The borderland between Sudan and Ethiopia has historically been a refuge to an extraordinary diversity of indigenous groups that still maintain their unique material worlds. These, however, are now being threatened by the massive arrival of mass-produced goods, the influence of Ethiopia’s dominant societies and the spread of world religions. Unlike the situation of other indigenous groups in Africa and elsewhere, the predicament of the western Ethiopian communities has failed to capture media and scholarly attention. This project aims to document in detail the distinctive material cultures of some of the most menaced groups, with which very little ethnographic or historic research has been conducted to date. We will pay particular attention to core material elements in the respective cultures, including the production and use of domestic architecture, pottery and implements associated to foraging and slash-and-burn agriculture. The project draws on long-term work on the area by the principal investigator.


Alfredo González Ruibal, Institute of Heritage Sciences, Spanish National Research Council (Incipit-CSIC) in Spain

Worku Derara Megenassa
Juan Salazar Bonet
Álvaro Minguito Palomares

Western Ethiopia

Host Institution:
Institute of Heritage Sciences, Spanish National Research Council (Incipit-CSIC), Spain