm [fig. 59b] 1 chalcedony fragment, 17.4 mm maximum dimension 1 grey chert fragment, 19.3 mm maximum dimension 1 quartz pebble lightly utilised at one end as a hammerstone, 47.5 x 36.4 x 29.8 mm 2 chert & 2 chalcedony fragments, 16.9 to 26.1 mm maximum dimensions 1 red chert scraper, maximum dimension 10.8 mm


Mistah Werki Gumala: a) obsidian scraper, utilised, room I su 4; b) chert scraper, utilised, room III su 13; c) tabular schist rubbing or whet stone, trimmed edges, utilised, room IIc su 3; d) basalt flake, utilised edge worn smooth, room Id su 1; e) basalt burnisher, utilised and broken, room IIc su 3

~~~~~~ 05/73 1565598N/37469928E Early, Classic, and Post-Aksumite sherds were found at this probable residential site and at the similar site of 05/74, in association with a typical Early and/or Classic Aksumite lithic assemblage. Each of these two sites exposed a sufficient quantity of lithic debris to indicate that the production of knapped stone tools was a more than occasional occupation. At neither site was there a preferential use of material from one particular quarry, nor of one particular type of stone. While the tools most frequently produced at both sites were small scrapers, there does not appear to have been the same 70



degree of uniformity in the production method as occurred at most other sites of similar age. An interesting contrast between the lithic collections from these sites is that while both of the scrapers found at 05/73 had been use-worn, only unfinished scrapers were found at 05/74. While both sites may have seen less formal lithic tool production than has been noted elsewhere, the former site was perhaps that of a small homestead where a few lithic tools were both produced and used, the latter being that of a homestead together with a more productive workshop. 1 brown chert scraper, very finely worn edge, 60° edge angle, 23.0 x 21.7 x 6.7 mm 1 chalcedony scraper, worn edge, 75° edge angle, 21.9 x 20.5 x 10.4 mm 1 siltstone irregular core, 52.9 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert, 2 chalcedony 1 quartz & 2 basalt flakes, 18.3 to 42.4 mm maximum dimension 20 chert, 20 chalcedony, 1 quartz, 1 obsidian & 19 basalt fragments & chunks, 7.6 to 51.6 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 05/74 1565623N/37469968E A few Early and/or Classic Aksumite sherds were found here associated with knapping debris and unfinished scrapers. The site appears to have been a workshop for the production of the small scrapers that are a characteristic component of Classic Aksumite lithic assemblages. A backed flake had minute trimming scars imposed along the length of one long edge, at approximately right angles to the main surfaces of the flake, in order to blunt that edge. Wear on the backed edge most probably resulted from the flake having been used for some domestic activity, unmounted, as a hand-held cutting tool, with one finger exerting pressure on the backing. Its presence in this collection suggests that, as at other Early and Classic lithic workshops, tool production took place in or very near the homestead. 1 chalcedony unifacially backed flake, worn backing 25.9 x 13.8 x 4.1 mm 1 chert & 1 basalt unfinished scrapers 39.3 x 25.1 x 14.4 & 36.0 x 20.9 x 16.0 mm 2 chert scraper blanks or proto-scrapers, 29.3 & 30.4 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony single-platform core, 39.5 x 40.5 x 26.6 mm 1 chert multi-platform core, 89.6 x 68.4 x 62.1 mm 1 chert biconvex radial core, 27.4 x 24.3 x 12.6 mm 2 chalcedony blades, 18.2 & 21.4 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert, 3 chalcedony & 1 basalt flakes, 5.6 to 26.5 mm maximum dimensions 5 chert, 7 chalcedony, 3 quartz, 3 obsidian & 3 basalt fragments & chunks, 9.4 to 47.1 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 05/98 and 05/99 Enda Teklewene I: 1565738N/37469991E Enda Teklewene II: 1565713N/37469992E Two excavation trenches were laid out on small, artificially levelled terraces between areas of steeper slope and rock outcrops, where surface scatters of lithics and ceramic sherds suggested that the remains of an isolated homestead or farmhouse might be intercepted. A general surface collection over the entire area resulted in a small lithic collection with sherds attributable to the Early and Classic Aksumite periods plus a few Middle Aksumite sherds; Early and Classic Aksumite sherds were also recovered from the excavation of trench I. On account of the active resentment of local youths who could not be hired to work on these very small excavations, the work was terminated as soon as it was found that no significant stratified sequence of lithic artefacts could be recovered from this site. Surface Collection: With the possible exception of the basalt and quartz polyhedral, which is a unique find, all of the lithics in the surface collection are of types found elsewhere in association with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds. The polyhedral is basalt at one end and quartz at the other and has been battered on its quartz end. Such a stone may have been used to roughen or re-tool a grain-grinding stone. While such a practice is well attested in recent times [L. Phillipson 2001], it must also have been done in Aksumite and earlier times, when grindstones were presumably in daily use. The recovery of such an implement in near association with the Aksumite grain storage pit encountered in trench I is not a surprising association. This collection includes artefacts from the surfaces of the excavated trenches and their immediate surrounds. Despite the inclusion of two cores, the great variety of types of stone and colours of chert represented in this collection as well as the paucity of small flakes and fragments clearly indicate that this was not primarily a place where lithic tools were manufactured or even resharpened, but was close to where such tools variously acquired had been used. 71


1 yellow chert scraper, utilised smooth, 60°edge angle, 21.2 x 22.4 x 7.7 mm [fig. 60a] 1 basalt scraper, utilised blunted, 75° edge angle, 17.8 x 21.5 x 9.3 mm [fig. 60b] 1 black chert scraper, 80° edge angle, 24.6 x 28.3 x 15.9 mm 1 basalt & quartz polyhedral hammerstone, battered, 53.4 x 52.9 x 43.3 mm [fig.60c] 1 mottled chert multiplatform core, 57.6 x 51.1 x 43.7 mm 1 grey chert multiplatform core, 34.9 x 26.1 x 21.5 mm 1 white chert & 1 obsidian blade, 26.7 & 28.4 mm maximum dimension 1 yellow chert, 1 brown chert & 1 basalt flake, 17.1 to 36.1 mm maximum dimensions 8 chert, 8 chalcedony & 1 basalt fragments, 15.5 to 42.4 mm maximum dimensions


Enda Teklewene I & II, surface finds: a) chert scraper, utilised; b) basalt scraper, utilised; c) basalt and quartz hammer stone, utilised

Enda Teklewene Trench I: While no house remains were encountered in either trench, trench 1 intercepted a clay-lined underground granary or storage pit, from which soil samples were taken for dating and for the identification of botanic remains by C. A. D’Andrea. However, no seeds, charoal or significant organic remains were found in these samples [A. Manzo, pers. comm. 2008]. Two 1-metre squares were excavated with all material passed through a 5 mm sieve. On the surface was much broken natural stone rubble, Early and Classic Aksumite sherds and a sparse occurrence of lithics. The top soil, su1, extended to a depth of 100 mm, was red-brown, friable and almost devoid of natural stone. It had some small roots, but no evidence of major disturbance. A basalt flake recovered from su1 in square ID had one edge smoothed and scratched, most probably from having been used as a small knife or cutting tool.The interface with su2 was a whitish, somewhat clayey, compacted surface with potsherds lying horizontally in square IC. In the southern part of the same square was an area of horizontally positioned natural stones which appeared to be part of an informally paved surface or trampled area. The same level in square ID revealed the top of a horizontal arc of undressed flat stones standing on edge and leaning inwards at 30° to 40° from the vertical. The arc extended from the northwest of corner IC to the northeast of corner ID, describing one quadrant of a circle about 1.9 metres in diameter. square ID, su1 1 basalt flake, utilised, 21.6 x 30.9 x 5.7 mm The next stratigraphic unit, su2, was from 100 mm to 220 mm deep in square IC and in the south-eastern part of square ID, outside the stone circle. The soil in this area was similar to that of su1, but slightly darker and more organic. At the bottom of su2 was another compacted layer. Excavation of square IC was discontinued at the bottom of su2. In square ID, the inside of the arc or stones was lined with clay which had been used as a mortar to set them in place and which continued downwards to line the bottom and sides of a bowl-shaped pit. The soil of su2 within this pit was similar to that outside of it, but with no compacted layer at about 220 mm; there was, however, a gradual transition with increasing depth to a softer, darker, red-brown soil. At a depth of 250 mm inside the pit in square ID, an arbitrary designation of su3 was made. Fewer potsherds were found in su3 than in su2. Red-brown soil continued to the bottom of the clay-lined pit, which reached its greatest depth 72



at 720 mm below the top of the stones and 800 mm below the original ground surface in the northwest corner of the square. Enda Teklewene Trench II: As at trench 1, four square metres were laid out and totally surface collected, but only two squares, IIB and IIC were excavated, all material being passed through a 5 mm mesh sieve. Su1 was a loose, friable red soil with stone rubble and potsherds to a depth of 120 mm. The interface between it and su2 was marked by a whitish, compacted layer containing much sandstone grit. Below, su2 was a compacted, friable reddish soil similar to that of su1, but with fewer potsherds, most of which were found near the top of this level. As no features were encountered in either square, excavation of IIB was discontinued at 260 mm. In IIC, su3 extended from 260 mm to 370 mm in depth. It was a continuation of the same reddish, sandy soil as the upper units, but less compact than in su2. A broken ovate burnisher with a flat, polished face from IIC, su3 and a schist tablet with trimmed edges and a polished and scratched flat face from the same unit are most probably identified the one as a tool for vellum preparation and the other as a small whetstone. Below su3 was a compacted hillwash of disintegrated sandstone grit, devoid of artefacts. square IIC, su3 square IIC, su3 square IIC, su3

1 schist sub-rectangular tablet, 92.1 x 63.4 x 18.8 mm 1 basalt ovate burnisher, broken, 92.4 x 17.7 x 17.6 mm 3 chert fragments, 17.5 to 23.4 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~

Two additional sites located in this square exposed a few chert flakes, fragments and a small, casual core associated at one of the sites with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds. ~~~~~~ 69° EAST 65° NORTH LP66 1565982N/37468943E This site had a sparse scatter of mainly Post-Aksumite sherds together with what is probably a temporally mixed assortment of lithic pieces. While a bipolar core and flake are very regular and would not seem out of place in an Early or Classic Aksumite assemblage, the remainder of the lithic material is so irregular and casually knapped as to suggest a Post-Aksumite attribution. 1 chalcedony bipolar core, 27.2 x 21.8 x 16.8 mm 1 chert & 1 quartz multiplatform cores, 35.8 & 41.0 mm maximum dimensions 1 chalcedony bipolar flake, 27.3 x 24.2 x 8.2 mm 1 chert & 2 chalcedony irregular flakes, 18.3 to 27.4 mm maximum dimensions 3 chert & 10 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 18.9 to 38.6 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-143 1565814N/37468877E A low density of scattered orange ware sherds, attributed to the Early Aksumite, and a few lithics were exposed on this site of about 200 square metres. The shouldered flake point collected here resembles a similar specimen collected at the site TgLM 152. The presence of several styles of cores together with flakes and fragments of a variety of materials suggests that while this is likely to have been a small workshop which, like 05/47 [this sector], was not dedicated to the production of a single tool type. The core and flake shapes, with modestly stepped edges to their striking platforms, are consistent with an Early Aksumite attribution. 1 chert flake point, 35.8 x 34.4 x 7.9 mm [fig. 61a] 1 chalcedony bipolar core, 23.6 x 18.0 x 14.4 mm 73

LAUREL PHILLIPSON 1 chalcedony sub-radial core, 45.7 x 39.6 x 24.3 mm 2 chalcedony irregular cores, 31.0 & 44.3 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert parallel-sided, bipolar struck flakes, 31.3 & 43.3 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 61b] 4 chert, 2 chalcedony & 1 obsidian irregular flakes, 18.7 to 37.6 mm maximum dimensions 4 chert, 12 chalcedony & 2 obsidian fragments & chunks, 17.0 to 45.3 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.61 TgLM 05-06-143: a) chert unifacial flake point, shouldered; b) chert bipolar blade

~~~~~~ TgLM 05-06-154 1565893N/37468475E A low density of scattered Aksumite sherds and lithics was exposed on this site of about 800 square metres. The flake scraper and the notched flakes resemble similar specimens infrequently found elsewhere in possible or probable Early to Middle Aksumite contexts. However, chert scrapers of similar appearance, but generally with a steeper edge angle, are a frequent component of probably Late Aksumite, collections, most notably of surface collections J, K, and L made in 1997 at a scraper-manufacturing site on the on the western edge of Aksum in 1997 [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp. 443-7, figs 316, 389-92]. 1 chert circular flake scraper, 40° edge angle, 36.2 x 39.6 x 14.4 mm [fig. 62c] 2 chert flakes with retouched & utilised notches, 45.6 x 21.3 x 6.6 & 46.7 x 34.3 x 12.2 mm [fig. 62a,b] 1 parallel-sided, bipolar-struck chert flake , 19.2 mm maximum dimension 3 chert & 1chalcedony irregular flakes, 19.0 to 36.0 mm maximum dimensions 7 chert & 4 chalcedony fragments 9.4 to 51.1 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.62 TgLM 05-06-154: a), b) chert notched flakes; c) chert convex scraper

~~~~~~ 74



A few chert flakes with shouldered and heavily stepped butts were noted, without associated potsherds, at one other site in this square. ~~~~~~ 71° EAST 64° NORTH 05/82 1564872N/374603E The presence of relatively abundant red ware sherds together with waste flakes and fragments and two unfinished scrapers indicate that this was probably the site, over 270 metres extent, of an isolated homestead and associated minor workshop for the production of lithic tools. While most of the material (27 fragments, 12 flakes and one of the three scrapers) was of the distinctive, immediately locally quarried, banded chert, a variety of other materials was also used. Although the sherds are undiagnostic, generic Aksumite, the scrapers are of a type most commonly found in association with recognisably Early and/or Classic Aksumite material. 1 grey chert scraper, 60° edge angle, 24.1 x 22.4 x 14.7 mm 1 banded chert unfinished scraper, 27.8 mm maximum dimension 1 yellow chert unfinished scraper, 29.7 mm maximum dimension 12 chert & 1 chalcedony flakes, 17.4 to 53.5 mm 29 chert, 8 chalcedony & 3 obsidian fragments & chunks 8.1 to 49.4 mm ~~~~~~ One additional site in this square exposed a few lithic fragments associated with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds. ~~~~~~ 71° EAST/66° NORTH 05/70 1566350N/37470026E This very interesting site, Ma’ado Gaza, located northeast of the excavated sites of Mistah Werki Gumala and of Enda Teklewene on the route towards the church of Maryam Leto, is marked by two different components. The entire site extends over an area of about 40 by 20 metres on a north- and east-facing shoulder of hill slope, with scatters of lithic material extending downwards in several directions. The northern edge of the site is traversed by a modern field wall, immediately north of which is a small mound, apparently an ancient house site, from which Early and Classic Aksumite sherds and a concentration of bone were seen to be eroding. As there appeared to be a human burial in the house foundations, it was left undisturbed and no collection was made near the house. A small amount of undressed, drystone building rubble was dispersed below the house site; there was none elsewhere. The remainder of the site was marked by a very abundant concentration of chalcedony artefacts and knapping debris including many broken geodes. In making the surface collection which is described here, a careful search was made for non-chalcedony artefacts and these are consequently over-represented in the tabulation; broken geodes and very small chips and flakes are under-represented. Had any of the surface material been sieved through a fine-mesh screen, flakes and fragments with maximum dimensions of less than 5 mm could also have been collected especially from a concentrated patch not far from the house remains. The presence of this element indicates both that the final stages of tool retouch were carried out here and that the site was substantially intact. The great uniformity of the scrapers produced here is analogous to that of the flake points manufactured at Mai Agam on Beta Giyorgis [sector 9]. It may be that, as attested for the latter site, the intermediate stages of knapping were by means of direct percussion with a narrow metal tool. However, the use of a narrow or pointed hammerstone [similar to those illustrated in figures 43i, 43j and 60c] was most likely for the earlier stages, and smoothing the scraper edge by rubbing it against a whetstone was probably the final stage. The shape of the trimming scars on these scrapers and their general size and configuration is very like that of the cores from Mai Agam, so much so that the respective assemblages can be seen to demonstrate an almost identical technical process which was used here to produce core tools, the scrapers, with flakes and fragments as rejected by-products, while at Mai Agam flake points were produced and cores 75

LAUREL PHILLIPSON were the unwanted by-product. The scrapers found here in their various stages of production can also be compared with the closely similar, but slightly larger, chert specimens from the sites LP37 and LP19 in sector 6, illustrated in figures 23 and 24, above. Even within the narrow parameters that were acceptable for these artefacts, the Ma’ado Gaza scrapers are so very uniform as to indicate that they were most probably the work of a single skilled knapper. Although the few sherds collected for identification have been attributed to the Early and/or Classic Aksumite period, this appears to have been a single-period habitation and workshop for the production of large numbers of one very uniform style of scraper, using chalcedony geodes apparently derived from a single source. These geodes were relatively large, somewhat flattened and irregular in shape, quite unlike the more nearly spherical geodes which had been opened at the site of 05/67a, in sector 7, to recover quartz crystals. The Ma’ado Gaza geodes, which contained only a few small quartz crystals if any, were clearly being used as a source of unflawed chalcedony; very many broken geodes with crystals or other internal flaws were discarded at the site. The term “cores” is used in the tabulation of this collection as an arbitrary designation for polyhedral fragments from which several pieces have been removed and which retain not more than 25 per cent of their cortex surface, to distinguish them from geodes which were simply broken open and discarded as unsatisfactory for further use. While many of the larger rejected chunks and broken geodes could have provided suitable material for the production of small flake tools, there was absolutely no evidence that any had been so used. This site is another instance of the Early and/or Classic Aksumite proclivity for specialised, industrial-scale production of single lithic artefact types. As a result of several hours of industrious searching, only four fully finished scrapers were found, other finished examples had apparently been removed from the site for use elsewhere, leaving behind only some patches of minute trimming or retouching flakes. One site where the same type of scrapers were used in large quantities is 05/61 in sector 7, figure 43 above, but as those scrapers are of chert they were not produced here. With the exception of four fully finished specimens, all the scrapers recovered here either lacked their final edge shaping, were partly finished, or were scraper blanks, that is thick flakes or fragments roughly trimmed to the correct size and shape. Comparison of the mean maximum dimensions of the chalcedony scraper blanks, 34 mm, partly trimmed scrapers, 24 mm, and scrapers lacking their final edge retouch, 21 mm, neatly epitomises the knapping procedure. A similar trend is seen when the sizes of the partly trimmed chert scrapers from other sites are compared with those lacking only their final edge retouch. The presence of approximately equal proportions of the chalcedony scrapers at each of the three principal production stages indicates further specialisation in the working process: whoever was responsible for their manufacture did not fully complete each scraper before starting on the next. A system of repeating the same operation on a number of items, batch or factory production, rather than finishing each individually is particularly labour efficient when many nearidentical products are wanted and when different tools or techniques are used for each of the several stages of production. In this instance, different knapping techniques and tools were almost certainly used at each stage of the process. The initial breaking open of geodes and production of scraper blanks would have been by direct percussion with a blunt hard hammer, while intermediate stages of shaping the scraper blanks or pre-forms would have required the use of progressively narrower and smaller stone hammers [eg fig 43i,j]. This was probably followed by percussion and/or pressure flaking with a narrow tool, which may have been the edge of a metal blade such as was used at Mai Agam, to shape the scrapers. The final stage of the production process appears to have been rubbing the scraper edges against another stone to smooth and refine them. Whatever the function of these scrapers may have been, it was not one for which an overly sharp or ragged edge would have been acceptable. An older chalcedony core [fig 64] collected at this site is of similar size and shape to the pointed hammerstones found elsewhere; it may have been intended for such use, but if so it had not been used long enough to acquire signs of heavy percussive wear. Unlike Mai Agam, where the production of numerous flake points was deduced from a few imperfect, rejected examples plus a large number of appropriately-shaped cores, the presence here of very many partly finished scrapers suggests that this site may have been abandoned very suddenly. Broken geodes and chalcedony fragments and chunks are all very largely under represented in the collection tabulated here, while chert artefacts are over represented. A few chert artefacts which are lightly hydrated on all surfaces are tabulated and illustrated separately as their presence at this site may have been adventitious; they may belong to an earlier series. 2 yellow chert convex scrapers, 29.9 x 25.6 x 15.2 & 34.2 x 24.6 x 14.9 mm 2 chalcedony convex scrapers, 21.5 x 19.4 x 10.1 & 23.1 x 19.3 x 12.3 mm [fig. 63a,b] 6 chert scrapers, lack final retouch, 15.2 to 25.9 mm maximum dimensions 20 chalcedony convex scrapers, lack final edge retouch, 15.7 to 25.9 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 63c-g] 4 chert convex scrapers, partly trimmed, 22.5 to 26.9 mm maximum dimensions 22 chalcedony scrapers, partly trimmed, 16.5 to 31.4 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 63h-l] 21 chalcedony scraper blanks, 25.3 to 42.4 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 63m-q] 56 chalcedony cores, 31.8 to 62.7 mm maximum dimensions 50 chalcedony irregular & cortex-backed flakes, 9.8 to 38.2 mm maximum dimensions 76



13 chert fragments and chunks, 12.5 to 44.0 mm maximum dimensions 98 chalcedony small fragments & chunks, 4.4 to 14.9 mm maximum dimensions 653 chalcedony larger fragments & chunks, 15.0 to 55.4 mm maximum dimensions 8 chalcedony broken geodes with flawed interiors, 40.5 to 89.2 mm maximum dimensions 1 hydrated chert single-platform blade core, 68.9 x 50.4 x 26.7 mm [fig. 64] 2 hydrated chert flakes, 39.8 & 31.8 mm maximum dimensions 2 hydrated chert chunks, 27.9 & 45.8 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.63 05/70: a), b) chalcedony finely finished scrapers; c) – g) chalcedony scrapers lacking final retouch; h) – l) chalcedony partly trimmed scrapers; m) – q) chalcedony untrimmed scraper blanks (= pre-forms)



Fig.64 05/70: chert core, heavily weathered

~~~~~~ sector 9 Beta Giyorgis: 68° to 70° east / 62° to 64° north and the eastern half of 68° east / 63° north This sector encompasses the top and upper slopes of Beta Giyorgis, an area which was surveyed and in which excavations were conducted by Professor Fattovich and his associates in the years 1995 to 2002. Lithic materials from these sites were subsequently examined and described by me for inclusion in the final report on the archaeology of Beta Giyorgis [L. Phillipson in Bard & Fattovich in prep]. Of the excavated lithics sites on Beta Giyorgis, Ona Nagast I and II were published by D. Usai in 1997; the other major excavated lithics site, Mai Agam, is also published [L. Phillipson & Sulas 2005]. In order to avoid duplication of information which has been or is about to be published elsewhere, only the most significant lithic material from some of the sites on Beta Giyorgis is summarised here. The reader is asked to refer to the cited publications for such information as artefact illustrations, detailed stratigraphies, tool counts and dimensions. Information about minor sites which exposed only a few lithics of indefinite attribution is not repeated here. ~~~~~~ EASTERN HALF OF 68° EAST 63° NORTH

Ona Nagast 31a & b Two intriguing surface collections from this site together comprise one chert flake scraper, 136 microlithic chert cores and 246 chert fragments and irregular flakes. The cores resemble those from Mai Agam [this sector] in their general appearance and manufacturing technique including the use of minutely stepped core-edge preparation, with some perhaps significant variations. However, whereas all the chert used at Mai Agam was of mottled yellow-brown colour, derived from a single source, the ON 31 cores included variously coloured cherts derived from perhaps six or more different sources. This site was visited and recorded by M. DiBlasi, who has assured me [pers com 2002] that the absence from both collections of artefacts other than cores, flakes and fragments is a true reflection of what was exposed. Among the ON 31 cores it was possible to recognise several clusters or groups of particular interest. Included in the ON 31b collection are four exceptionally neatly and regularly flaked conical examples, all of the same yellow-brown chert, with maximum diameters of 40.7 to 41.9 mm plus a fifth similar specimen with a diameter of 48.2 mm; such close 78



standardisation is indicative of very skilled professional work, perhaps by a single individual. The trend towards increased fineness and uniformity of working and slight decrease of core dimensions which began in the upper part of the Ona Nagast I and II sequence and continued throughout the three levels of the Mai Agam sequence appears to have been continued at ON 31, which may perhaps be attributed to late in the Early Aksumite or to the Classic Aksumite period. Another five cores from ON 31a plus 11 from ON 31b have ovate to slightly splayed trapezoidal shapes and keeled backs similar to those of Gudit scrapers, though they have minutely step flaked core edges rather than the minutely denticulated retouched edges of Gudit scrapers. The presence of this core shape, which has been found at other sites in association with Early and Classic Aksumite sherds, contributes to the suggestion that ON 31 was a somewhat later flake-tool production site than Mai Agam. The nature of the tools produced at this workshop could not, unfortunately, be reconstructed from the material in these collections. ~~~~~~ 69° EAST 62° NORTH Ona Nagast I and II Two trenches, located about 30 metres apart, in the centre of a dense surface exposure of lithic material, were excavated by M. DiBlasi and D. Usai in 1995 and published by Usai in 1997. The following observations are based on my reexamination in 2002 of the lithics from these excavations. The material recovered from the first trench, ON I, appears to have been from a non-specialised tool-production site which underlay a major building complex, close to a large chert outcrop that provided the material for most of the tools found here. This microlithic Pre-Aksumite industry shows no evidence of having been produced by craft specialists. As much of the knapping is somewhat casual, opportunistic or irregular, with almost no uniformity of core and flake forms, it was most likely the work of many individuals who visited the site from time to time in order to make tools sufficient for their own particular needs. Furthermore, as the ON I excavated material varies in condition from slightly weathered to very fresh, it obviously constitutes a mixed collection resulting from numerous ad hoc knapping events which must have taken place over an extended period of time rather than a single-period assemblage. Some of the more interesting pieces from ON I include six chert cores with opportunistic or casual flaking patterns, four of which have casual sub-radial scar patterns; another chert core has a steeply trimmed edge, and there is one bipolar chalcedony core. Among the tools and retouched pieces are a unique, bifacially trimmed, concave-based chalcedony point (described in the original excavator’s report as a concave scraper), a chert flake point, three chert scrapers and two chalcedony crescents. While the bifacially trimmed point with the concave base excavated at ON I is unique with respect to all the lithic assemblages and collections in the area of this Survey, it appears to have very close counterparts in two points illustrated by Curtis [2004; fig. 24.24 & 24.22] in a page of line drawings of ceramic and lithic artefacts titled, “Ona flaked stone lithics”, without any more specific attributions, descriptions, or specification of the material from which they were knapped. In the accompanying paper, Curtis discusses [p. 57], “ ‘Ona’ village communities occupying the Asmara Plateau in the Hamasien region of highland Eritrea in the early to mid first millennium BC”. He presents the evidence that, as in the Aksum area at this time period, so too in neighbouring highland Eritrea, the local material culture was very largely, perhaps almost entirely, the result of autochthonous development. The distance from Aksum to the closer Ona sites is very approximately 120 kilometres, a distance which might be traversed on foot in three or four days. It is not, therefore unreasonable to consider that the point in question may attest to some level of trade or communication between these two areas. Comparison of some other individual pieces from ON I with artefacts from the upper levels of Gobedra Rockshelter [D. W. Phillipson 1977] suggests close stylistic and technological affinities to the later material from that site. If, as the condition of some of the artefacts seems to indicate, the site of the ON I trench had been used for some centuries, its assemblages of largely Pre-Aksumite lithics may include individual pieces which between them span several centuries from the late Prehistoric to the start of the Proto-Aksumite period. Although one of the ON I cores is steeply trimmed, it lacks the stepped edge preparation which is a characteristic feature of much of the more carefully controlled style of Proto- and Early Aksumite tool knapping. This contrasts with the cores excavated from the lowest level of the second trench, ON II su 3, where five out of eight chert plus one chalcedony cores were steeply and systematically worked from the circumference of a single platform, and where the presence among the debitage of occasional core-rejuvenating flakes indicates that the core edges were sometimes deliberately refreshed to facilitate the production of regularly shaped flakes. The trend towards more controlled and uniform knapping is further evidenced in ON II su 2, where 10 out of 13 cores have a clearly defined edge from which flakes were struck in a consistent fashion. In the top level of ON II, su 1, 24 out of 32 cores were even more regularly worked from a single edge. Some of the cores from ON II su 2 and su 1 have areas of step-flaked edge preparation. This trait, which is absent from all ON I and from ON II su 3 artefacts, is characteristic of Early Aksumite knapping, as on 79

