Obelisk of Axum
The Obelisk of Axum is a 1, 700-year-old, 24-meter-tall granite stele/obelisk, weighing 160 tonnes, in the city of Axum in Ethiopia. It is ornamented with two doors at the base and features decorations resembling windows on all sides. The obelisk ends in a top part, which used to be enclosed by metal frames. The obelisk—properly termed a stele or, in the local Afro-Asiatic languages, the stelae were probably carved and erected during the 4th century A. D. by subjects of the Kingdom of Aksum, an ancient Ethiopian civilization. Erection of stelae in Axum was an old practice, probably borrowed from the Kushitic kingdom of Meroe. Their function is supposed to be that of markers for underground burial chambers, the largest of the grave markers were for royal burial chambers and were decorated with multi-story false windows and false doors, while lesser nobility would have smaller, less decorated ones. While there are only a few large ones standing, there are hundreds of smaller ones in stelae fields.
In the 19th century, of the three major royal stelae, only King Ezanas Stele remained erect, shown in the painting Sight of Axum of Henry Salt. At the end of 1935, following the Italian occupation, Italian soldiers found the Obelisk of Axum was collapsed and it had fallen in the 4th century and had broken into five pieces. In 1937, it was taken as war booty and moved to Italy by the Fascist regime, which wanted to commemorate the occupation of Ethiopia and the birth of the ephemeral new Roman Empire. The stele which were transported by truck along the route between Axum and the port of Massawa, taking five trips over a period of two months. It arrived via ship in Naples, on March 27,1937 and it was transported to Rome, where it was reassembled and erected on Porta Capena square in front of the Ministry for Italian Africa and the Circus Maximus. It was officially unveiled on October 28,1937 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the March on Rome, the operation was coordinated by Ugo Monneret de Villard.
A bronze statue of the Lion of Judah, symbol of the Ethiopian monarchy, was taken along with the obelisk, in a 1947 UN agreement, Italy agreed to return the stele to Ethiopia, along with the other looted piece, the Lion of Judah. This assertion, remains controversial and was not recognized by successive authorities. Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam who overthrew the emperor in 1974, asked the Italian government to return the stele to Ethiopia. Another reason for the delay in returning the stele from Italy to Ethiopia in 2004 was because of Italys claim of not having the money to pay for the transportation. An attempt to get help from the United States was unsuccessful, the runway at Axum airport was upgraded specially to facilitate the return of the stele
Kingdom of Aksum
The Kingdom of Aksum or Axum, known as the Aksumite Empire, was a Habasha trading nation in the modern-day area of Eritrea and the Tigray region of Ethiopia. It existed from approximately 100 AD to 940 AD, the Persian Prophet Mani regarded Axum as one of the four great powers of his time, alongside Persia and China. The Axumites erected a number of stelae, which served a religious purpose in pre-Christian times. One of these columns is the largest such structure in the world. In the 7th century, early Muslims from Mecca sought refuge from Quraysh persecution by travelling to the kingdom and its ancient capital, called Aksum, was in northern Ethiopia. The Kingdom used the name Ethiopia as early as the 4th century, tradition claims Axum as the alleged resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and the purported home of the Queen of Sheba. Aksum is mentioned in the 1st-century AD Periplus of the Erythraean Sea as an important market place for ivory, which was exported throughout the ancient world.
It states that the ruler of Aksum in the 1st century AD was Zoskales and he is said to have been familiar with Greek literature. They cite evidence indicating that the Sabaean settlers resided in the region for more than a few decades. Over 95% of Aksum remains unexplored beneath the city and its surrounding area. The Kingdom of Aksum was an empire centered in Eritrea. It existed from approximately 100–940 AD, growing from the proto-Aksumite Iron Age period c. 4th century BC to achieve prominence by the 1st century AD, according to the Book of Aksum, Aksums first capital, was built by Itiyopis, son of Cush. The capital was moved to Aksum in northern Ethiopia. The Kingdom used the name Ethiopia as early as the 4th century, the Empire of Aksum at its height at times extended across most of present-day Eritrea, Djibouti, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The capital city of the empire was Aksum, now in northern Ethiopia, today a smaller community, the city of Aksum was once a bustling metropolis and economic center.
