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HISC52H3 Lecture Notes - Yeha, Kaleb Of Axum, Zagwe Dynasty

Course Code
Michael Gervers

of 4
LEC02 2012-20-2012
Folklore, story of king Solomon and queen of Sheeba, rulers of Ethiopia needed to connect
themselves further back in history, found a way to clarify descent from king Solomon, wanted
Each newcomer needs to come with legitimacy, must have a background
In Ethiopia history there was a change in leadership, ruling class wanted to insure they were there
before anybody else, around year 1000BC Solomon and David ruled
In the old testament it refers to Sheeba seeking king Solomon for his wisdom, in the Ethiopian
account she has the child by him, her son becomes the first king of Ethiopian, Menelik the first
Sheeba was accompanied by a handmaiden of whom, Solomon gets them both pregnant, give birth
at the same time, Handmaidens child becomes originator of the Zaqwe people who turn up in 11th
or 10 century, that leads to traditional Ethiopian history,
Sheeba associated in inland place in Yemen, known as Sabba, an ancient kingdom, they were
thriving based upon capacity to manage water supply, built a major dam at a place called Marib,
part of Sabbain territory, Queen went further north to find Soloman
Since the beginning of the 20th century the popular artists have produced comic book account of
this story,
Story:community which is terrorized by serpent, people must feed the serpent so they make
sacrifices of sheep, they get tired so they deicide to something about it, they go to a tree which
produces poisonous sap, feed it to the sheep, then to the serpent, it dies,
Kingdom of Sheeba produces the Queen, discussion go on in the community, decided she must go
and find Solomon, they used to worship the sun, now they are prepared to worship monopolistic
Solomon introduces them to Judaism, on the even of sheeba’s departure, Sabba, Solomon in vites
her to a banquet, lots of salt in the food, Solomon makes an arrangement that he her handmaiden
and sheeba all sleep in the same tent, he says I won’t touch you if you don’t touch anything that
belongs to me, at one point the handmaiden is thirsty because of all the salt in the food,
handmaiden reaches up and drinks the water, takes her to bed, and then the same thing happens
with Sheeba, legend connects Ethiopians with old Testament, belief, history, direct connection
between Ethiopians and Solomon
Sabbain kingdom in Yemen, most of passage of culture came to Ethiopia through red sea, Eritrea
holds all the costline to Djibouti, Ethiopia is now land blocked
Eritrea and blank are the oldest
Around 700 bc the sabians were sharing culture with Eritrea and tigray?, left buidings
archaelogialcs sites, writings on stone
Adwa defeated Italians 1835
Adwa hills special, they are volcanic, there because the molten comes u from the center of the
earth, then cools, then volcanic lava ash disappears the same time magnum cooled and left them,
solid blocks of rock that weren’t blown in the air, core of volcanic, instead of it being the outside
Yeha, corner of sabbian temple, artifacts found in region, Yeha is still standing because Christians,
when they same in 4th century, they turned yeha into a church, already made a new religious
building, retained sanctity, people did not tear it down, well made, best ancient buildings, dates
back to 17th century
Aksum, ancient capital founded by Menelik, so they say
Lalibela well known, 11 churches carved out of or into the rock, in many parts of eastern Christian
world, lots in Italy, hundreds of them in Ethiopia, Monolithic building, rock cleared away leaving
rectangle in the center, carved to look like a standing church, pure rock sculpture, less vulnerable,
when it was built, it was near Sokota, capital of Zagwe kingdom, this is in south western Tigry
Wukro Maskai Krestos Cave of, 12th century site, it also have stepped base, back 2000 yrs, Yeha,
rock cut structures don’t need architects
Yeha Baptismal font,
Statue fr.Hawlt
Haoulti, female figure, on a throne, her clothing decorated to be silk, flowerlike pattern, people
saying this must be representations of queen of sheeba, maybe a queen but has no name,
Ethiopians call her Makedda,
Statue for Addi Akaweh Dedicated to r=temple of Yeha, dedicated to Sabbian ruler
Taakha Maryam, prechristian monument, a large construction, only known at ground level, only
known by its ground plan, final place of resistance, archaeologists had no building to compare it
with, central structure, 4 structures looked like towers at 4 coroners, 1 in Ethiopia today
resembling this structure, called Yemrehanna Krestos, church build by the Zagwe, looked like
central portion of this site, has to do with protection, defense against earthquakes
Calebs tomb, in Adwas hills,
Threshing, Way of life continues today as it did 3000 years ago, Teff, special kind of grain that only
grows in highland areas, walk on on top of grain until its loosen from stalk, long process
Standing stele Aksum, great stone stele, 500 standing stones, mostly burial markers, until recently
no one knew why they were constructed, they’re high, like 4 story building, Stele Park, in Aksum,
its now held by a strap, in 1936, when Mussolini attacked Ethiopia in 1936-46, his people found
these lying on the ground broken in pieces, in order to show the world their imperial success they
shipped them to Italy and raised it in the center of Rome, the Italians were then chased out by
Haile Selassie,
Rondals, are copying wood, not solid piece of wood, just a clasp, windows associated with sabbian
temples, part of the language of building, in front theres a reception platform, helps us understand
the culture, the biggest part never vertical, its believed that it collapsed, bigger than nay block of
