Queen Of Sheba’s Palace - Dungar Palace

Friday, January 09, 2015
Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia
Back into town and for some reason I was camera shutter trigger happy as we drove towards Dungar Palace on the other side of Axum ….

This was only discovered in 1950, work is still be done to understand its role here. With what has been already uncovered, it was probably a very impressive palace with over 50 rooms boasting as well an elaborate drainage system.

The structure at Dungur is popularly known as Queen of Sheba's Palace, though historians think it’s the mansion of a nobleman. It’s fully excavated and, though in places rather clumsily restored, you can make out enough of the 44-room layout to make a visit interesting. Nobody is certain of the complex’s age, but it probably dates to around the 6th century AD.

It has small undressed stones and walls recessed at intervals and unusually tapering with height. The well-preserved flagstone floor is thought to have belonged to a throne room. The palace also contains hidden treasure rooms, a private bathing area and a kitchen, where a large brick oven can still be seen. The stairwells suggest the existence of at least one upper storey.

Read more:

Dungur (or Dungur 'Addi Kilte) is the name of the ruins of a substantial mansion located in the western part of Aksum, Ethiopia, the former capital of the Kingdom of Aksum. These ruins are located in the western part of Aksum, across the Gondar road from the Gudit Stelae field.

Dungur is known locally and popularly as the Palace of the Queen of Sheba (i.e. the Palace of Makeda in Ethiopia). However, Stuart Munro-Hay describes it as "the sort of dwelling that a prosperous Aksumite, perhaps a noble or high official of the fourth to sixth centuries AD, might have constructed for himself."

The remains of the mansion and its associated building are limited to the lowest levels and the podium, covering about 3,250 square meters. During its prime, a double staircase led into the entrance of the complex which opened into one of the courtyards surrounding the central structure.

In the associated buildings a number of stone piers were recovered, "presumably for supporting wooden columns or floors", and brickwork which might be evidence of a hypocaust. However, the purpose of these buildings is unclear. Munro-Hay notes, "The 'rooms' with stone piers have no doorways, and the piers presumably supported floors, but occasional divisions on the same level do have doorways, implying that not all the lower level was merely a podium for a higher floor level. Possibly some rooms were entered from within by ladders." Thanks Mr Wikipedia.

Sitting on the steps it was time for a near full group photo. Henry and Michael had already gone ahead back to the Coaster. Plus I recorded Asta Wisalew, the love song that many of the group had learnt a few days ago.

This is someone’s else version. http://vimeo.com/102905903

With a few birrs left in my pocket it was time to add a second woven straw item but deciding which one of the 6 that the local girls held up as I walked towards the viewing tower overlooking the site. Back at the bus and about to leave I settled on one and in my mind had 200 birr which was non-negotiable. Didn’t even wanted to haggle down from the 300 birr that she had wanted initially. I got it for 200 birr / NZ$13.30 / US$9.80.





On the way back to the hotel we had a 30 minute stop by a few souvenir shops. In and out of each of them to quickly see what they each had to offer. In the end I settled on an Axum Cross similar to what Henry brought and paid 500 birr / NZ$33.30 / US$ 24.50 at the museum earlier in the day. With this in mind, I also stuck at 500 birr / NZ$33.30 / US$ 24.50 but my one had painted on it in the centre two colourful pictures. I do prefer one side than the other.

Our farewell group dinner was at a real local restaurant Atse Yohannis International Restaurant. Finally had the Amber Beer plus some more local wine. Dinner for me was curry goat with rice and vegetables 75 birr / NZ$5 / US$3.70. It was Olivia 21st shortly so we tried to sing an early Happy Birthday in Amharic.

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