Nefas Mawcha (literally ‘wind outlet’, or ‘place of going forth of the winds’) is a monumental tomb seated beneath Aksum’s largest fallen stele. Built with huge granite stones, this underground building is believed to have sophisticated structures with wide chambers and multiple corridors. While its floor is tiled with flat stone slabs, its roof is built with huge blocks of stone tied together by metal cramps. It is believed that its chambers have four exits in four directions that extend to as far as Mai Shum, the Tomb of the False Door, Mariam Tsion, and the slopes of Bête Giorgis. As the name of the site evinces, apparently, access to pristine air was in mind in designing and constructing these passages.
According to the team of archaeologists of the British Institute in Eastern Africa of 1989, Nefas Mawcha is “the most astonishing of all Aksumite constructions.” The fact that the structure has withstood the enormous weight of the fallen stele that lies on the uppermost surface is even more astonishing. Although the substructure was “severely damaged” by the impact of the demise of the largest stele, it is miraculous that it avoided complete destruction.
Pottery products, coins, bronze nails, golden and copper foil, among other things, were unearthed from the site. The treasures of this site, too, were robbed.
Archaeological evidences suggest that the structure may have been built before the fallen stele. Its date of construction is tentatively estimated to be the 3rd century.