LAUREL PHILLIPSON the flake points from the site of Mai Agam. The ON II sequence thus shows the first introduction of a knapping technique which subsequently became a defining characteristic of the Early and Classic Aksumite lithic industries. Corresponding to the inception of deliberate core edge preparation, two of the four flake points from ON II su1 have minutely stepped shoulders or tangs which had been formed by the core edge preparation; the three flake points recovered from ON I and from ON II su 3 and ON II su 2 had neither tangs nor shoulders. On the basis of this technological characteristic, the three excavated assemblages from successive levels of ON II are best interpreted as spanning the period between ON I and Mai Agam, that is between the Pre- and the Early Aksumite and may thus be termed Proto-Aksumite. However, if they were not subject to significant post-depositional mixing and may be considered as temporally distinct assemblages, they represent not so much a discrete period as a series of stages, almost snapshots, in what seems to have been an uninterrupted progression from the Late Stone Age technology of Gobedra Rockshelter [D.W. Phillipson 1977] to the Early and Classic Aksumite specialist tool production. While the method of knapping consistently used at Mai Agam was sometimes used in the upper part of the ON II sequence, the material recovered from ON II su 3 has at least as much in common with that from ON I as it does with that from the upper levels of ON II. Whatever situations may have affected the comings and goings of elite groups and polities in the Aksum area, the political, social and cultural innovations were not apparently so drastic as to have affected the practice of a deeply-rooted autochthonous tool-making tradition. A few other pieces from ON II can be mentioned as of particular interest or significance. A uniformly backed, nonmicrolithic blade, 91.3 mm long, from su 3, made of well consolidated sandstone, may be compared with a tabular scraper illustrated in figure 15m of L. Phillipson 2000c. One microlithic chalcedony crescent derives from su 2 and four from su 1; three of the examples from su 1 have traces of wear consistent with their having been used as arrow barbs. Similar short, utilised, chalcedony crescents have been recovered from su 2 and from su 1 of the Proto-Aksumite site OAZ VI [all OAZ sites are in this sector]. Another chalcedony crescent from ON II su 1 is not utilised and is of the elongate type which has been recovered as deliberate, unutilised, placements in the Proto-Aksumite grave shafts of OAZ I and OAZ VIII/IX, as well as from OAZ VI. A chert flake point and three utilised convex flake scrapers were also recovered from ON II su 1. The evidence of the crescents corroborates that of the lithic technology in assigning at least ON II su1 to the Proto-Aksumite period, with ON II su 3 and su 2 probably representing the transition from the Pre- to the Proto-Aksumite. ~~~~~~ Ona Nagast VII, VIII, X , XVI and XVII These trenches disclosed parts of a large, elite residential complex that was also excavated in the contiguous trenches ON III, IV, V and VI located in the adjacent grid square and discussed below [Bard & Fattovich in prep]. Trenches VII, VIII and X yielded few knapped lithic artefacts other than a miscellany of flakes and fragments of chalcedony, chert, obsidian and basalt. A chalcedony casual core was recovered from a Late Aksumite, a worked out obsidian bipolar core from a Middle Aksumite, and a utilised quartz crystal from an Early Aksumite stratigraphic unit. Clearly, while some minimal production and use of knapped lithics may have occurred at all residential sites, it was more characteristic of sites attributable to people of middling or lower economic and social status. Whether this was because food preparation and other tasks which may have involved the use of stone tools were executed outside the walls of the elite residences or whether at these sites they were done almost exclusively with metal tools has not been ascertained. Trenches XVI and XVII, located in the northern sector of the same residential complex as was uncovered by the other Ona Nagast trenches, yielded mainly Classic and Middle Aksumite ceramic sherds. The few knapped lithics recovered from it include a multi-platform obsidian core; an obliquely truncated chalcedony blade that is partly unifacially backed and has scaled utilisation scars on its sharp edge; and a chalcedony crescent with a slight tang formed by a proximal corner notch. The crescent has utilisation damage on the distal half of its long edge. ~~~~~~ Mai Agam 02/98 Mai Agam, locate on a small terrace overlooking the upper reaches of the Mai Lalaha stream on Beta Giyorgis, is the site of a single excavated trench plus associated surface collections [L. Phillipson & Sulas 2005]. The excavation was centred on a workshop area of very limited extent, partly defined by three natural boulders each of which had a palimpsest of engraved lines created by the rubbing of narrow metal blades, probably in order to sharpen or reform the edges of instruments used as fine knapping tools. Material recovered from each of the three levels of the excavation comprised much chert knapping debris including a plethora of cores from which small triangular flakes had been removed and a number of small flake points which had evidently been rejected as substandard, perhaps because they were insufficiently uniform in size or shape [fig. 65a-e]. Surface collections made at this site also included a few other 80



lithic tools and some ceramic sherds, sufficient material to indicate some domestic occupation of the site. Most probably there had been a small house or residential area adjacent to the knapping workshop. In the three excavated levels at Mai Agam, su 3 yielded 34 cores, six flake points and one flake scraper out of a total of 1945 artefacts; su 2: 107 cores, 14 flake points and 1 flake scraper out of 6861 artefacts; su 1: 44 cores, 13 flake points and one scraper out of 2608 artefacts. A first century radiocarbon date (calibrated to 210±70 BC) for the top of the lowest level, su 3, places the sequence in the Early Aksumite period. Almost all of the cores are small, regularly shaped pieces which have been unidirectionally struck by a narrow, hard implement such as the edge of a metal blade. Engraved marks on the boulders which delineate the workshop area probably resulted from the repeated resharpening of these blades. Except where they had been removed by the subsequent striking of a flake [fig. 65g, h] the core edges had numerous, minute, superimposed step-flaked scars creating a platform edge angle in excess of 70°, usually along half or more of the length of their perimeters [fig. 65f]. This core edge configuration resulted in the flakes struck from them having pre-formed stepped shoulders or, in some instances, small shouldered tangs which would have facilitated hafting the triangular flakes as arrow points. In another context these cores might be mistakenly described as steep scrapers and, indeed, at other Early and Classic Aksumite sites numerous very similar pieces were produced and used as scrapers. Interpretation of the Mai Agam pieces as cores depends on the facts that some examples show the clearly defined scars of the small shouldered or tanged triangular flakes which had been removed from them and that so many of these carefully knapped artefacts had been discarded at the site. Had they been the intended result of the tool-producing sequence rather than its by-product, they would have been removed for use elsewhere. Conversely, only a few slightly imperfect flake points were recovered from Mai Agam, the very many good examples which must have been struck from these cores having been taken away soon after they were produced. Clearly, it was the flake points that were wanted for use elsewhere. This contrasts with the material recovered from scraper-production workshops, such as site 05/70 in sector 8, where partly trimmed scraper blanks, or pre-forms, and unfinished steep scrapers have been found in abundance, but almost no fully finished specimens and very few whole flakes of any kind. The Mai Agam assemblages comprise the remains of a single industrial process, the production of large numbers of highly uniform microlithic flake points. Both the tightly circumscribed nature of the site and the uniformity of the production process indicate that these points were the work of at most a few well-practised knappers. Unlike the occasional points found at the Pre- and Proto-Aksumite sites of Ona Nagast I and II, which were probably made on an as-need basis by those who intended to use them, the Mai Agam points were the work of a skilled specialist or specialists. Probably the time span represented by the excavated levels of Mai Agam was not large. The site would have experienced a continual deposition of soil washed down from the hill slope above, and the recovered artefacts, which included numerous very small lithic fragments, were all in very fresh condition. The only time-correlated change in the assemblages which could be observed was a slight trend towards increasing uniformity in size and shape of the cores, with slightly smaller cores conforming more and more closely to a single pattern of working and with the lowest proportion of partly worked, rejected cores in the uppermost of the three excavated levels.



Fig.65 Mai Agam: a) –e) chert unifacial flake points with pre-formed shoulders; f-h chert cores for producing flake points

~~~~~~ TgLM 04-06-77 156253N/37468335E Exposed over an area of about 90 square metres is a high density of Early Aksumite red ware and Post-Aksumite black ware sherds together with some quartz flakes and fragments. When visited in 1997, this area on the lower part of the southern slope of Beta Giyorgis was seen to be near the western edge of an almost continuous distribution of artefactual materials with various localised concentrations (including the site of surface collections J, K and L in sector 10) of ceramic sherds, knapped chert, roughly shattered quartz, and stone building rubble which extended south-eastwards to the more densely built up areas of the Aksum conurbation. Within this general area, the localised concentrations of knapped lithics and of ceramic sherds tended not to coincide. It is regrettable that the distributions of this material were not recorded in the 1990s, as the more recent survey only records the few remnant traces of formerly densely distributed archaeological remains which happen not to have been completely effaced by recent urban expansion and land degradation. ~~~~~~




69° EAST 63° NORTH Ona Nagast III Lithics recovered from room fills of this partly excavated large building, which its excavators describe as an elite residence with drystone walls, are all attributable to the Early Aksumite period on the basis of associated ceramic finds. Sixty-five chalcedony, eight chert and one obsidian fragments recovered from su 4, plus a few additional chalcedony fragments from su 1 and su 8 are sufficient to indicate that a small amount of knapping was done indoors at this site. The recovery of two quartz crystals with scarred, utilised tips corroborates this observation, the crystals having served as punches or intermediate tools for the production of small flakes or blades. Six chalcedony blades with maximum lengths of 16.5 to 25.1 mm were recovered. Two of these have truncated distal ends and unifacial scaled damage on the sharper of their long edges, perhaps from having been used as light cutting tools. Two other blades had been fashioned into crescents with partly bifacial backing. Each of these crescents has a slightly stepped, blunt proximal end which was shaped prior to its detachment from the parent core. Minute prior trimming of the core edge shaped the butt and constitutes a stretch of pseudo-backing adjacent to the proximal end along one edge of the crescent; the sharper distal point and the remainder of the backed edge were shaped by subsequent trimming. One of the crescents was transversely broken; the other has a damaged tip; both have light scaled damage over the distal portions of their sharp edges, but no signs of wear or abrasion on their backed edges. This pattern of use wear is consistent with their having served as diagonally mounted arrow barbs. The primary knapping activity at this site seems to have been the production and trimming of small chalcedony blades in order to repair arrows and perhaps other implements by the replacement their functional components. The worn out or broken crescents and blades were discarded together with the knapping debris that resulted from manufacture of their replacements. The only core recovered from this site is an irregular, casual chalcedony core with a maximum dimension of 38.8 mm. The chalcedony of these artefacts appears to be the same as that used for manufacture of the Pre-Aksumite crescents found at OAZ VI. The pre-formed proximal ends of the backed pieces demonstrate a similar knapping technique to that used at the Early Aksumite site of Mai Agam for the production of flaked points with stepped and/or shouldered bases. A few additional chert and chalcedony fragments and a worked-out bipolar chalcedony core were recovered from levels of ON III, but these are too few to allow any conclusions to be drawn from them. ~~~~~~ Ona Nagast IV/V/VI This complex, multi-period building site, which is upslope of and contiguous with Ona Nagast III, produced several lithic assemblages. From the plough-disturbed topsoil, su 1, came a mixed collection with associated Post-Aksumite sherds. This included a rectangular obsidian blade segment with heavily scaled utilisation damage on one edge, a worked-out obsidian bipolar core with a maximum dimension of just 15.1 mm, and a quartz crystal with a utilised tip. A second collection is from a stone heap which appeared to post-date the site’s main period of occupation. This included two additional obsidian blade segments, each with scaled utilisation on one long edge. The three almost square blade segments resemble Likanos flakes [L. Phillipson 2000c pp 360-61, figs 319, 320], which are interpreted as having been the working edges of composite harvesting knives. However, while Likanos flakes were produced by the bipolar striking of a small core to produce individual flakes of pre-determined size and shape, the present examples were produced by snapping into multiple segments long blades produced from much larger, prismatic cores. As the technique of producing large obsidian blades, whether for use in their entirety or as smaller portions of long blades, is otherwise completely unattested for any period of knapping within the area of this survey, it seems likely that these segments, or the blades from which they were made, were brought into the area as finished pieces. All of the lithics from the disturbed, superficial levels of this site appear to pre-date the Post-Aksumite period and, thus, not to be contemporary with the associated ceramic sherds. The remaining lithics from excavated units of this site are attributable to the Classic, Middle and Late Aksumite phases, but are too few in number to allow for any useful characterisation of dated lithic assemblages. In addition to a few chalcedony, chert and obsidian fragments, they include a single unifacially backed chalcedony crescent, two broken chalcedony geodes, a chalcedony bladelet, part of a broken obsidian core, and two granite and one basalt upper grindstones. This was, apparently, a domestic context in which little if any knapping and only very limited use of knapped tools took place. ~~~~~~


LAUREL PHILLIPSON Ona Nagast IX/X/XIV-XV The stratigraphy of this extensive monumental building with massive undressed stone walls is complicated. Although the upper units have been attributed to the Post-Aksumite period, the knapped lithic materials from these units all appear to belong to the same periods as the lithics recovered from deeper and apparently less disturbed contexts. Three stratigraphic units, su 1, su 4, and su 5, each with associated Post-Aksumite sherds, have yielded chalcedony fragments and knapped stone artefacts including two chalcedony polyhedral cores and a broken geode from su 1; a yellow chert core with a steeply retouched circumference similar to that of Early Aksumite cores from Mai Agam from su 4; and two conjoining plus six non-conjoining fragments from a distinctively banded chalcedony core, another chalcedony irregular core, a utilised quartz crystal and a partly bifacial chalcedony crescent with utilisation damage at its tip and on the distal portion of its sharp edge from su 5. The nearest parallel for the crescent is with closely similar Early Aksumite specimens from Ona Nagast III. The multiple fragments of a single chalcedony core indicate that this may have been an in situ knapping site. This, together with the other cores and fragments and the utilised crystal suggest that a similar scale and type of activity was practised as is described for Ona Nagast III. Stratigraphic units attributed to the Classic Aksumite period have produced sufficient chalcedony cores, flakes and fragments to demonstrate that a little knapping was done here at this time. These include one chalcedony multiplatform core, one chalcedony irregular core and two parts of broken chalcedony nodules. A freshly made, unutilised, elongated chalcedony crescent from su 27 so closely matches in size, shape, material and technique of manufacture the ProtoAksumite crescents recovered from the OAZ I grave shafts and from OAZ VI that it may be presumed to be intrusive from an earlier context. Early Aksumite stratigraphic units have given evidence mainly of the domestic use of stone artefacts together with some remains of knapping activities. These include three chalcedony irregular cores, a chalcedony convex flake scraper, a chalcedony blade 42.3 mm long which had apparently been used as a light cutting tool, part of a basalt grindstone, and a few chalcedony, chert, obsidian, quartz and pumice fragments. Of the stratigraphic units attributed to the Proto-Aksumite period, only su 25 produced significant evidence of knapping activity. A chalcedony irregular core, seven whole or broken chalcedony nodules, one chert opposed-platform core, one chalcedony bladelet, plus a few chalcedony flakes and fragments were found in this unit. In their very fine texture and translucency, the chalcedony fragments and nodules match the Proto-Aksumite crescents recovered from OAZ I and OAZ VI so closely that it may be conjectured that this is where they and the crescent from su 27, mentioned above, had been manufactured. Also attributed to the Proto-Aksumite period is a worked out, bipolar obsidian core with a maximum dimension of just 23.9 mm. ~~~~~~ Ona Nagast XVI Among the few knapped lithics from this excavated building located in the northern part of the Ona Nagast buildings complex are a rectangular obsidian blade segment with scaled damage on one long edge and slight abrasion on its ventral surface. This resembles similar composite knife segments from other sites except that, uniquely, it is made of an opaque grey, less glassy obsidian unlike the much darker material used for all other obsidian artefacts found in the Aksumite area. Another interesting piece is an asymmetric chalcedony crescent with a notched and slightly tanged base, with utilisation damage on the distal portion of its long edge. Both of these pieces would seem best attributed to the Early or perhaps Classic Aksumite phase. The excavators interpreted this building as a non-elite, domestic structure based on their recovery from within it of much locally produced pottery and many cattle bones. ~~~~~~ Ona Nagast XIII Although the topsoil and upper excavated units from this site are designated Post-Aksumite on account of the inclusion of a few Post-Aksumite sherds, such an attribution is most improbable for the few associated lithics. This material includes a utilised quartz crystal, a chert conical core similar to examples from Ona Nagast 31, and a chalcedony bifacial core. Stratigraphic units attributed to the Late Aksumite period have yielded flakes and fragments of chalcedony, chert, quartz, obsidian, steatite, basalt and marble. The presence of just two cores, a chalcedony multi-platform core and a worked out obsidian bipolar core indicate that little if any knapping took place here, which is consistent with the Late Aksumite separation of lithic tool producing and tool using activities. Lithic tools include three utilised chalcedony crescents, a heavily utilised unifacially backed chert bladelet, and a sub-triangular chert flake with a slightly tanged base and step-flaked shoulders. Middle Aksumite stratigraphic units produced a much smaller lithic assemblage, including 84



two conjoining chert core fragments, half of a broken marble vellum-burnisher and a small quantity of chalcedony and other fragments, but no knapped tools. ~~~~~~ ON 43 This surface scatter of material on a peripheral part of the Ona Nagast residential area is attributed to the Late Aksumite period on the basis of associated potsherds. Knapped lithics include two keeled, steeply trimmed chert cores; one (42.9 mm long) is oval in plan and trimmed around its entire circumference, the other (57.2 mm) is a pointed D shape. While these artefacts are technically similar to the Early Aksumite Mai Agam cores, their shapes and sizes match those of Late Aksumite scrapers from the Gudit Stelae Field site. As just five chert and one chalcedony fragment were recovered, this cannot have been anything more than a very minor workshop or tool production site. ~~~~~~ Litman Ruin E In addition to a low density scatter of Aksumite lithics, a single buff-pink, ceramic disc bead, 4.6 mm thick with an external diameter of 11.8 to 12.9 mm and a biconically drilled hole 2.2 to 3.9 mm in diameter was found here. 1 glassy chert convex flake scraper, 55° edge angle, 28.0 x 26.5 x 10.2 mm 1 chert bipolar core, 29.1 x 37.0 x 17.1 mm 3 chalcedony multiplatform cores, 25.6 to 37.7 mm maximum dimensions 6 chert & 7 chalcedony irregular flakes, 12.8 to 31.4 mm maximum dimensions 7 chert & 17 chalcedony fragments & chunks, 13.6 to 31.0 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 1562961-1563054N/3746831-37468513E Over much of the area defined by these gps readings, there is a widespread surface occurrence of mottled yellowbrown chert fieldstone, including an abundance of fist-sized and larger sub-angular lumps. The material matches that used for almost all of the Mai Agam cores and other chert artefacts found at sites on Beta Giyorgis. No evidence of quarrying activity or of the production of roughly-shaped pre-cores was found in this area, but none would be expected as an unlimited supply of good-quality, suitably shaped raw material could simply be “harvested” by picking it off the land surface. ~~~~~~ 69° EAST 64° NORTH Gudgwad Agazen The very few lithic fragments recovered from this Middle Aksumite excavated building indicate that lithic knapping was not done here. The only significant lithic artefact found was a chalcedony rectangular blade segment resembling obsidian composite knife segments in its size and shape and in the presence of use wear on one long edge. ~~~~~~ Qalqal Asbah Lithics from two excavated Middle Aksumite buildings, the later constructed or reconstructed on the remains of the earlier, include a finely- and steeply-worked, high-backed chert core, a chert sub-triangular flake with a slightly tanged base and step-flaked shoulder, and a chalcedony bladelet with heavy unifacial scaled damage in the centre of one long edge. Despite the presence of a single core, the occasional chert, chalcedony and obsidian fragments recovered from this site are too few to suggest that much knapping was done here. ~~~~~~


LAUREL PHILLIPSON 70° EAST 62° NORTH site 64 A chert steeply trimmed, sub-rectangular core, 32.3 mm long from this Late Aksumite site has a concave end caused by the final flake removal from it, a feature also found on some technically similar Early Aksumite cores from Mai Agam, which both indicates that the object was in fact a core for the intended production of flakes rather than some form of a scraper and perhaps demonstrates the continuity of this knapping technique. Two other broken cores, one of chert and one of chalcedony, were also found here. Whether these few pieces are in fact of Late Aksumite age or are intrusive from an earlier period could not be determined from the excavation. ~~~~~~ 70° EAST 63° NORTH OAZ I The one type of knapped lithic artefact recovered from the OAZ I Proto-Aksumite rock-cut shaft tombs is of particular interest because examples of it were apparently made specifically for the purpose of entombment. These are very carefully shaped microlithic crescents of flawless chalcedony, ranging from translucent milky white to almost transparent pale yellow in colour, all 18 of which were found to be in a completely un-used, fresh condition and most of which are too fragile to have served any technical function. They are from 14.5 to 28.3 mm long, with lengths at least three to more than four times their widths [fig. 66a-d]. These elongate crescents may be compared to a number of approximately hemicircular chalcedony crescents recovered from the upper excavated levels of the artificial stone platforms built over the tombs here and at near-by sites of similar age [fig. 66e,f]. The latter type have similar thicknesses and widths to the elongate specimens, but length-breadth ratios of about 1.2 to 2.5. Unlike the elongate specimens, most of the shorter crescents have clear signs of utilisation damage. Fourteen of the 18 elongate crescents came from burial shaft 3, and four equally pristine examples from elsewhere in the same excavated area. The few other lithic artefacts from OAZ I are likely to have been chance inclusions in the tombs’ fill. These are a short chalcedony crescent with utilisation scars on the distal portion of its long edge, a chert pebble that had been used as a light pounding tool, and a few chalcedony, chert, obsidian and quartz fragments. Other sites and contexts from which unutilised elongate chalcedony crescent have been recovered are the platform over Proto-Aksumite graves at OAZ VI, the Proto-Aksumite grave shafts of OAZ VIII/IX and a single example from a stratigraphic unit, su 27, of ON IX/X/XIV-XV. Although su 27 is attributed by its excavators to the Classic Aksumite period, the elongated crescent found in it is almost certainly derived from an earlier period. All the examples of elongate crescents, including the su 27 example, are made of chalcedony which appears to have derived from a single source and which was knapped in the Proto-Aksumite stratigraphic unit su 25 of ON IX/X/XIV-XV. This manufacture and funerary deposition of technically non-functional chalcedony crescents was apparently a specifically Proto-Aksumite activity.




Fig.66 OAZ sites: a) – d) chalcedony elongate crescents, not utilised; e), f) chalcedony short crescents, utilised


OAZ VI A total of 9 short (16.5 to 20.6 mm), utilised and 7 elongate (22.9 to 36.9 mm) unutilised crescents were recovered from this Proto-Aksumite, stone-built platform covering an area of Proto-Aksumite burials. All of the chalcedony crescents are of unflawed material like that of the crescents recovered from OAZ I. Six of the short crescents were from stratigraphic unit 1 and three from su 2. One of the short crescents has heavy, irregular scaled wear along its entire long edge, another is more lightly worn on this edge and has had its backed edge worn down by much rubbing. The other short crescents have light, irregular scaled damage on the distal portions of their sharp edges and some damaged tips, consistent with their having been used as arrow barbs. One of these short crescents is made of chert, the remainder are of chalcedony. Four unutilised, elongate, translucent chalcedony crescents were also recovered from su 1, and three from burial feature 3. The three crescents from the burial are so uniform in their sizes and material as to suggest they were struck by the same artisan from a single core. It would seem that functional, used crescents or arrows pointed with crescent-shaped chalcedony barbs were deposited on the top, su 1, of the built platform and that some of these crescents fell between the platform stones, to be recovered from su 2. Perhaps they were votive offerings; in no other context have so many utilised crescents been found together at any site in the Aksum area. Only unused, elongate crescents were put in the graves. Their translucent white to almost transparent pale yellow colour and their shape hint at a possible lunar symbolism for these carefully made and deliberately deposited objects. No cores, 1 chert flake and only a few lithic fragments were found at OAZ VI. A utilised quartz crystal and 2 obsidian rectangular blade segments, each with scaled damage on one edge, are the only other lithic tools recovered. These few pieces were most probably occasional stray finds such as might occur anywhere in the area, and are not necessarily related to the tombs. Except for the perhaps votive deposition of previously-used lithic crescents and/or barbed arrows, no activity involving the production or use of stone tools was conducted at this site. ~~~~~~ OAZ VIII/IX Unutilised, elongate chalcedony crescents were recovered from the fill of several of the Proto-Aksumite shaft tombs here: one from the bottom of tomb 10; one from the bottom of tomb 14 plus a short chalcedony crescent from the infill near the top of its shaft; and two very fine elongate crescents from tomb 15. 87

LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~~ OAZ V, X/XI/XII These excavated deposits have yielded only a few lithic artefacts, all of which are indicative of minor domestic or perhaps light industrial activity. They include two chert radial cores and part of a broken chalcedony backed microlith from OAZ V; a tabular sandstone fragment through which a biconical hole had been neatly drilled from OAZ X. Two upper grindstones from OAZ XVIII, one of which retained traces of ochreous pigment, from OAZ XII may have derived from a Post-Aksumite house which had disturbed part of the Proto-Aksumite foundation over which it was built. ~~~~~~ Daro Beta Giyorgis 06/03 Only two lithic fragments were found at this ancient church site, together with several fragments of glass. These included 3 fragments of flat, transparent colourless glass, probably from a single artefact, 0.8 mm thick and 14.3 to 25.1 mm in their maximum dimensions; 1 fragment of curved, transparent colourless glass layered with gold foil, 18.6 x 13.4 x 0.2 mm, and 1 transparent, blue-green, polyhedral bead, 8.1 x 6.3 x 5.0 mm. 1 chalcedony crescent, unifacially backed, broken, (11.3) x 6.8 x 2.6 mm 1 chalcedony flake fragment, 26.9 mm maximum dimension ~~~~~~ The 2006 Survey lists a number of open-air, surface sites in this sector, BGP 1-6, as being “Late Stone Age”. According to A.Manzo (pers comm 2008) these designations were based solely on the presence of microlithic artefacts without associated pottery or ceramic sherds. While Late Stone Age lithic material has been recovered from a few excavated rockshelters in the survey area, it is not abundant. At the time these BGP sites were recorded, the ubiquity of Pre-, Proto- and Aksumite microlithic tool production and use was not yet recognised. Apart from the findspots of a few isolated, redeposited artefacts, no open-air sites in the survey area can reliably be attributed to any period previous to the Pre-Aksumite. ~~~~~~ sector 10 Aksum: 68 °to 73° east / 60° to 62° north Lithics from this area, which includes all of the most densely settled portion of the Aksum conurbation south of the great Stelae field, were studied in 1995 and 1996. They are recorded, tabulated and illustrated in several publications by myself listed in the references, particularly in L. Phillipson 2000c. Information in these publications is not repeated here, though comparative reference is made particularly to the excavated lithics from Kidane Mehret and to collections made in the Gudit Stelae Field. Only a few lithics collections made and studied since the time of these earlier publications are recorded here. Although the earlier survey of sites with lithics exposures in this sector was not as thorough as that done subsequently in other areas and the sites located were not then geo-referenced, their publications are the only detailed record of material from sites which have since been lost to the pressures of present-day urban expansion. Almost the entire extent of this sector is perhaps best considered as having been a single area of more or less intensive occupation for most of the past 2000 years. Within it, the identification of individual sites may be as much a reflection of subsequent patterns of land use, urban development and archaeological investigation as it is a record of the actual, primary patterns of settlement. ~~~~~~ 69° EAST 61° NORTH Gudit Stelae Field The initial report on surface-collected lithics from the Gudit Stelae Field is published in L. Phillipson 2000c pp 433453, and more comprehensively reported and illustrated in L. Phillipson 2000a and 2000b. Among the many steep and convex scrapers which are a major component of the totality of Aksumite, sensu lato, lithic excavated assemblages and 88



surface-collected material from all sites and periods, the 110 Gudit scrapers from this site are almost unique in having minutely denticulated rather than smoothly convex working edges and even more so in providing evidence of their having been repeatedly resharpened, the significance of which is considered in a later section of this report. Circumstantial evidence that these scrapers are best attributed to the Late Aksumite period is substantiated by the recovery of a few similar scrapers from Late Aksumite excavated levels at the K site in Maleke Aksum and at Kidane Mehret, but not from earlier contexts. Replication experiments and the study of tooling marks on Aksumite artefacts of ivory and of steatite has indicated their probable use as small rasps for shaping these materials and also, presumably, for woodworking. A few Gudit scrapers were also reported to have been recovered from the excavated site of Gobedra [D. W. Phillipson 1977, 1990]. ~~~~~~ Surface Collections J, K and L Among the surface collections made in 1997 in the area between the Gudit Stelae Field and the foot of Beta Giyorgis, those referred to as collections J, K and L [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 443-7 & figs 383, 389-92] are particularly interesting. In total they comprise 4772 artefacts, 98 per cent of which are of chert. In these collections there are 65 unutilised convex scrapers whose smoothly rounded edges contrast with those of the Gudit scrapers, plus 121 unfinished and 50 broken examples of similar convex scrapers. The 1184 whole flakes and 3277 fragments in these collections include a subset of 66 overstruck flakes. These are small flakes which had been struck too forcefully in the same direction as the final trimming flakes, so that instead of adding to the finely patterned scars of the scraper’s edge they remove an already-retouched portion of that edge [ibid fig. 391o-t]. Very few of these overstruck flakes have been found at any other sites within the Aksum area. Their presence here in conjunction with a substantial number of scrapers which broke during the process of being manufactured is interpreted as evidence that knapping at this industrial production site was being done by workers who were working more hastily and/or were less skilled than was the case at other major lithics production sites. It is speculated that this may be evidence that the work of scraper manufacturing was here being done under duress. An approximate ratio of five per cent tools to flakes and fragments is not unexpected for a tool producing workshop. The site, which was not then unique in its artefact density, covered a clearly circumscribed area of just 67 square metres; no sites of comparable artefact density now remain to be seen near Aksum. ~~~~~~ LP 58 1561076N/37468030E This site, whose area of exposure was not recorded, has yielded some particularly interesting pieces. One of these is a concave scraper which was made on an older, weathered chert core; another is a bipolar core made on an older chert flake. The general appearance, style, and variety of the lithic artefacts resembles that of material from LP 56 [sector 6] and may likewise belong to a Pre-Aksumite tradition. It is also possible that this was a non-specialist Proto-Aksumite lithics production site. Two problematic classes of artefacts, or perhaps one class that is incorrectly subdivided, consists of pieces which have been circumferentially trimmed using a bipolar technique, resulting in a sub-conical or high-backed form with an at least partially step-flaked edge and an edge angle greater than 60°. It is not clear whether their makers’ objectives had been to produce these pieces, in which case they are best classified as scrapers, or whether they are discarded cores resulting from the production of a desired series of small flakes or flake tools. The designation here of two artefacts as scrapers and of three others as circumferentially knapped cores must, therefore, be regarded as arbitrary and tentative. Bilateral micro-scaling on a quartz crystal is indicative of its use as an engraving tool, perhaps on wood, bone or ivory. This is in contradistinction to the many quartz crystals found at Aksumite period sites in the study area, which have had their tips and frequently their bases scarred by stepped or crushed damage attributable to heavy percussive use. Correspondingly, none of the lithics found at this site have the very fine trimming scars that may have resulted from the use of quartz crystals as small, indirect percussive tools or punches. The absence of evidence for this most characteristic Early and Classic Aksumite knapping technique contributes to the attribution of the collection to an earlier tradition. 1 chert nosed scraper 70° edge angle, 32.7 x 18.4 x 16.5 mm [fig. 67g] 2 chert scrapers (or cores), 55° edge angle, 39.7 x 31.1 x 17.7 mm; & 70° edge angle, 29.6 x 38.4 x 24.3 mm [fig. 67h] 1 quartz crystal with bilateral micro-scaling at the tip, 18.8 mm long 1 chert bipolar core, 33.1 x 27.2 x 14.5 mm [fig. 67b] 2 chert circumferentially knapped cores, 60.7 x 31.7 x 21.6 & 28.6 x 25.6 x 16.9 mm [fig. 67c,d] 1 obsidian circumferentially knapped core, 28.7 x 22.9 x 14.0 mm [fig.67e] 1 chert & 3 chalcedony irregular cores, 27.0 to 54.4 mm maximum dimensions 5 chert & 1 chalcedony irregular flakes, 12.8 to 31.3 mm maximum dimensions 89

LAUREL PHILLIPSON 15 chert, 13 chalcedony & 4 quartz fragments and chunks, 9.3 to 51.7 mm maximum dimensions 1chert concave scraper on a reused core, 89.9 x 38.4 x 24.3 mm [fig. 67f] 1 sandy chert bi-polar core on an older flake, 54.0 x 32.1 x 16.5 mm [fig. 67a]

Fig.67 LP58: a) chert bipolar core on an older flake; b) chert bipolar core; c) chert elongated, high-backed circumferential core; d) chert conical core; e) obsidian sub-conical core; ) chert concave scraper on a re-used core; g), h) chert scrapers

