There are number of factors which lead to physical deterioration of heritages. Identifying the nature and scale of destructive forces helps determine intervention methods. It also enables to take action before it results in total loss of heritages.

Natural causes of destruction and damage

Results of studies conducted on churches Lalibela identified weathering as a major nature caused factor of deterioration. Disintegration of volcanic agglomerates and scoriae is resulted from wetting and drying cycle. Raindrops on roof of churches is dominant cause of degradation of roofs of churches.The same process coupled with biological factors resulted deterioration of roof and other parts of the church of Kenkenit Mikael. Soil formed through such process is evident on the roof of this church and it provided favourable condition for growth of plants. Scientific methods are not used to remove plants grown on churches.


The built roof over the church Kenkenit Mikael is 20 years old and does not protect sufficiently against weather influences. The rock of the church Kenkenit Mikael is significantly softer than that of the churches in Lalibela and cracks and breaks in the rock are clearly visible.


During the rainy season in 2018, stones fell from the mountainside behind the church and damaged the corrugated iron roof and the church. Priests and the community have built a wall for slope protection, but larger rock erosion can not be stopped by this.


According to the priests, in the next 2 years, conservation must be started so as not to lose the church. The interior of the 1400-year-old church is better preserved, but the outer rock does not withstand weathering.

Highly degraded roof of Kenkenit Mikael

Mountainside behind Kenkenit Mikael

Manmade damage without intention

Destructions related to maintenance and other conservation activities are the other factors which lead to physical deterioration of the churches. Cracks are filled with mud without any preliminary study. In fact maintenances like this are done by the local people. Besides physical deteriorations, such type of restorations also affects aesthetic values of the churches. People want to preserve their churches, but without professional support, they will take provisional action with the opportunities that are available.


The water drainage is blocked and in the rainy season, water stays around the church Kenkenit Mikael. This situation could easily be changed, but there is a lack of technology as well as knowledge and mindfulness.

Fire and smoke destroy ornaments

Theft and illegal trafficking of heritage

Illicit transfer of cultural heritages is one of and by far the most threating problems the churches faced. In the context of heritage management, absence of documentation of heritages is the major factor that opens favorable condition for theft and illicit trafficking. Systematic documentations pave good way for controlling, and supporting efforts to restitute stolen heritages.


In the church Kenkenit Mikael there is no safe and money for security people is scarce. The church and cultural heritage are guarded by the priests and the community. They are aware of the problem of theft and parts of the heritage remain hidden.