New Ancient Prehistoric Site in Yalda-Tume Valley, Konso, Ethiopia

A team of researchers, mainly from Addis Ababa University (AAU) various departments and disciplines, led by Alemseged Beldados (PhD) from College of Social Science, Department of Archaeology,announced new  archaeological findings at the National Museum today, 4th of January 2022.

Professor Tassew Weldehanna, President of AAU, in his opening speech stated that the University has been getting 50-85 million birr research fund annually from the government for the last nine years.

According to Prof. Tassew, AAU has made significant contributions to the development of the country by investing in researches that can solve public problems. “We are here today to announce the result of this effort focused on archaeological findings,” he added.

Prof. Tassew stated the new finding as follows:

Researchers from various departments, led by Dr. Alemseged Beldados, with research funding from the Addis Ababa University Thematic Fund, has been working in the Yalda-Tume Valley in the Konso Zone of Southern Ethiopia since 2013 E.C.

It has been conducting archaeological and atmospheric research since then. In December of this year (2014 E.C), the team discovered a large collection of animal fossils and stone tools used by ancient people, estimated to be 2 to 3 million years old. The result will be a breakthrough that can be traced back to animal species that existed 2 and 3 million years ago.

The study found ancient remnants both land and marine fossils that indicate elephants, pack animals, pigs, hippopotamus, cattle and other wildlife fossils. In addition to the fossils, ancient stone tools that mark the beginning of human culture are also found. 

This finding is one of the most important discoveries made in Ethiopia so far in terms of the concentration of animal fossils and Early Stone Age tools in a limited geographic extent of location.  

Although the study is in progress, the Yalda-Tume Valley is expected to be a good place to study the past climate change, cultural and biological evolutions, the extent of underground and topography, the ancient plant species, various disciplines including archaeology, geography, history, tourism, sociolinguistics and the like.

Professor Tassew finally stated that this discovery reinforces the motto of our tourism that says, ‘Ethiopia is the Land of Origins’.

Assistant Professor Abebaw Ayalew, Deputy Director of Research and Conservation for Cultural Heritage Authority, on his part said, “Despite the fact that our country has many similar discovery areas and many researches had been conducted, field research has been duly restricted in the recent years due to COVID-19 pandemic and security breaches.”

In an attempt to quell this stagnation, AAU’s discovery of fossils and ancient tools has now been uncovered in Konso. Based on the findings, it is discovered that the Southern Ethiopian Konso area has good natural resources and could be an area of ​​extensive research and tourism, Abebaw added.

Abebaw finally remarked that Research and Conservation for Cultural Heritage Authority, in collaboration with various sector offices, the local government and the researchers will tirelessly work to make the site a tourist destination and research site.

Alelmseged Beledados (PhD) and Yohannes Zeleke (PhD), from the research team, briefing the audience with their detail presentation, stated that the area (Yalda-Tume Valley, Konso, Ethiopia) is extremely rich in fossil records, will be very strong site of research and tourism, and very urgent intervention of protection is highly recommended.

Professor Tassew Weldehanna, President of AAU, finally handed over the animal fossils and the ancient stone tools to Assistance Professor Abebaw Ayalew, Deputy Director of Research and Conservation for Cultural Heritage Authority.

Editor: Abraham Girmay

Photo: Andualem Aseffa