~~~~~~ LP 59 1560990N/37468040E This is a small exposure without associated ceramic sherds. The majority of the lithics collected here resemble those in the collection made at LP58 and may likewise be of Proto-, or perhaps Early, Aksumite age. A single parallel sided siltstone flake may be earlier; although unweathered, it is comparable in size and shape to a flake [fig. 67a] from LP58 that had been reused as a bipolar core. 2 chert multiplatform cores, 53.3 & 56.1 mm maximum dimensions




2 chert, sub-conical, circumferential cores with stepped edges, 75° and 80° edge angles, 38.3 x 26.0 x 22.8 & 33.6 x 24.9 x 17.1 mm [fig. 68a] 1 chert overstruck flake, 24.3 x 23.4 x 9.4 m [fig. 68c] 1 chert bipolar flake, 17.4 x 14.2 x 7.5 mm [fig. 68b] 1 siltstone parallel sided flake, 68.4 x 30.2 x 15.1 mm [fig. 68d] 3 chert & 2 chalcedony irregular flakes, 16.8 to 26.7 mm maximum dimensions 10 chert, 9 chalcedony & 2 quartz fragments & chunks, 14.0 to 51.6 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.68 LP59: a) chert high-backed circumferential core; b) chert bipolar flake; c) chert overstruck flake; d) siltstone parallel sided flake

~~~~~~ 70° EAST 61° NORTH Excavations at the K site in Maleke Aksum included a small amount of lithic material [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 408-11]. Although this is listed in the published tabulation as partly derived from Late Aksumite and partly from mixed/PostAksumite contexts, subsequent consideration and comparison with material from other collections and assemblages make it apparent that both lithic assemblages are best attributed to the Late Aksumite phase. As compared with the excavated material from Kidane Mehret, there is a notable dearth of obsidian and a much greater use of chert for all classes of artefacts. One hundred and ninety-four out of a total of 235 pieces are fragments, giving a ratio of implements and whole flakes to fragments which suggests that a limited amount of knapping may have taken place on site. The tools in this assemblage include 7 Gudit and 3 other steep scrapers, plus 8 crescents, backed bladelets and related microliths, and one utilised quartz crystal. None of these tool types have been recovered from sites which have also yielded exclusively Post Aksumite sherds. ~~~~~~ 73° EAST 60° NORTH Hamed Gebez 1560799N/37472094E Because of the abundance and apparent homogeneity of the lithic material exposed at a small, relatively undisturbed remnant of this formerly large site, this collection is of particular importance. The area from which it was made was a field, newly designated as building land, with apparently a good depth of deposit and a well-preserved stratigraphy which had, except for this small remnant, recently been built over [Hagos 2001]. When seen by J. Michels in 1974, the site was recorded as being “20.43 hectares in area – located on a gentle rise out on the Plain of Aksum, some 2 kilometres southeast of Aksum” and covered with a very dense concentration of stone building rubble [p. 193]. Since 91

LAUREL PHILLIPSON then, the site has been almost entirely covered over by the town’s modern expansion and the ancient building stone incorporated into new houses. As there was no prospect of a rescue or salvage excavation being made, the site was visited twice, for several hours on each occasion, and a larger than usual surface collection of lithics made. In addition to ceramic sherds attributable to the Proto-Aksumite and Aksumite periods and a miniature, two-handled beaker, 36.5 mm high, 28.8 mm external diameter, attributable to the Proto- or Early Aksumite period, a few other stone and glass artefacts were collected. Although the ceramics found associated with the lithics of this collection and Michel’s earlier observation indicate that the site had been occupied during more than one period, most of the lithics collected, which derive from a small area of what had formerly been a very large site, are so consistently homogenous in materials, sizes, methods of knapping and condition as to indicate their most probable attribution to a single period of manufacture and use. The collection, tabulated below, from this site appears to be typical of Proto-Aksumite lithics, comparable to the material from Ona Nagast II on Beta Giyorgis. The absence of standardised scrapers and the presence of a variety of cores, many of somewhat irregular or casual shapes, but tending to have either a radial or a circumferential pattern of flake removals with convex dorsal and flat ventral surfaces and with heavily step-flaked edges are prominent characteristics of this collection. Because of its importance as a comparative for other, smaller collections, this collection is described at length. As with all surface collections, the material from Hamed Gebez may not all belong to a single period; however, with the exception of a few pieces that are illustrated separately, the lithics are essentially homogeneous in their slightly weathered state of preservation and in their material: chalcedony from broken nodules and chert that is coloured either red-brown or yellow ochre with bandings of red and brown. The technology is also internally consistent, with an emphasis on the production of flakes using a single knapping technique, that of resting the stone to be worked on a hard surface, presumably another stone, and striking it directly with a hard tool, or perhaps indirectly with an intermediate punch in the case of some of the smallest cores. The widths and irregularities of the knapped scars on the cores indicate that this tool was another stone. Two utilised hammerstones and two polyhedral cores that were subsequently used as hammerstones in this collection may have been stone-knapping tools. Uniform pieces of chert knapped in this way resulted in the eventual discard of plano-convex, radial or sub-conical cores, or of circumferential cores if knapping was executed at a steeper angle around the entire periphery of the piece. Since these cores were apparently held resting on another stone while they were struck, this is in fact a bipolar form of knapping. Smaller pieces knapped only on one side have the appearance of worked-out or exhausted bipolar cores; a single example of this type in obsidian [fig. 69e] closely resembles examples recovered from Proto-Aksumite contexts at other sites. Cores with fewer than four flake removals are classed as irregular. In all instances the actual method of flake removals is the same; a single core may have been struck from different edges and at different angles as its knapping progressed, and there is no suggestion that the terms used to describe core shapes had any significance other than that of classificatory convenience for the archaeologist. That most of the cores of all shapes are of casual, non-standardised workmanship, indicates that knapping was not then a restricted, specialist activity. A second collection, made at a separate portion of the site, included a few artefacts that are more plausibly attributable to the Early or Classic phases than to the Proto-Aksumite period. These are illustrated separately in figure 70. Whether as an accidental feature of the knapping process or, more probably, deliberately produced, the knapped core edges are generally very heavily step flaked. Where this step flaking is concentrated at one end of an elliptical core’s circumference, the resultant artefact has the appearance of a so-called “steep core scraper” [fig. 69h,j]. Although there is no evidence of any of the pieces from this site having been used as scrapers, the question of whether some were in fact cores or whether they had been intended for use as tools remains open. Most ambiguous of interpretation are a few pieces that were only knapped at one end and not along an extended portion of their periphery [fig. 69i]. Probably, but not certainly, these were in fact cores that had been discarded after only a few flake removals. Particularly interesting are a group of seven chert artefacts that at first sight resemble the frequently-recovered small, steep scrapers which are a characteristic feature of Early and Classic Aksumite collections. Six of these are in fact flakes which have retained at their proximal ends a significant portion of the heavily step-flaked edge of the core from which they were struck [fig. 70a-e]; the two most regularly convex of these may perhaps have been serviceable as scrapers. The seventh is a small sub-conical core (24.3 x 20.8 x 12.7 mm) steeply knapped around its entire periphery, giving it an appearance similar to that of the remarkably uniform cores collected at site 31 on Beta Giyorgis [fig. 70f]. The chalcedony used for artefacts in this collection is derived from geodes or from nodular deposits and is a nonuniform material. Its knapping involved first removing protuberances from a nodule or breaking open a geode in the hopes of recovering a usable piece of material. This knapping was more of an opportunistic than a systematic process, the final result of which was the production of many broken chunks and casual, irregular cores plus a few multiplatform or polyhedral examples. Thus, there is in this collection a continuum from broken chalcedony geodes and shatter chunks to polyhedral cores. Other lithic artefacts of particular interest include two chalcedony chunks (28.6 x 17.9 x 10.7 & 29.1 x 11.0 x 6.8 mm) and one flake (19.4 x 15.5 x 4.2 mm) which have been trimmed and utilised as tools, their tips having become rounded, blunted, striated and slightly polished from use [fig. 69a,b,c]. These lack the 92



heavily crushed and micro-stepped damage which would have resulted from forceful use to engrave or to bore holes in a resistant material. As is considered in greater detail in chapter five of this report, they are of a suitable size and shape to have incised lines on damp or leather-hard clay; their sizes and shapes match those of marks on associated ProtoAksumite sherds and wear patterns on the tools’ tips are consistent with such use. These may be compared with a similarly shaped chert tool [fig. 30a] collected together with a few Proto-Aksumite and Aksumite sherds at LP 54 in sector 6. An ovate quartzite pebble (35.4 x 19.8 x 9.8 mm) somewhat polished at one end appears to have been used for making the broad, compressed grooves found on some sherds. Other artefacts collected include part of a well-silicified siltstone hone, 46.4 x 39.4 x 23.0 mm, with four worn facets meeting at a corner [fig. 69k], and part of a smoothly polished steatite ring with an original diameter of about 145 mm and a rectangular cross-section, 18.3 x 11.2 x 7.1 mm, [fig. 69L]. A slightly curved fragment of pale olive-green glass with dark blue-green spots, 29.8 x 20.4 x 1.7 mm, and three glass beads were also collected. The beads are an opaque dark blue or black reheated cane, 5.8 mm diameter, 3.6 mm long, a semi-opaque turquoise blue reheated cane, 3.6 mm diameter, 2.4 mm long, and a multi-facetted, biconical bead of translucent turquoise blue 7.1 mm diameter, 7.7 mm long. This lithic collection is characterised by the almost exclusive use of a single knapping technique in a relatively informal fashion, almost certainly by a variety of individuals, perhaps on an as-needed basis, rather than uniform production by a few specialist workers. Although no flake tools other than a single utilised flake were found despite several hours of careful search, the production of small flakes and flake tools seems from the appearance of the cores to have been the intended purpose of this activity. As well as an absence (except for two probably later specimens) of small scrapers such as are typical of Early and Classic Aksumite phase collections, the Hamed Gebez collection lacks the uniformity of core and tool types characteristic of almost all Aksumite period collections. It does, however, include what appear to be the Proto-Aksumite technical precursors of more specialised Aksumite tool forms. 2 chert scrapers, utilised, 19.1 & 17.2 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 70d,e] 1 chert flake, utilised, 33.0 mm maximum dimension [fig. 70b] 3 chalcedony utilised tools, pot decorators, 19.7 to 29.0 x 12.7 to 15.8 x 4.2 to 10.4 mm [fig. 69a-c] 1 quartzite pebble pot burnisher, 35.2 x 20.3 x 11.6 mm 2 chalcedony hammerstones, 57.1 x 42.9 x 38.2 & 62.5 x 59.3 x 48.2 8 chert, 1 chalcedony & 1 obsidian bipolar cores, 22.1 to 47.0 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 69d,e] 1 chert & 2 chalcedony polyhedral cores utilised as hammerstones, 22.9 to 44.8 mm maximum dimensions 10 chert & 2 chalcedony plano-convex to sub-conical radial cores, 23.5 to 55.6 mm maximum dimensions [figs 69f,g & 70f] 3 chert high-backed cores, 29.7 to 23.1 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 69h-j] 8 chert & 2 chalcedony irregular cores, 31.6 to 58.4 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert & 1 chalcedony rejuvenating flakes, 35.0 to 51.1 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert bipolar flakes, 22.4 & 46.5 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 70a,c] 1 chert, 2 chalcedony, 1 siltstone & 1 basalt parallel-sided flakes, 30.9 to 78.9 mm maximum dimensions 34 chert, 22 chalcedony, 1 quartz, 2 obsidian & 1 siltstone irregular flakes, 9.9 to 59.6 mm maximum dimensions 58 chert, 124 chalcedony & 1 quartz fragments & chunks, 8.9 to 36.8 mm maximum dimensions



Fig.69 Hamed Gebez: a), b), c) chalcedony pot-decorating or engraving tools; d) chert bipolar core; e) obsidian bipolar core; f), g) chert radial cores; h), i), j) chert elongated high-backed cores; k) siltstone hone; l) steatite ring or bangle, broken




Fig.70 Hamed Gebez: a), c) chert bipolar flakes; b) chert flake utilised as a scraper; d), e) chert scrapers; f) chert conical core or scraper

~~~~~~ A few lithics were recovered from the excavation in 2007 of a Proto-Aksumite tomb, Daaro I, at 1562667 N/469624E, on the southern slope of Beta Giyorgis, under the direction of A. Manzo. F. Sulas reports [pers comm. 2008] that these include a finely retouched, chalcedony curved backed bladelet or asymmetric crescent with a broken tip and a finely retouched transparent chalcedony crescent, broken at the distal end. Both artefacts, which resemble one another in shape and retouch, appear from their photographs to have been moderately heavily utilised on the distal portions of their long edges and at their tips, probably as small knives. Both have reduced striking platforms which may have been intentionally produced features to facilitate their hafting. A third, very similar, utilised, transparent chalcedony curved backed bladelet perhaps with a reduced striking platform was recovered from Tomb 3, Chanqwa Mender, at 1562744N/469637E. The resemblance to one another of these three artefacts and the paucity of other lithics materials in the fillings of the tombs suggests that, as with the crescents recovered from the OAZ grave shafts in sector 9, their presence was not accidental. ~~~~~~~~ sector 11 South of Aksum: 68° to 73° east / 57° to 60° north The sparse recording by the Survey of archaeological sites in this area, with or without lithic artefacts, accords with the maps of site distributions published in Michels 2005 and with my own experience in walking over much of this area. Their paucity appears to be a true reflection of Aksumite settlement patterns rather than the result of subsequent site erosion. ~~~~~~~~


LAUREL PHILLIPSON 70° EAST 59° NORTH The only three sites with potentially significant lithic artefacts found in this sector by members of the Survey team, all located in square 70 east/ 59 north, are TgLM 04-06-32, 04-06-34 and 04-06-37. Despite differences in their recorded sizes, of about 50, 100, and 10 000 square metres extent, each is described as exposing “a high density of quartz pebbles and flakes on the surface”. Each of the sites also had a low density of generic Aksumite sherds, plus some ProtoAksumite sherds at the smallest and Early Aksumite sherds at the slightly larger site. The recorded descriptions of this lithic material are not entirely convincing. Vein quartz such as occurs in the Aksum area does not readily knap into flakes, but tends to shatter into angular fragments and chunks, and water-worn quartz pebbles have not been observed to occur in any other local situations, whether as natural or artificial accumulations; there is no apparent nearby source from which large numbers of quartz pebbles might have derived. Unfortunately I have not visited these sites nor have I seen any of the material from them. None-the-less, it seems probable that these are in fact three accumulations of fragmentary quartz quarrying debris similar to that found at LP46 [sector 6], perhaps from outcrops of the same geological feature as was exploited at the latter site. ~~~~~~ sector 12 Northeast of Aksum: 70° to 73° east / 62° to 65° north The paucity of sites with lithic artefacts recorded in this sector has several causes. In 1996 and 1997, moderately extensive superficial scatters of lithic material were observed particularly in the area comprising 70 to 71 east / 62 to 64 north. However, by the time of the Survey, a combination of road building, cultivation and on-going soil erosion had completely erased most of these sites. Further to the north and to the east within this sector, the relative absence of sites appears to be a genuine reflection of the absence of ancient settlement. Another significant factor is that while members of the Survey team recorded the extent of archaeological sites and the nature of surface-exposed ceramic material, they neither collected samples of nor recorded the presence of lithic artefacts at sites where they may have been present, most of which I have not visited. ~~~~~~ 71° EAST 62° NORTH The two-period site of Kidane Mehret was excavated in 1994-6 under the supervision of K. Spandl, J. Jones and A. Reynolds, directed by D. W. Phillipson and is comprehensively reported in D. W. Phillipson 2000. Within that report, L. Phillipson [2000c pp 352-63] presents a full account and discussion of the excavated lithics. Two of the illustrations from that report are reproduced here [figs 71, 72]. This material is particularly significant as, together with the assemblages from Mai Agam and from the K site in Maleke Aksum, it provides some of the very few excavated, dated Aksumite lithic assemblages available to us. Among the 82 Pre-Aksumite lithic pieces recovered, the inclusion of only seven whole flakes and 46 fragments indicates that little or no stone knapping tool place within this domestic context, despite the recovery of a significant number of cores and probable cores. The respective figures for the Late Aksumite levels, 34 flakes and 548 fragments out of a total of 653 lithic pieces, leads to the opposite conclusion for the later material. While only two convex scrapers were recovered from the Pre-Aksumite levels, two Gudit scrapers and six other convex scrapers were found in the Late Aksumite levels. This agrees with evidence from the excavated K site in Maleke Aksum and from various surface-collected sites, that convex scrapers were more frequently used in the Middle and Late Aksumite phases and that Gudit scrapers were produced in the Late Aksumite. Evidence for the use of Late Aksumite microlithic crescents as hide-cutting or piercing tools, of Likanos flakes as the sharp edges of Pre- and of Late Aksumite grain-harvesting knives, of an obsidian flake as a Late Aksumite pot burnisher, and of a Pre-Aksumite quartz crystal with a heavily utilised tip is also provided by excavated material from this site. The excavated Pre-Aksumite lithics probably do not include the totality of what had been present in the excavated deposits, as a significant proportion of the tabulated material derived from the flotation sorting of bulk soil samples rather than from direct excavation. Nevertheless, and despite a possibility mentioned in the primary report of a small amount of soil perturbation and mixing between artefacts from the earlier and later strata, this collection is the best presently available sample of the microlithic Pre-Aksumite. In addition to Likanos flakes, it includes primarily a nonstandardised variety of backed and utilised bladelets and small flakes plus a few equally non-standardised scrapers and other tool forms. Calibrated radiocarbon determinations obtained mainly on charred seeds from the Pre-Aksumite levels lie within the range of the 8th to the 5th centuries B.C., though it is possible that this phase of occupation did not cover 96



that entire time span. Reconsideration of these lithics leads to a tabulation which is slightly revised from that originally published 1 obsidian & 1 siltstone concave scrapers [fig. 71c] 1 obsidian convex scraper 1 obsidian crescent, utilised [fig. 71f] 2 obsidian tranchets or backed bladelets, heavily utilised [fig. 71g,h] 4 obsidian backed bladelets, all utilised [fig. 71i-L] 2 obsidian & 2 chert utilised bladelets [fig. 71m-o] 7 obsidian Likanos flakes [fig. 71d, e] 1 quartz crystal, utilised at tip 4 obsidian worked-out opposed-platform cores 2 chert & 1 obsidian circumferential cores or scrapers [fig. 71a, b] 2 obsidian radial cores 6 chert, 40 obsidian, 2 quartz, 3 siltstone, & 1 basalt flakes and fragments Calibrated radiocarbon dates for the main later occupation of the same site span the 6th through the 8th centuries A.D., though again the actual time of occupation may have been somewhat shorter. This occupation is termed Late Aksumite by the site’s excavators, but falls within the Middle and Late Aksumite phases according to the chronology used by Fattovich and his associates. As compared with the lithic material from the earlier occupation of Kidane Mehret, this later assemblage shows a much greater uniformity of artefact forms, and is dominated by a series of heavily use-worn crescents, including the broken tips of several such crescents. It also includes a few of the typically Aksumite finely retouched steep scrapers. 2 obsidian concave scrapers [fig. 72bb, cc] 2 obsidian convex scrapers 6 chert steep scrapers [fig. 72a-e] 11 obsidian crescents, crescent tips & fragments [fig. 72 l-v] 7 obsidian & 2 quartz backed bladelets & fragments [fig. 72 z, aa] 1 chert & 2 obsidian tranchets, all heavily utilised [fig. 72w-y] 11 obsidian Likanos flakes [fig. 72f-k] 2 basalt utilised blades 6 obsidian utilised flakes and bladelets, including 1 flake which had been used as a ceramic burnishing tool 3 chert, 5 obsidian, 1 quartz and 1 siltstone opposed-platform cores 3 obsidian & 1 quartz multi-platform cores 5 chert & 1 quartz sub-radial cores 267 chert, 267 obsidian, 17 quartz, & 4 siltstone flakes and fragments



