King Ezana's Stela

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King Ezana's Stela

King Ezana's Stela is the central obelisk still standing in the Northern Stelae Park (containing hundreds of smaller and less decorated stelae) in the ancient city of Axum in modern-day Ethiopia. This stela is probably the last one erected and the largest of those that remain unbroken. King Ezana's Stela stands 70 feet (21 m) tall, smaller than the collapsed 108-foot (33 m) Great Stela and the better-known 79-foot (24 m) "Obelisk of Axum" (reassembled and unveiled on September 4, 2008). It is decorated with a false door at its base, and apertures resembling windows on all sides.


The Northern Stelae Park in Axum, with King Ezana's Stela at the centre and the Great Stela lying broken.

This monument, properly termed a stela (hawilt or hawilti in the local Afro-Asiatic language) was carved and erected in the 4th century by subjects of the Kingdom of Aksum, an ancient Ethiopian civilization. The stelae are thought to be "markers" for underground burial chambers. The largest grave markers were for royal burial chambers and were decorated with multi-story false windows and false doors; nobility would have smaller, less decorated stelae. King Ezana's Stela is likely to be the last example of this practice, which was abandoned after the Axumites adopted Christianity under King Ezana. Ezana was the first monarch of Axum to embrace the faith, following the teachings and examples of his childhood tutor, Frumentius. King Ezana's Stela is also the only one of the three major "royal" obelisks (the others being the Great Stela and the Obelisk of Axum) that was never broken. The Italians seriously damaged the Obelisk of Axum by cutting it into three parts and shipping it away to Rome in what has been called one of the most bizarre exploits of colonial plunder.[citation needed] During the reassembly of the Obelisk of Axum, King Ezana's Stela was structurally consolidated in 2007/2008 by a team led by engineer Giorgio Croci. After decades of pleading for the return of their monument, the Ethiopians finally got their national historic treasure back.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Obelisk arrives back in Ethiopia BBC website, originally published 19 April 2005

Coordinates: 14°07′56″N 38°43′10″E / 14.1321°N 38.7195°E / 14.1321; 38.7195