Two hills and two lie on the east and west expanses of the city, perhaps providing the initial impetus for settling this area. Along the hills and plain outside the city, the Aksumites had cemeteries with elaborate grave stones called stelae, other important cities included Yeha, Hawulti-Melazo, Matara and Qohaito, the last three of which are now in Eritrea. By the reign of Endubis in the late 3rd century, it had begun minting its own currency and was named by Mani as one of the four powers of his time along with Persia, Rome
Saint Frumentius was the first Bishop of Aksum, and he is credited with bringing Christianity to the Aksumite Kingdom. He was a Syro-Phoenician Greek born in Tyre, captured with his brother as a boy, they became slaves to the King of Axum. He freed them before his death, and they were invited to educate his young heir and they began to teach Christianity. Later Frumentius traveled to Alexandria, where he appealed to have a bishop appointed and he was appointed bishop and established the Church in Ethiopia, converting many. When their ship stopped at one of the harbors of the Red Sea, local people massacred the whole crew, the two boys soon gained the favour of the king, who raised them to positions of trust. Shortly before his death, the king freed them, the widowed queen, prevailed upon them to remain at the court and assist her in the education of the young heir, and in the administration of the kingdom during the princes minority. They remained and used their influence to spread Christianity, when the prince came of age, Edesius returned to Tyre, where he stayed and was ordained a priest.
By Athanasius own account, he believed Frumentius to be the most suitable person for the job and consecrated him as bishop, traditionally in the year 328, or according to others, between 340-346. Frumentius returned to Ethiopia, where he erected his episcopal see at Axum and baptized King Ezana, the people called Frumentius Kesate Birhan and Abba Salama. He became the first Abune—a title given to the head of the Ethiopian Church, Frumentius had been appointed by Athanasius, a leading opponent of Arianism. The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Frumentius on December 18, the Eastern Orthodox on November 30, saint Frumentius is venerated on August 1 in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Ethiopian traditions credit him with the first Geez translation of the New Testament and this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, Hugh, ed. article name needed. Martyrologium Romanum, Editio Altera, p.401 San Frumenzio, Santi e Beati Catholic News Agency, Frumentius of Ethiopia Saints.
SQPN, Frumentius Catholic Online, Frumentius
Architecture of Ethiopia
Architecture of Ethiopia varies greatly from region to region. Over the years, it has incorporated various styles and techniques, the best known building of the period in the region is the ruined 8th-century BC multi-story tower at Yeha in Ethiopia, believed to have been the capital of Dmt. Ashlar masonry was especially dominant during this period, owing to South Arabian influence where the style was common for monumental structures. Aksumite architecture flourished in the region from the 4th century BC onward and entire churches were carved out of single blocks of rock. This was emulated at Lalibela and throughout the Tigray Province, other monumental structures include massive underground tombs, often located beneath stelae. Among the most spectacular survivals are the giant stelae, one of which, other well-known structures employing the use of monoliths include tombs such as the Tomb of the False Door and the tombs of Kaleb and Gebre Mesqel in Axum. Most structures, like palaces, commoners houses, the protruding wooden support beams in these structures have been named monkey heads and are a staple of Aksumite architecture and a mark of Aksumite influence in structures.
Contemporary houses were one-room stone structures, or two-storey square houses, villas were generally two to four storeys tall and built on sprawling rectangular plans. A good example of still-standing Aksumite architecture is the monastery of Debre Damo from the 6th century, Ethiopian architecture continued to expand from the Aksumite style, but incorporating new traditions with the expansion of the Ethiopian state. Throughout the medieval period, Aksumite architecture and influences and its monolithic tradition persisted, with its influence strongest in the early medieval, rock-hewn churches have been found as far south as Adadi Maryam, about 100 km south of Addis Abeba. The most famous example of Ethiopian rock-hewn architecture are the 11 monolithic churches of Lalibela, portuguese soldiers had initially come in the mid-16th century as allies to aid Ethiopia in its fight against Adal, and Jesuits came hoping to convert the country. Some Turkish influence may have entered the country during the late 16th century during its war with the Ottoman Empire, with the reign of his son Fasilides, most of these foreigners were expelled, although some of their architectural styles were absorbed into the prevailing Ethiopian architectural style.
