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The world second oldest Christian Nation, Jewish Empresses, Birth Place of one of Mohammed’s companions. The horn of Africa has a long religious history. As the birth place of humanity (the place where Homo Sapiens first developed), and a land where the Bible claims lays next to Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:13 the River Gihon compasseth the whole of Ethiopia), it should be expected even if it’s not well known. So from the Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Somalia I give you a brief history of the horns religious history. I first became interested in this regions history when I was doing research into Enoch and his "lost book" in the Bible (from the History Channels "Banned from the Bible series). This book is part of the Ethiopian Christian Bible, the Western Church didn’t possess enough of the book to vote on it at the council of Nicea (yes that council you Da Vinci Code fans)

Ethiopia

Ethiopia was also historically called Abyssinia, derived from the Arabic form of the Ethiosemitic name modern Habesha. The English name "Ethiopia" is thought to be derived from the Greek word Aithiopia, from Aithiops ‘an Ethiopian’, derived from Greek terms meaning "of burnt visage ". However, this etymology is disputed, since the Book of Aksum, a Ge'ez chronicle first composed in the 15th century, states that the name is derived from "'Ityopp'is", a son (unmentioned in the Bible) of Cush, son of Ham who according to legend founded the city of Axum. The Hebrew word for Ethiopia as mentioned in the Bible is Cush.

Around the 8th century BC, a kingdom known as D'mt was established in what is today northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, with its capital at Yeha in northern Ethiopia and which had extensive relations with the Sabeans in present day Yemen across the Red Sea. However, most modern scholars often refer to it as Ethiopian Saba since it had a separate entity than the Saba in Yemen. The fall of D`mt in the fifth century BC, the plateau came to be dominated by smaller successor kingdoms, until the rise of one of these kingdoms during the first century BC, the Aksumite Kingdom, ancestor of medieval and modern Ethiopia, which was able to reunite the area. They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. Aksim grew during the 4th century BC and came into prominence during the first century AD, minting its own coins by the 3rd century, converting in the 4th century to Christianity, as the second official Christian state (after Armenia) and the first country to feature the cross on its coins. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Axum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of his time.

In 316 AD, a Christian philosopher from Tyre, Meropius, embarked on a voyage of exploration along the coast of Africa. He was accompanied by, among others, two Syro-Greeks, Frumentius and his brother Aedesius. The vessel was stranded on the coast, and the natives killed all the travelers except the two brothers, who were taken to the court and given positions of trust by the monarch. They both practiced the Christian faith in private, and soon converted the queen and several other members of the royal court. Upon the king's death, Frumentius was appointed regent of the realm by the queen, and instructor of her young son, Prince Ezana. A few years later, upon Ezana's coming of age, Aedesius and Frumentius left the kingdom, the former returning to Tyre where he was ordained, and the latter journeying to Alexandria. Here, he consulted Athanasius, who ordained him and appointed him Bishop of Axum. He returned to the court and baptized the King Ezana, together with many of his subjects, and in short order Christianity was proclaimed the official state religion. For this accomplishment, he received the title "Abba Selama" ("Father of peace").

At various times, including a fifty-year period in the sixth century, Axum controlled most of modern-day Yemen and some of southern Saudi Arabia just across the Red Sea, as well as controlling southern Egypt, northern Sudan, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and northern Somalia.

Jewish Empress

The line of rulers descended from the Axumite kings was broken several times: first by the Jewish (or pagan) Queen Gudit around 950 (or possibly around 850, as in Ethiopian histories). The accounts of Gudit are contradictory and incomplete. Paul B. Henze (Layers of Time, A History of Ethiopia New York: Palgrave, 2000) wrote, "She is said to have killed the emperor, ascended the throne herself, and reigned for forty years. Accounts of her violent misdeeds are still related among peasants in the north Ethiopian countryside."

Henze continues in a footnote, "On my first visit to the rock church of Abreha and Atsbeha in eastern Tigray in 1970, I noticed that its intricately carved ceiling was blackened by soot. The priest explained it as the work of Gudit, who had piled the church full of hay and set it ablaze nine centuries before. "

There is a tradition that Gudit sacked and burned Debre Damo, which at the time was a treasury and a prison for the male relatives of the king of Ethiopia; this may be an echo of the later capture and sack of Amba Geshen by Ahmed Gragn.

