Stela 4, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, May 2009

Stela 4, North Stelae Field, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, May 2009 Stela 4 Head, Maryam Tsion Church Compound, Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia, May 2009

Stela 4 has the best-preserved altar of any of the stelae, its altar depressions being well-preserved, as opposed to those of stela 3, which were used by local women as mortars. The head-piece, separated from the rest of the stela during its fall, now rests in the compound of the old St. Mary of Zion Church.

It has been suggested that the round representation on the head is a traditional ethiopian bread, but I am somewhat skeptical as to the importance and symbolism of bread in such a case, given what we know of Sabean religious customs, and wonder if it couldn’t be the sun or a traditional shield instead.

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