Fig.71 Kidane Mehret, Pre-Aksumite levels: a), b) chert cores; c) siltstone concave scraper; d,e) obsidian Likanos flakes; f) obsidian crescent, bifacially trimmed; g) – k) obsidian backed flakes and bladelets; l) quartz minimally backed bladelet; m) – o) obsidian utilised bladelets; p) obsidian pristine flake; q) siltstone flake




Fig.72 Kidane Mehret, Late Aksumite levels: a) – e) chert steep scrapers; f) – k) obsidian Likanos flakes; l) bifacially trimmed quartz crescent; m) – s) obsidian bifacially trimmed crescents and crescent fragments; t) – v) obsidian unifacially trimmed crescents and fragments; w) bifacially trimmed chert tranchet; x), y) unifacially trimmed tranchets; z), aa) obsidian minimally backed bladelets; bb)S, cc) obsidian concave scrapers


LAUREL PHILLIPSON ~~~~~~ 71° EAST 63° NORTH At one site in this square, chert flakes were found associated with Classic Aksumite sherds. At another small site, chert and chalcedony fragments were found associated with Post-Aksumite sherds. ~~~~~~ sector13 East of Aksum: 73° to 75° east / 59° to 63° north As in the eastern part of sector 12, the absence of sites with lithic artefacts recorded in The Survey appears to be a true reflection of the lack of Aksumite settlement in sector 13, an area over which I have only made a few non-systematic traverses. However, as the team members who did the intensive surveying in this area recorded the presence and types of ceramic sherds, but not the presence of lithic remains, it is possible that some lithic occurrences have been overlooked. ~~~~~~ Comparative sites from further afield 64° EAST 55° NORTH TgLM 03-06-07 1555102N/37463464E This site, Seglamen, was excavated by Ricci and Fattovich [1987] and revisited briefly by a member of the Survey team, who recorded surface finds of scattered sherds attributable to the late Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite periods, a dressed sandstone slab, and a medium density of stone flakes. These have not, regrettably, been seen by me. It may be that the study of a good collection, or preferably one or more demonstrably single-period excavated assemblages, from this site would provide significant information concerning the geographical distribution of particular types and styles of Aksumite and earlier lithic tools. ~~~~~~ 74° to 78° EAST / 54° to 56° NORTH Considerable effort was expended during several field seasons in the search for obsidian exposures near Aksum which might have been the source for this material, which is a significant minor component of many of the collections and assemblages with which we are concerned. In following up a mention by Merla and Minucci (1938, p. 155) of the occurrence of obsidian intercalated with basalt near Amba Berha, a day was spent surveying over and around that hill and as far south as the large Aksumite site of Adi Ataro [1556675N/374718E]. A small exposure of volcanic tuff was located on Amba Berha, but no obsidian was found. Local informants did not recognise samples of the stone which were shown to them. At Adi Ataro, which had very extensive remnant drystone walls and large amounts of building rubble, only sparse scatters of lithics and sherds were seen and no collection was made. Neither at Adi Ataro, at a site on Mai Eda, nor elsewhere in the area were any obsidian artefacts discovered. Only at these two sites, was any evidence of ancient habitation or land use discovered. ~~~~~~




75 EAST 55 NORTH MAI EDA 1554969N/37474455E A small site near the river Ruba Adi Shemshet, also known as Mai Eda, southeast of Adi Berha, exposed a moderate scatter of lithics without associated sherds or other artefacts. The absence of fine, regular flaking of the cores and their somewhat casual or irregular appearance, together with the use of quartz and siltstone as predominant materials distinguish this collection from most of those found within our principal area of concern. While the closest probable comparison is with microlithic Pre-Aksumite artefacts or with Proto-Aksumite material from the excavated sites of Ona Nagast I and II in sector 9, this attribution is at best tentative. What is represented here might be a local variant of an industry of unknown age which was not present closer to Aksum and which cannot therefore be equated with complete confidence to the material in other collections or assemblages. 1 chert bipolar core, 33 mm maximum dimension 1 quartz polyhedral core, 56 mm maximum dimension 1 quartz sub-conical core, 35 mm maximum dimension 1 chalcedony irregular core, 46 mm maximum dimension 9 chalcedony, 1 quartz & 5 siltstone irregular flakes, 16 to 64 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert, 12 chalcedony, 6 quartz & 1 siltstone fragments & chunks, 14 to 60 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ 78° EAST / 56° NORTH Hawlti 1556228N/37477576E For comparative purposes, the abundant lithic exposures were carefully examined and a small surface collection made at the Pre-Aksumite site of Hawlti close to the area excavated by de Contenson in 1958 (de Contenson 1961) and described in Michels 2005 (pp 79-80). Despite searching over a wide area centred on the open pit and fallen pillars which mark the location of the excavated temple at this site, no evidence was found of any manufacture or use of microlithic flakes or tools. The total absence of small flakes, cores and fragments would seem to show that these elements had not been part of the lithic tool kit. While it might be argued that many centuries of cultivation and soil erosion would have displaced or degraded much of the archaeological deposits, the very good preservation of fine ceramic materials (of which we were shown examples recently acquired by local farmers) indicates that at least some smaller lithic elements would have been preserved had they been present. The location of a probable workshop area near the eastern foot of the hill on which the large temple stood was marked by the presence of a concentration of macrolithic flakes, cores and fragments, none of which were collected. The most interesting lithic artefacts collected from this site were three siltstone hoes, two of which were very heavily used, one of these being transversely broken. The third, and smallest example, was not utilised and in fact appears not to have been fully knapped. Possibly it had been discarded when it was realised that further working would have produced an artefact too small to be useful. As well as providing evidence for a method of cultivation which may have preceded and perhaps was contemporaneous with early plough agriculture, these three hoes plus a fourth example from the site of Melka [sector 17] also attest to the then prevalent soil texture, which must have been more friable and freer of stony inclusions than is the present-day, stony, severely eroded land surface. Alternative possibilities that these implements had been used as axes or as adzes are considered to be unlikely. Use as an axe would have concentrated wear on a corner of the implement, resulted in impact damage scars which tended to be less aligned at right angles to the tool’s edge, and given a diagonal slant rather than a uniform convexity to the plan shape of the worn edge. While use as an adze might have resulted in the production of similar edge damage scars to those illustrated in figures 73a and 73b, such use would have been more concentrated in the central portion of the working edge, probably resulting in a flatter or even a slightly concave plan to that edge. All of the cores collected here plus others that were observed in the field had been struck by direct, stone-on-stone, hand-held percussion to produce relatively large, thick, heavy-duty flakes. The same knapping technique had been used to remove flakes from cores and to shape the hoes; the very many flakes, chips and angular fragments that were observed, but not collected, were of corresponding types. Non-microlithic, relatively thick flakes from informal radial cores and short blades and sub-rectangular flakes from bipolar cores, all with stepped butts and unfaceted striking platforms characterise this Hwalti macrolithic Pre-Aksumite lithic tradition. The knapped materials were almost entirely of a white quartz/quartzite whose texture varied from granular to almost chert-like. A few, scarce chalcedony, chert and obsidian fragments were much smaller. 101


1 siltstone hoe, utilised, 105.2 x 58.7 x 27.8 mm [fig. 73a] 1 siltstone hoe, utilised, broken, 58.8 mm broad [fig. 73b] 1 siltstone hoe, unfinished, 79.3 x 60.8 x 20.4 mm [fig. 73c] 5 quartzite & 1 chert plano-convex radial cores, 96.6 to 40.1 x 87.1 to 38.9 x 55.8 to 25.7 mm [fig. 73d] 2 quartzite irregular cores, 66.4 & 40.2 mm maximum dimensions 1 siltstone parallel-sided flake, 36.1 x 25.4 x 11.7 mm [fig.73e] 1 chert irregular flake, 27.0 mm maximum dimension

Fig.73 Hwalti: a) siltstone hoe, heavily utilised; b) siltstone hoe, heavily utilised, broken; c) siltstone hoe, unfinished, not utilised; d) chert plano-convex radial core; e) siltstone parallel sided flake with heavily stepped butt





New Addit not geo referenced While surveys in the immediate vicinity of Aksum have located anciently worked chert, chalcedony, and quartz quarry sites, repeated searches and enquiries have failed to locate any sources of glassy obsidian located within a 20 km radius of Aksum, or, indeed, outcrops of any form of obsidian. While small artefacts and fragments of glassy obsidian are found as a minor component of very many Aksumite lithic assemblages and collections, its lack of dominance in almost all collections and the very small sizes of most obsidian artefacts, especially of the worked-out cores, suggest that obsidian was not immediately locally available, but was brought from some distance. A question of considerable interest concerns the nearest sources from which this material may have been carried. At the suggestion of geologists from the quarrying firm, Sheba Stone, a brief visit was made to the towns of Addit and New Addit, about 35 km by road southwest of Aksum. No obsidian sources were located near Addit, but at New Addit we were shown a large archaeological site extending over about a hectare on both sides of the road close to a primary school on the northern edge of the town. While a systematic investigation of the archaeology around New Addit would be of great interest in itself and also for its potential to elucidate economic and cultural relationships between Aksum and its near neighbours, the presence on a Sunday afternoon of 60 or more eager schoolboys made any attempt at systematic survey impossible. Chert, chalcedony and obsidian lithics, and potsherds were abundant over a wide area; obsidian, the most prevalent material, was mainly present in the form of flakes and angular chunks of discarded, flawed material. The associated sherds are of a dark grey, relatively thick fabric which appears to be Post-Aksumite. There was very little stone building rubble observed. We were told that inscribed stones, which we did not see, had been found in these fields. Owing to the enthusiastic insistence of the boys, we came away with a random collection of obsidian pieces; except for a few chert artefacts and a few potsherds, other materials were not collected. The lithic artefacts have more emphasis on the production of flakes and of backed flake tools and somewhat larger artefact sizes than is characteristic of most of the Aksumite sensu lato industries and an apparent absence of the typically Aksumite small steep scrapers. If a suggested Post-Aksumite attribution is accepted for the New Addit material, two hypotheses may be advanced. The first is that this may represent part of a separate lithic tool-using tradition, perhaps allied to an economy that was more based on rural subsistence including hunting and less based on specialised industrial manufacture than was the case at Aksum. Such a tradition may have derived from the same antecedents as that of the Aksumite lithics, but have developed differently in response to different environmental and economic constraints, or it may provide evidence of a separate cultural tradition. The second hypotheses is that while a major collapse of the Aksum civilisation and conurbation led to a near disappearance of the knowledge of how to shape and use knapped stone tools, such knowledge may have persisted and been further developed by the Post-Aksumite residents of the New Addit site. These hypotheses are not mutually exclusive. Unlike the small pieces of uniformly perfect glassy obsidian recovered from sites nearer to Aksum, some of the fragments from this site are layered or otherwise too flawed for successful knapping. This, together with the abundance of the material and the relatively large sizes of the artefacts made from it suggests that it had been obtained and worked locally. We did not have time to locate any outcrops or quarry sites, though information relayed by the manager of Sheba Stone is that obsidian does outcrop “somewhere near Addit”. All of the obsidian artefacts recovered are slightly weathered and/or hydrated, but they show very little signs of having received post-depositional edge damage, which suggests that they may have lain unburied and undisturbed for most of their history. As the site when visited in 2005 was under plough cultivation, it is in imminent danger of destruction. 2 obsidian crescents, bifacially backed, 19.4 x 8.4 x 4.7 & 16.8 x 8.4 x 2.6 mm [fig. 74a,b] 1 obsidian crescent, unifacially backed, broken, (12.8) x 9.0 x 2.3 mm [fig. 74f] 2 obsidian triangular points, 23.4 x 17.6 x 4.9 & 25.3 x 16.7 x 7.2 mm [fig. 74i,j] 3 obsidian blades, bifacially backed, 16.0 to 17.4 x 6.3 to 8.6 x 2.2 to 4.3 mm [fig. 74c,d] 4 obsidian blades, unifacially backed, 22.9 to 39.5 x 7.7 to 17.2 x 3.2 to 3.5 mm [fig. 74e,g,h,m] 2 obsidian tanged points, broken tips, 35.1 x 13.8 x 7.6 & 27.0 x 13.2 x 6.4 mm [fig. 74k,L] 1 obsidian sidescraper on a rectangular flake, 42.0 x 26.3 x 8.1 mm [fig. 74n] 20 obsidian blades and endstruck rectangular flakes, 18.2 to 31.6 mm maximum dimensions 2 chert blades, 33.3 & 52.3 mm maximum dimensions 5 obsidian triangular flakes, 22.5 to 36.0 mm maximum dimensions 4 obsidian radial/irregular flakes, 15.1 to 25.6 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert irregular flake, 41.9 mm maximum dimension 20 obsidian radial or multiplatform cores, all broken, 20.1 to 35.9 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 74 o] 1 chert irregular core, 50.9 mm maximum dimension 2 chert flakes, 52.5 & 43.8 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 74p,q] 368 obsidian fragments, 6.4 to 52.6 mm maximum dimensions 1 chert fragment, 49.6 mm maximum dimension



Fig.74 New Addit: a), b) obsidian bifacially backed crescents; c), d) obsidian bifacially backed bladelets; e) – h) obsidian unifacially backed bladelets; i) obsidian unifacial flake point; j) obsidian blade or point, broken; k), l) obsidian tanged points; m) obsidian backed flake; n) obsidian side scraper on a flake; o) obsidian core; p), q) chert flakes





Along the road to Mai Timkat 154721N/37475192E This is a large outcrop of white vein quartz with much quarrying debris, but no associated ceramics or other datable material. No tools, cores or flakes were found by the member of the Survey team who visited the site. 11 quartz chunks, 21.0 to 72.7 mm maximum dimensions ~~~~~~ Melka 1547470N/37474991E The most interesting artefact collected from this site is the transversely broken distal portion of a siltstone hoe or perhaps adze of sub-rectangular plan shape, similar in material and workmanship to the more ovate specimens collected at Hwalti [fig 73]. The hoes from these two sites are the only examples of this tool type yet recorded from Northern Ethiopia, and as such provide valuable evidence of early agricultural practice. Whether the use of hoes overlapped with or entirely preceded the introduction of plough agriculture cannot be surmised in the absence of securely dated evidence. What can be observed is the very close technical and morphological similarity of the material collected at Melka and that from the Pre-Aksumite site of Hwalti. The two collections are representative of a single knapping tradition characterised by the use of direct, heavy, hard-hammer, stone-on-stone, percussion on somewhat informal radial, multiplatform or bipolar cores to produce relatively large flakes with simple, unfaceted striking platforms with heavy stepped preparation scars on the dorsal edge of the striking platform. The absence of small, finely worked flakes and retouched tools seems to be characteristic of this tradition which stands in contradistinction to the microlithic Pre-Aksumite assemblages and collections from most sites in the more immediate vicinity of Aksum. There is insufficient evidence to determine the extent to which distinctions between the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite industry represented at Melka and at Hwalti, and the Pre-Aksumite industries found nearer to Aksum reflect economic, temporal or cultural differences among their users. However, it seems likely that cultural factors were significant and that there may have been simultaneously present in the general Aksum region a multiplicity of population groups whose varied traditions were evidenced in their manufacture and use of knapped stone tools. 1 siltstone hoe, heavily utilised & broken, (62.4) x 62.0 x 18.4 mm [fig. 75a] 2 hydrated chert bipolar cores, 55.0 x 41.0 x 18.2 & 61.9 x 40.6 x 25.5 mm [fig. 75b] 1 quartz sub-conical radial core, 40.1 x 33.8 x 22.4 mm [fig. 75c] 7 chert irregular flakes [fig. 75d,e]




Melka: a) chert hoe, heavily utilised, broken; b) chert bipolar core; c) quartz sub-conical core; d), e) chert flakes

~~~~~~ The following three small collections, from sites well outside the Survey area, happened to be brought to my attention. They are mentioned here in order to place the material on record. It is interesting to note that each of the pieces illustrated in figures 76 and 77 may be almost duplicated by one or more artefacts from other sites illustrated in this report. ~~~~~~




near the church of Gabr’el Wuken, Tambien, near Abbiy Adi no gps reference obsidian from this site is less glassy, more basic, than that found at sites near Aksum. Two of the obsidian flake fragments are shouldered butts, possibly from flake points. 1 obsidian sub-radial core, 49.4 x 42.7 x 29.3 mm 6 obsidian irregular flakes, 21.1 to 27.2 mm maximum dimensions [fig. 76a,b] 3 chert & 14 obsidian fragments and chunks, 16.2 to 34.8 mm maximum dimensions

Fig.76 Near Gabr’el Wuken, Tembien: a), b) obsidian flakes, perhaps points

~~~~~~ near the church of Enda Abba Salama, Tambien, about 2 hours away from Abbiy Adi no gps reference Obsidian from this site is less glassy and more basic, than that found at sites near Aksum. The flake point has a concave base. Unlike the round circumferential cores found at sites near Aksum, this circumferential core has a sub-rectangular plan shape. While two of the obsidian scrapers [77a, b] are of the same form as those considered to be typically Classic Aksumite when found in the Aksum area, the remaining three examples [77c, d, e] would be less at home in such a context. 5 obsidian convex scrapers, 45° to 70° edge angles, 16.8 to 23.0 x 24.3 to 27.5 x 8.1 to 10.8 mm [fig. 77a-e] 1 obsidian flake point, 33.3 x 21.5 x 8.2 mm 1 obsidian sub-radial core, 46.7 x 41.5 x 17.6 mm [fig. 77f] 1 obsidian sub-conical core, 30.9 x 29.2 x 11.0 mm [fig. 77g] 1 obsidian radial flake, utilised 37.5 x 34.4 x 8.9 mm [fig. 77h] 2 sandy chert & 5 obsidian irregular flakes 20.1 x 39.7 mm 3 sandy chert, 3 quartz & 29 obsidian fragments & chunks, 10.5 x 49.9 mm



Fig.77 Near Enda Abba Salam in Tambien: a) – e) obsidian scrapers, all utilised; f) obsidian radial core; g) obsidian sub-conical core; h) obsidian flake utilised as a scraper

~~~~~~ Lahlen, Edaga Hamus, between Qirqos and Maryem Sion, southeast of Addigrat no gps reference 1 obsidian bipolar core, 20.6 x 19.6 x 7.3 mm 1 obsidian rectangular bipolar flake (Likanos flake), 21.1 x 19.8 x 5.2 mm 2 obsidian irregular flakes, 16.5 & 20.2 mm maximum dimensions 1 quartz & 16 obsidian fragments & chunks 10.9 to 29.2 mm ~~~~~~





Chronological Summary As the lithic assemblages from the rockshelters excavated by Finneran are both very small and their stratigraphic integrity doubtful, it is unfortunate that, except for a very small selection of artefacts seen by me in 1997, the materials recovered from Gobedra rockshelter were not retained after excavation of that site [D. W. Phillipson 1977; pers. com. 1997]. Re-analysis of the Gobedra material might have given some clues as to the possible relationships of the lithic traditions described in this present report and their antecedents. With the exception of material from the lower levels of these several excavated rockshelters, nothing has been found in the vicinity of Aksum which can safely be designated as a “Late Stone Age” or “Neolithic” industry. This assessment is not likely to change until or unless significant additional lithic assemblages are recovered from stratified, dated contexts and until further researches permit the temporal and geographical boundaries of the Pre-Aksumite material culture or cultures to be much more closely defined.

The Earliest Evidence While a few apparently Early Stone Age bifaces, including one recorded here from LP40 [fig. 17], others illustrated in L. Phillipson 2000c figure 13-15, and the slightly more numerous occurrence of occasional flakes and cores of “Middle Stone Age type” are indicative of some level of early occupation in the northern highlands of Ethiopia, these have only been found as isolated, redeposited finds. It was most probably not until the inception of milder climatic conditions starting very approximately ten thousand years ago that the area around Aksum came to be more or less permanently inhabited. The most complete record of the Late Stone Age near Aksum is that provided by the excavation of Gobedra rockshelter on the south facing slope of Beta Dura [D. W. Phillipson 1977], supplemented by more recent excavations by Finneran and by Manzo and surveys by Finneran and myself [Finneran 2000a, 2000b, 2000c, 2007; Manzo in Bard & Fattovich in prep.; L. Phillipson 2000c passim]. A faint suggestion that there had been some Late Stone Age occupation of the open landscape is provided by occasional isolated finds of microlithic chert flakes and chips which have acquired an all-over shiny patina that is sometimes called “desert varnish”. This patina, which has not been found on PreAksumite or subsequent lithics, is probably the result of very long surface exposure to repeated alterations of wet and dry conditions, possibly also to repeated exposure to grass or bush fires. If, as seems most probable, these patinated artefacts predate the Pre-Aksumite industries, they can perhaps be assigned to a Late Stone Age of undetermined date. It must be emphasised, however, that the total number of such pieces is small. During the course of much intensive investigation, I have noted the presence of one example from the south eastern part of sector 7, one from the western part of sector 12 and five or six from the northern part of sector 9.

~~~~~~ Pre-Aksumite Period circa 800/700 – 400 BC A distinction can and probably should be made between pre-Aksumite sensu lato lithic industries, which may include anything and everything in the Aksum area to which a probable age in excess of approximately 2500 years can be assigned and the Pre-Aksumite sensu stricto, which is the term used by Fattovich and others to designate one or several of whatever socio-cultural complexes existed during a designated time period [Fattovich et al 2000]. The pre-Aksumite is a broad term encompassing at one extreme the occasional finds of handaxes which are tentatively attributable to perhaps 500 000 or more years ago and at the other extreme any industry predating those which are attributable to an Aksumite phase. Thus, industries designated as PreAksumite may be considered as subsets within the broader compass of pre-Aksumite lithic assemblages. Logically speaking, the term pre-Aksumite is a temporal designation which might be applied to any early lithic industry found anywhere in northern Ethiopia, while PreAksumite is a cultural designation which ought only to be applied to those lithic industries which have demonstrable technical and stylistic affinities to the lithics manufactured and used by later Proto-Aksumite and Aksumite people. Of two apparently contemporaneous but morphologically distinct lithic collections from adjacent sites in the Aksum area, one might in some instances be termed Pre-Aksumite and the other preAksumite, depending on how their tool types and technologies are judged to relate to later, Aksumite, lithic assemblages.

While the lithic evidence of earlier periods remains patchy and incomplete, it is sufficient to indicate that the immediate Aksum environs were occupied, but probably not intensively and not necessarily continuously so, by stone-tool-using people before the advent or introduction of ceramic wares and of cultivation. The earliest of the Holocene non-ceramic traditions for which there is good evidence involved the production and use of, among other tool types, elongated siltstone flakes and blades. It was stratigraphically followed by a sequence of microlithic industries, with no major stylistic changes in the lithics corresponding with the introduction of ceramics. The lithic types and techniques of tool manufacture first seen in the upper levels at Gobedra rockshelter continued to be used, with gradual changes and refinements, up to and throughout the Aksumite period. 109

LAUREL PHILLIPSON crescents, and other backed microliths. One of the principal knapping techniques was carefully directed direct percussion and/or pressure flaking involving primarily the use of stone-on-stone. There is also evidence for use of what is termed the bipolar technique, whereby the stone to be worked is held resting on a flat stone anvil while being struck either directly or by means of an intermediate punch, causing force to be transmitted simultaneously to both ends of the piece being worked. Cores and flakes struck by this method may have as characteristic features opposed percussive scars at the top and at the bottom edges of the cores and, sometimes, corresponding bulbs of percussion on the distal as well as the proximal ends of the ventral faces of the flakes struck from them. A particular subset of these flakes, approximately square in plan shape, and with only rare exceptions made of obsidian, are termed Likanos flakes; use-wear scars on such flakes from several sites shows that they had been used as components of grainharvesting knives. At the site of Kidane Mehret [sector 12, fig. 71] they were found in Pre-Aksumite and in Late Aksumite excavated contexts.

However, as the preceding sections of this report have shown, the actual situation is more complicated. The uninterrupted development of a microlithic industry from Late Stone Age to Late Aksumite times is now reasonably well documented, and the application of the term Pre-Aksumite to relevant early stages of this sequence is clearly justified. A second, macrolithic, industrial tradition is also now documented by the work reported in this publication. As this latter industry precedes the Proto-Aksumite and Aksumite lithic industries in a temporal sense, but is not technically or stylistically related thereto, it would best be termed preAksumite rather than Pre-Aksumite. Nevertheless, it too must be termed “Pre-Aksumite”, as the sites from which it has been recovered have been so designated by previous researchers on the basis of associated ceramic and other finds. The best that can be done here is to note the presence of at least two distinct Pre-Aksumite lithic traditions, a macrolithic Pre-Aksumite and a microlithic Pre-Aksumite, of which only the microlithic PreAksumite is shown to have been part of a long, indigenous cultural sequence. The macrolithic PreAksumite as known from the sites of Hwalti [fig. 73] and Melka [fig. 64] was an unrelated tradition which seems to have had little or no influence on later, Aksumite, lithic tool production. There is also evidence of a third PreAksumite lithic tradition characterised by the production of somewhat less massive macrolithic flakes than those found at Hawlti and of flake tools with secondary retouch, but apparently lacking microlithic forms. Unfortunately, this third Pre-Aksumite tradition, if it is indeed a single coherent tradition, has not been found at sites which have yielded large enough collections to permit it to be well defined.