The Italian scholar Carlo Conti Rossini first proposed that the account of this warrior queen in the History of the Patriarchs of Alexandria, where she was described as Bani al-Hamwiyah ought to be read as Bani al-Damutah, and argued that she was ruler of the once-powerful kingdom of Damot, and that she was related to one of the indigenous Sidamo peoples of southern Ethiopia. This would agree with the numerous references to matriarchs ruling the Sidamo polities.

If Gudit did not belong to one of the Sidamo peoples, then some scholars, based on the traditions that Gudit was Jewish, propose that she was of the Agaw people, who historically have been numerous in Lasta, and a number of whom (known as the Beta Israel), have professed the Jewish religion since ancient times. If she was not of a Jewish origin, she might have been a convert to Judaism by her husband, or pagan.

The line of rulers descended from the Axumite kings was broken again by the Zagwe dynasty; it was during this dynasty that the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela were carved under King Lalibela, allowed by a long period of peace and stability. (these are huge stone carved churches in Ethipia) Around 1270, the Solomonic dynasty came to control Ethiopia, claiming descent from the kings of Axum. They called themselves Neguse Negest ("King of Kings," or Emperor), basing their claims on their direct descent

During the reign of Emperor Yeshaq, Ethiopia made its first successful diplomatic contact with a European country since Aksumite times, sending two emissaries to Alfons V of Aragon, who sent return emissaries that failed to complete the trip to Ethiopia. The first continuous relations with a European country began in 1508 with Portugal under Emperor Lebna Dengel, who had just inherited the throne from his father. This proved to be an important development, for when the Empire was subjected to the attacks of the Adal General and Imam, Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (called "Grañ", or "the Left-handed"), Portugal responded to Lebna Dengel's plea for help with an army of four hundred men, who helped his son Gelawdewos defeat Ahmad and re-establish his rule. However, when Emperor Susenyos converted to Roman Catholicism in 1624, years of revolt and civil unrest followed resulting in thousands of deaths. The Jesuit missionaries had offended the Orthodox faith of the local Ethiopians, and on June 25, 1632 Susenyos' son, Emperor Fasilides, declared the state religion to again be Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity, and expelled the Jesuit missionaries and other Europeans.
All of this contributed to Ethiopia's isolation from 1755 to 1855, called the Zemene Mesafint or "Age of Princes." Similar to Japan at this point the Emperors became figureheads, controlled by warlords like Ras Mikael Sehul of Tigray, and later by the Oromo Yejju dynasty. Ethiopian isolationism ended following a British mission that concluded an alliance between the two nations; however, it was not until the reign of Emperor Tewodros II, who began modernizing Ethiopia and recentralizing power in the Emperor, that Ethiopia began to take part in world affairs once again.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (in Amharic: Yäityop'ya ortodoks täwahedo bétäkrestyan) is an Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia that was part of the Coptic Orthodox Church until 1959, when it was granted its own Patriarch by Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa Cyril VI. The only pre-colonial Christian church of Sub-Saharan Africa, it has a membership of about 40 million people (45 million claimed by the Patriarch), mainly in Ethiopia, and is thus the largest of all Oriental Orthodox churches.

Tewahedo is a Ge'ez word meaning "being made one" or "unified"; it is cognate with the Arabic word tawhid, meaning "monotheism". Tewahedo refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief in the one single unified Nature of Christ (ie, a belief that a complete, natural union of the Divine and Human Natures into One is self-evident in order to accomplish the divine salvation of humankind), as opposed to the "two Natures of Christ" belief (unmixed, separated Divine and Human Natures, called the Hypostatic Union) promoted by today's Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Henoticon: the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and many others, all refused to accept the "two natures" doctrine decreed by the Byzantine Emperor Marcian's Council of Chalcedon in 451, thus separating them from the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox — who themselves separated from one another later on in the East-West Schism (1054). The Oriental Orthodox Churches, which today include the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Malankara Orthodox Church of India, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, are referred to as "Non-Chalcedonian", and, sometimes by outsiders as "monophysite" (meaning "One Nature", in reference to Christ; a rough translation of the name Tewahido). However, these Churches themselves describe their Christology as miaphysite.

