In the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, about 50 kilometers east of Axum, is the ancient archeological site of Yeha. Axum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is known for its two thousand year old stelae fields and numerous important archeological sites. Although not nearly as well known has Axum, Yeha is much much older. Dating from the 7th century BCE, the Grand Temple of Yeha was 14 x 18 meters and stood 14 meters. Built of superbly cut stones of up to 3 meters long, the temple is thought to have been built to worship Almaqah, the moon god of the Saba’ Kingdom which was centered just across the Red Sea in southern Arabia.
One of the oldest standing structures in sub Saharan Africa, the temple measures 14 x 18 meters and 14 meters high. Built of superbly cut stones of up to 3 meters long, no mortar was required for its construction. Similar stone work is found in another Almaqah temple in Sirwah, Yemen and the ‘Awam temple in Ma’rib, Yemen.
Other significant archeological finds within a few hundred meters of the Grand Temple are the remains of Grat Be’al Gebri, a palace dating from between the 8th and 6 centuries BCE, and a cemetery consisting of six rock cut shafts each serving as a tomb.
Submitted for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism notes that Yeha “has also great potential for future archaeological researches to study the origin and development of stratified societies in the Northern Horn.”