Mochena Borago is a large rockshelter situated 2214 m asl on the western flanks of Mt. Damota, a dormant trachytic volcano about 300 km S of Addis Ababa in SW Ethiopia). Rising abruptly over the surrounding terrain to an elevation of 2998 m. asl, Mt. Damota often receives significantly higher, orographically derived rainfall than the communities that lie at its feet. At the top, the volcano offers dramatic views of the regional capital city of Sodo and distant Lake Abaya to the south, the SW Ethiopian highlands immediately to the west, lakes Abaya and Shala to the distant north and the Main Ethiopian Rift to the immediate east. Mt. Damota and its surroundings therefore provide a very diverse range of ecozones and ecotones within short distances.
MB was first tested in 1996 and further excavated in 1998 and 2000-2001 by French-directed research teams seeking evidence for the origins and development of food production in the Horn of Africa. From 2006-2008 the University of Florida’s Southwest Ethiopia Archaeological Project (SWEAP) concentrated upon excavating the shelter’s late Pleistocene deposits. From 2010 through the 2014 field seasons SWEAP was joined by researchers from the University of Cologne’s CRC-806 “Our Way to Europe” project.