At 80 Km south of Addis Abeba and only 30 Km from Adadi Mariam, the Tiya Stelae fields are one of the most remarkable sites to see on a day trip from Addis Abeba. These mysterious field of obelisks which has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980 dates back to the 12th to 15th century. It is believed to be a mass burial site for men and women who died between the ages of 18 and 30 under circumstances which can only be guessed at.
The presence of engravings of swords on many of the obelisks, which can stand up to 2 meters tall, might mean that the deceased were slain or where fighters but no one, not even the French archeologists who re-erected some of the fallen obelisks at their correct positions, can confidently say what the inscriptions on the stones signify. There are many stelae at the Tiya fields alone of which 31 of them have carved reliefs and more throughout southern Ethiopia all the way until Negele Borena.Most of the stones are engraved with enigmatic symbols, notably swords.