The Yeha Temple is thought to be the oldest standing building in Tigray, albeit in ruins.

Mekelle: 31 December 2023 (Tigray Herald)

The Yeha Temple is thought to be the oldest standing building in Ethiopia, albeit in ruins.

About The Yeha Temple

The Yeha Temple, also known as the Great Temple of Yeha, is possibly the oldest standing building in Ethiopia, dating back, it is thought, to around 700 BC. The temple harks back to the earliest religions of the area and contains some Judaic artefacts, perhaps giving some credence to claim of the early dynasty of their descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

The Yeha Temple history

Yeha is thought to have been the pre-aksumite capital of Ethiopia, and the Yeha Temple dates to this period, particularly 700 BC during the reign of D’mt. The temple was built in honour of the moon god Almougah in the Sabean style, which was common across sub-Saharan Africa.

Archaeologists also believe the Yeha Temple was repurposed in the 6th century AD as a Christian church and St Abuna Aftse monastery – a theory which would explain its fantastic state of preservation – as the religion spread through the region. A remarkable aspect of the Yeha Temple is that it was constructed without the use of mortar.

Other places of interest at Yeha include a burial ground and ruined buildings containing, amongst other things, some interesting square columns. There have been some archaeological digs in the area, dating back to the early 1950’s.

The Yeha Temple today

Towering over the small town of Yeha, the temple remains give visitors a sense of awe with its 5 metre-tall doorway and massive interior that features a deep pool once used for ceremonies. See stone-carved inscriptions that tell the tale of Almougah’s glory and power.

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