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Konso Cultural Landscape

EthiopiaWestern Highlands & Great Rift Valley


Konso Cultural Landscape 

Extensive dry stone terraces dot the Konso Cultural Landscape, testifying to humans' ongoing struggle to use and harness the harsh, dry, and rocky environment. The terraces protect the soil from erosion, collect the maximum amount of water, discharge the excess, and form terraced agricultural fields.

The hills are sculpted with dry stone walls that reach up to 5 meters in height, and the terraces are the prominent features of the Konso landscape. The Konso Cultural Landscape's walled cities and communities (paletas) are situated on high plains or hill summits chosen for their strategic and tactical advantages. Between one and six rounds of dry stone defensive walls made of locally accessible rock encircle these cities.

Moras, or cultural places within walled cities, continue to play an essential and central part in Konso culture. There are as many as 17 moras in some walled towns. The Konso are one of the last megalithic peoples, with a custom of erecting generation marking stones called daga-hela, which are mined, transported, and built through a ritual ceremony.

The traditional forests are used for ritual leaders' burials as well as medicinal uses. As grave markers, wooden humanoid figures (waka) fashioned from durable wood and resembling the deceased are built. Water reservoirs (harda) are erected and maintained communally in or near these forests, and, like the terraces, are maintained by extremely unique communal social and cultural practices.

The Konso Cultural Landscape was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.

(Source UNESCO)


  • EthiopiaWestern Highlands & Great Rift Valley

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