Artefacts from Egypt, India and China have been found in the city in the Harlaa region.The archaeologists also uncovered a 12th Century mosque which is similar to those found in Tanzania and Somaliland, showing connections between different Islamic communities in Africa.
“This discovery revolutionizes our understanding of trade in an archaeologically neglected part of Ethiopia. What we have found shows this area was the center of trade in that region,” lead archaeologist Professor Timothy Insoll from the University of Exeter said.
Farmers have been uncovering pottery and coins for many years in the area, and were convinced there was rich information about Ethiopia’s history to be found underground.
The settlement, which is around 500m by 1,000m, has buildings and walls constructed with large stone blocks, leading local people to assume only those with enormous stature or strength could have built it and encouraging local legends about giants having inhabited the region.
Archaeologists worked with the local community for two years to make the discoveries, which will be exhibited in a heritage center run by local people designed to bring income to the area.
Some of the jewellery found at the dig was also made using delicate pieces in silver, bronze and semi-precious stones and glass beads, which suggests it was made in India.
A statement from the team says the remains of some of the 300 people buried in the cemetery are being analysed to find out what their diet consisted of.
Further excavations are expected to be conducted next year.