The Tomb of the Brick Arches

The Tomb of the Brick Arches is believed to be built in the 1st century AD on the north side of Stele Park. Many” valuable” archeological remains, including’ a gold glass bead,’ were uncovered from the tomb. Its meaning lies in the fact that it hinted at a tradition of Aksumite that was hitherto unknown. Archeological findings suggested that kings of Aksumite might have been buried along with their artifacts.

The tomb was discovered by British archeologist David Phillipson during the excavations of 1993-1997 and has a rock-cut ceiling and stone walls. Steps of small stone slabs lead through a high-ceiling hallway from the gate, which is constructed with small stones bonded with mud mortar. The 14 steps of small stone slabs leading from the entrance to the tomb, a depth of more than three meters from the surface, alternate unevenly with four landings. Built with bricks is the arched entrance to the chambers, hence the Brick Arches Tomb.

The layout of the Tomb of the Brick Arches is quite irregular, as opposed to the regularity of the Mausoleum, a series of circular chambers divided into two with a rubble wall. The entrance is down to the first of the arches from which it is named, a steep flight of carved stone stairs lined with rubble walls. This is the earliest known example of a built horseshoe arch, perhaps inspired by Indian rock-cut examples. Despite the activity of the tomb robbers, the remaining artifacts give Axum at the height of the Empire a rich and detailed insight into life. Luxury goods include imported glassware, an intricately carved ivory throne and colored glass-inlaid pieces of a decorative box. More mundane items include mirrors and a wealth of ceramics, indicating specialized tableware, differentiated cooking vessels, cosmetics and hair care products footbaths and containers. Locally manufactured goods indicate the diversity and sophistication of local crafts traded acrossthe Mediterranean and Far East. This challenges the view that African trade goods were entirely primary products in the southern regions of Egypt – unworked metals, tusks of ivory and the like.

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