Beer and Feasts in the Gamo Highlands of Southern Ethiopia

An Ethnoarchaeological and Archaeological Perspective


  • John W. Arthur University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus


Beer, ritual, feasts, Ethiopia, Gamo, ethnoarchaeology


Feasting and the drinking of beer by the Gamo Boreda, who live in the highlands of southern Ethiopia, represent status and seniority and have a long tradition of connecting the living with their ancestors. This paper focuses on the archaeological site of Ochollo Mulato (AD 1270–1950), incorporating oral traditions in association with ceramic ethnoarchaeological and archaeological research documenting the importance of beer and feasting to the Gamo Boreda. Elders recount, from their oral tradition, that Ochollo Mulato is the oldest and most senior of the nine original settlements encompassing the Gamo highlands. Oral tradition and archaeological and ethnoarchaeological ceramic analyses suggest that large-scale ritual feasting of beer and other foods were part of the activities that occurred at Ochollo Mulato over the last eight centuries.


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