By Kbrom Andemichael
Located around 1o km northeast of Gelealo subzone in the Northern Red Sea Region – we find the picturesque island called Hariena. The Island is described as a dream place for its abundant mangrove, colorful birds and magnificent seaside. The channel that connects the island to the main land is the main gateway to and from at times of low tide.
The history of the island goes back to the fourth century. At that time the first settlers, E’to and his brother Ado reached the island, it was home to camels. And they named the island Hariena meaning camel’s dropping, in Afar Language.
The settlers have been the victim of continuous invasion from Tigrian feudal lords. During the so called Zemene mesafnti, feudal period, Tigrian war lords used to come to the coastal areas of Eritrea to loot and plunder whatever they find in their way.
Hariena is the home to many beautiful and ancient artifacts and household materials including pots, locally called Belasi, that were used for storing water and dairy products. The pots are similar to those found in the ancient port city of Adulis and in other islands. Though Belasi is larger, it has the same structure with the world wide known Amphora that was mainly found in the Mediterranean region, especially in Greece and Rome.
Amphora has a small mouth with broader body and gets narrow towards the base. Amphora was found in 1997 around Askar Island, between Dahlak Island and Buri peninsula, in a shipwreck. Amphora was used to import oil and wine to Adulis from the Mediterranean region from the 3rd to 7th century A.D.
There are some traces that indicate Belasi was locally produced.
Another important item discovered in the island is an ancient pot with Chinese inscriptions on it that read Zen Monastery meaning is peaceful. If properly studied, it could shed light to the ancient trade link Heriena had with far places in the Far East during the Adulite civilization that existed from the 3rd century B.C.
During the Italian colonial period there was customs office for collecting tax from the locals. And during Eritrea’s armed struggle, the E.P.L.F navy used the Island as a harbor and hiding place for their boats from Ethiopian air attack, benefiting from the mangroves. Hariena was twice bombarded by war planes in April 1979 that left a mother along with her two children dead.
The Island of Hariena with all its beauty and history and with its generous and hospitable inhabitants makes it one of the tourism attraction islands. The generosity of the inhabitants goes beyond to any ones expectation and makes one stay at their home worthwhile—with their bright smile