Debre Gergis

Debre Gergis

Däbrä Gärgəs
ደብረ ገርግስ (Tigrigna name)
  • Project name:

    PolART: Polish Archaeological Research in Tigray. Debre Gergis and the nearby Ancient Routes System

  • Type of site:

    Aksumite church(?)


    Eastern Tigray
    Hawzen (historical province)


    Classic Aksumite (AD 130/190–360/400) to Late Aksumite (AD 550/610–800/850)

Most interesting finds:

– Stone pillars
– A 6m-high stela

History of research:

Investigated by the PCMA mission in:


Type of research:

Excavations and survey


Michela Gaudiello

Co-operating institutions:

– Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Authority for Research and Conservation of the Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) in Addis Ababa
– Tigray Culture and Tourism Bureau in Mekelle

Additional information:

The site was first visited by Biagio Pace in 1935. He reported about the Aksumite ruins to Carlo Conti Rossini, who himself never visited the site. However, it was upon his suggestion and request, that Antonio Mordini went to Debre Gergis in the course of his surveys in Tigray (1939–1944). Mordini described and photographed the ruins near the church of Endā Qirqos. He reported about the high stele, several smaller ones, and vast Aksumite graveyards.

In the 2007, Wolbert Smidt conducted ethno-historical research in the area of Debre Gergis.

Description of the site and research:

The first season of archaeological investigations at Debre Gergis will take place in the spring of 2020. The work will focus on the excavation on the southern side of the mound (measuring c.  30m by 20m) where the stone pillars are visible protruding to the surface.

At the same time, a survey will be carried out in the environs of the ruins and the stele in order to map and document the surface remains and possibly identify interesting spots for further research.

Project bibliography:

Gaudiello, M. (2020). The first short visit of PCMA in Tigray (Northern Ethiopia). An Overview of the activities and an attempt to date the archaeological sites. Nyame Akuma: Bulletin of the Society of Africanist Archaeologists  94, 4–10.

Selected site bibliography:

Fattovich R. (2019). From Community to State: The Development of the Aksumite Polity (Northern Ethiopia and Eritrea), c. 400 BC-AD 800, Journal of Archaeological Research, 249–285.

Smidt W. (2007). Ein wenig erforschter aksumitischer Platz in Däbrä Gärgiš, cAddi Dacəro, Təgray, Aethiopica 10, 106–114.

Mordini, A. (1944–1945). Informazioni preliminari sui risultati delle mie ricerche in Etiopia dal 1939 al 1944, Rassegna di Studi Etiopici 4, 145–154.

Conti Rossini C. (1938). Necropoli Musulmana ed antica chiesa cristiana presso Uogrì Haribà nell’Enderta, Rivista degli Studi Orientali 17, 399–408.


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