The Ethiopian Church claims its earliest origins from the royal official said to have been baptised by Philip the Evangelist (Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 8):
"Then the angel of the Lord said to Philip, Start out and go south to the road that leads down from Jerusalem to Gaza. So he set out and was on his way when he caught sight of an Ethiopian. This man was a eunuch, a high official of the Kandake (Candace) Queen of Ethiopia in charge of all her treasure." (8:27)

The passage continues by describing how Philip helped the Ethiopian treasurer understand a passage from Isaiah that the Ethiopian was reading. After the Ethiopian received an explanation of the passage, he requested that Philip baptize him, and Philip did so. The Ethiopic version of this verse reads "Hendeke" ; Queen Gersamot Hendeke VII was the Queen of Ethiopia from ca. 42 to 52.

Orthodox Christianity became the established church of the Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom under king Ezana in the 4th century through the efforts of a Syrian Greek named Frumentius, known in Ethiopia as Abba Selama, Kesaté Birhan ("Father of Peace, Revealer of Light"). As a youth, Frumentius had been shipwrecked with his brother Aedesius on the Eritrean coast. The brothers managed to be brought to the royal court, where they rose to positions of influence and converted Emperor Ezana to Christianity, causing him to be baptised. Ezana sent Frumentius to Alexandria to ask the Patriarch, St. Athanasius, to appoint a bishop for Ethiopia. Athanasius appointed Frumentius himself, who returned to Ethiopia as Bishop with the name of Abune Selama. From then on, until 1959, the Pope of Alexandria, as Patriarch of All Africa, always named an Egyptian (a Copt) to be Abuna or Archbishop of the Ethiopian Church.
Following the independence of Eritrea as a nation in 1993, the Coptic Church in 1994 appointed an Archbishop for the Eritrean Church, which in turn obtained autocephaly in 1998, with the consecration of the first Eritrean Patriarch.

Union with the Coptic Orthodox Church continued after the Arab conquest in Egypt. Abu Saleh records in the 12th century that the patriarch always sent letters twice a year to the kings of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and Nubia, until Al Hakim stopped the practice. Cyril, 67th patriarch, sent Severus as bishop, with orders to put down polygamy and to enforce observance of canonical consecration for all churches. These examples show the close relations of the two churches concurrent with the Middle Ages.

In 1439, in the reign of Zara Yaqob, a religious discussion between Abba Giyorgis and a French visitor had led to the dispatch of an embassy from Ethiopia to the Vatican.

Jesuit interim

The period of Jesuit influence, which broke the connection with Egypt, began a new chapter in Church history. The initiative in the Roman Catholic missions to Ethiopia was taken, not by Rome, but by Portugal, as an incident in the struggle with the Muslim Ottoman Empire and Sultanate of Adal for the command of the trade route to India by the Red Sea.

In 1507 Matthew, or Matheus, an Armenian, had been sent as Ethiopian envoy to Portugal to ask aid against the Adal Sultanate. In 1520 an embassy under Dom Rodrigo de Lima landed in Ethiopia (by which time Adal had been remobilized under Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi). An interesting account of the Portuguese mission, which remained for several years, was written by Francisco Alvarez, the chaplain.

Later, Ignatius Loyola wished to essay the task of conversion, but was forbidden. Instead, the pope sent out Joao Nunez Barreto as patriarch of the East Indies, with Andre de Oviedo as bishop; and from Goa envoys went to Ethiopia, followed by Oviedo himself, to secure the king's adherence to Rome. After repeated failures some measure of success was achieved under Emperor Susenyos, but not until 1624 did the Emperor make formal submission to the pope. Susenyos made Roman Catholicism the official state religion, but was met with heavy resistance by his subjects, and eventually had to abdicate in 1632 to his son, Fasilides, who promptly restored the state religion to Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. He then expelled the Jesuits in 1633, and in 1665, Fasilides ordered that all Jesuit books (the Books of the Franks) be burned.

Recent history

The Coptic and Ethiopian Churches reached an agreement on 13 July 1948 that led to autocephaly for the Ethiopian Church. Five bishops were immediately consecrated by the Coptic Pope of Alexandria and Patriach of All Africa, empowered to elect a new Patriarch for their church, and the successor to Abuna Qerellos IV would have the power to consecrate new bishops. This promotion was completed when Coptic Orthodox Pope Joseph II consecrated an Ethiopian-born Archbishop, Abuna Basilios, 14 January 1951. Then in 1959, Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria crowned Abuna Baslios as the first Patriarch of Ethiopia.

