An ancient city in Ethiopia dating back to the 10th century has become a site of fascination for archaeologists. Although researchers have not been able to conclude that a race of “giants” lived there, as is believed by locals, they nonetheless have determined that the region was once a center of a thriving civilization.
Legends of giants are prevalent. The best-known giant comes from the Old Testament – Goliath. Giants are known as Gigantes in Greek mythology and Daityas in Indian mythology. Are they just a product of the wild imagination of our ancestors, or is at the heart of every legend, a grain of truth like they say? This age old question resurfaced again when archaeologists started excavating Harlaa in eastern Ethiopia, where according to locals, giants once lived.
Local people were for years discovering Chinese coins and old pottery. They additionally found huge building stones that were incapable of being moved by humans without modern machinery. This led to the belief that only giants could have moved them. For two years, a team of British archaeologists led by Timothy Insoll, a professor at the University of Éxeter in the UK, have been excavating the site in search for artifacts.
Were they motivated by a hypothesis of giants and a possible revolution in archaeological knowledge? We don’t know, but the artifacts found by locals, however, were enough to attract the researchers.
“Local people were extremely keen for us to solve mysteries. Farmers had been finding strange objects, including Chinese coins, as they were working on their land, and a legend began that the area was home to giants,” said Professor Timothy Insoll.
Unfortunately, to the sad realization of the locals, no proof of giants was found by the archeological team. Professor Timothy Insoll said, “We have obviously disproved that, but I’m not sure they fully believe us yet. Some people have said the bodies we have discovered are the children of giants.”
On the other hand, the expedition was not without some interesting discoveries. The archeologists found a 12th-century mosque, evidence of Islamic burials and headstones. They have also found jewelry, pottery from as far as China and the Maldives, and coins from 13th century Egypt. These finds indicate an important ancient trading city connected with the Gulf, Egypt, and India, as well as Middle Eastern cities throughout Africa.
“This discovery revolutionizes our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia. What we have found shows this area was the center of trade in that region,” said Professor Timothy Insoll, as reported by the BBC.
So, whilst it seems they have yet to prove the existence of giants, there still remains the question of whether the researchers have “dug enough?” Is perhaps the scientific community too conservative to accept a revolutionizing concept?
Many cultures and their legends, which were separated by vast oceans, similarly indicated that giants once lived on Earth, and various megalithic monuments also suggest their past existence. What is the truth, and will more be revealed in the future to come?
Although evidence proving Ethiopia’s legend of giants could not be found, the finding of a rich cosmopolitan city in Harlaa is certainly quite a find!