Konso-World Heritage Site

Konso Cultural Landscape
Konso Cultural Landscape

This is another Ethiopian cultural site on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites which was registered in 2011. It is an arid property of stone-walled terraces and fortified settlements. This cultural tradition has been around for over 21 generations (over 400 years) in Ethiopia.

Konso Cultural Landscape is a 55 square km arid property of stone walled terraces and fortified settlements in the Konso highlands of Ethiopia. It constitutes a spectacular example of a living cultural tradition stretching back 21 generations (more than 400 years) adapted to its dry hostile environment. The landscape demonstrates the shared values, social cohesion and engineering knowledge of its communities.

The site also features anthropomorphic wooden statues – grouped to represent respected members of their communities and particularly heroic events – which are an exceptional living testimony to funerary traditions that are on the verge of disappearing. Stone steles in the towns express a complex system of marking the passing of generations of leaders.

The cultural properties including the traditional stone wall towns (Paletea), ward system (kanta), Mora (cultural space), the generation pole (Olayta), the dry stone terracing practices (Kabata), the burial marker (Waka) and other living cultural practices are reasons for the precipitation of  the Konso cultural landscape to be listed on UNESCO  world heritage sites list. All the necessary requirements have completed including, field studies, data collections, nomination file/document and management plan of the Konso Cultural Landscape.

Terrace: The Konso have adapted a terrace agricultural system and the core Konso area is characterized by extensive dry stone terraces.Theses terrace retain the soil from erosion and

create terrace saddles that are used for agriculture. The terraces are the main features of the Konso landscape and the hills are contoured by the dry stone terraces that could reach at some places up to 5m high. The terraces retention walls are built with heavier blocks at the base. The saddles that are prepared for agriculture are between four and eight meters wide at most places

The walled town (Paleta): The Konso live in dry stone walled towns (Paleta) located on high hills selected for their strategic and defensive advantage. The Knoso villages remarkable for the beauty and simplicity of its workmanship, constructed entirely from natural materials, cultivated or constructed from the surroundings. The village is ringed by dry stonewalls, at least a meter thick and three meters high.

Mora: Cultural space of Konso located at the center of the main central enclosure and at different locations with in the walls, and sometimes outside the walls. Paths from  all gates lead to these Moras. The individual walled town (Paleta) has up to 17 Moras, which are connected to one other by footpaths. The Moras retain an important and central role in the life of the Konso. They usually have one or two-story grass thatched houses, called Pafta.

The Mora comprise an open sided sitting area beneath a huge thatched roof with a heavy wooden ceiling and above the ceiling there is therefore an ;ittic’ the ground floor of the Mora is expertly paved to form a public area where the men gather to govern the village life. It is also a place for recreation, the youth may gather here to play chat and relax during the day when they are not working. The attic of the Mora meanwhile is where all the adult men are obliged to slip at night. They have a responsibility to protect the villages from various an expected incidences such as fire and any other attack.