Tiya Stelae – Arsi, Ethiopia - Atlas Obscura

Tiya Stelae

Arsi, Ethiopia

Ethiopian standing stones featuring remarkably preserved carvings of swords and people. 


Just outside the Ethiopian capitol of Addis Ababa in lie the archeologically wondrous Tiya Stelae, mysterious carved stones whose purpose continues to elude researchers.

Ethiopia is known for its rich wealth of megalithic sites and well preserved prehistoric finds, but the 30-some stones located in the Tiya region are among the most remarkable. Each of the squat stone obelisks is carved with primitive, yet clear images of swords, geometric shapes, and figures. Despite a healthy amount of research at the site, no one has been able to determine the exact age or purpose of the stones, although popular thinking has it that they served a funerary function due to some tombs which were found nearby. Whatever the true use of the carved rocks, they offer a relatively pristine glimpse back to a time we know little about.  

Know Before You Go

Take Route 7 south of Addis and then go south on Route 9. The stelae are near the Lina Drug Store.

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