This style of the Gondarine dynasty would persist throughout the 17th and 18th centuries especially and influenced modern 19th-century, list Of Colossal Sculpture In Situ Ethiopian Architecture
Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north and northeast and Somalia to the east and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With nearly 100 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and it occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres, and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa. Some of the oldest evidence for modern humans has been found in Ethiopia. It is widely considered as the region from modern humans first set out for the Middle East. According to linguists, the first Afroasiatic-speaking populations settled in the Horn region during the ensuing Neolithic era, tracing its roots to the 2nd millennium BC, Ethiopia was a monarchy for most of its history. During the first centuries AD, the Kingdom of Aksum maintained a unified civilization in the region, many African nations adopted the colors of Ethiopias flag following their independence.
It was the first independent African member of the 20th-century League of Nations, Ethiopias ancient Geez script, known as Ethiopic, is one of the oldest alphabets still in use in the world. The Ethiopian calendar, which is seven years and three months behind the Gregorian calendar, co-exists alongside the Borana calendar. A slight majority of the population adheres to Christianity, while around a third follows Islam, the country is the site of the Migration to Abyssinia and the oldest Muslim settlement in Africa at Negash. A substantial population of Ethiopian Jews, known as Bete Israel, resided in Ethiopia until the 1980s, Ethiopia is a multilingual nation with around 80 ethnolinguistic groups, the four largest of which are the Oromiffa, Amhara and Tigrayans. Most people in the country speak Afroasiatic languages of the Cushitic or Semitic branches, Omotic languages are spoken by ethnic minority groups inhabiting the southern regions. Nilo-Saharan languages are spoken by the nations Nilotic ethnic minorities.
Ethiopia is the place of origin for the coffee bean which originated from the place called Kefa and it is a land of natural contrasts, with its vast fertile West and numerous rivers, and the worlds hottest settlement of Dallol in its north. The Ethiopian Highlands are Africas largest continuous mountain ranges, and Sof Omar Caves contain Africas largest cave, Ethiopia has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Africa. Ethiopia is one of the members of the UN, the Group of 24, the Non-Aligned Movement, G-77. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ethiopia suffered from civil wars, the country has begun to recover recently however, and now has the largest economy in East Africa and Central Africa. According to Global Fire Power, Ethiopia has the 42nd most powerful military in the world, the origin of the word Ethiopia is uncertain
Axum or Aksum is a city in the northern part of Ethiopia. The town has a population of 56,500 residents, and is governed as an urban wäräda, the original capital of the Kingdom of Aksum, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa. Axum was a naval and trading power that ruled the region from about 400 BCE into the 10th century, in 1980 UNESCO added Aksums archaeological sites to its list of World Heritage Sites due to their historic value. Located in the Mehakelegnaw Zone of the Tigray Region near the base of the Adwa mountains, Axum is surrounded by Lailay Maychew wäräda. Axum was the center of the trading power known as the Aksumite Kingdom. Around 356 CE, its ruler was converted to Christianity by Frumentius, under the reign of Kaleb, Axum was a quasi-ally of Byzantium against the Sasanian Persian Empire which had adopted Zoroastrianism. The historical record is unclear, with ancient church records the primary contemporary sources and it is believed it began a long slow decline after the 7th century due partly to the Persians and finally the Arabs contesting old Red sea trade routes.
Eventually Aksum was cut off from its principal markets in Alexandria and Southern Europe, the Kingdom of Aksum was finally destroyed by Gudit, and eventually some of the people of Aksum were forced south and their civilization declined. As the kingdoms power declined so did the influence of the city, the last known king to reign was crowned in about the 10th century, but the kingdoms influence and power ended long before that. Its decline in population and trade contributed to the shift of the power center of the Ethiopian Empire south to the Agaw region as it moved further inland. The city of Axum was the seat of an empire spanning 1 million square miles. Eventually, the name was adopted by the central region, and subsequently. The Kingdom of Axum had its own language and developed a distinctive architecture exemplified by giant obelisks. The kingdom was at its height under King Ezana, baptized as Abreha, the historical records and Ethiopian traditions suggest that it was from Axum that Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, journeyed to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem.