An occasional component of some late Pre-Aksumite microlithic assemblages is a small core whose steeply trimmed edge had been prepared for the detachment of a desired flake or flakes by the prior removal of small hinge- or step-fractured flakes along the edge of the core’s striking platform. While a primary purpose of this core edge preparation may have been to facilitate flake removal by providing a non-slip footing for a small punch or tool for indirect percussive knapping, it also introduces microscopic stress fractures which facilitate direct percussive flake removals, and it imparts to the removed flake a distinctively stepped butt or basal end. This trait, which would have assisted with the secure hafting of stone tools such as arrow points, is an occasional feature of microlithic Pre-Aksumite collections, is more frequent in Proto- and Early Aksumite collections [fig. 65], being particularly pronounced on some Proto-Aksumite flakes. In a less pronounced form it is also characteristic of Classic Aksumite knapping strategies. While heavily step-flaked core edge preparation is found on some macrolithic PreAksumite artefacts, the use of the bipolar technique of flake production and of indirect percussion seem to have been restricted to the microlithic Pre-Aksumite.

Accumulated evidence indicates that, as defined by the types and styles of lithic tools they produced and used, in Pre-Aksumite times there were probably three, and may have been more, cultural groups settled in the near vicinity of what was to become the Aksum conurbation. Ceramic evidence, on the other hand may suggest a somewhat lesser degree of diversity in that some sites which have provided evidence of distinct lithics traditions have been judged to be Pre-Aksumite on the basis of the close similarity or apparent identity of their associated potsherds. While logic and the evidence of other aspects of material and linguistic culture suggest that there could have been many forms of contact between local population groups, such contact is not necessarily reflected in the lithic technologies. We may not assume that cultural boundaries as defined by their lithic and by their ceramic technologies were necessarily congruent. Much further research, including the recovery of directly dated lithic assemblages from within and away from the immediate Aksum environs will be needed before the cultural, temporal and economic variations which differentiate the Pre-Aksumite lithic assemblages can be more closely defined.

A third significant feature of the microlithic PreAksumite collections is their variability. Not only do they differ one from another in the range of materials used and in the core and artefact types produced and fineness of the workmanship, but where a sufficiently large collection has been recovered it can be seen that there is much variability and little or no standardisation of the tool forms. As at Ona Nagast I [sector 9], the larger excavated assemblages and surface collections exhibit such a variety of types and forms that it may reasonably be concluded that the lithic tools were usually made individually by non-professional knappers on an as-need basis. At Ona Nagast I and II, most lithics were knapped out of variously coloured cherts obtained from an

The microlithic Pre-Aksumite tradition is characterised by what are called by lithics specialists “mode 5” tools in a variety of shapes including small scrapers, flake points, 110



13a, 14a-d, and 15a,b,m published in L. Phillipson 2000c, were in fact products of one of these remarkably archaic looking lithic industries.

immediately available source or sources. At Kidane Mehret, some Pre-Aksumite artefacts were made from glassy obsidian, which is not locally available. Bipolar cores of this valued material were worked down to very small dimensions.

All the available stylistic, technical and morphological evidence indicates that the very different microlithic and macrolithic Pre-Aksumite lithic traditions were unrelated except by the bare fact of their probable or possible contemporaneity. While the microlithic Pre-Aksumite industry is demonstrably part of a long sequence extending from the immediately local Late Stone Age to the Late Aksumite, the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite traditions seem to have had no antecedents or succedents in the Aksum area. The macrolithic tradition, particularly that found at Hwalti, appears to be a cultural intrusion which did not influence subsequent Aksumite knapping technology. That this was so may plausibly be attributed to the numerical dominance and cultural tenacity of the autochthonous population. The macrolithic industry may be regarded as a “foreign” element which could have been adopted into the Aksumite cultural amalgam, but which – unlike dressed stone architecture and writing – was not, presumably because it had neither technical superiority nor prestige advantages as compared with the indigenous microlithic tradition(s). While the status of the third Pre-Aksumite lithic tradition or traditions is not so well defined, the identification of several traditions including the intrusive macrolithic Pre-Aksumite accords well with Fattovich’s [1997 p.283] observation that, “the South Arabian elements were a superficial, though impressive, component of the Pre-Aksumite Culture, and affected only the elite”.

The sizes of such cores raises a question as to how they would have been secured while being knapped. A photograph of a Lacandon Mayan craftsman producing chert blades by indirect percussion is published as figure 9 in Clark 1985. This shows the knapper holding a core beneath the second and third fingers, and an antler punch between the fourth and fifth fingers of his left hand, palm upward, while the hand and core are braced against a, presumably stone, anvil. A hammerstone held in the right hand is used to strike the punch. Perhaps a similar technique was used at Aksum; however, the Mayan craftsman was working with a considerably larger core and punch than those with which we are concerned. My own largely unsuccessful attempts to strike flakes from replica bipolar cores with maximum dimensions similar to those of the smaller Pre-Aksumite examples have demonstrated that the chief difficulties are in holding the core securely against a hard anvil and in preventing the punch from slipping off the core while sufficient force is applied to it. A completely different tradition of stone tool manufacture is represented by the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite material from Hwalti [fig. 73] and from Melka [fig. 64]. Technically, the artefacts collected at these sites appear to be part of a mode 3 industry which, if found out of context might easily and mistakenly be attributed to the “Middle Stone Age”. At these sites, somewhat coarse grained rocks, primarily a well-silicified sandy chert grading into quartzite, were hand-held and hit directly, stone-on-stone, to produce large, relatively thick flakes from sub-radial cores and to trim bifacial stone hoes. While many of these resultant macrolithic flakes, like some of their microlithic counterparts, have heavily stepflaked edges to their broad striking platforms which sometimes give the flakes a shouldered or even a tanged butt; the resultant scars on the cores are fewer in number, deeper and larger than on those of the microlithic tradition. Most of the these flakes have plain striking platforms, but a few were noted with two or three facets.

Surface collections from several sites, including LP 56 in sector 6 and LP 58 in sector 10, further complicate this pattern. These sites have produced seemingly homogenous collections which include some large flakes and cores – though not as massive as similar items from the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite sites of Hwalti and Melka and not using such heavy percussion as was employed at those sites – together with smaller cores and retouched tools, which lack the very fine flake removals characteristic of some microlithic Pre-Aksumite and almost all Aksumite artefacts. While the status of this material is not entirely clear, they are probably best considered as evidence of the presence of at least one, perhaps of several, additional Pre-Aksumite lithic traditions. Working with small surface collections which are unlikely to be fully representative of the lithic assemblages from which they derive leaves many uncertainties and unresolved questions, of which this is one of the more interesting.

As recorded above, small amounts of Pre-Aksumite lithic material from several sites closer to Aksum: TgLM 0506-126 in sector 2 [fig. 10], LP56 in sector 6 [fig. 31], TgLM 05-06-150 in sector 8 [fig. 51] and LP58 in sector 10 [fig. 67] appear to represent a third Pre-Aksumite lithic tradition. Although appearing somewhat more refined than the material from Hwalti and Melka, this tradition is also characterised by relatively large, directlystruck flakes with heavily stepped edges to their platforms. In addition, collections from these sites contain some smaller flake tools and artefacts with secondary retouch, neither of which features were found in the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite collections. It may also be that some of the isolated stray finds which have been recorded as being of “Middle Stone Age type”, including figures

A factor contributing to the confusion over what cultural manifestations may or may not be attributed to the PreAksumite concerns the nature of the two materials: potting clay and stone. Because clay is a very tractable material and ceramic vessels are relatively conspicuous cultural items whose forms and decorations are susceptible to much variation, their style is readily influenced and easily altered in response to the dictates of fashion, emulation, economy and prestige. In some 111

LAUREL PHILLIPSON secure purchase for a punch or intermediate tool used for indirect percussive knapping. In either case, the stepped core edges, which would become shouldered or tanged butts on the detached flakes, would have had a functional benefit in producing artefacts that could easily be hafted, without requiring secondary retouch of their proximal ends. A similar knapping technique was used more frequently and systematically, but in a less pronounced form, in the subsequent Early and Classic Aksumite phases.

instances this might result in populations with substantially different histories and material cultures sharing a common potting tradition. On the other hand, people whose material culture is in other aspects seemingly identical might have different ceramic traditions. Defining populations or cultures exclusively on the basis of their ceramic typologies may in some instances result in the nominal amalgamation of groups which are in other aspects distinct. Conversely, stone is a less plastic material; there are only a limited number of ways it can be shaped and of forms it can be made to take. At the same time, most knapped lithics are inconspicuous, low-prestige items whose value is almost entirely functional. As such, their shapes and functions are likely to be conservatively maintained reflections of groups whose cultural boundaries may have become blurred or altered with respect to other items of their material culture.

It may be that the discovery of a variety of nonstandardised flake points found individually at several sites and of short crescents with use-wear traces most probably resulting from their having served as arrow barbs indicates that the hunting of wild game was practised close to Aksum. Both of these tool types are less frequent in collections attributable to the Early Aksumite and almost absent from subsequent phases. By further inference, the dispersed distribution of ProtoAksumite points suggests that the population continued to be sparse compared to what it subsequently became and that some of the land close to Aksum was not then cleared for cultivation or for grazing livestock, but continued to support significant amounts of wild game. The mass-production of Early Aksumite flake points attested by the excavated site at Mai Agam is not an exception to this observation as there is no evidence that those highly-standardised points were used within the surveyed area.

~~~~~~ Proto-Aksumite Period circa 400 – 50 BC These lithics show a continuation of the same knapping strategies and tool and core forms as were recorded for the microlithic Pre-Aksumite excavated assemblages and surface collections. The variety of artefact types and the wide variations between individual pieces of broadly similar form suggest that the art of knapping continued to be generally known and skilfully practised, not restricted to the work of a limited number of specialists. At the same time, the production of very fine, delicate chalcedony crescents such as were recovered from the OAZ burial shafts [sector 9] on Beta Giyorgis are evidence of the careful choice of raw material and the exercise of knapping skills well beyond what a casual practitioner might have accomplished. The regularity of flaking on some Proto-Aksumite cores indicates that more deliberation and control in flake production were sometimes exercised than had been the case during the previous period. This particularly applies to the use of the bipolar technique to remove small, parallel-sided blades or rectangular flakes from steep, circumferentially trimmed cores and to the systematic production of triangular flakes and flake points with stepped shoulders resulting from prior shaping of the core edge before the flake was detached. Both of these techniques were further refined and employed during the succeeding, Early Aksumite, phase. Relative to the Pre-Aksumite microlithic tradition, there appears to have been more controlled direct percussion, probably with narrow or pointed hammers, resulting in the production of flakes with smaller striking platforms. Some narrow tool may also have been used for indirect percussive knapping. Another notable characteristic of Proto-Aksumite knapping was the production of flakes with very heavily stepped edges to their striking platforms. The creation of such edges may have been a consequence of the knapping strategy. Tapping or lightly hammering the edge of a core creates minor stress fractures which facilitate the detachment of a flake by direct percussion; the preparation of a stepped edge would have allowed a

There was, thus, a refinement in the quality of knapping, but little change in the techniques used or in the tools produced between the Pre-Aksumite microlithic tradition and the Proto- Aksumite lithics and no clear evidence that the Proto-Aksumite lithics had been influenced by or had adopted the more robust knapping techniques and artefact types characteristic of the macrolithic Pre-Aksumite tradition. The conservative nature of these stone tools suggests that there was little or no change in the population which produced them, and that for the most part the same population groups continued to live in the Aksum area during the Proto-Aksumite period as had been there in Pre-Aksumite times. Similarly, despite whatever changes in settlement patterns and in political organisation may have taken place, the lithic tools give no evidence of significant changes in economic activities between the Pre-Aksumite and Proto-Aksumite periods. However, because most of the evidence concerning the Proto-Aksumite lithics comes from superficial scatters collected from eroded or otherwise disturbed sites, some of which have yielded ceramic sherds attributed to more than one period, these observations will require confirmation by the study of additional, excavated, single-period assemblages. It is unlikely that any more information can be gained by the study of surfacecollected material. ~~~~~~




shouldered flake points has given a radiocarbon date calibrated at one standard deviation to the end of the second or to the first half of the first century BC. Other examples include sites where very large numbers of steeply trimmed chalcedony scrapers were produced, where many chalcedony geodes had been opened in order to extract quartz crystals from them, and where an amazingly uniform series of small, steeply-worked subconical cores, probably the by-product of micro-blade or bladelet production, was collected. While there is no direct or associated dating evidence for several of these sites, comparison with better dated material from other sites permits their attribution to the Early and/or Classic Aksumite phases. At Mai Agam and at several other specialist lithic production sites, including 05/67a [sector 7] and 05/70 [sector 8], the workshop area was adjacent to a residential area no larger than might have been occupied by a single house or homestead. The quality and uniformity of the lithic tool production at these industrial sites is indicative of specialist activity. Although impressively uniform and prolific relative to most Late Stone Age workshops in north-eastern Africa, the quantities of material recovered are such as might have been produced by one or a few people working at a leisurely pace. Specialised lithic tool production is likely to have been a part-time activity, complementary to farming, stock-keeping or other domestic employment.

Early Aksumite Phase circa 50 BC – AD 150 and Classic Aksumite Phase circa AD 150 – 400/450 Close examination of the lithic artefacts collected from many surface exposures attributed on the basis of associated ceramic sherds to the Early and/or Classic Aksumite phases has not permitted any clear distinctions to be made between them. Whether this lack of differentiation is due to the uncertainties of working with surface-collected material or to a very conservative knapping tradition that was substantially unchanged over a period of more than a half a millennium cannot be known until additional lithic assemblages from reliably dated, single-period contexts are obtained. Just as there were no major innovations, only changes of emphasis in the types of tools produced and increased refinement of the techniques used between the microlithic PreAksumite and the Proto-Aksumite periods, so too, morphological and technological differentiation between the Proto- and the Early Aksumite phases was characterised by an increased refinement of the stepped core edges, and more deliberately controlled knapping with finer retouch scars on some tool edges. The bipolar working of small cores, which had been a particularly characteristic technique of the Pre- and Proto-Aksumite periods, continued, but the Early and Classic Aksumite knappers used more varied methods of direct and indirect percussion. In some instances, as at 05/70 [sector 8] this involved the consecutive use of several sizes of pointed hammerstones, followed probably by pressure flaking and then rubbing with a hone to remove sharp projections from the edges of steep scrapers. At Mai Agam [sector 9], a metal implement was apparently used for delicate, direct percussive knapping. One other distinctive knapping technique has left much evidence at Early and Classic Aksumite sites. This is the employment of quartz crystals as punches for indirect percussive flake removals from cores that were perhaps partially imbedded in a wooden anvil. As is discussed below, replication experiments in which a small core was held resting on a hard anvil were not very successful. Depending on the size and type of the punch used, such indirect percussion produces flakes with smaller striking platforms and bulbs of percussion than are characteristic of most methods of direct percussion. Indirect percussion is particularly effective for delicate work such as producing small blades or bladelets that can be made into backed crescents and perhaps also for refining edges of the small, steep scrapers that are such a characteristic tool type of these phases.

An exception to the economic and social pattern of individual skilled craftsmanship is evidenced at an undated Aksumite site not far from TgLM 04 in sector 6, where a surface collection was made in 1996 [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 433-47, figs 390-2]. At this site, which had completely vanished by 2005, debris remaining from the production of very numerous shallow circular or convex scrapers included a significant number of overstruck flakes whose detachment had inadvertently removed portions of the scraper edges that were in the process of being formed by direct percussive retouch. The presence of these overstruck flakes, which have not been found elsewhere in the Aksum area except as very rare isolated examples, has been interpreted as the result of overly-hasty or unskilled workmanship and as possible evidence that the knapping was being done under duress by a number of individuals. A scraper from the site of Chekelte in north-eastern Tigray, illustrated in D’Andrea et al 2008, figure 10 may be of a similar type, and I have seen surface occurrences of very similar chert convex scrapers at sites in north-western Tigray outside the area covered by this report. Since, except at this one tool production workshop, shallow, convex scrapers are uncommon finds within the Aksum area, it may be surmised that they were produced for use elsewhere, that is for regional export. Experiment has shown [L. Phillipson 2000b, 2002] that, unlike denticulate Gudit scrapers, which were most probably used for wood-, bone-, soft stone-, and/or ivory-working, and also unlike the small steep scrapers, whose probable use or uses remain frustratingly unidentified, both of which are characteristic Aksum tool forms, the shallow convex scrapers are excellent tools for de-fleshing and thinning goat or cow hide.

At the same time, there was a very significant change in the social organisation and economics of the way in which and by whom stone tools were produced. This shows clearly in the archaeological record with the appearance of several new features, the first and most impressive of which is the presence of sites at which large numbers of highly standardised examples of a single tool type were produced by one or a few individuals. The best documented example of this type of site is Mai Agam on Beta Giyorgis [sector 9] where an excavated workshop for the production of small, 113

LAUREL PHILLIPSON likely that some lithic tools were replaced by their metal counterparts.

The start of the transition of knapped tool production from a widely practised to a limited specialist activity may have begun in the Proto-Aksumite period; it is well attested in the Early Aksumite, but appears to have been a gradual process which continued during the following, Classic and Middle Aksumite, phases. Along with the Early Aksumite appearance of specialised lithic tool production sites, as at the flake point manufactory at Mai Agam on Beta Giyorgis [sector 9], there were concomitant decreases in the variety, but not apparently in the quantity, of tools produced and in the ranges of variation within each type. At the same time, owing perhaps to a general increase in the population, more sites, particularly suburban and rural homesteads, with small numbers of lithic tools are attributable to the Early and Classic Aksumite than to other periods. While material collected from surface exposures cannot be used as the basis for statistical conclusions, lithic tools seem to have been most abundant during the Early Aksumite and the start of the Classic Aksumite phases, subsequently becoming more restricted and specialised both in their production and in their use. Such a trend, if it is not wholly attributable to chance factors of site preservation and artefact recovery, may reflect increased international or inter-regional trade in the Classic Aksumite phase resulting in the greater abundance and reduced cost of their metal counterparts. With the exception of some minor evidence of pre-modern iron quarrying discussed below, nothing has been found to suggest that there has ever been much base metal production in the Aksum area. The intensive exploitation of particular lithic quarry sites and the traffic in quarried chert proto-cores seems to have begun during the Early or Classic phase as a concomitant part of a gradual change from generalised to specialist lithic tool production.

Because much of the lithic evidence is derived from imprecisely dated surface collections which may include material of various ages, it is not possible to make any definitive statement as to when or over what length of time the change to a restricted, specialist style of lithic tool production took place. Such evidence as there is suggests that it probably occurred gradually throughout the Early and Classic Aksumite phases, by the end of which time few people other than specialist knappers may have produced lithic tools on a regular or frequent basis. During much of this time, small numbers of a variety of lithic tools continued to be produced at some individual homestead and other sites mostly on the fringes of or well outside the more densely occupied parts of the Aksum area. However, more than half of all the Early and Classic Aksumite sites recorded by the Survey exposed no lithic artefacts or only a very few non-diagnostic fragments. It may be that the development of lithic tool production as a specialist activity and the corresponding reduction or loss of a more general knowledge of knapping techniques was particular to the immediate Aksum area, but this is one of many points that can only be clarified by further research. ~~~~~~ Middle Aksumite phase circa AD 400/450 – 550 and Late Aksumite phase circa AD 550 – 700 In the immediate vicinity of Aksum during this time, the conversion from lithic tool production as a widely practised, generalist skill to a specialist activity appears to have been completed. Middle and Late Aksumite knapped tools were diminished in terms of their variety of shapes and their inferred uses, but each of several types seems to have been produced in large numbers and to a closely standardised morphology. Lithic tool production was by the Late Aksumite phase largely, perhaps entirely, confined to a reduced number of sites at each of which a single tool type was produced. It also appears that there was a general reduction in the use of knapped tools except for their application to a limited range of activities in specific circumstances. As a parallel development, the quarrying and transportation of lithic raw materials had by this time become at least partially, and perhaps largely or wholly, specialised activities distinct from those of tool production and use. This separation of materials acquisition and tool production implies that each of these processes had become fully integrated into and was dependant upon Aksum’s sophisticated, monetised, and perhaps centrally controlled economy both within the Aksum conurbation and in its suburban and rural hinterlands. The use of knapped lithic tools seems to have become similarly restricted to a few specialised activities which must have been equally well integrated into and dependant upon the local urban economy.

These several features together provide clear evidence of the transition from an ancient, autochthonous pattern of lithic tool production in which the knowledge of knapping was widely dispersed to one in which its practice was increasingly restricted to the work of a limited number of skilled specialists. It may be speculated that this switch was motivated by and reflected a more general commoditisation of Aksumite material culture. So long as many knappers were each making the few tools needed for his or her own or for their immediate group’s use, the general forms and sizes of such tools would have been constrained by functional considerations of how they were to be used, by the nature of the stones most readily available for their production, and by the locallypractised traditions and techniques of knapping. Within these limitations, the varied preferences and abilities of the individual knappers would have resulted in a morphologically varied range of tool forms. Greater specialisation with respect to individual participation in monetised economic activities would have included consolidation and perhaps commercialisation of the processes of raw material procurement and transportation, tool production and tool use. This was accompanied by a marked standardisation of the implement forms and also by a reduction in the variety of types used. It also seems

Several sites have yielded large numbers of small, slightly splayed, scrapers with steeply-trimmed edges in




shown experimentally to be a consequent feature of the resharpening process. Additionally, the presence of small, recently-exposed concentrations of minute resharpening flakes was noted at the site in the Gudit Stelae Field where the Gudit scrapers were collected. In their discussion of Mesoamerican obsidian blade production, Hirth and Andrews [2002, p. 9] note that when stone tools are easily procured, worn specimens will be readily discarded and replaced, but that there will be an increased emphasis on tool resharpening and extended use when or if replacement becomes more costly. In other words, the incidence of lithic tool resharpening can be used as a proxy indicator of the expense or difficulty of tool replacement. By this measure, the Late Aksumite Gudit scrapers were scarcer and more valuable objects than the abundant and never resharpened steep scrapers had been. This increased value of the lithic tools cannot be attributed to any scarcity of raw material since the ochre-yellow to brown chert out of which the Gudit scrapers were manufactured outcrops abundantly within less than 5 kilometres of central Aksum [near LP10 in sector 7]. It must have been due instead to a very marked Late Aksumite decrease in the number of artisans who knew how to make knapped stone tools. In contradistinction to the very numerous and uniform steep scrapers which were manufactured at multiple Classic and Middle Aksumite workshop sites identified in the previous sections of this publication, and probably also made by some individual domestic workers, the entire corpus of Gudit scrapers could have been produced at a single workshop by no more than one or two individuals. As the Late Aksumite population declined, Gudit scrapers may have been resharpened rather than replaced because the scarcity of stone knappers had increased the value of their products, or even because there was no longer anyone alive who knew how to replace them.

contexts that suggest that, while they have been found in assemblages and contexts attributable to all Aksumite phases they are most abundantly attributable to the middle centuries of this period, that is to the Classic, the Middle Aksumite, and perhaps also to the start of the Late Aksumite phases. At some sites, unused examples of these scrapers have been found together with very many unfinished or partly finished specimens; elsewhere, only utilised examples have been found. While their shapes are not unlike those of small, repeatedly resharpened Gudit scrapers, these steep scrapers were originally made of a small, sometimes very small, size. They were not reduced by alternating phases of use and retouch, and their edges, unlike those of the finely-denticulated Gudit scrapers, were smoothly rounded as part of the initial production sequence. These small, steep scrapers, which comprise the greatest portion of lithic tools attributable to the middle phases of the Aksumite sequence, must be associated with some very widely practised economic activity. It is thus unfortunate that they have only been recovered from surface occurrences or, in a very few instances, from excavated contexts that lack relevant material associations. Neither has it been possible to make any detailed study of them for microscopic signs of use wear or for traces of residual materials on their working edges. Under low-power magnification [12x], examination has revealed that the arrises of the minutely flaked edges of many specimens have been rounded, dulled and partially effaced, but not chipped or crushed, as if from persistent rubbing against a smooth and not overly-resistant surface. There is no evidence as to whether they were used with or without hafts. Some individual specimens are so small that it is difficult to envisage how they could have been hafted. It is equally difficult to imagine how they had been held or secured either while being trimmed to shape or while being used. Were there only a few such scrapers, it might be suggested that they had been used to shape small clay vessels or in the preparation of fine leather goods or of manuscript vellum. Other possible uses, such as cleaning the insides of dried gourds or calabashes might also be suggested, though it is difficult to relate any such activities to the large numbers of scrapers which had been produced and used.

As compared with the Early and Classic Aksumite phases, fewer sites with lithics were found which could be attributed on the basis of their associated ceramics to the Middle and Late Aksumite phases. This observation appears to be in part due to a decrease in the occupation of single-period hamlets and farmsteads in favour of larger settlements which had also been occupied in earlier periods, as for example at LP19 [sector 6]. Surface collections made at such multi-period sites cannot usually be attributed to a single phase of occupation. However, the marked decrease in or absence of Middle and Late Aksumite non-specialist lithic tool production would have been a most significant factor in reducing the number of lithic sites of these periods. Fewer people were making stone tools, and most of those who did so were working at fewer locations. It may reasonably be conjectured that decreased general dependence on the production and use of knapped lithic tools during the Middle and Late Aksumite phases was at least in part a reflection of wider aspects of the Aksumite trade and economy.

Among the tools for which circumstantial evidence indicates a Late Aksumite age, the collections of Gudit scrapers made in 1997 are of particular interest for several reasons. Replication experiments, use wear studies and the examination of tooling marks on Aksumite carved objects of ivory and of steatite have all indicated that these artefacts had been used as rasps for shaping objects of ivory, soft stone and, presumably, wood [L. Phillipson 2000a, b, c; 2002; 2004]. Another unique feature is that while there is no evidence that other tools, including the morphologically closely related steep scrapers, were ever resharpened, but were used until they were blunt and then discarded, Gudit scrapers were repeatedly resharpened. Not only were they found at the same tool-using workshop site in varying sizes from elongated endscrapers to small D-shaped stubs, but the presence of their characteristic corner spurs has been



LAUREL PHILLIPSON Post-Aksumite Period after circa

a time when there was almost no local population movement, trade or communication even over distances of no more than a few tens of kilometres. This interpretation is partly substantiated by Hawkins’ [in D’Andrea et al 2008] observation that only four out of many surveyed Post-Aksumite sites in north-eastern Tigray exposed small collections of knapped lithics, and that these included no formal tools. Like most of the interpretations proposed in this report, it requires substantiation which will only be provided by the recovery and detailed study of firmly dated, excavated lithics assemblages within a wider geographic area than that covered by the present report.

AD 700

The cessation of a lithic tool making tradition at Aksum must have been the ultimate result of the gradual restriction and eventual disappearance of non-specialist knowledge of how stone tools were manufactured. Probably during the Middle and certainly by the Late Aksumite phase, the art of stone knapping had become a restricted skill known only to a relatively few practitioners whose employment was apparently dependant upon the sophisticated, partly or largely monetised, and probably centralised economy in which they worked. It may also have been the case that the regular employment of knapped stone tools was by then restricted to a limited number of occupations, with metal harvesting knives and similar tools having replaced their earlier stone counterparts. Demise of the polity at Aksum would have removed the economic and social circumstances on which those who produced stone tools had depended for their employment, and the knowledge of how to knap stone would have disappeared as its practitioners failed to teach their skills to younger generations.