Patriarch Abune Basilios died in 1971, and was succeeded that year by Patriarch Abune Tewophilos. With the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was disestablished as the state church. The new Marxist government began nationalising property (including land) owned by the church. Patriarch Abune Tewophilos was arrested in 1976 by the Marxist Derg military junta, and secretly executed in 1979. The government ordered the church to elect a new Patriarch, and Abune Tekle Haymanot was enthroned. The Coptic Orthodox Church refused to recognize the election and enthronement of Abune Tekle Haymanot on the grounds that the Synod of the Ethiopian Church had not removed Abune Tewophilos and that the government had not publicly acknowledged his death, and he was thus still legitimate Patriarch of Ethiopia. Formal relations between the two churches were halted, although they remained in communion with each other.

Patriarch Abune Tekle Haymanot proved to be much less accommodating to the Derg regime than it had expected, and so when the Patriarch died in 1988, a new Patriarch with closer ties to the regime was sought. The Archbishop of Gondar, a member of the Derg-era Ethiopian Parliament, was elected and enthroned as Patriarch Abune Merkorios. Following the fall of the Derg regime in 1991, and the coming to power of the EPRDF government, Patriarch Abune Merkorios abdicated under public and governmental pressure. The church then elected a new Patriarch, Abune Paulos, who was recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria. The former Patriarch Abune Merkorios then fled abroad, and announced from exile that his abdication had been made under duress and thus he was still the legitimate Patriarch of Ethiopia. Several bishops also went into exile and formed a break-away alternate synod. This exiled synod is recognized by some Ethiopian Churches in North America and Europe who recognize Patriarch Abune Merkorios, while the synod inside Ethiopia continues to uphold the legitimacy of Patriarch Abune Paulos.

After Eritrea became an independent country, the Coptic Orthodox Church granted autocephaly to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church with the reluctant approval of its mother synod, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church.

As of 2005, there are many Ethiopian Orthodox churches located throughout the United States and other countries to which Ethiopians have migrated. The church has more than 38 million members in Ethiopia, forming about half the country's population.

Biblical canon

The Canon of the Tewahedo Church is wider than for most other Christian groups. The Ethiopian "narrower" Old Testament Canon includes the books found in the Septuagint accepted by other Orthodox Christians, in addition to Enoch, Jubilees, 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras, 3 books of Maccabees, and Psalm 151. However, the three books of the Maccabees are identical in title only, and quite different in content from those of the other Christian churches which include them. The order of the other books is somewhat different from other groups', as well. The Church also has a "broader canon" that includes more books.

Ark of the Covenant

The Ethiopian church claims that one of its churches, Our Lady Mary of Zion, is host to the original Ark of the Covenant that Moses carried with the Israelites during the Exodus. However, outsiders (and women, be they insiders or not) are not allowed into the building where the Ark is located, ostensibly due to dangerous biblical warnings. As a result, international scholars doubt that the original Ark is truly there, although a case has been put forward by controversial popular writer Graham Hancock in his book The Sign and the Seal.

Throughout Ethiopia, Orthodox churches are not considered churches until the local bishop gives them a tabot, a replica of the tablets in the original Ark of the Covenant. The tabot is six inches (15 cm) square and made from alabaster, marble, or wood (see acacia). It is always kept in ornate coverings to hide it from public view. In an elaborate procession, the tabot is carried around the outside of the church amid joyful song and dance on the feast day of that particular church's namesake, and also on the great Feast of T'imk'et, known as Epiphany or Theophany in Europe.

Similarities to Judaism

The Ethiopian church places a heavier emphasis on Old Testament teachings than one might find in the Roman Catholic or Protestant churches, and its followers adhere to certain practices that one finds in Orthodox or Conservative Judaism. Ethiopian Christians, like some other Eastern Christians, traditionally follow dietary rules that are similar to Jewish Kashrut, specifically with regard to how an animal is slaughtered. Similarly, pork is prohibited, though unlike Kashrut, Ethiopian cuisine does mix dairy products with meat- which in turn makes it even closer to Islamic dietary laws (see Halal). Women are prohibited from entering the church during their menses; they are also expected to cover their hair with a large scarf (or shash) while in church, but contrary to popular belief and the actual practice of most other Christian denominations, it is not in the Old Testament that this is commanded, but rather in the New (1 Cor. 11). As with Orthodox synagogues, men and women are seated separately in the Ethiopian church, with men on the left and women on the right (when facing the altar). However, women covering their heads and separation of the sexes in the Church building officially is common to many Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christians and not unique to Judaism. Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers remove their shoes when entering a church, in accordance with Exodus 3:5 (in which Moses, while viewing the burning bush, is commanded to remove his shoes while standing on holy ground). Furthermore, both the Sabbath (Saturday), and the Lord's Day (Sunday) are observed as holy, although more emphasis, because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, is laid upon the Holy Sunday.