She had a son, fathered by Solomon and he grew up in Ethiopia but traveled to Jerusalem as a young man to visit his fathers homeland. He lived several years in Jerusalem before returning to his country with the Ark of the Covenant, according to the Ethiopian Church and Ethiopian tradition, the Ark still exists in Axum. This same church was the site where Ethiopian emperors were crowned for centuries until the reign of Fasilides, Axum is considered to be the holiest city in Ethiopia and is an important destination of pilgrimages. Significant religious festivals are the Timkat festival on 19 January and the Festival of Maryam Zion on November 24
A stele is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected in ancient Western culture as a monument. Grave steles were often used for funerary or commemorative purposes, Stelae as slabs of stone would be used as ancient Greek and Roman government notices or as boundary markers to mark borders or property lines. The surface of the stele usually has text, ornamentation, or both, the ornamentation may be inscribed, carved in relief, or painted. Traditional Western gravestones may technically be considered the equivalent of ancient stelae. The most famous example of an inscribed stela leading to increased understanding is the Rosetta Stone, an informative stele of Tiglath-Pileser III is preserved in the British Museum. Two steles built into the walls of a church are major documents relating to the Etruscan language, unfinished standing stones, set up without inscriptions from Libya in North Africa to Scotland were monuments of pre-literate Megalithic cultures in the Late Stone Age.
The Pictish stones of Scotland, often carved, date from between the 6th and 9th centuries. An obelisk is a kind of stele. The Insular high crosses of Ireland and Britain are specialized steles, totem poles of North and South America that are made out of stone may be considered a specialized type of stele. Gravestones, typically with inscribed name and often with inscribed epitaph, are among the most common types of stele seen in Western culture. Most recently, in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, the memorial is meant to be read not only as the field, but as an erasure of data that refer to memory of the Holocaust. Steles have been the medium of stone inscription in China since the Tang dynasty. Chinese steles are generally rectangular stone tablets upon which Chinese characters are carved intaglio with a funerary and they can commemorate talented writers and officials, inscribe poems, portraits, or maps, and frequently contain the calligraphy of famous historical figures.
During the Han dynasty, tomb inscriptions containing biographical information on deceased people began to be written on stone tablets rather than wooden ones, erecting steles at tombs or temples eventually became a widespread social and religious phenomenon. Emperors found it necessary to promulgate laws, regulating the use of funerary steles by the population, Steles are found at nearly every significant mountain and historical site in China. The First Emperor made five tours of his domain in the 3rd century BC and had Li Si make seven stone inscriptions commemorating and praising his work, of which fragments of two survive. One of the most famous mountain steles is the 13 m high stele at Mount Tai with the calligraphy of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang commemorating his imperial sacrifices there in 725. A number of stone monuments have preserved the origin and history of Chinas minority religious communities
Ezana of Axum
Ezana of Axum was ruler of the Kingdom of Aksum located in present-day Eritrea, Northern Ethiopia, southern Saudi Arabia, northern Somalia, northern Sudan, and southern Egypt. He himself employed the style king of Saba and Salhen, tradition states that Ezana succeeded his father Ella Amida while still a child and his mother, Sofya served as regent. Ezana was the first monarch of Axum to embrace Christianity, and the first after Zoskales to be mentioned by contemporary historians, munro-Hay to comment that he was the most famous of the Aksumite kings before Kaleb. He appointed his tutor, the Syrian Christian Frumentius, head of the Ethiopian Church. Ezana launched military campaigns, which he recorded in his inscriptions. A pair of inscriptions in Geez have been found at Meroe, on some of the coins minted during Ezanas reign appears the motto in Greek TOYTOAPECHTHXWPA – May this please the people. Munro-Hay comments that this motto is a rather attractive peculiarity of Aksumite coinage, giving a feeling of concern and responsibility towards the peoples wishes.
