A Topographic Survey and Some Soundings at Nora, an Ancient Muslim

Author : Joint authors

Year : 2006

Introductory Background
The GendebelolNora Program (French Center for Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa;
Agence Nationale de la Recherche; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) is
conducting a survey of medieval Muslim sites located in Yifat, north-eastern Shewa,
Ethiopia (Fauvelle-Aymar et al. 2007). These sites are but little known from the
literature (Traversi 1893; Chernet Tilahun 1990; Kebedde Geleta 2000). The
GendebelolNora III mission, whose results are briefly presented here, was conducted
on the site of Nora between the ith and the 19th of October 2007. The objective of
this mission was to start the topographic mapping of the visible remains, to carry out
test pits in order to obtain information about the stratigraphic potential of the site for
possible future excavations, and to propose a tentative sequence of occupation.
Nora (N 09°50’849′” E 40°03’026”’) is a Muslim medieval town which, due to its
similar architecture with other Muslim ruins found in the Tchertcher massif and based
on radiocarbon testing (1293-1399 cal. AD – LY-10197, and 1407-1444 cal. AD –
LY-10196) obtained on the similar mosque of Faqi Dabbis in Yifat (Hirsch &
Fauvelle-Aymar 2002: 330-331; Poissonnier 2005), can be considered to have been
built between the 13th and the 16th centuries AD. This town occupies a rocky spur at
an altitude of 1300 m above sea level (Fig. 1). The site is naturally well protected,
being surrounded by abrupt cliffs on almost all sides. On the south-west, the sinuous
track from the nearby Argobba village of Wosisso comes out, and on the north, a
ridge path leads to other ruins.