~~~~~~ As we have now seen, knapped stone tool production was a very significant element of all periods and phases of the Aksumite cultural sequence. It was abundant and varied in the Pre- and Proto- Aksumite periods and in some respects even more so subsequently. That lithic artefacts have been found in greater quantities, though not in a greater variety of forms, and at more sites attributed to the Early and Classic Aksumite than to earlier phases may be a reflection of increased population in the Aksum area and of changing patterns of settlement. During the Middle and Late Aksumite phases, there was progressive reduction both in the numbers of sites where they were manufactured and used and in their range of forms, followed by the loss of technical accomplishment in the Post-Aksumite period. At a very low level of production, however, some limited use of stone tools has been observed to have continued at the modern town of Axum well into the twentieth century. Most frequent, and in the first decade of the twenty-first century not yet completely replaced by modern technology, is the production and use of manual grindstones and of hammerstones for reroughing their surfaces [L. Phillipson 2001]. In 1996 I saw, but unfortunately did not record, a few very large, recently-made concave scrapers which had been roughly fashioned, apparently by direct stone-on-stone percussion, by notching naturally tabular pieces of basalt and syenite. Local informants said that these were tools used to shape and smooth the shafts of ox-drawn ploughs and that formerly such tools had also been used to shape the legs of stools and bedsteads. Sometimes broken bottle glass had also been used for such purposes, but nowadays metal tools were employed. Discussions on separate occasions with traditional scribes and preparers of vellum, and with a group of elderly, traditional carpenters elicited no knowledge or recollected traditions of any stone knapping techniques or of the use of stone tools except occasionally for smoothing and polishing wood surfaces and as hones for sharpening metal implements. Intriguingly, several of the carpenters did recognise a few Gudit scrapers that were shown to them, knew the site where they could be found, and volunteered that before metal razor blades were readily available, their “grandfathers” had used the scrapers for personal grooming.

Also consequent on the demise of the Aksum polity, there would have been a marked decline or cessation in the production or import of metal tools. For a time, the probably reduced population which continued to live in and near Aksum could have met their needs for sharpedged implements by careful curation of those which were retained from former times, by re-using artefacts from abandoned sites, and by reforging scavenged metal. The removal of iron cramps from Aksumite structures hints at such scavenging [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 421-3, figs 373e, 374]. Eventually, however, new sharp-edged tools would be required. By then, while the knowledge that stones could be made to produce usable edges was widely retained, the knowledge of how to do this was apparently lost. Those who wished to produce a stone tool did little more than bash at a lump of quartzite or other stone in the expectation that one or more usefully sharp pieces might fortuitously be produced. The only lithic artefacts found at Post-Aksumite sites near Aksum are the shattered fragments and irregular flakes resulting from such unsystematic knapping. During the indefinite time span of the Post-Aksumite period, another probably distinct lithic tradition is represented by a surface collection made outside the main survey area, at New Addit [sector 14]. The evidence found here is for the continuation and development of a lithic tool making tradition that had not been subsumed into Aksum’s urban economy. Had we sufficient information, this tradition, like those from the immediate Aksum area, might perhaps be traced back in an uninterrupted developmental sequence to some much earlier autochthonous industries. However, unlike those at Aksum, it continued into the Post-Aksumite period. That only the ad hoc production of unretouched stone flakes and fragments is attested during the Post-Aksumite period at Aksum while a perhaps contemporary lithic industry was being produced at New Addit, may indicate 116

USING STONE TOOLS: In summation, it is possible to recognise that we have at Aksum the outlines of a remarkably complete record of the technical and cultural development of a stone tool producing tradition. It began in late prehistoric times, developed into the microlithic Pre-Aksumite, was largely or entirely immune to influence from an intrusive and very different macrolithic tradition, became adapted to the social and economic constraints of a commoditised urban economy, and disappeared with the demise of that economy. Even while inferences are made concerning how, by whom, and for what purposes these lithic tools were used, it must be emphasised that the problems of


working with much surface-collected and only a little excavated material are multifarious. Most of the conjectures and conclusions presented here remain to be confirmed by further research, particularly by the detailed study of reliably dated, excavated lithic assemblages. It is thus unfortunate that such further research may not be possible within the area encompassed by the present report, as continuing expansion of the modern town of Axum and uncontrolled soil erosion in the surrounding areas have destroyed and are destroying the evidence of earlier times at an ever increasing rate.




Technical and Economic Evidence It is perhaps necessary to remind ourselves that the concerns of the archaeologist are not the same as those of the lithic tools’ makers and users. By and large, the research-inspired questions of who made what, where, when, why, and in association with what else would not have occurred to the Aksumites and their predecessors. Probably, none of them ever gave conscious thought to such matters as the detailed morphologies and scar patterns of their tools, the uniformity of tool types or the relative proportions of various raw materials used at different times and in different places. They are even less likely to have been concerned with counting the facets on flake platforms or the numbers of striking platforms on different types of cores, the length/breadth/thickness ratios of individual flakes, parameters of variability or any of the multifarious statistics which can be generated by the manipulation of large sets of data. Their concerns would have been to accomplish particular tasks and objectives: to harvest a standing crop, decorate a clay pot, produce or acquire items for profitable economic exchange or any of a host of other practical functions. These concerns are best addressed by looking in detail at the patterns of polish, abrasion, scratching and scarring of artefact edges and surfaces which are attributable neither to their initial manufacture nor to post-deposition accidents, but are the unintended consequences of the tool’s use. Even within the stringent limitations imposed by the time-constrained, field-based study and recording of large numbers of artefacts and the absence of equipment more powerful than a 12x hand lens, many interesting and significant examples of use wear were noted. Among the previously published reports, particular interest attaches to the use and repeated resharpening of Gudit scrapers [L. Phillipson 2000b, 2000c, 2002, 2004] and to a number of utilised small tools from both phases of occupation at Kidane Mehret [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 352-63, figs 316-21]. The present study has added to this body of information with additional examples of stone tools probably used for decorating unfired clay pots, quartz crystals almost certainly used as knapping tools, the distinction between newly-manufactured and utilised steep scrapers, and the varied uses of microlithic backed crescents. Without repeating the observations made elsewhere in this report, some of the most significant examples of use wear are further illustrated in this section.

General Considerations The long and now well-documented persistence of what might incorrectly be described as an essentially prehistoric lithic technology is neither an indication of technological naivety nor of any residual “primitiveness” on the part of the Aksumite peoples and their immediate predecessors. Rather, the continued production and use of knapped stone tools was the result of rational responses to the same economic and social factors as governed other aspects of a complex and at times probably highly regulated urban and peri-urban society. One of the most significant results to emerge from this study of Aksumite lithics has been the accumulation of diverse evidence concerning the fundamental, non-elite, indigenous economy. In addition to the information presented in previous sections of this report on how lithic tools were produced and used, this has included the identification of the sources of some economically significant materials and information as to how these resources were exploited. Some evidence on the procurement and processing of foodstuffs has resulted from study of the lithic tools. Implements which would have been used in the cultivation and harvesting of food crops: Pre-Aksumite stone hoes and Likanos and similarly utilised small flakes have been noted at the sites where they were found. Numerous grindstones excavated at Kidane Mehret [L. Phillipson 2001] would have been used primarily for grinding grain and, perhaps, spices and other foodstuffs. Finds of small arrow points and of crescents which had been used as arrow barbs strongly suggests that wild game animals and/or birds were hunted in the immediate environs at least in the earlier centuries of the long Aksumite sequence. Consideration of the distribution of these small lithic points well made in a variety of shapes and presumed to have been used as arrow heads provides some additional evidence of economic and social activities. Attributable to earlier periods, but not to the later ones, isolated finds of flake points and, especially on Beta Giyorgis, of crescents apparently used to tip arrowheads suggest that use of the bow and arrow was then widespread. Probably forested areas close to Aksum had not been fully cleared during the earlier Aksumite phases; game animals may have been abundant in them and may have been hunted as a significant economic resource. By the Middle or Late Aksumite phase, almost a thousand years of urban or peri-urban occupation would have resulted in the removal of tree cover over a wide area, the replacement of wild by grazed and cultivated land, the depletion or disappearance of game animals, and consequently the cessation of bowand-arrow hunting as a common occupation.





number of alternative knapping strategies which were used by Proto-, Early and Classic Aksumite artisans. They do not seem to have been so used in the PreAksumite period and it is not clear from the available evidence whether their use continued into the Middle and Late Aksumite phases.

Lithic Tools Pot Decorators Three chalcedony microliths [fig.69 a, b, c & pls 1-3] from Hamed Gebez [sector 10] resemble extraordinarily small, long-nosed scrapers. These are the Pinocchios of the scraper world; the non-standardisation of their flake shapes accords with the restriction of retouch to the area forming the protuberant noses and with the restriction of use wear to dulling of the edge and near effacement of flake arrises on the rounded tips plus a little generalised abrasion of the flakes’ dorsal and ventral surfaces. Only the tips of these tools were functionally significant. While much too fragile to have served as scrapers for dressing hide or for shaping wood, bone or any other resistant material, the signs of use wear indicate that these artefacts had been finger-held and dragged repeatedly across some pliable, slightly gritty surface. The only common material which meets this description would have been the bodies of unfired clay vessels. As plates 13 show, the engraved lines and punctate marks on some sherds found at this same site correspond so closely to the marks which these tools are capable of producing as to leave little doubt that use as pot decorators was their actual function. A somewhat broader-nosed scraper [fig. 67 g] from LP 59 , also in sector 10, may have been similarly used.

Almost invariably, the quartz crystals collected from sites with lithic knapping debris had had their naturally pointed tips, and usually also their basal ends, battered and destroyed by heavy, direct impact damage [pls 5-7] which is unlike the rotational abrasion that would have resulted from use as drills or micro scarring from use as burins for shaping ivory, wood or bone. This crushed damage may be compared with the scaled utilisation damage, probably from employment as an engraving tool, that was found on a quartz crystal excavated from a PreAksumite context at Kidane Mehret [L. Phillipson 2000c, figs 321, 399d]. The restricted striking platforms and bulbs of percussion on many Proto-, Early and Classic Aksumite flakes and flake tools, including some found in association with utilised crystals, resemble those illustrated by J. Pelegrin (2006, fig. 3 a, b) as typical for blades struck by indirect percussion. Limitations of time and equipment have not permitted a close study to be made of these wear patterns. However, examination at a magnification of 12x has shown that the predominant utilisation scars are crushed and stepped or hinged damage at both ends of the crystal, perpendicular to its long axis, together with small stress fractures radiating from the crystal’s pointed tip. This pattern of damage is most characteristic of heavy impact between a rock and a hard place. It can be replicated by resting the point of a crystal on a stone while striking it firmly on the uppermost end with another stone. Identical forces would have been exerted by use of a quartz crystal as a small punch or intermediate tool to deliver indirect percussive knapping blows to a material almost as hard as itself. Their association with the detritus from flake tool manufacture, especially on Early and Classic Aksumite sites, strongly suggests that quartz crystals were used in the knapping process. Most probably they were held against a chert, chalcedony or obsidian core which may itself have rested on another hard stone or perhaps been partially embedded in a wooden anvil; the crystal was struck with a, presumably stone, hammer in order to remove small flakes or blades from the core. Such an operation is consistent both with the observed patterns of damage on the crystals, with the narrow, regular scar patterns on very many cores, and with the sizes and shapes of many of the microlithic flakes, blades and tools recovered from numerous sites, some of which seem too small to have been struck by direct percussion. This use of quartz crystals as intermediate percussive tools was not, however, the only method of stone knapping practised during Early, Classic and Middle Aksumite times. At Mai Agam [sector 9], direct percussion with a narrow metal blade is attested, and at Ma’ado Gaza 65/70 [sector 8], a multi-stage process probably involved direct percussion and the successive use of several sizes and weights of narrowly pointed hammerstones.

Also found at Hamed Gebez was a well rounded, ovate quartzite pebble [pl 4] which has moderately heavy abrasive wear on part of its circumference, near-parallel abrasion marks and a small abraded facet at one end, plus some more generalised abrasion in the medial position where it would have been held by the user’s fingers. The size and curvature of this pebble match so closely that of the grooves on a few pot sherds found at the same site, that it may be concluded that the pebble had been used to create such grooves. The internal surfaces of the rounded grooves on relevant sherds are compacted and very slightly burnished, which is exactly the type of mark that skilful use of a pebble burnisher might be expected to leave. This contrasts with the narrower, scraped grooves on other sherds [pl 2], where small amounts of clay have been removed or pushed aside. The paucity of abrasion marks on the broader surfaces of this pebble indicates that it had not also been used to burnish vessel surfaces. However, an obsidian flake which had been so used was recovered from a Late Aksumite level at Kidane Mehret and is illustrated in L. Phillipson 2000c, fig. 319. ~~~~~~ Quartz Crystals Quartz crystals have been recovered in some abundance from a number of sites. Most frequently, they were found in association with sufficient cores and debitage to imply their employment in some stage(s) of the knapping process, but they were not present at all tool-producing workshops. The use of quartz crystals was one of a


LAUREL PHILLIPSON the final stages in the preparation of manuscript vellum and of similarly fine leather articles, the great extent of such use that would be implied by the numbers of scrapers which have been found is at best improbable.

Because the shapes of some microlithic flakes and blades and the scars on many of the very small opposed-platform cores are most consistent with their having been produced by indirect percussion (Pelegrin 2006), the experiment was made with a few non-archaeological quartz crystals to see if, when struck with a small basalt cobble, they would serve as the intermediate punches to remove flakes from suitably-shaped pieces of chert. These experiments were partially successful in that they exactly reproduced the patterns of use-wear observed on the archaeological crystals [ pls 5-8]. They did not, however, succeed in detaching uniform small flakes or bladelets such as might have been trimmed into neatly shaped microlithic points or crescents. A major difficulty was in using one hand to hold a crystal firmly on the edge of a small core, resting on a stone anvil, while the other hand was used to manipulate the hammerstone. The pieces kept slipping and one’s own fingers getting in the way. Clearly, the Aksumite knappers were much more skilled than was the experimenter. Were the experiment to be repeated, it might be found more successful to partially embed the core in a block of wood that could be steadied with one’s feet, so that just two rather than four pieces of stone would require to be steadied and manipulated simultaneously.

The somewhat larger circular scrapers such as were produced in quantity at the site of surface collections J, K and L [sector 10] could have been used as hide-dressing tools. If so, as very few of this type of scraper have been found in the surveyed area, it may be conjectured that the somewhat messy businesses of hide dressing and leather tanning were additional specialised activities that were practised outside the area of the Survey and well away from the central conurbation. Evidence that Gudit scrapers were used for ivory, stone and perhaps bone and wood working is discussed and illustrated elsewhere [L. Phillipson 2000b, 2002]. Additional patterns of use wear on various types of Aksumite scrapers are shown in L. Phillipson 2000c figures 316, 385, 389, and 392. ~~~~~~ Small Knives and Cutting Tools It was noted in the original report on the lithics from Kidane Mehret that approximately rectangular Likanos flakes struck from bipolar cores had been used in both levels of occupation as the sharp edges of grainharvesting knives and that one of several uses of microlithic backed crescents was as finger-held piercing or cutting tools [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 352-63, figs 198, 318, 320,]. Each of these uses has been corroborated by additional finds from sites on Beta Giyorgis and elsewhere around Aksum. A particularly striking example of a perhaps Proto-Aksumite obsidian crescent or backed blade which had become severely worn from use as a cutting tool [pls. 13, 14] was found at LP33, Mai Aine Ambesa [sector 3]. While most similar implements from Kidane Mehret were not hafted and were discarded as soon as their tips broke or they had become slightly blunted, this example, and that show in L. Phillipson 2000c, fig. 399a, continued to be used until much of its edge was worn away. Its continued use is not likely to have been due to a scarcity of raw material, as obsidian artefacts were reported to have been very abundant at the site until they were collected by a local farmer and sold by the cupful to “a foreigner”. Small abraded areas near the proximal end of both faces of the example from Mai Aine Ambesa and the clear demarcation between the useworn and unworn portions of its sharp edge are evidence that the proximal portion of this tool, unlike the Kidane Mehret examples, had been protected by or embedded in some form of a handle. It may have been the hafting rather than the lithic knapping per se which caused this piece to be retained and used until its exposed edge was almost entirely worn away.

~~~~~~ Scrapers The distinction between newly made, unutilised scrapers found at tool-production workshop sites and utilised scrapers found in other contexts is vital for interpreting the economic evidence provided by the lithic collections. The contrast between nearly identical heavily worn and less worn steep scrapers is shown in plates 9 and 10. The former retains fine marginal edge-retouch scars which give to its carefully rounded curvature a slightly wavy outline; the latter has been worn smooth and the finest retouch scars on its working edge almost completely effaced. Neither on these nor on any other examples is there a superposition of use-derived scaling, flaking or similar damage such as would inevitably have derived had they been used against a very resistant surface or against a surface with a gritty or uneven texture, such as that of an animal hide. There is only consistent smooth abrasion of the curved, utilised edge [pls 11, 12]. Note also the characteristic absence of scratches and scarring on the utilised scraper’s ventral surface and the smooth regular curvature of its utilised edge. The generally small sizes, absence of heavy utilisation scars and lack of evidence that these steep scrapers were ever resharpened all indicate that they were used to smooth and shape a relatively soft, pliable material of uniform fine texture. Their use to de-flesh or thin hides would not have required such carefully shaped tools, would probably have necessitated a larger tool to start with, and would have produced more intensive use wear including small fractures and chipped edge damage [Rots & Williamson 2004, table 3]. No conjecture is offered as to the possible use of these scrapers. While they might have served for

While this particular example of a crescent or backed bladelet had been used for cutting tasks which substantially destroyed the utilised tip and sharp edge and imposed a burnished sheen to the utilised surfaces, other flakes were used for more delicate purposes. The 120



valued than were chert, chalcedony and other immediately local stones. Despite the fact that obsidian occurs naturally in large pieces and is capable of being fashioned into dramatically long blades and other large artefacts, obsidian flakes and tools from all the Aksum sites and periods to which they could be attributed were found to be generally smaller than those of other materials and their cores were frequently reduced to extremely small dimensions. The collection from New Addit [sector 17] demonstrates that glassy obsidian could be obtained well within a day’s walking distance of Aksum, in pieces which are perfectly capable of being formed into larger flakes and tools. However, its almost exclusive use in the area of our Survey for the production of microlithic crescents and backed blades, for the rectangular components of harvesting knives, and only very rarely for unusually small steep scrapers or other artefacts suggests that its use was restricted to a few purposes for which it was best suited. In contradistinction to the situation at New Addit, the Aksum obsidian knappers worked to get the maximum possible benefit from what was for them a relatively scarce or costly material. This interpretation is substantiated by the recovery of obsidian exhausted bipolar cores of smaller dimensions than are cores of other materials. It may be surmised that the procurement and distribution of obsidian was controlled by some form of monopoly or centralised distribution. Although obsidian outcrops at New Addit are within less than a day’s walk of Aksum, some constraint prevented the development of any trade in larger lumps or proto-cores of this material. Except for two obsidian prismatic blade cores which were on display in the Aksum museum in the 1990s, which are unprovenanced and for which there is no indication that they came from Aksum or its near vicinity, no pieces of obsidian with maximum dimensions of more than a few tens of millimetres have been found anywhere in the Aksum survey area.

chalcedony example illustrated in plate 15 is interesting in that its two edges exhibit different patterns of use wear. To the right of the tip is an area of bifacial scaled damage which probably resulted from use of the flake with a sawing motion against a relatively firm substance. Immediately to the left of the tip is a smoothly abraded and dulled area which must have resulted from more delicate use of the tool, perhaps to smooth the sawn irregularities of a narrow wooden groove, or to score lines on a sheet of vellum. That it was probably discarded after it had served for some particular short-term task before it became well worn suggests that this was not a valuable implement. Probably it was made by its user to fulfil some immediate need and had never been part of the more formally structured lithic tool production and use systems for which there is much evidence starting in the Early Aksumite phase. ~~~~~~ Commerce and Labour Commerce This work has been only tangentially concerned with the nature and extent of extra-mural trade. Lithic tools were for the most part, and perhaps entirely, the concern of people of middle and lower economic status who were unlikely to have been much involved with long-distance trade and with the luxury products which this trade procured. They continued to use knapped stone tools because their use was cost-free or very nearly so. Nevertheless, there were some ways in which the wider economy impinged on lithic tool production. Concurrently with the Classic Aksumite increase in foreign trade, there seems to have been a decrease in the quantity and variety of locally-produced lithic tools. While it may be surmised that this decrease resulted from an increase in the importation of metal ingots or tools, and hence a reduction in their relative costs, no reliable study of Aksumite metallurgy has yet been undertaken which could substantiate such a conclusion.

Another probable example of local commerce is provided by an undated Aksumite knapping workshop, collections J, K and L, in sector 10 [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 443-7]. This was exclusively devoted to the manufacture of numerous flat, circular or convex scrapers, a form of which only a very few isolated examples were found elsewhere in the surveyed area. These scrapers, it may reasonably be assumed, were being produced for use or exchange within a regional network. Their sizes and shapes, which are somewhat larger and less intensively trimmed than are the Aksumite small steep scrapers, would be suitable for defleshing and thinning hides, the preliminary stages in the production of leather artefacts and casual experimentation has shown them to be admirably suited for this purpose. However, as only unutilised examples have been recovered in the area covered by this survey, this surmised use has not been verified. Questions may be raised, but cannot be answered without much further research, as to whether the dispersal of these convex scrapers might have been part of the same exchange system as that whereby obsidian cores and tools were obtained.

Attention has been called to a bifacially-worked, concave-based Pre-Aksumite point excavated from ON I [sector 9] which is unique to our Survey area and may be evidence of some form of commerce between people living on Beta Giyorgis with those living at one or another of the “Ancient Ona” sites in highland northern Eritrea, about 120 to 160 kilometres from Aksum. Other trade-related evidence is more parochial. Significant chert, chalcedony and quartz quarries have been located and, in several instances, their stones traced from quarry to manufacturing workshop to place of use. It has also been seen that obsidian was not an immediately local resource, but was brought to Aksum from some as yet unlocated area or areas. These were sufficiently nearby that, especially in the Pre-Aksumite period, but continuing into Late Aksumite times, the material was used with some abundance. Obsidian sources were, however, either sufficiently distant or so closely controlled by monopolising interests that it was more 121

LAUREL PHILLIPSON these peoples’ domestic occupations, some limited evidence was found of a related aspect of the local economy: the recovery and use of metals. This is summarised here, before returning to an overview of the sources of individual lithic materials.

~~~~~~ The Workforce Observations on the quarrying and dressing of megalithic stones, has some relevance to questions of how Aksumite labour may have been organized. At the location 1562708N/37466349E in sector 6, there are three partly quarried and shaped stelae situated within about 10 metres of one another near the foot of Beta Dura. The largest of these has on each side unfinished lines of the rectangular cuts used for the insertion of wedges to detach the stone from its bedrock [cf. Phillips and Ford 2000, pls 210, 212, 215, 217] and has been partly trimmed smooth on its upper face. The second stela in this group is more nearly finished; the third is broken and part has been removed. The state of the largest of these when abandoned shows most clearly that it had been worked upon, probably simultaneously, by several teams or individuals: a stone dresser or dressers on the upper face, a team of hole-cutters on either side and presumably a master mason or overseer to supervise the work. If, as seems most likely, the other two stelae were being quarried simultaneously, a labour force of ten or more workmen may be postulated just for this group, with many others working at other, larger quarries.

~~~~~~ Gold The finding at the site of Enda Chandug, LP19 [sector 6], of a single particle of unworked native gold provides archaeological corroboration for the historically wellattested presence of this metal at Aksum, without locating its precise source. In 1996 and 1997, local informants spoke of a stream bed somewhere outside of Aksum on the way to Makele where small amounts of gold could be recovered. No attempt has been made to identify or to locate this site. People living close to the site of LP 51 [sector 2] told us that gold particles are sometimes recovered from its friable soil of sandy, disintegrated rock, and we were shown an area marked by the shallow pits of recent, casual excavations which we were told were the result of recent local gold “mining” activity. This site is located above the main northern tributary at the head of the Gwada river, about 5 km northwest of the centre of Aksum, and not more than 3 km from Mistah Werki Asbah. Below LP 51, between it and the Gwada river, are several artificial looking, steeply cut and churned areas whose configurations are reminiscent of areas in northern California which had been subjected to hydraulic mining somewhat more than 100 years ago. Intensive hydraulic mining was practised in parts of the Roman Empire, but the possible extent and technical sophistication of water engineering at Aksum has not been investigated. Some form of bulk mining for gold may have been undertaken in the Aksum area, but whether this was in fact the case will require investigation by relevant specialists before it can be asserted with full confidence. The historical and archaeological evidence for the recovery of gold at Aksum is reviewed in L. Phillipson 2006. In that paper, evidence is presented for interpreting the two almost identical shallow, rectangular megalithic stone basins or rimmed platforms, Mistah Werki Asbah and Mistah Werki Mereche, and also the several stone tanks near Adi Tsehafi as tables for washing sedimentary deposits to recover their contained gold particles. The use of a third rimmed platform, Mistah Werki Gumala, is somewhat problematical. Not only is it smaller than the other two stone tables and made of a more finely textured stone, but its position, balanced on the top of the ruins of a monumental building cannot be original as its obviously Aksumite workmanship predates the building’s Post-Aksumite re-occupation and eventual collapse. Possibly it was used for the recovery of smaller gold particles from finer sediments than were sorted at the other two Mistah Werki. Several rows of small pits pecked into the upper surface of Mistah Werki Gumala are a later addition.

Both in this small stelae quarry area and at the several larger quarries on Gobo Dura [Phillips & Ford, pp 22947], there appears to have been an abrupt, unanticipated cessation of activity which left many partly finished, partly quarried stelae abandoned as work in progress. From this evidence a plausible scenario may be conjectured, of quarrying staff summoned from their usual duties to assist with raising the greatest stela ever created, the intention being that they would soon return to their usual work in the quarries. The cataclysmic fall of the great stela during its erection [D. W. Phillipson & L. Phillipson, in D. W. Phillipson et al 2000, pp 247-54] and consequent destruction of the unfinished tomb of Nefas Mawcha [L. Phillipson 2000c, p. 257] may have killed or injured many of these workmen. Whatever happened, the result appears to have been an abrupt, total and final cessation of stelae quarrying on Beta Dura. As with much of the evidence for Early and Classic Aksumite knapped tool production, the existence of a sophisticated, centrally controlled political and social economy seems indicated, both to engineer the creation, transportation and erection of the stelae and then to decree the cessation of this activity. ~~~~~~ Metals As the previous chapters have demonstrated, lithic tool production and use relate most intimately to, and their study reveals aspects of, the mundane exploitation of locally available resources by the farmers and artisans who comprised the non-elite, but presumably numerically dominant members of the Pre-, Proto-, and Aksumite populations. While looking for evidence of





quarry sites LP15 and LP16 [sector 7] were cuprous, which is doubtful, the fact that much quarried debris with this coating was left in the abandoned heaps of scree demonstrates conclusively that it was not a useful resource. The recovery from the Tomb of the Brick Arches of hoarded copper alloy scrap metal [D. W. Phillipson et al 2000, pp 86-116] is consistent with the lack of evidence for its local production on any substantial scale. Set against this is the fact that as copper and silver were used as locally circulated coins, these metals were not so valuable or uncommon as to preclude this use.

Base Metals The persistent, sophisticated and widespread use of knapped stone tools throughout the Pre-Aksumite, Aksumite and, to a much lesser extent, Post-Aksumite periods is good evidence that during much of this time iron and other metals may have been unavailable or too scarce or costly to be used where stone would serve as well. At least in the earlier periods, metal artefacts such as the carefully preserved iron knives and spear heads from the fourth-century Tomb of the Brick Arches [D. W. Phillipson et al 2000, figs 90-3] seem to have had a prestige value which was not generally shared by lithic artefacts. An exceptional use of knapped lithics as ritual or prestige items is the association of finely-made chalcedony crescents with the Proto-Aksumite shaft graves at several sites on Beta Giyorgis in sector 9 [Bard & Fattovich in prep]. Conversely, there were some technical functions such as the use of iron cramps or ties to join blocks of monumental masonry and of clawed masonry chisels and punches for shaping the great stelae and other monumental stones which could only be accomplished with metal tools [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp 254-66 & 421-3, figs 373c, 374]. With these exceptions, the distinction between metals as prestige items and knapped lithics as commonplace is generally a very clear one.

