Melka Kunture

Melka Kunture is a cluster of prehistoric sites in the upper Awash valley, 50 km south of Addis Ababa, at 2000m asl. It was discovered by Gerard Dekker in 1963, then surveyed by Gérard Bailloud in 1964. It was first systematically researched by a French mission directed by Jean Chavaillon (1965-1982 / 1993-1995); then, since 1999, by an Italian mission directed by Marcello Piperno and later by Margherita Mussi, both of them from University of Rome “La Sapienza”.

Subsequently, since 2019, by a Italo-Spanish mission codirected by Margherita Mussi, Eduardo Méndez-Quintas and Joaquín Panera.
The research is carried out in agreement with the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage of the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and with the Oromia Culture and Tourism Bureau. Read more

World Heritage Tentative Lists

UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to:
- Encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage
- Encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

Melka Kunture and World Heritage Tentative Lists

The Start

Until 1963, the prehistory of Ethiopia was not well known and was unexplored beyond the 100,000 years-old threshold. In 1963 Gerard Dekker, a hydrologist from the Netherlands with a passion for prehistoric research and a friend of L.S.B. Leakey, discovered Acheulean and Middle Stone Age lithic tools and faunal remains at the Kella locality, near the Awash village, on the road to Butajira, 50 km south to Addis Abeba, and he immediately informed the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa. The discovery was really important. Till that year, no Acheulean evidences were known all over Ethiopia and only a few sites were known in the Horn of Africa. Amongst them, the most important was Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, discovered in 1913 by H. Reck and excavated and studied by Louis and Mary Leakey since 1923 until 1975.

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