The traditional architecture of Ethiopia is manifold and spreads over a wide range of climatic zones and topographies, serving a diversity of societies. Within these contexts, the architectural traditions that have emerged show extraordinary quality and adaptability. All basic kinds of building construction can be found in diverse Ethiopian building cultures and types. In this paper, selected examples of this rich heritage, from massive stone buildings to nomadic tents, are presented and analyzed as regards their tectonic aspects and materials, and cultural interpretations are proposed. Our methodology is a comparison of building features, sizes, and spans together with materials, details, and resulting structural performance, based on documented traditional types. Comparison of building cultures that are similar even though ostensibly unrelated can highlight aspects of convergent development; alternatively, they may suggest unknown or underappreciated historical cultural exchanges and influence.
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