Eritrea has the second-highest density of ancient archeological sites in Africa after the Nile Valley. There are about 2000 identified archeological sites, and still many more remain to be discovered and excavated. Among these the archeological sites of Adulis, Qohaito Archeological Site, Keskese, Tekhonda’e (or Toconda), and Metera.
Located in the Debub region of southern Eritrea, Qohaito has an altitude of 2700m. The archeological site of Qohaito is about 2.5 kilometers wide and 15 kilometers long. Qohaito was a major city in ancient Africa. It is estimated that the city was founded around the fifth millennium BC (5000 BC to 4001 BC) and kept developing until 6th century A.D.
Qohaito is believed to have a large amount of archeological objects hidden in its ground. About 80 to 90% of the site still remains to be excavated. The presence of patches of cultivated lands between the buildings suggests that Qohaito was a garden city. Its altitude, pleasant weather, and style of buildings suggest also that Qohaito was home to some rich merchants. At some point in history, it also served as a stop on the trade route between Adulis and Aksum. Some major tourists’ and archeological attractions in and around Qohaito are.
Pre Christian Temple of Mariam Wakino
The ruined pre-Christian temple of Mariam Wakino of Qohaito archeological site has some of its pillars intact. The building gives some insights into religious beliefs, architectural style, and people’s skillful use of available tools and materials for building such a strong and beautiful structure. The people there call this temple ‘abode of the prestigious one’. This is not the only temple in Qohaito, there are also many other ancient pillars and ruined temples throughout the site.
Rock art in the Adi Alauti cave
Rock art in the Adi Alauti cave is one of the most famous and most important ancient rock art in the world. The cave has nearly 100 paintings of cattle, antelopes, and lions. The paint color used is mostly ochre, black, and reddish-brown. The art shows early humans’ interests in aesthetics and their skills in drawing and painting. The evidence suggests that the paintings are from the fifth millennium (5000) BC. In recent times these paintings have become a symbol of early human being’s cultural development and learning.
There is also a tomb entrance about 1 kilometer north of the Temple of Mariam. The tomb itself is underground with a small entry point above the ground. With its impressive size and majestic construction, the tomb is known as ‘Meqabir Ghibtsi’ or the Egyptian tomb. Built with large blocks of stones, the tomb is rectangular in shape. Two flower-shaped crosses are carved on the inside walls of the tomb.
Shapira Dam is almost one thousand years old. The dam is 67m long and 16m deep. It is still functional and fulfills the water requirements of the Saho people of the region. One of the inner walls of the dam has an inscription of 79 words in ancient Ge’ez language.
Mount Ambasoira – The Highest Peak in Eritrea
Mt. Ambasoira is Eritrea’s highest peak with a height of 3,018m. You can view it just after a short walk from Qohaito archeological site. This and other surrounding mountains with their stunning view enchant the visitors.
Matara or Metera Archeological Site
Matara is another very famous archeological site of the Debub region Eritrea. Its excavated sites include Adulis–Axum tunnel, Hawulti obelisk or Matara’s (Metera) Monolith Stele, and ruins of a palace.