We are a couple of kilometers west of the ancient city of Axum, Ethiopia, where stands the isolated hill of Gobodura, also known as Gobedra.
The organizational and technological skills of the Aksumites were represented by the construction of elaborately carved stelae, monuments created in line of older African traditions and made of single pieces of local granite. They were cut out and transported from quarries located at least 4 km away (Gobedra Hill) to the location where they needed to be erected.
The city is known also for an amazing work of ancient art known as the Lioness of Gobedra (የጎቦዱራዋ እንስት አንበሳ).
It was first described to the western world by German archaeologists in 1913, but had been known to locals for far longer.
The origin of the three-meter-long sculpture, engraved on a huge syenite boulder, has been a mystery for long time.
A local story states that the carving is a relic from a fierce battle between a wild lioness and the archangel Michael. It is said that when Michael hurled his opponent into the rock, the impact was so great that the beast’s outline remained. The truth is still a subject of speculation, but the stone lioness dates back likely to thousands of years ago.
Because it stands beside the road leading to Axum, it is possible that the work of art was an ancient landmark.
However, this has not been confirmed, and it remains unknown when it was created, who made it, or for what purpose.
Another engraving that depicts a Greek cross is also visible on the same boulder, of unknown origins too. Nearby, there is an ancient quarry called Wuchate Golo, where the famous stelae in Axum are believed to have been carved.
Mystery still surrounds the exact tools that were used by the master craftsmen of Aksum, but in the quarry you can see clearly the process by which they cut the hard stone from the rock.
After the intended break was mapped out, a row of rectangular sockets was cut. Then, perhaps, dry wooden wedges were inserted into the sockets and made to expand by the use of water.
Some uncompleted, abandoned stelae can be spotted here as well.
Images from web – Google Research