~~~~~~ Lithic Materials Chert This most frequently knapped material, abundantly present in many local outcrops, occurs in a wide variety of plain, mottled and striped colours including white, yellow, grey, pink, red (singled out as ‘jasper’ by some researchers), green, black and brown in textures that range from amorphous and almost glass-smooth, to silty, to something very similar to a highly silicified sandstone. When this study was commenced, a careful note was made of the colours and patterns of the chert artefacts collected. However, as it became apparent that such distinctions had not been significant to those who made and used the artefacts with which we are concerned, they are not reported here except in those instances where they have assisted with relating particular artefacts to particular quarry or knapping sites. In a single collection, near-identical tools might be made out of variously coloured cherts and individual artefacts have been found that are partly of one type or colour of chert and partly of another, derived from exposures where several types of chert were interbedded. While these colour variations were not functionally significant, they have made it possible in several instances to associate chert artefacts recovered from various sites with the locations from which their material was quarried. Such associations are noted in the preceding sections of this report and are summarised below. Most of the chert used for tool production is of homogenous textures, is not difficult to work, and can be made to take a finely shaped edge, not quite as sharp as obsidian nor as hard as quartz and quartzite, but considerably less brittle. In these respects it is almost identical to the chemically very similar chalcedony. Because chert occurs much more abundantly than chalcedony and may be obtained in much larger homogenous blocks and quarried pieces, it was the material of choice for mass-produced tools, especially for scrapers and flake points.

It may be speculated that unlike gold, which at least initially could be and I suggest was locally obtained, much or most of the iron, copper and silver used at Aksum was imported. The cost of such imports is likely to have been a major factor responsible for the continuation of well-developed knapped tool traditions. While intensive search within the surveyed area has found no remains of anything which could be identified as an Aksumite smelting furnace, forge or metalworkshop, anciently-chiselled, much-weathered scars on two outcrops of ironstone, at 05/67 [sector 7] and at a location in sector 3 which was destroyed before it could be fully recorded are at least suggestive of the occurrence of some, probably small-scale, pre-modern, perhaps Aksumite, iron smelting. Both of these outcrops were close to major Aksumite residential and monumental building sites. Slag collected at LP19 [sector 6] has not been technically studied or identified. It may have resulted from the better-attested process of glass working or even of brick firing rather than metal smelting, as it would be unexpected to find evidence of any significant amount of primary metal smelting having been conducted within a compact settlement area such as that site appears to have been. A conspicuous circular area of burnt soil and abundant slag at the site of Golo LP35 [sector 3] was so clearly defined and well preserved that it is most likely of Post-Aksumite, perhaps even of comparatively recent, date. A physiochemical comparison of Aksumite iron artefacts with those from places whence the metal may have been imported might give very interesting results.

Horizontally bedded cherts occur at several levels in the complex geology around Aksum. A large area of mottled brown and yellow-brown chert exposed as loose fieldstone on the top of Beta Giyorgis Hill [sector 9] was used for the production of flake points at Mai Agam. An

Evidence for the local production of other metals is scarce almost to the point of absence. Even if the thin blue-green coating on some of the chalcedony from the 123

LAUREL PHILLIPSON earlier manufacturing processes and their adaptation to the needs of a more sophisticated and complex economy.

equally large expanse of ochre-yellow chert is exposed in the downcut, north-facing valley side near the head of the Gwada River, with a heavily quarried area close to LP 10 [sector 7]. Roughly trimmed, quarried lumps, or precores, of this material have been found along the ancient route from this quarry site towards Aksum, especially in the fields near Mistah Werki Asbah [sector 6], and near Dembe Bereka [LP8, sector 6]. This was the material from which almost all of the chert artefacts collected from sites located to the west of Aksum between Beta Giyorgis and Dura Hills were made. Except for the extraction of unflawed pieces of chert and their rough shaping into conveniently transported, usually subrectangular pre-cores, there is no evidence of deliberate flake or tool production at any of the chert quarry sites. A much smaller quarry site, of grey to grey-yellow chert, was located nearby at LP12. Artefacts made of this greyyellow chert were collected at LP11 and LP14 [all three sites in sector 7].

With the exception of obsidian, which was brought into the Aksum area from some as yet unidentified source or sources, the preference throughout all phases of the lithic sequence was for using the stones most nearly available. Thus, on the top of Beta Giyorgis [sector 9], the predominant material was locally abundant mottled brown chert fieldstone. As this occurs naturally in conveniently shaped angular lumps, there was no need for it to be quarried and shaped into pre-cores. Most of the lithic artefacts found in sector 6, west of Aksum, are of ochre yellow to yellow-brown chert from the major exposures near LP10 [sector 7]. The scattered occurrence of pre-cores on or near the route southwards from there to Aksum indicates the economic significance of this raw material by hinting at the amount which must have been transported in this form. A smaller quarry of yellow-grey chert at LP12 [sector 7] was used for the production of lithics found at the nearby sites LP11 and LP14. A third chert quarry, 05/89 [sector 8] exploited an outcrop of multi-coloured banded chert, pre-cores of which were shaped at the adjacent sites 05/76 and 05/79. A few subrectangular pre-cores of this banded chert were seen as isolated finds in fields between the quarry at 05/89 and the ancient river crossing near TgLM 05-04-147 on the way to Adi Tsehafi. Fragments of this chert and a finished scraper were found at 05/82 [sector 8].

Zala 05/89 [sector 8] is a quarry site where banded chert was shaped into sub-rectangular or ovoid pre-cores about 150 to 200 mm long with an approximately equilateral cross section; as at the other Aksumite lithic quarries, no formal cores, tools or intentional flakes were produced here. Single examples of chert pre-cores made of the same colours, pattern and quality of banded chert were noted as stray finds at several places in the Zala area, but were not collected. The adjacent sites 05/76 and 05/79 were workshops for the production of pre-cores, characterised by the presence of much knapping debris, chunks and broken cores, of this banded chert. While no finished tools were found at these sites, fragments of this material were collected at 05/82 together with three microlithic endscrapers, one each of the banded, of yellow ochre and of dark grey chert.

~~~~~~ Chalcedony Most frequently used of the materials for lithic tool production were chert, chalcedony and, to a lesser extant, obsidian. The first two of these are especially noteworthy for their occurrence in markedly different colours and textures at different outcrops, some of which were anciently quarried. In some instances, the stone from these quarried sites can be identified as the same as that made into tools which were found elsewhere. Chemically and structurally, chalcedony is similar to the very finest and most uniform grades of chert or of flint, which latter does not occur in the Aksum area. It has excellent knapping, moderate sharpness and good edgemaintaining properties, but rarely occurs in large, unflawed pieces. One form of chalcedony, derived from geodes which developed as a precipitate in cavities in the underlying basalt rocks, is frequently marked by fine curved bands of varying translucency and colour from white to blue-grey. When used as a minor gemstone, such banded chalcedony is called agate; however, as nothing has been found to suggest that the original knappers and users had any concern with the colours of the stones they used, no distinction between banded and unbanded chalcedony has been made in the tabulations of artefacts presented in this study. Chalcedony also precipitates out as laminar or nodular deposits between rock bedding planes. In this form, it lacks the relatively large quartz crystals found inside many geodes, but usually has lines of internal weakness and smaller crystallised areas which

The pattern of artefact distribution at these sites in the Zala area contributes to the observation that, except for some small scale knapping done at outlying homesteads, at least by Classic, and probably by Early Aksumite times, quarrying, lithic tool production and tool use had each become separate, specialised economic activities carried out at distinct locations, and that the material for lithic tool production was transported from the quarry sites to the workshops in the form of roughly shaped precores. Had the same individuals been responsible for the quarrying and for the manufacture of the stone tools, there would have been no need to produce pre-cores since tool production at the quarry sites would have involved less transportation of materials. In fact, none of the Aksumite chert, chalcedony or quartz quarries has produced any evidence that finished lithic tools were manufactured at or immediately adjacent to them. This is in clear contrast to the evidence of the much lessstandardised production of chert and other lithic tools, probably on an as-need basis by numerous individuals, at the Pre- and Proto-Aksumite chert quarry site Ona Nagast I on Beta Giyorgis [sector 9]. Just as the types of Aksumite period lithic tools were refinements and standardisations of earlier, indigenous forms, so too, the production of those tools was evidently a refinement of 124



industries, and for the production of some macrolithic Pre-Aksumite artefacts.

are unacceptable for lithic tool production. Pure, translucent white deposits of this type of chalcedony together with large, weathered mounds of quarrying debris were located at the sites of Mai Hibai LP15 and LP16 in sector 7, these being two exposures of the same geological feature.

A major quarry site for white quartz with much scattered, angular quarrying debris, casual cores and core fragments associated with a few Classic, Middle and Post-Aksumite sherds was located at LP46 in sector 6. It seems probable, but was not confirmed, that three additional quartz quarrying sites are located in square 70 east / 59 north, where Aksumite and a few earlier sherds have been found. The evident large-scale quarrying of this type of stone, which does not seem to accord with its paucity as a knapped material in all surface collections and excavated assemblages, leads to the hypothesis that it was primarily obtained for trade to places outside the surveyed area. While the combination of hardness, which requires it to be struck very firmly, together with numerous internal fractures and lines of weakness make it unsuitable for the production of finely trimmed scrapers and backed microliths, it can be made into tools which are exceptionally hard, sharp and durable. On account of these properties it was a major component of Late Stone Age industries found almost throughout eastern and southern Africa. As no evidence has been recovered of its use in the Aksum area for ornamental, architectural or industrial purposes, we are left with the otherwise unsubstantiated hypothesis that it was quarried for use or exchange away from Aksum.

Chalcedony derived from somewhat flattened, sub-ovoid, irregular geodes with small or no internal cavities and few quartz crystals was the principal material used for scraper production at Mai Zedfi 05/70 [sector 8]. The broken remains of these geodes are sufficiently similar to one another in colour, shape, size and surface texture to indicate that they had all been obtained from a single, unidentified source. The great abundance of broken geodes here and the discard of much stone which would seem capable of having been further worked suggests that the abundant source of this chalcedony must have been nearby. More rounded geodes with larger internal cavities were opened at Enda Giyorgis 05/67 [sector 7] to recover the quartz crystals contained in many of them. Similar sub-spherical geodes can be found eroded from the underlying rock and scattered about the landscape; they may not have derived from a single source. Chalcedony quarried from the same geologic feature as the LP15 and LP16 outcrop may be the most probable source for the fine crescents found at several sites on Beta Giyorgis [sector 9], but as the Proto-Aksumite Ona Nagast crescents tend to be translucent and slightly yellow while fragments of the quarried debris from LP 15 and LP16 tend to be whiter and more opaque, some other part of this geologic feature may also have been quarried.

Well formed quartz crystals can be found by breaking open the larger, rounder, partially hollow chalcedony geodes which occur locally in some abundance; at Enda Giyorgis 05/70 in sector 7, very many geodes had been opened to obtain these crystals. Although no particular source was located for them, it may be conjectured that they had eroded out of the underlying basalt rocks and accumulated perhaps in the valley of the Gwada river. At many sites throughout the area of this survey, individual quartz crystals have been found, almost always in association with at least some lithic knapping debris and most frequently with Early or Classic Aksumite sherds. Most of these crystals have crushed, battered tips and basal ends and stress fracture lines which are clear evidence that their pointed tips were modified by use wear. As noted above, this wear derives from employment of the crystals as intermediate tools, or punches, for indirect percussive knapping. It has also been noted that a few of the crystals collected from some sites had very minor scaled or rubbed wear near their tips, such as may have resulted from their use either as drills or as engraving tools. Quartz crystals are the hardest naturally occurring material that would have been readily available; it is thus likely that they were employed for a number of cutting, drilling and scraping tasks in addition to that of flake knapping and lithic tool trimming. Despite the fact that these crystals are also visually attractive owing to their brilliant transparency, no evidence has been found of their having been used for anything other than utilitarian purposes.

~~~~~~ Quartz Crystals The extreme hardness of pure quartz crystals makes them relatively intractable for knapping, but correspondingly useful for shaping other, relatively softer, materials. Evidence from many sites attributable to various periods from the Early Aksumite onwards has shown that quartz crystals were frequently used as punches for delicate, indirect percussive knapping, and occasionally for other tasks. Other forms of quartz including white vein quartz, quartzite and well-cemented sandstone have variable knapping properties. White vein quartz produces sharp, durable cutting edges, but tends to fracture into somewhat irregular angular pieces. As can be seen from the various tabulated collections, it was only occasionally used in our area, rather more frequently in the Late and PostAksumite periods than in earlier times. Well-cemented sandstone varies from a fine-textured siltstone resembling coarse chert to something very close to quartzite; its flaking and use properties vary accordingly. In general, it is most suitable for the production of larger flakes and blades with efficient cutting edges, but cannot be used to produce as sharp, smooth or finely shaped an edge as do other stones. Unlike quartzite, sandstone and siltstone were not much used for the production of Aksumite microlithic tools. They were, however, used for the production of earlier, flake- and blade-based



LAUREL PHILLIPSON with a greater proportion of very small bipolar cores of obsidian than of other materials being noted. These characteristics suggest that in both areas obsidian may have been more highly valued and carefully used than were the more immediately available raw materials.

Obsidian Glassy obsidian is the most easily flaked and takes the sharpest edge of any of the commonly knapped stones; it is also the softest and most fragile. Because of the rapidity with which it weathers when subjected to moisture and to the accidents of surface exposure, as well as the extent to which it is presently collected in the hopes of being able to sell it to tourists, it is almost certainly underrepresented in the tabulated surface collections. Included in the many handfuls and cupfuls of obsidian fragments collected from “over there” or “on that hill” which I have been offered by young children and by rural farmers, there have been a few finely retouched arrow points, bifacially and unifacially retouched crescents, microlithic blade and bipolar cores, rectangular bipolar flakes, and occasional very small steep scrapers. Except for the occasional fine obsidian arrow points, which one would expect to occur as isolated finds on hillsides where they had been lost while their owners were out hunting, these same implement types occur in the tabulated collections from residential and workshop sites in most areas around Aksum, but somewhat more from areas to the northeast than to the west of Aksum. The use of obsidian appears to have been greater in the Pre- and Proto-Aksumite than in subsequent periods, but chance factors of preservation are such that statistical assessments cannot reliably be based on the available surface-collected material. Obsidian artefacts were a significant component of the excavated lithic assemblages from both phases of occupation at the site of Kidane Mehret.

Two other possible sources of obsidian have been reported to, but not visited by me; both are said to be close to the road from Adwa to Entico. Several informants have mentioned an archaeological site with many obsidian fragments at Zebanjuila, about 7 km west of Entico. Also west of Entico, a farmer said that he thought there was obsidian on his land at Hilmlo Oungja, near Daro Arato. Further west, between Daro Arato and Aksum, samples of obsidian were unrecognised and unknown by local people. It does, however, outcrop around Makele, about 60 km away, and in many other parts of the north Ethiopian highlands. To make a systematic geochemical study of obsidian sources and of its archaeological occurrences in Northern Ethiopia would be a major, but very worthwhile undertaking; mapping the distribution of this internally-traded resource could provide valuable evidence on the extent and directions of domestic trade and communications within the Aksumite Empire. ~~~~~~ Other Utilised Stones Compared with the lithics recovered from within and to the west of Aksum and from the Zala area, which are predominantly of chert quarried from layered strata, those from sites on the northeast, and especially in the Gumala area, make greater use of chalcedony and occasionally of quartz derived from basalt; consequently, basalt flakes and fragments are sometimes found at these sites. While basalt was occasionally used for the production of hammerstones, fine burnishing tools, and for upper grindstones it was rarely used for knapped artefacts.

In all of these collections and excavated assemblages, the obsidian fragments, cores and tools are generally smaller than are corresponding artefacts of chert or chalcedony, and a greater proportion of the obsidian cores are worked down to intractably small dimensions. This suggests that the material, which was not available in the immediate locality, was more highly valued than were the commoner stones. Despite repeated searches, enquiries and the offer of a monetary reward, no sources of obsidian have been located within about 20 km of Aksum. The nearest possible source yet identified is close to the town of New Addit, about 35 km southwest of Aksum. The abundance of larger obsidian chunks and artefacts at a site there, the presence of cores which were not fully worked out and the variable quality of some of the obsidian debitage, as well as the verbal report of Ethiopian geologists that obsidian outcrops in the New Addit area, suggest that an as yet unlocated source of the obsidian used at Aksum may be located there. However, the lithic artefacts observed and collected at the New Addit site appear to belong to a different, and perhaps later, tradition from that represented by the numerous collections from Aksum and its immediate environs. Hawkins [in D’Andrea et al 2008] reports a similar situation in a surveyed area of north-eastern Tigray, north of Adigrat: no sources of obsidian were encountered in that area, though some were reported further to the south and to the east. As in the Aksum collections, obsidian cores and tools tended to be smaller than their counterparts in other raw materials,

A wide variety of other stones were obtained and worked by the Aksumite people, ranging from a very small ruby recovered from a Late Aksumite context at Kidane Mehret [M. Harlow 2000, p. 342] and a partly-worked carnelian bead from LP19, to the massive use of carefully dressed syenite for monumental masonry including the great stelae. The presence of syenite quarries on Dura Hill and along the river bank near Adi Tsehafi was recorded by Phillips and Ford [pp 229-47]; other syenite quarry sites are reported in Fattovich and Bard [in prep]. Coarse sandstone was used for the two larger Mistah Werki, presumably because the rough-textured surface assisted with the entrapment of gold particles as water was sluiced over the metal-bearing sediment [L. Phillipson 2006]. Quartzite or basalt pebbles and small cobbles of various sizes were used as pot burnishers, as hammerstones for stone knapping and also to re-roughen the upper surface of grindstones [L. Phillipson 2001]. In addition, small amounts of various qualities of shale and slate were found at LP19 and in the Tomb of the Brick


USING STONE TOOLS: Arches [figs 26, 27 in D. W. Phillipson et al 2000], where they had been used in architectural contexts.


for Pre-Aksumite or Aksumite tool production, it matches in colour and texture the stone used for the much earlier, non-microlithic blade-based artefacts excavated by Finneran from Anqqer Baahti rock shelter [Finneran 2007, figs 2.9a,b].

One additional rock outcrop was noted as being a probable source of lithic tool material. This is an exposure of grey-green sandy chert or siltstone at 1563942N/3746704E. While this material was not used





Patterns of Site Distribution and Areas for Future Research the desire to be near expanses of cultivatable land without encroaching upon it rather than by the need to assert social or political dominance. The pattern of aggregated settlements with nearby or associated monumental building remains was noted to be characteristic of sites in the northern part of sector 3, the parts of sector 6 closest to Aksum, and in sectors 7 and 8.

Increasingly sophisticated studies of the patterns of settlement and landscape history of the Aksum area are currently being undertaken or have recently been completed by a number of researchers [Bard et al 2000; Fattovich et al 2000; Fattovich, Tekle et al 2008; Michels 2005; Sernicola 2008]. As more of their work is published it will become possible to map quite detailed reconstructions of the changing patterns of population densities and site types, based on multiple lines of evidence. Because of the narrow focus of lithic studies and the unavoidable uncertainties resulting from reliance primarily on surface-collected materials, such maps are not offered as part of this work and the reader is advised that the conclusions presented here are tentative and provisional.

A different settlement pattern, that of dispersed individual homesteads, each marked by a slight superficial scatter of lithics and sherds, sometimes with evidence of former drystone compound or field walls, but with little or no building rubble was noted particularly in the southern part of sector 3, in the northern and western parts of sector 6, and in the south-eastern part of sector 8. Such sites, which frequently covered areas of little more than 100 square metres, are generally situated in linear distributions at about equidistant spacing along the junction of the red soils of the hill slopes with the brown valley floors. They were particularly easy to locate strung out along the western foot of Beta Giyorgis and the eastern foot of Gobo Dura hills, where almost every one was defined by an artificially levelled area on the uphill side of a rock outcrop or group of large, naturally occurring boulders. The remains of monumental buildings do not occur in the same immediate areas as, and do not appear to be associated with, these dispersed or isolated homesteads.

During the course of very many kilometres of field walking which has covered most of the terrain within a ten-kilometre radius of central Aksum and selected areas within a twenty-kilometre radius, it was observed that the majority of Aksumite and earlier building and residential sites can be placed in one or another of three broad categories. The first of these comprises the remains of monumental buildings which generally form steep-sided mounds of building rubble that are not widely dispersed, located on knoll tops or in similarly prominent positions with wide views in one or more directions. Such buildings were, apparently, built to be seen and when intact would have dominated the landscape. It may reasonably be assumed that in terms of the labour needed for their construction as well as in their placement and appearance they were expressions of a pronounced social and economic hierarchy. At many of these sites, there are very few or no lithic artefacts and few ceramic sherd to be found either on the surface or in the excavated deposits. Such scarcity is a reason for considering that many, and perhaps most, of the largest monumental buildings were not primarily residential, that is that they were not “palaces”, although some may have been reoccupied as dwellings once they no longer served their original administrative, public or sacral functions.

A fourth settlement pattern may have been present on the broad plain to the southwest of Aksum, in the southeastern part of sector 6 and south-western part of sector 10, where locally dense scatters of sherds, lithics and other artefactual material are not associated with any evidence of stone building materials. Because, unlike almost everywhere else near Aksum, this area has until recently been more characterised by soil deposition than by soil erosion it may be particularly attractive for future archaeological investigation. The extent to which these different residential patterns are due to economic, cultural, social or temporal factors is as yet largely unknown. While numerous archaeological excavations have been completed by various researchers on Aksumite and earlier monumental buildings, tombs and funerary monuments, the only published excavation of a clustered settlement is that of Kidane Mehret [D. W. Phillipson et al 2000]. Much of the present-day traditional rural housing located within a few kilometres of modern Axum is of the dispersed farmstead type, usually consisting of one or several undressed stone, clayplastered, single-room buildings protected by an undressed, drystone courtyard wall. Some of the older and more prominent of these farmsteads and some rural churches are built on Aksumite sites, as indicated by ceramic sherds eroding from their foundations and by

Located near each of these monumental building sites there is frequently another site of a completely different character, being generally larger in area and marked by the presence of dispersed, undressed building rubble, lithic artefacts and ceramic sherds in variable quantities, and sometimes the remains of undressed drystone field or compound walls. Varied small finds including the beads, coins and glass fragments which are offered for sale to tourists, but rarely reported to local authorities, frequently derive from this type of site. Usually these clustered settlements or residential compounds, of which Kidane Mehret and Enda Chendug LP 19 are two examples, are located on or just above the uphill margins of flat plough lands. Their locations appear to have been governed by 128



crescents had been used in a domestic context and led to the interpretation that they were piercing tools, perhaps used to make the stitching holes needed for sewing leather or hide bags and clothing. Another instance was the recovery from Proto-Aksumite levels of rooms in the excavated structure at Ona Nagast of chalcedony knapping debris and a few crescents which appeared to match in form, workmanship and material similar specimens recovered from the infill of the ProtoAksumite OAZ shaft tombs, all in sector 9 on the top of Beta Giyorgis. What is now needed is the excavation of one or preferably several isolated homesteads and clustered residential areas, or hamlets, with the specific intention of recovering and recording the detailed the room-by-room associations of the smallest finds, including lithics debris and the inorganic portions of soilflotation samples. It had been desired as part of the present study to excavate and record in detail the small finds from one or more isolated farmstead residences, of which a number had been located in 1996. Regrettably, as was demonstrated by the trial excavation at Dembe Bereka, when intensive searches of this area were made in 2005 and 2006, no sites could be found that retained any significant intact archaeological deposits. Very many had disappeared completely while others were reduced to scant, superficial scatters of redeposited material. Perhaps a little of this material remains where it is inaccessible to archaeologists, under presently occupied houses on a few sites which have been continuously or repeatedly occupied since Aksumite times.

other finds uncovered when the residents dig pits or till within their courtyards. There are also some areas of clustered settlements or small hamlets, particularly in areas to the east and northeast of Aksum. Whether any of these are likewise built on Aksumite foundations has not been investigated. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As is often the case, the more a subject is researched, the more there seems to remain to be done. However, with the publication of this report, the first phase of research into the chronology, technology and economy of Aksumite lithic tool production and use can be considered as more or less complete. Sufficient data have now been recorded to demonstrate that knapped lithic tools were a significant component of all phases of the Pre-, Proto- and Aksumite material cultures and to demonstrate the changing functions of these tools within their domestic economies. The extent of the surveys on which this present work is based, together with the increasingly rapid rate of site destruction owing to the pressures on land use and soil erosion as present-day Axum grows and enlarges its boundaries, make it most unlikely that further field survey in this area will add significant new information to what is presented here. There are, however, some specific areas and types of sites where specialised and well-equipped excavations could add significantly to our understanding of Aksumite history, culture and economy.

