Tiya, Prehistoric Site, Gurage Zone

Tiya, Prehistoric Site, Gurage Zone, Southern Ethiopia September 1980

Tiya is a megalithic site located at about 80km south of Addis Ababa in Soddo area on the road to Butajira. The monuments are supposed to be remains of medieval Ethiopia culture apparently dated from the 12th to 14th centuries. However, the local people claimed that they were the grave marker of the soldiers of Ahmed Gragn, dating the site to the 16th century.

The Tiya monuments belong to one of stone 160 megalithic sites in the Soddo region. There are more than 45 standing monuments in Tiya. Few of them were removed from the site and can be seen in the main campus of Addis Ababa University 6kilo, erected near the Institute of Ethiopian Studies (IES). Most of Tiya monuments measure a height between a meter and 3 meter though the largest one is about five meters, including its section underground.

The Tiya grave-markers are decorated with carvings of various representations. The meanings of the symbolic decorations are still open to speculation for various scholars. The major carved designs of the monuments are the swords, a kind of plants or carvings of leaves below the sword, carved circles, a carving like the letter ‘M’ on its side and the carving like the letter ‘X’ with slightly carved lines.