© DeA Picture Library/Art Resource, NY

STUNNING STELAE. The Proto-Aksumites and Aksumites both erected funerary stelae (standing stones) on large platforms to mark burial fields. Over time, the stelae became increasingly elaborate and colossal. Some of the tallest stelae in the world were erected at Aksum and date to the Aksumite period, including the largest extant stele in the world—estimated to be 107 feet tall and 517 tons—which lies in pieces at the Stelae Park in Aksum. The third largest stele at Aksum (shown here) is about 77 feet tall, with 67 feet above and 10 feet below ground. Carved on three sides, the stele is made to look like a building with ten stories—replete with windows, protruding beams and a false door with a carved handle.