Another problem which remains to be explored concerns the economic and cultural relationships of people living in and close to Aksum to those who lived somewhat further away. Mapping the areas in Northern Ethiopia where glassy obsidian may be obtained and relating these by petro- and physio-chemical analysis to the obsidian artefacts recovered from Aksumite archaeological sites might enable reconstruction of the routes and distances along which domestic trade had been conducted. The analysis of surface-collected obsidian samples from sites between Aksum and Yeha published by Michels in 2005 makes a good start in this direction, but much remains to be done.

The most obvious of these needs is to find and record one or more directly datable, stratified sequences of lithic artefacts covering the time period from approximately 1000 B.C. to A.D. 1000. In 1997, when areas in the south of sector 6 were being dug by local farmers in preparation for planting groves of eucalyptus trees, the evidence of multi-layered, deep, damp, artefact-rich deposits was visible in the planting holes and in the turned over soil. Stratified, artefact-rich sections were also seen in nearby gullies. Although most of this former pasture land is now cultivated and superficial archaeological deposits have been destroyed, excavation of any of these deposits which may remain intact would hold out the possibility of recovering a potentially very interesting range of pollen and organic materials in association with a stratified sequence of lithic and ceramic artefacts. Because this area is one of soil deposition rather than erosion, information obtained from excavation here would compliment that already obtained from surface collections and limited excavations of areas on the hill slopes and margins, where the continuing process have been those of artificially induced and natural soil erosion.

Tantalising bits of information, such as the collection from New Addit, suggest that the simultaneous presence of more than one distinct lithic tradition was not restricted to the Pre- Aksumite period. Because lithic tools are generally low prestige, utilitarian artefacts which are less likely to change in response to fashion and cultural imitation than are, for instance, styles of ceramic decoration or even perhaps settlement patterns, it is probable that contemporaneous differences in lithic tool traditions will reflect broader cultural distinctions. Only the systematic and detailed study of the components of excavated lithic assemblages and of surface collections from areas located at some distance from Aksum can demonstrate whether and to what extent such differences existed. Such studies would add much to an understanding of Aksumite political, social and economic organization. It is hoped that the present work will make

In addition to the need to further clarify the temporalities of Aksumite lithic tool production and use, it would be most interesting and useful to further research the relation of these tools to their built environment. A very interesting instance of this was obtained from the site of Kidane Mehret [L. Phillipson 2000c, pp. 352-63], where the presence of minute fragments of the broken tips of microlithic backed crescents clearly showed that the 129

LAUREL PHILLIPSON a useful contribution to the discussion of these issues and that it may inspire other researchers to examine more closely and record more fully these smallest, most

mundane and most informative components of Aksumite material culture.




Glossary to the flake’s surfaces and an opposed, sharp straight edge; frequently, Aksumite crescents have pointed distal tips and blunter proximal ends: eg fig. 19.

Adi in local place names means “the place of”, as in Adi Tsehafi: “the place of the scribes”. Beta [sometimes spelt Bieta] in local names means “the house of”, as in Beta Giyorgis: “the house of Saint George”.

Fragments are the accidental by-products of stone knapping, exclusive of whole flakes and cores. These include chunks, which are the larger angular, shattered remains of broken cores, chips, which are similar pieces with maximum dimensions under 15 mm, and flake fragments, which are self-explanatory.

Cores are portions of stone from which desired flakes have been removed, the core remaining as a byproduct which is usually discarded, but occasionally reused as a tool. Descriptive terms for particular core types refer to the patterns of flake removals. Bipolar cores have had percussive pressure applied simultaneously to their opposite ends resulting in a distinctive pattern of approximately parallel flake scars; flakes are primarily struck from one end, with smaller flakes detached from the subsidiary striking platform which had been in contact with a hard anvil; eg figs 5a,b, 8d, 69e. Casual cores are those from which fewer than four flakes have been removed. Circumferential cores have had approximately parallel-sided flakes removed from half or more of the circumference of a single convex or circular striking platform, creating an angle greater than 65° between the flake scar and the platform edge; eg figs 4, 6a (which is both circumferential and bipolar). It is not always apparent whether artefacts answering to this description were in fact cores resulting from the production of desired flakes or whether they were themselves the desired end product, in which case they are designated as steep scrapers. Irregular cores have had several opportunistic flake removals, conforming to no particular pattern. Multi-platform cores have been struck in three or more directions from several flat planes, or striking platforms; usually such cores tend towards a sub-cubic or polyhedral shape. Opposed platform cores, which have been worked from opposite ends consecutively, tend to have a more symmetric appearance and to have less crushed damage on their striking platforms than do bipolar cores. Frequently, it is difficult to distinguish between bipolar and opposed platform cores. Pre-cores are lumps of quarried chert minimally trimmed to elongated roughly cuboidal shapes with dimensions equal to about half to three-quarters of those of a modern house brick. Polyhedral cores have had sufficient flakes removed from multiple directions to produce an approximately cuboidal or sub-spherical form with no preferentially developed striking platform. Radial cores have had flakes centripetally removed from more than half of their circumference on one or both faces, usually giving the cores a lenticular profile and a regular plan shape; eg figs 12a, 69f, 73d. Singleplatform cores have been struck in one direction only from one flat plane.

Generic Aksumite designates ceramic sherds of types which are common to several Aksumite phases and which cannot be attributed to any particular phase. Similarly, site attributions in this report of Early and/or Classic Aksumite are based on the presence of associated sherds that might equally well be attributed to either or both phases. Likanos flakes are a particular tool type, made on an approximately square flake – usually of obsidian and usually struck from a bipolar core – with evidence of its having been used as a cutting tool, most probably as part of a composite knife blade; eg L. Phillipson 2000c figs 198, 320. Overstruck flakes result unintentionally when a too-forceful blow carries away a small portion of a scraper, or less frequently core, edge that is being trimmed. Dorsal and ventral scars on these flakes originate from opposite edges of the same striking platform; eg fig. 68c. Redirecting flakes and core rejuvenating flakes are alternative names for small flakes deliberately removed from a core’s edge so that additional useful flakes may be struck from the core. While they resemble overstruck flakes in plan and in dorsal scar configuration, the ventral scar on these flakes is at approximate right angles to the dorsal scars; eg figs 9b, 18b. Scraper is a widely-used archaeological designation for edged tools which have had a consistent series of deliberate, unifacial and unidirectional small flake removals from a portion of their edges. Unless substantiated by microwear traces or similar evidence, this designation has no implications whatsoever as to the intended purpose(s) of these tools or how they were used in particular instances, ethnographic evidence that some scrapers have been used for hide processing notwithstanding. Convex scrapers, as the name implies, have an evenly curved, convex scraping edge; in the Aksum area these were usually made on flakes or thin fragments and have scraper edge angles of less than 70°; eg fig. 31a. Gudit scrapers were fashioned as steeply trimmed forms with an elongated plan shape and highbacked or keeled profile. Uniquely among Aksumite

Crescents are small flakes or blades with a curved, backed edge formed by minute, deliberate trimming or retouch scars at approximately right angles 131

LAUREL PHILLIPSON report, the various designations indicate the year in which particular sites were recorded, under what aegis research was then being conducted, and in some instances by whom the site was located and recorded.

scrapers, they were repeatedly re-sharpened, resulting in a splayed or trapezoidal plan shape usually with a spurred corner [Morrow 1997], and a characteristically minutely denticulated scraper edge; eg fig. 15. Steep scrapers, the most abundant Classic and Middle Aksumite tool type, are referred to in this report simply as scrapers. They resemble well-used and resharpened Gudit scrapers except that their edges are very fine and smoothly curved and, as they were never resharpened, they lack corner spurs; eg fig 63. Both steep and Gudit scrapers generally have edge angles in excess of 65°.

Stratigraphic units (su) are the layers, levels, or immediate contexts within which material was recorded at excavated sites, su1 being the uppermost. At complex sites, stratigraphic units do not correlate across the whole area, but were defined separately for each building space and portion of the excavation.

Site designations used in this work are those employed in Fattovich et al 2006. As explained in that




Bibliography Anfray, F., 1990. Les anciens éthiopiens. Paris: Colin. Anovits, L., J.M. Elam, L.R. Riciputi & D.R. Cole. 1999. The Failure of Obsidian Hydration Dating: sources, implications and new directions, Journal of Archaeological Science. 26: 735-52. Bard, K. A. (ed.), 1997. The Environmental History and Human Ecology of Northern Ethiopia in the Middle and Late Holocene. Napoli: Istituto Universitario Orientale. “ et al, 2000. The Environmental History of Tigray (Northern Ethiopia) in the Middle and Late Holocene: a preliminary outline, The African Archaeological Review, 17(2): 65-86. “ et al, 2003. The BU/IUO Archaeological Project at Bieta Giyorgis (Aksum), Ethiopia: results, research procedures and computer applications, in M. Forte and P. R. Williams (eds) The Reconstruction of Archaeological Landscapes through Digital Techniques, pp 1-14. Oxford: BAR Publishing. “ & R. Fattovich (eds) in prep. Bieta Giyorgis, A Cultural Landscape Through Time. Ciampalini, R., P. Bili, G. Ferrari, & L. Borselli, 2008. Plough Marks as a Tool to Assess Soil Erosion Rates: a case study in Axum (Ethiopia), Catena 04.005. Clark, J. E., 1985. Platforms, Bits, Punches and Vises: a potpourri of Mesoamerican blade technology, Lithic Technology 14:1-15. Contenson, H. de, 1981. Pre-Aksumite Culture, in G. Mokhtar (ed.) General History of Africa, II, Ancient Civilizations of Africa. 341-61. Berkeley: University of California Press. “ 2005. Antiquités Ethiopiennes d’Axoum à Haoulti. Saint-Maur-des-Fossés: Sepia. Curtis, M. C., 2004. Ancient Interaction across the Southern Red Sea: new suggestions for investigating cultural exchange and complex societies during the first millennium BC, in P. Lunde & A. Porter (eds) Trade and Travel in the Red Sea Region: Proceedings of the Red Sea Project I. 57-71. Oxford: BAR Publishing. D’Andrea, C., A. Manzo, M. J. Harrower, & A. L. Hawkins, 2008. The Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite Settlement of NE Tigrai, Ethiopia, Journal of Field Archaeology 33:151-176. Fattovich, R., 1994. Scavi archeologici nella zona di Aksum. D. Ona Enda Aboi Zaguè (Bieta Giyorgis), Rassegna di Studi Etiopici, 36:49-55. “ 1997a. The Contacts between Southern Arabia and the Horn of Africa in Late Prehistoric and Early Historical Times: a View from Africa, in A. Avanzini, ed. Saggi Di Storia Antica: Profumi d’Arabia, Atti Del Convegno, 273-87. Rome: “L’Erma” di Bretschneider. “ 1997b. Archaeology and Historical Dynamics: the Case of Bieta Giyorgis (Aksum), Ethiopia, Annali dell’Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli, 57 (12):48-79.

“ & K. A. Bard, 1997. The I.U.O./B.U. Excavations at Bieta Giyorgis (Aksum) in Tigray (Northern Ethiopia), Journal of Ethiopian Studies 30(1):1-29. “ et al, 2000. The Aksum Archaeological Area: a Preliminary Assessment. Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale. “ & Tekle Hagos, 2005. Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Project, Aksum Branch, Site Inventory and Documentation Component, Archaeological Survey; Report of Activity, October – November 2005. The World Bank and Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa-Firenze: Hydea. “ & Tekle Hagos, 2006. Ethiopian Cultural Heritage Project, Aksum Branch, Site Planning and Conservation Component, Archaeological Survey; Report of Activity March – May 2006 and Aksum World Heritage Site Management Plan. The World Bank and Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa-Firenze:Hydea. “ Tekle Hagos, L. Phillipson & L. Sernicola, 2008. The Archaeological Map of Aksum: a contribution to the cultural heritage management of the ancient capital city. paper presented at the Capacity Building Workshop for Site Management, Aksum UNESCO World Heritage Site, Aksum, Ethiopia 29 May 2008 – 5 June 2008. Finneran, N. , 2000a. New perspectives on the Late Stone Age of northern Ethiopia: excavations at Anqqer Baahti, Aksum, 1996, Azania 35: 21-51. “ 2000b. Excavations at Baahti Nebait, Aksum, northern Ethiopia, 1997, Azania 35: 53-73. “ 2000c. Late Stone Age, in D. W. Phillipson et al 2000: 22-6. “ 2003 The Shire Region archaeological landscape survey 2001: a preliminary report, Azania 37:139-47. “ 2006. Review of Michels 2005 Changing Settlement Patterns in the Aksum-Yeha Region of Ethiopia: 700 BC-AD 850, Annales d’Ethiopie 22: 224-29. “ 2007. The Archaeology of Ethiopia. London: Routledge. Harlow, M., 2000. Glass and Beads from the Tomb of the Brick Arches, in D. W. Phillipson et al 2000: 77-86. Hirth, K. & B. Andrews 2002. “Pathways to Prismatic Blades: sources of variation in Mesoamerican blade technology”, in K. Hirth & B. Andrews, eds, Pathways to Prismatic Blades, a study in Mesoamerican obsidian core-blade technology. monograph 14:1-15. Los Angeles: The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles. Merla, G. & E. Minucci, 1938. Missione Geologica Nel Tigrai: volume primo, La Serie dei Terreni. Rome: Reale Accademia d’Italia. Michels, J. W., 2005. Changing Settlement Patterns in the Aksum-Yeha Region of Ethiopia: 700 BC – AD 850. Oxford: BAR Publishing


LAUREL PHILLIPSON “ 2001. Grindstones and Related Artefacts from Aksum, Ethiopia. Lithics: 13-21. “ 2002. Technological and Cultural Aspects of Aksumite Ivory Working, in Baye Yimam & R. Pankhurst (eds). Ethiopian Studies at the End of the Second Millennium. I:44-57. Addis Ababa: Institute of Ethiopian Studies. “ 2004. Lithic Tools: a hitherto unrecognised component of Aksumite material culture, in E. A. Walker, F. Wenban-Smith & F. Healey, eds, Lithics in Action. 254-69. Oxford; Lithic Studies Society & Oxbow Books. “ 2006. Ancient Gold Working at Aksum, Azania 41:26-40. “ in press 2009. Lithic Artefacts as a Source of Cultural, Social and Economic Information: the evidence from Aksum, Ethiopia, African Archaeological Review. “ Report on the lithics from sites on Bieta Giyorgis in Bard and Fattovich in prep. “ & F. Sulas, 2005. Cultural Continuity in Aksumite Lithic Tool Production, the evidence from Mai Agam, Azania 40:1-18. Puglisi, S. M., 1941. Primi risultati delle indagini compiute della Missione Archaeologica di Aksum, Africa Italiana 8: 95-153. “ Industria litica di Aksum nel Tigrai occidentale, Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche 1:284-90. Ricci, L. & R. Fattovich, 1987. Scavi archeologici della zona di Aksum, B: Bieta Giyorgis, Rassegna di Studi Etiopici 31:123-97. Rots, V., & B. S. Williamson, 2004. Microwear and Residue Analyses in Perspective: the contribution of ethnoarchaeological evidence, Journal of Archaeological Science 31:1287-99. Schmidt, P. R. , M. C. Curtis & Zelalem Teka (eds) 2008. The Archaeology of Ancient Eritrea. Trenton, New Jersey & Asmara: The Red Sea Press. Sernicola, L., 2008. Il modello d’insediamento sull’altopiano Tigrino (Etiopia settentrionale/ Eritrea cnetrale) in epoca Pre-Aksumita e Aksumita (ca 700 AC – 800 DC); Un contributo da Aksum. Ph.D. dissertation, Napoli: Universita di Napoli “l’Orientale”. Tekle Hagos, 2001. New Megalithic Sites in the Vicinity of Aksum, Ethiopia, Annales d’ Ethiopie 17:35-41. Usai, D., 1997. Early Axumite lithic workshop evidences from Beta Giorgis, Axum, Ethiopia. Rivista di Archeologia 21:7-12.

Morrow, J. E., 1997. Endscraper morphology and uselife: an approach for studying Palaeoindian lithic technology and mobility, Lithic Technology 22,1: 7085. Munro-Hay, S. C., 1989. Excavations at Aksum: an account of research at the ancient Ethiopian capital directed by the late Dr Neville Chittick. London: British Institute in Eastern Africa. “ 1991. Aksum, an African Civilisation of Late Antiquity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Pelegrin, J. 2006. Long Blade Technology in the Old World: an experimental approach and some results, in J. Apel and K. Knutson (eds) Skilled Production and Social Reproduction, Aspects of Traditional StoneTool Technologies. 37-68. Uppsala: Societas Archaeologica Upsaliensis. Perlingieri, C. 1999. La ceramica aksumita da Bieta Giyorgis, Aksum (Tigray, Etiopia): Tipologia ed implicaziono storico-culturali e socio-economiche. PhD Dissertation, Università “l’Orientale”, Naples. Phillips, J. B. & J. P. Ford, 2000. The Aksumite quarries at Gobedra Hill and Adi Tsehafi, in D. W. Phillipson et al 2000:229-47. Phillipson, D. W., 1977. The excavation at Gobedra rockshelter, Axum, Azania 12: 53-82. “ 1990. Aksum in Africa, Journal of Ethiopian Studies 23:55-66. “ 1998. Ancient Ethiopia. London: British Museum Press. “ et al, 2000. Archaeology at Aksum, Ethiopia, 1993-7, I-II. London: The British Institute in Eastern Africa & The Society of Antiquaries of London. Phillipson, L., 1978. The Stone Age Archaeology of the Upper Zambezi Valley. memoir no.7. Nairobi: British Institute in Eastern Africa. “ 2000a. Aksumite Lithic Industries, African Archaeological Review 17:49-63. “ 2000b. A Functional Consideration of Gudit Scrapers from Aksum, Ethiopia. in L. Krzyzaniak et al (eds) Recent Research on the Stone Age of Northeastern Africa: 259-76. Poznan: Muzeum Archeolgiczne w Poznaniu. “ 2000c. The Prehistoric Antecedents of Aksum – Early and Middle Stone Age; Lithics associated with Stela I; Lithics from the D Site at Kidane Mehret; Lithics from the K site in Maleke Aksum; Lithic Industries; Ivory Working Techniques; Surface Collections of Aksumite Lithics and passim. in D. W. Phillipson et al 2000: 17-22, 26-7, 205, 216, 254-66, 352-63, 40811, 421, 433-49, 449-53, 460-68.




Pl. 1 Chalcedony pot decorators; Hamed Gebez



Pl. 2 Chalcedony pot decorator and potsherd, note scrape marks in ceramic grooves; Hamed Gebez




Pl. 3 Chalcedony pot decorator and sherd, note compatibility of scarring at tip of lithic tool and clay particle sizes; Hamed Gebez



Pl. 4 Quartzite pebble with utilised end and sherd with compressed grooves; Hamed Gebez




Pl. 5 Utilised quartz crystal, note damaged end and stress fractures radiating from tip; archaeological stray find



Pl. 6 Quartz crystals: on the left, two natural crystals after experimental use as indirect percussors; on the right an archaeological stray find




Pl. 7 Experimentally utilised quartz crystal on the left; an archaeological stray find on the right



Pl. 8 Two experimentally utilised quartz crystals on the left contrasted with an unutilised crystal on the right, note the sharp angles, transparency and absence of stress fractures on the unutilised crystal




Pl. 9 Lightly utilised chert steep scraper; TGLM 98



Pl. 10

Heavily utilised chert steep scraper; TGLM 98



Pl. 11


Utilised chert steep scrapers, dorsal views; that on right is more heavily utilised; TGLM 98



Pl. 12

Utilised chert steep scrapers, ventral views; that on the left is the same as that on the right in plate 11; note the dulled rounding of worn edges and the absence of ventral scarring




Pl. 13 Heavily utilised obsidian crescent or curved backed bladelet; note the worn and broken tip, attrition of distal portion of the long edge, erosion of the distal half of the ventral surface and partial effacement of retouch scars on the distal portion of the backed edge; LP33



Pl. 14

Same artefact as plate 13, dorsal view; note the concentration of abrasive wear along the utilised edge and on a high spot near the distal end



Pl. 15


Utilised chalcedony flake, with smooth use wear on the left edge of the tip and scaled utilisation on the right edge; FS o6/1


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ISBN 0 86054 980 1 BAR S775, 1999 Ethnohistoric Archaeology of the Mukogodo in North-Central Kenya Hunter-gatherer subsistence and the transition to pastoralism in secondary settings by Kennedy K. Mutundu. ISBN 0 86054 990 9 BAR S782, 1999 Échanges et contacts le long du Nil et de la Mer Rouge dans l'époque protohistorique (IIIe et IIe millénaires avant J.-C.) Une synthèse préliminaire by Andrea Manzo. ISBN 1 84171 002 4 BAR S838, 2000 Ethno-Archaeology in Jenné, Mali Craft and status among smiths, potters and masons by Adria LaViolette. ISBN 1 84171 043 1 BAR S860, 2000 Hunter-Gatherers and Farmers An enduring Frontier in the Caledon Valley, South Africa by Carolyn R. Thorp. ISBN 1 84171 061 X BAR S906, 2000 The Kintampo Complex The Late Holocene on the Gambaga Escarpment, Northern Ghana by Joanna Casey. ISBN 1 84171 202 7 BAR S964, 2000 The Middle and Later Stone Ages in the Mukogodo Hills of Central Kenya A Comparative Analysis of Lithic Artefacts from Shurmai (GnJm1) and Kakwa Lelash (GnJm2) Rockshelters by G-Young Gang. ISBN 1 84171 251 5 BAR S1006, 2001 Darfur (Sudan) In the Age of Stone Architecture c. 1000 - 1750 AD Problems in historical reconstruction by Andrew James McGregor. ISBN 1 84171 285 X BAR S1037, 2002 Holocene Foragers, Fishers and Herders of Western Kenya by Karega-Mũnene. ISBN 1 84171 1037 BAR S1090, 2002 Archaeology and History in Ìlàrè District (Central Yorubaland, Nigeria) 1200-1900 A.D. by Akinwumi O. Ogundiran. ISBN 1 84171 468 2 BAR S1133, 2003 Ethnoarchaeology in the Zinder Region, Republic of Niger: the site of Kufan Kanawa by Anne Haour. ISBN 1 84171 506 9 BAR S1187, 2003 Le Capsien typique et le Capsien supérieur Évolution ou contemporanéité. Les données technologiques by Noura Rahmani. ISBN 1 84171 553 0 BAR S1216, 2004 Fortifications et urbanisation en Afrique orientale by Stéphane Pradines. ISBN 1 84171 576 X BAR S1247, 2004 Archaeology and Geoarchaeology of the Mukogodo Hills and Ewaso Ng’iro Plains, Central Kenya by Frederic Pearl. ISBN 1 84171 607 3 BAR S1289, 2004 Islamic Archaeology in the Sudan by Intisar Soghayroun Elzein. ISBN 1 84171 639 1. BAR S1308, 2004 An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Iron-Smelting Practices among the Pangwa and Fipa in Tanzania by Randi Barndon. ISBN 1 84171 657 X. BAR S1398, 2005 Archaeology and History in North-Western Benin by Lucas Pieter Petit. ISBN 1 84171 837 8. BAR S1407, 2005 Traditions céramiques, Identités et Peuplement en Sénégambie Ethnographie comparée et essai de reconstitution historique by Moustapha Sall. ISBN 1 84171 850 5 BAR S1446, 2005 Changing Settlement Patterns in the Aksum-Yeha Region of Ethiopia: 700 BC – AD 850 by Joseph W. Michels. ISBN 1 84171 882 3. BAR S1454, 2006 Safeguarding Africa’s Archaeological Past Selected papers from a workshop held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2001 edited by Niall Finneran. ISBN 1841718920 BAR S1537, 2006 Excavations at Kasteelberg, and the Origins of the Khoekhoen in the Western Cape, South Africa by Andrew B. Smith. ISBN 1 84171 969 2. BAR –S1549, 2006 Archéologie du Diamaré au Cameroun Septentrional Milieux et peuplements entre Mandara, Logone, Bénoué et Tchad pendant les deux derniers millénaires by Alain Marliac ISBN 1 84171 978 1. BAR S1602, 2007 Chasse et élevage dans la Corne de l’Afrique entre le Néolithique et les temps historiques by Joséphine Lesur. ISBN 978 1 4073 0019 1. BAR S1617, 2007 The Emergence of Social and Political Complexity in the Shashi-Limpopo Valley of Southern Africa, AD 900 to 1300 Ethnicity, class, and polity by John Anthony Calabrese ISBN 978 1 4073 0029 0. BAR S1658, 2007 Archaeofaunal remains from the past 4000 years in Sahelian West Africa Domestic livestock, subsistence strategies and environmental changes by Veerle Linseele ISBN 978 1 4073 0094 8. BAR S1667, 2007 Il Sahara centro-orientale Dalla Preistoria ai tempi dei nomadi Tubu / The Central-Oriental Sahara. From Prehistory to the times of the nomadic Tubus by Vanni Beltrami con le fotografie e i riassunti in inglese di Harry Proto / with English summaries and photographs by Harry Proto. ISBN 978 1 4073 0102 0. BAR S1679, 2007 Memory and the Mountain: Environmental Relations of the Wachagga of Kilimanjaro and Implications for Landscape Archaeology by Timothy A. R. Clack. ISBN 978 1 4073 0117 4. BAR S1736, 2008 Archaeological Investigations of Iron Age Sites in the Mema Region, Mali (West Africa) by Tereba Togola. ISBN 978 1 4073 0178 5. BAR S1847, 2008 Current Archaeological Research in Ghana edited by Timothy Insoll. ISBN 978 1 4073 0334 5. BAR S1860, 2008 Holocene Prehistory of the Southern Cape, South Africa Excavations at Blombos Cave and the Blombosfontein Nature Reserve by Christopher Stuart Henshilwood. ISBN 978 1 4073 0343 7. BAR S1873, 2008 The Archaeology of Tanzanian Coastal Landscapes in the 6th to 15th Centuries AD (the Middle Iron Age of the Region) by Edward John David Pollard. ISBN 978 1 4073 0353 6.