Egyptian pyramid
Reign of Aizana
Rules in the 4th century, contemporary of the Constantine, referred to as the 13th apostle, moved
the capital of Rome to Constantinople, Aizana encouraged to convert because he was aware of
Constantine’s empire, Bygantine controlled Egypt, influences of Nubia, blue Nile begins in Ethiopia
Aizana converted for political, economic purposes, he issued gold and silver coins, we see a period
before and after, when he becomes a Christian he puts crosses on their coins, the first to,
He also carved his history into stone, the first to as well
Inscribe slab of Aizana, describes his successes, its in Ethiops, he also put it in Greek and another
Wealth from gold trade, originated from West Africa, ivory, amber trade,
Don’t know what happened between 4th and 6th century
Tomb of King Kaleb and Gebre Meskel, part of a superstructure, tombs dug into the ground, then
built up underground, Kaleb was called upon by the Byzantine Emperor, favor was the to go across
the red sea and protect Christian communities of Sabba, there was a tribe of pastoralists who had
converted to Judaism, it looked like a conflict between the two, they went to a place called Na jran
and massacred the Christian population, he wanted him to put down those peoples
Kaleb went across on two occasions, on the 2nd occasion he identifies himself as Christian
Turned the tied on Yemen, Ethiopia controlled that part of Yemen,
Mecca a major trading city, lots of Jews and Christians
Lec 03 September 27, 2012 slide list 3
Culture of Ethiopia absorbs the cultures of the Meditterean world, do not know what King Aizana
when he becomes a Christian we don’t what he was becoming Christian from
Main difference between Ethiopia was that they had literate people and culture, large gaps of time,
when we don’t what was happening
We don’t know what happened after Aizana, don’t know 5th century, 6th century we know, king
Kaleb, supporting Christianity
Agula-remains of a 6th century church, when British came after 68’ they had ruined it, found
churches from this period, built on a rectangular plan, Council of Chalcedon 451 AD, middle of 5th
century, question in minds of councils, bishops invited, held in bygstine, maters of importance
would be questioned, nature of Jesus Christ, was he more human or spiritual?
Northern churches wanted to emphasize his humanity, eastern churches membership was
Monophysite: they did not deny humanity of Christ but saw him as a spirit figure
Noli me Tangere “Don’t touch me” Christ didn’t want anyone to know whether he was spiritual or
human, big fight, result was Roman and Bystine churches, pushed eastern churches away
451 divide in northern and eastern and southern churches
Egypt was largely Christian at the time, not much in Ethiopia, in 5th century 9 holy men came and
spread the word about Christianity, these 9 men were also responsible for translating the bible
into old Ethiopic language
In the 5th century missionary spiritual figures come to Ethiopia to a land which was open, 9 saints
then found minastic centers in the country, fits in with period of Chalcedon, Kaleb in movement to
support Christians in Yemen then silence
1 of the 9 saints found called Aragawi, was the founder of the most important monastic places in
Ethiopia, he founded the monastry of Debre Damo, an Amba part of the plateau which has
survived, flat topped everything around it has fallen away, perfect for defensive purposes,
missionary confronted often with opposition
only way to get into Debre Damo by climbing a rope, for men only,
Marib, 100m away from Great Dam which had collapsed around 500
From 6th century things were well for Aksumities, , Hegira, 620, when Mohammad was dealing
with unwelcoming merchants of mecca there was great deal of fighting, he sent his immediate
family across the red sea to be taken care of by the king of Ethiopia who was Christian, good
relations between the 2 religions, but that ended for 1000
As territories around red sea became Islamitized they were pushed away
Churches destroyed by Judit, no one knows who he was, women leader, Jewish, Muslim or pagan,
didn’t like the Christians, de stabilized, brought down Axumite dynasty
According to legend son of handmaiden became the first king of Zagwe dynasty, rises out of the
collapse of Axumite dynasty, go on until 1270, don’t know beginning, geographically they come
from Sokota
Believed that Zagwe are associated with the Agaw, they started in Sokota, capital of Ethiopia
during the Zagwe period….entire western part of church covered with paintings, in the upper
north west corn, have painting of 4 zagwe kings, 1 of them is Krestos, then Lalibela, another called
Acutu, we are in Sokota memory of zagwe kings, connection here although done in 18 century still
looking back 800 years when that dynasty was running the country , step of departure before they
went to Lalibela
Most important church is church of Yemrehanna Krestos, its said to have been built by the king
Yemrehanna krestos, seems to be little doubt that he ruled in 12th century, somewhere between
1150 to 1200, very few churches survived in Ethiopia from this period, women invited, survived
because the whole thing is built inside a cave, protected against elements so it still stands,
precedes any of the buildings in lalibelo, 2 building said to be the palace buildings at the time he
built the church, zagwe kings were all saintified, can be referred to as St.
Lalibela had active period of being capital of Ethiopia until 1270
Mount Ascetin very ancient holy mountain, theres a town called Lalibela, capital, takes name from
King Lalibela who was said to had built all the churches there, he has the most credit, given credit
of construction of monuments,
Mount Emakina