Megaliths in NE Africa

30 Mar 2011

In Current World Archaeology 46 April 2011 ... an article on the Mursi people of the Lower Omo Valley in SW Ethiopia, mention is made of megaliths in the region. The Lower Omo Valley varies between arid and semi-arid and is marginal as far as rain-fed agriculture is concerned. However, it is dominated by the Omo river, a tributary of the Blue Nile. Since 4000BC tributaries of the Omo have dried up as the region has become progressively drier. The tradition of a wetter much more agreeable past is still alive among the Mursi - but the people actually responsible for the megaliths is completely unknown. On the other hand, their immediate predecessors in the Lower Omo still live not far away, driven out by the Mursi, and they were responsible for some stone platforms in the shape of a horseshoe and associated with the Hill of the Bull. It seems these stone platforms were in effect used to sacrifice the animals. The megaliths are a puzzle, running in a corridor from Arabia to Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia as far as northern Kenya. Many sites are also located in Ethiopia and the Sudan, and north of Arabia there are megaliths in what is now the kingdom of Jordan. They include stelae or standing stones, dolmens and stone tumuli, and various rock slab monuments, ritual platforms and stone pillow sites. The corridor appears to follow roughly the line of the Rift Valley but dating them is problematic as the archaeology of the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa is virtually a complete unknown. They appear to reflect an ancient migration out of Arabia - the connection with Og's bedstead and the Jordan valley is the Rift Valley once again.