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Ancient Ruins in Ainabo - Central Somaliland (cont.)
By Musa Hersi


Residence for Jinn (spirits, demons etc).

Local people avoid climbing on top of these mounds or even lingering around these sites in the belief that they are inhabited by Jinns, or bad spirits, that may cause harm to those who venture close. Children herding goats or camels are always reminded not to go near these mounds or ruins, although nobody bothers about animals grazing around them and sometimes goats can be seen climbing on top the mounds. The myth of the Jinns has clearly had a deterrent effect against human vandalism or physical destruction of these structures. Another important characteristic of the local nomadic community, in distinct contrast to practices of treasure- hunting through vandalising ancient human graves by urban people, is the absence of any grave-robbing culture (perhaps reinforced by the myth of Jinns),.


The Somalis call stone mounds taallo (s), and the word has an archaic connotation. Through metaphor it implies "the thing that was there from time immemorial", suggesting a prehistoric legacy. Another name also used locally is maanlo (s). Typically this suggests a mind-boggling thing. Both names indicate that these works predate the birth of nomadic people living in the eastern Horn of Africa for thousands of years. Taallo is also used in modern Somali literature as a MEMORIAL for a revered thing or person.

As we have seen, early European visitors reported these mounds were the work of Galla, a people thought to be the ancestors of certain ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa. But there are also some questions about that, with many people doubting whether these varied and complex constructions could be the work of a nomadic community, as the Gallas were supposed to be.

Current challenges

The site, despite its archaeological significance, has recently become a base for a military garrison and militias with a variety of armoured vehicles and other types of heavy equipment. The army is there because of border conflict between Somaliland and the North-East Somali province of Punland. The site was primarily chosen for its proximity to an all-weather road as well as the availability of water in the area. This presence of military in the site poses a unique danger to the future sustainability of these remains.

Clearly something needs to be done firstly to research and map the various structures of the site; and secondly to protect the area from further degradation and loss of valuable evidence before proper archeological excavations can be made. This would need the involvement of the local community; head of army and militias in the area and the local government if managing and protecting the area is to make any significant and long-term impact.

I believe that now, when this site has been rediscovered, and the new challenges and difficulties threatening it have been identified, that further action and research are justified, but due to its political isolation and other circumstances surrounding Somaliland, much needed resources for work like this cannot be raised locally.

I wonder if there is any one interested to sponsor further investigation of these mysterious and archaic remains.

Musa Hersi
Tel: 020 8 885 13 07 (work)
020 8 85 48 22 (home)
07984 939 850

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