A number of coins minted bearing his name were found in the late 1990s at archeological sites in India, a remarkable feature of the coins is a shift from a pagan motif with disc and crescent to a design with a cross. Ezana is credited for erecting several structures and obelisks, Ezana is unknown in the King Lists even though the coins bear this name. According to tradition, Emperors Abreha and Asbeha ruled Ethiopia when Christianity was introduced and it may be that these names were applied to Ezana and his brother or that these were their baptismal names. Along with his brother, Ezana is regarded as a saint by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ezana Stone King Ezanas Stele Yuri M. Kobishchanov. University Park, University of Pennsylvania,1979, ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History to 1270. African Zion, the Sacred Art of Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Highlands is a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia, situated in the Horn region in Northeast Africa. It forms the largest continuous area of its altitude in the continent, with little of its surface falling below 1500 m and it is sometimes called the Roof of Africa due to its height and large area. Most of the Ethiopian Highlands are part of central and northern Ethiopia, in the southern parts of the Ethiopian Highlands once was located the Kingdom of Kaffa, a medieval early modern state, whence the coffee plant was exported to the Arabian peninsula. The land of the kingdom is mountainous with stretches of forest. The land is fertile, capable of three harvests a year. The term coffee derives from the Arabic qahwah and is traced to Kaffa, the Highlands are divided into northwestern and southeastern portions by the Main Ethiopian Rift, which contains a number of salt lakes. The northwestern portion, which covers the Tigray and Amhara Regions, includes the Semien Mountains and its highest peak, Ras Dashan, is the highest peak in Ethiopia.
Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, lies in the portion of the Ethiopian Highlands. The southeastern portions highest peaks are located in the Bale Zone of Ethiopias Oromia Region, the Bale Mountains, designated a national park, are nearly as high as those of Semien. The range includes peaks of over 4000 m, among these are Mount Tullu Demtu, which is the second-highest peak in Ethiopia, and Mount Batu. Most of the major cities are located at elevations of around 2, 000–2,500 m above sea level, including historic capitals such as Gondar. The Ethiopian Highlands began to rise 75 million years ago, as magma from the Earths mantle uplifted a broad dome of the ancient rocks of the Arabian-Nubian Shield. Around 30 million years ago, a basalt plateau began to form. Most of the flows were tholeiitic, save for a layer of alkali basalts and minor amounts of felsic volcanic rocks. In the waning stages of the flood basalt episode, large explosive caldera-forming eruptions occurred, the Ethiopian Highlands were eventually bisected by the Great Rift Valley as the African continental crust pulled apart.
This rifting gave rise to large alkaline basalt shield volcanoes beginning about 30–31 million years ago, the predominant climate type of the Ethiopian Highlands is tropical monsoon, and have a climate which is generally considerably cooler than other regions at similar proximity to the Equator. Because the highlands elevate Ethiopia, located close to the equator, these mountains catch the precipitation of the monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean, resulting in a rainy season that lasts from June until mid-September. These heavy rains cause the Nile to flood in the summer, the habitats are somewhat different on either side of the Great Rift Valley that splits the highlands
The Hawulti is a pre-Aksumite or early Aksumite period obelisk located in Matara, Eritrea. It bears the oldest known example of the ancient Geez script. D, ullendorff translated of the inscription as follows, This is the obelisk which had made Agaz for his fathers who have carried off the youth of W LF as well as of SBL. His translation differs from Enno Littmann at several points, when Littmann, leader of the Deutsche Aksum-Expedition, found the Hawulti, it had been pushed over and broken in half in the distant past. The Italian colonial government had the broken monument repaired with two bars and set upright in what thought to be its proper location, but its exact original location is not known for sure. The Hawulti was toppled and damaged by Ethiopian troops in the occupation of southern Eritrea during the Eritrean-Ethiopian War. It has since been repaired by the National Museum of Eritrea, the Hawulti AFP, Eritrea rebuilds countrys symbolic stone pillar