More on Beta Israel, Ethiopian Jews

The first relatively certain reference to the Beta Israel, however, comes only in the early 14th century during the reign of Amda Seyon (r.1314-44). During his reign he sent troops to fight people "like Jews"  It is these regions that would later go on to be areas of frequent Beta Israel rebellion against the Solomonic dynasty for the next three centuries. During this time period, however, religion was less important to the Emperors than loyalty, and rebellious Beta Israel leaders often formed alliances with other enemies of the Emperor despite differing faiths. The late 14th century Christian monk Qozmos, for instance, copied the Orit (Old Testament) for the Beta Israel communities and led them against local Christians before being defeated by Emperor Dawit I. Likewise, the governor of Tsellemt used both Jewish and Christian troops in a revolt of the 15th century. The first personal campaign against rebelling Beta Israel areas didn't come until the reign of Emperor Yeshaq (r.1414-29), however. It was with his defeat of the governors of Semien and Dembiya that religious pressure began, as well as the conferral of lower social status upon Jews. Yeshaq forced them to convert or lose their land (which would be given away as rist, a type of land qualification that rendered it forever inheritable by the recipient and not transferrable by the Emperor), decreeing "He who is baptized in the Christian religion may inherit the land of his father, otherwise let him be a Falash" possibly the origin for the term "Falasha" (Falash, "wanderer," or "landless person"). Some of the worst massacres, attacks and forced conversions of the Christian kingdom occurred in the 1400s, under Emperor Zara Yaqob, who even added the title "Exterminator of the Jews" to his name.

In the 15th century, Abba Sabra, an archbishop of Coptic Christianity, chaplain of the court and tutor to the heir to the throne, converted to Judaism and fled with the heir and with his priestly disciples to the Jewish vassal kingdom of Gondar. He and his followers were warmly received by Gondar's rulers and were allowed to continue their monastic life as Jews, settling near to Jewish villages and continuing to study sacred texts, so that they and those they won to their way of life became in subsequent generations learned celibate Jewish monks or hermits supported by local villagers, leading lives of prayer and study. Together with the priests who led ceremonies (who were not of any priestly lineage but were chosen for aptitude from village children), the monks maintained Jewish learning and traditions.

1624 marked the end of Beta Israel autonomy in Ethiopia, when Emperor Susenyos confiscated their lands, selling many into slavery and forcibly baptizing others. Their writings and religious books were burned and the practice of any form of Jewish religion was forbidden in Ethiopia] A great deal of traditional Jewish culture and practice was lost or changed as a result of this period of oppression. Nevertheless, the Beta Israel appear to have flourished, during this period, due to the presence of the capital of Ethiopia, Gonder, in Dembiya, surrounded by Beta Israel lands. They served as craftsmen, masons, and carpenters for the Emperors from the 16th century onwards, roles that were typically shunned as lowly and unhonorable as compared to farming. According to accounts by European visitors of that time, Portuguese merchants and diplomats, French, British and other travellers. These accounts also testify that some knowledge of Hebrew remained even in the 17th century. For example, Manoel de Almeida, a Portuguese diplomat and traveller of the day, writes that: "The Falashas or Jews are ... of [Arabic] race [and speak] Hebrew, though it is very corrupt. They have their Hebrew Bibles and sing the psalms in their synagogues."

Nubia

Today Nubia is the region in the south of Egypt, along the Nile and in northern Sudan, but in ancient times it was an independent kingdom. Most of Nubia is situated in Sudan with about a quarter of its territory in Egypt.

Early History

In 2300 BC, Nubia was first mentioned in Old Kingdom Egyptian accounts of trade missions. From Aswan, right above the First Cataract, southern limit of Egyptian control at the time, Egyptians imported gold, incense, ebony, ivory, and exotic animals from tropical Africa through Nubia. As trade between Egypt and Nubia increased so did wealth and stability. By the Egyptian 6th dynasty, Nubia was divided into a series of small kingdoms. There is debate over whether these C-Group peoples, who flourished from c. 2240 BC to c. 2150 BC, were another internal evolution or invaders. There are definite similarities between the pottery of A-Group and C-Group, so it may be a return of the ousted Group-As, or an internal revival of lost arts. At this time, the Sahara Desert was becoming too arid to support human beings, and it is possible that there was a sudden influx of Saharan nomads. C-Group pottery is characterized by all-over incised geometric lines with white infill and impressed imitations of basketry.
During the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040-1640 BC), Egypt began expanding into Nubia to gain more control over the trade routes in Northern Nubia and to gain direct access to trade with Southern Nubia. They erected a chain of forts down the Nile below the Second Cataract. These garrisons seemed to have peaceful relations with the local Nubian people but little interaction during the period.

