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24 novembre, Addis Abeba: Simon Dorso in seminar at the CFEE: Islamic funerary landscapes in Medieval Ethiopia: new insights from Tigray and Somali Region and questions of archaeological method

Friday 24th November, 2.30 PM

@ French Center for Ethiopian Studies, Berhanou Abebe Libray (CFEE, Jan Meda)

By Simon Dorso (IREMAM, France)

Figure 1: Arabic funerary stelae from three different cemeteries in south-eastern Tigray (Dorso & Lagaron, 2023)

Islamic Archaeology is a relatively new field in Ethiopia. Since the major discoveries of the ruined cities of the Ifat sultanate at the beginning of this century, several projects have recently focused on other medieval Islamic settlements in different part of the country. Due to the paucity of endogenous and exogenous historical sources before the 16th century, it is mainly through archaeological approaches that one may learn more about the life of the medieval Islamic communities from the Horn of Africa. Recent research topics include notably the first settlement of Muslims in the Horn, the conversion to Islam in the Ethiopian context and the archaeological evidence this process has left, the emergence of Islamic polities and sultanates or the relations between the Christian kingdom and its Muslim neighbours.

Figure 2: Islamic necropolis in Gunbur Bilen, Somali Region (Dorso, 2023)

This seminar will focus on the funerary dimension of the medieval Islamic communities in two regions of Ethiopia. It will present some of the results of the ERC project HornEast’s team, especially in the fields of Arabic epigraphy, funerary architecture, and commemorative practices. It will also advocate for the development of broader archaeological survey, including through remote sensing and satellite imagery. Eventually, it aims at prompting discussion on collaborative methods to document Islamic remains in Ethiopia.

Figure 3: An archaeological map of Gunbur Bilen through pedestrian and remote sensing survey (Dorso, 2023)

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