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Ethiopia: Gobedra Lioness & Quarry

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Gobedra Lioness & Quarry > Ethiopia > Africa

[Visited: October 2006]

Axum is one of the historically most important places in Ethiopia, and holds several major sights within the modern-day town. But within walking distance from Axum, you can visit several other interesting sites. Although a bicycle would have been a faster option, I decided to walk out of Axum, to the south, passing the ancient palace of the Queen of Sheba and the stelae field of Yodit. Continuing in a pleasant landscape of fields where peasants work the land, a small lake, all surrounded by hills, you will know when you come close to the ancient quarry: several youngsters offer themselves as guides.

Picture of Gobedra Lioness & Quarry (Ethiopia): Lioness of Gobedra etching in a rock near Axum

The path up is not always clear, so I decided to follow a nice guy who did not appear too imposing. The sun was on its way down, giving some nice afternoon light on the landscape around me. The walk up through fields with rocks and some agriculture was easy enough, and when the youth stopped at a rock and pointed, I realized we had arrived. I turned around, and there she was, the Lioness of Gobedra, quite primitively etched in one of the larger rocks on this hill. In good Ethiopian tradition, the etching has a legendary background. Archangel Michael fought a lioness here, and threw it against the rock with such force, that the contours remained.

Picture of Gobedra Lioness & Quarry (Ethiopia): Gobedra lioness: the head of the etched beast in Ethiopian rock

Apart from the legend, the background is not known, and probably predates Christ. The lioness measures some three metres, and stands out clearly especially from a distance. From here, you have a good view over the plains towards Axum. Walking down, you come across the quarry where the stelae of Axum were carved out of rock, some of which can actually still be seen, not completed and not lifted. They will never reach their final destination. While walking back to Axum, I realized that all the stelae that made it to the town, all had to be transported the same distance. It is still not known exactly how this was done, and indeed, it must have been quite a sight!

Picture of Gobedra Lioness & Quarry (Ethiopia): Lioness of Gobedra etched in a rock near Axum
Picture of Gobedra Lioness & Quarry (Ethiopia): Rocky hill above the quarry of Axum and the lioness of Gobedra
Picture of Gobedra Lioness & Quarry (Ethiopia): Stelae lying in the quarry of Axum
Picture of Gobedra Lioness & Quarry (Ethiopia): Stelae lying in the quarry of Axum
Picture of Gobedra Lioness & Quarry (Ethiopia): Large stele forever waiting for completion and transportation to Axum

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