The Soddo region lies south of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and is rich in archaeological records including 160 archaeological sites. However most of these archaeological sites remain a mystery, the significant of which is the site at Tiya which contains 36 monuments, 32 of which are carved stalaes studded with symbols. The stalaes at Tiya are renowned for their possession of varying and uniform patterns. The symbolic significance of the stalaes has, however, been difficult for archaeologists to decipher and the latest ethnographic records have revealed a possible link of the stalae tradition to the Oromo burial practice and grave art.
Archaeologists have discovered that the stalaes represent burial sites of both men and women and the symbols on the staleas represent and stand for the status of the dead whilst they were still living. These symbols predominantly include plain circles, vegetal motifs and swords, swords are believed to be representing burials of warriors or soldiers and the number of swords engraved could possibly represent the number of individuals killed in combat by the but warrior or soldier. Archaeologists also suggested that the plain circles could be representative of female burials and the twin leaf motif, a common symbol in the southern region, is believed to be representative of an Enset plant, a common staple crop in southern Ethiopia. The Enset plant in the southern region symbolizes peace hence it is used on gravestones representative of a resting place, as it has been similarly noted on wooden headdresses throughout southern Ethiopia.
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