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Archeological Route (Educational route) is a special itinerary for those who would like to visit the major archeological sites plus some other attractions with the help of highly known scholars from the nearby Universities by giving scholarly lectures both at Axum, Mekelle or Adigrat.


 (Lecture will be given on arrival in order to have information about Axum).

After an early breakfast, drive to the airport for your early flight to Axum, the ancient capital of Ethiopia. Founded three centuries before the birth of Christ, Axum was a crucial destination between Africa and Asia for almost a thousand years. Your city tour begins the ‘Axum Stelae Field,’ a pasture of more than 120 carved monoliths that date from pre-Christian times and have been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the ancient residence of the legendary Queen of Sheba, various 5th century palace ruins, and the controversial Obelisk of Axum, stolen by Italian forces in 1937 and recently returned.

Continue visit the vernacular architecture of the old city of Axum. The Tukul and rectangular houses in Axum shows the diversification of architecture and, the change and continuity reveals for centuries. Here you will visit a family house where you will observe their daily life activities and have a coffee ceremony with the family. Ethiopian coffee ceremony is one of the most enjoyable events you can attend at an Ethiopian Restaurant. The coffee is taken through its full life cycle of preparation in front of you in a ceremonial manner. Coffee is called 'Bunna' (boo-na) by the Ethiopians.

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After an relaxed breakfast, a visit of the 17th century Cathedral of St. Mary of Zion, home of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. The church was built on the foundations of a 4th century temple where the Ark of the Covenant is reputed to have bene stored. See the modern St. Mary’s of Zion cathedral, built by Emperor Haile Selassie in the 1960s, and explore the museum under the church, which houses some priceless Ethiopian relics. In the afternoon, 

Afternoon, visit the tomb of king Kaleb dated back to the 6th century with a sophisticated Axumite architecture and building techniques. En route, stop to see the ETHIOPIAN ROSETA, EZANA INSCRIPTION. This 4th century stone is inscribed in Sabean, Greek and Ge’ez language.  

Later in time, you will have a lecture at your hotel or at the Axum University Hall about the history of Axumite Archaeology and its findings.  An archaeologist from Axum University will present the lecture which will be supported by slides and so on. 

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Morning drive to the direction of Hawzein. En route visit Yeha. Take a drive through dramatic highland landscape to Yeha, passing unique sandstone homesteads along the way. This city was founded at least 2,800 years ago and served as the capital of a pre-Axumite empire. The well-preserved stone temple was built 2,500 years ago. It also served as a center of a monastic Christian community in the early 6th century. A modern church built next to the temple ruins contains some of the ancient temple stones and its treasury contains illuminated manuscripts and crowns. Here, you will discuss about the archaeology, the cultural connection of East Africa and the Southern Arabia. 

Next stop will be at Negash and is known as the earliest Muslim settlement in Africa; a seventh-century cemetery has been excavated inside the village boundaries. The Futuh al-Habasha records Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi visited the tomb of Ashama ibn Abjar in Negash during his invasion of the province of Tigray (around 1537). Negash is also known for the Negash Amedin Mesgid mosque.

Later today, Medhane Alem (Saviour of the world). The church can be reached through a combination of asphalt and dirt roads through Freweyni via Hawzein. To access the church, you  climb a slope of exposed sandstone. It is covered with potholes which local people believe to be the hoof prints of St. George’s horse. This church is one of Tigrai’s oldest and finest rock-hewn churches. Its exterior and interior walls are roughly hewn, which only makes the elaborately carved coffered ceiling much more special. It is quite possibly the oldest rock-hewn church in Tigrai, or anywhere in Ethiopia. 

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Hawzien has a 3,000 year history. It was originally an old trading centre but today the area is exclusively agricultural. Many ruins in the area still bear testimony to the day in 1988 when the dictator Mengistu wanted to punish rebel fighters and 2,500 people died under an air attack which dropped napalm bombs. Morning drive to Abune Yemata, one of the best known of the “Rock Churches“ in the Gheralta Range with colorful paintings of the new and old testament. Climbing up to the church takes 40 minutes and the view is breathtaking. The church is dated to the late Axumite period around 7th - 8th century AD and the ceiling is decorated with painted domes of saints. Ascending and descending is an adventure by itself. 

After descending from Abune Yemata, we drive to one of the authentic villages to have lunch and coffee with the family. Later, drive back to your lodge and relax. 

At the evening before dinner, there will be a lecture and discussion about the history of the churches of Tigrai and their contribution to the development of architecture in the region. 

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After a relaxed morning breakfast, drive to the direction of Mekelle; en route visit Abreha we Atsbeha. This church was believed to be built in the 4th century by two royal brothers, Abreha and Atsbeha, who were responsible for converting Axumite Empire to Christianity. The church is large and cruciform in shape, with interesting architectural features such as cruciform pillars and stepped capitals. There are also well preserved 17th century paintings depicting saints and biblical scenes. The church contains many valuable masterpieces including a beautifully decorated prayer cross, said to have belonged to Frumentius, the first Bishop of Ethiopia, whose ecclesiastical name was Abba Selama, meaning the father of peace. 

Stop at Wurko for lunch break, then later you will visit the newly excavated pre-Axumite site of Adi Akawih. The site is situated near the town of Wukro. This site has ancient objects such as a statute of seated women   and at its base is an altar with Sabean inscription and a partially inscribed podium. According to a translation by Prof. Nobert Nebes, the inscriptions mention the ancient Sabean-Ethiopian kingdom of D’m’t, the god Almoqah, and for the first time the well-known pre-Axumite temple, ‘Yeha’. On the basis of these same inscriptions, the objects are dated to 7th -6th century B.C. The Almoqah temple of Yeha is much larger than the Almoqah temple of Adi Akaweh, but a good comparable one is the Almoqah temple in Melazo near Axum.

NOTE: Lecture will be given

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