Ambassador visits archaeological site in Dire Dawa

Harlaa research archaeological site shows strong UK-Ethiopian partnership

ADDIS ABABA—British Ambassador to Ethiopia visited a 10th century archaeological site of Harlaa, in Dire Dawa city Administration. He praised the UK-Ethiopia collaboration and the positive impact of UK government programs.

According to a statement the British Embassy sent to the Ethiopian Press Agency, Darren Welch UK Ambassador in Ethiopia visited Archaeological Research site of Harlaa in Dire Dawa, a significant early Islamic civilization and medieval trading settlement in Africa, currently funded by a UK philanthropic donation. Besides, he visited a UK-funded WASH facility and met with beneficiaries of the UK’s Productive Safety Net Program, providing humanitarian support across Ethiopia.

A British archaeologist, Africanist and the investigation of the Harlaa Archaeological Research project Leader Prof. Timothy Insoll said that the important medieval trading center of Harlaa, is just located outside Dire Dawa. The project has resumed with new excavations of two early mosques (mid-12th to mid-13th centuries).

Accordingly, the research has uncovered remarkable archaeological evidence for international trading links with regions around the Red Sea and Indian Ocean including India, Yemen, Egypt, and China. Harlaa also prospered through trade with the interior of Ethiopia and was a center of bead and jewelry manufacture.

Speaking at the archaeological site, Ambassador Darren Welch said: “It’s an honor to be welcomed so warmly to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia’s second city. It is inspiring to see such a range of economic and cultural activity. I’m proud to see strong UK-Ethiopia collaboration in unearthing the extraordinary site of Harlaa. I was also pleased to see the positive impact of the UK’s partnership with government programs helping to meet people’s basic needs.”

“It is a privilege to work at Harlaa and this research is an excellent example of the UK-Ethiopian partnership,” said Prof. Timothy.

According to the statement the project “Becoming Muslim” which involves the Ethiopian Heritage Authority, the University of Exeter, and the Dire Dawa Culture and Tourism Office started in 2015 and have so far completed seven excavation seasons, with a focus on trade, settlement, and Islamization at Harlaa.

A community museum has been founded at Harlaa and a heritage trail is being established to develop sustainable tourism.



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