A contemporaneous but distinct culture from the C-Group was the Pan Grave culture, so called because of their shallow graves. The Pan Graves are associated with the East bank of the Nile, but the Pan Graves and C-Group definitely interacted. Their pottery is characterized by incised lines of a more limited character than those of the C-Group, generally having interspersed undecorated spaces within the geometric scheme.

From the C-Group culture, the first kingdom to unify much of the region arose, the Kingdom of Kerma, named for its presumed capital at Kerma, one of the earliest urban centers in tropical Africa. By 1750 BC, the kings of Kerma were powerful enough to organize the labor for monumental walls and structures of mud brick, and had rich tombs with possessions for the afterlife and large human sacrifices. The craftsmen were skilled in metalworking and their pottery surpassed in skill that of Egypt. When Egyptian power revived under the New Kingdom (c.1532-1070 BC) they began to expand further southwards. Destroying the kingdom and capital of Kerma they expanded to the Fourth Cataract. By the end of the reign of Thutmose I in 1520 BC, all of northern Nubia had been annexed. They built a new administrative center at Napata, and used the area to produce gold which made Egypt the prime source of gold in the Middle East

When the Egyptians pulled out, they left a lasting legacy that was merged with indigenous customs forming the kingdom of Kush. Kush adopted many Egyptian practices such as their religion and the practice of building pyramids. The kingdom of Kush survived longer than that of Egypt, even invading and controlling Egypt itself for a period (the Kushite dynasty) in the 8th century BC. Kush was never annexed by the Romans. The Kushites did trade with the Romans, and were also a source of mercenaries.

During this time, the different parts of the region divided into smaller groups with individual leaders, or generals, each commanding small armies of mercenaries. They fought for control of what is now Nubia and its surrounding territories, leaving the entire region weak and vulnerable to attack.

At some point, Kush was conquered by the Noba people, from which the name Nubia may derive (another possibility is that it comes from Nub, the Egyptian word for gold). From then on, the Romans referred to the area as the Nobatae. Indeed, recent studies in population genetics suggest that there was a south-north gene flow through the Nile Valley. Similarly, linguistic evidence suggests that the Nubians from the Nile Valley originally came from the south or southwest. Historical comparative research into the Nubian language group has indicated that the Nile-Nubian languages must have split off from the Nubian languages still spoken in the Nuba Mountains in Kordofan, Sudan, at least 2500 years ago.

Christian Nubia

Around AD 350 the area was invaded by the Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum and the kingdom collapsed. Eventually three smaller kingdoms replaced it: northernmost was Nobatia between the first and second cataract of the Nile River, with its capital at Pachoras (modern day Faras); in the middle was Makuria, with its capital at Old Dongola; and southernmost was Alodia, with its capital at Soba (near Khartoum). King Silko of Nobatia crushed the Blemmyes, and recorded his victory in a Greek inscription carved in the wall of the temple of Talmis (modern Kalabsha) around AD 500.

While bishop Athanasius of Alexandria consecrated one Marcus as bishop of Philae before his death in 373, showing that Christianity had penetrated the region by the fourth century, John of Ephesus records that a Monophysite priest named Julian converted the king and his nobles of Nobatia around 545. John of Ephesus also writes that the kingdom of Alodia was converted around 569. However, John of Bisclorum records that the kingdom of Makuria was converted to Roman Catholicism the same year, suggesting that John of Ephesus might be mistaken. Further doubt is cast on John's testimony by an entry in the chronicle of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria Eutychius, which states that in 719 the church of Nubia transferred its allegiance from the Greek Orthodox to the Coptic Church.

By the 7th century Makuria expanded becoming the dominant power in the region. It was strong enough to halt the southern expansion of Islam after the Arabs had taken Egypt. After several failed invasions the new rulers agreed to a treaty with Dongola allowing for peaceful coexistence and trade. This treaty held for six hundred years. Over time the influx of Arab traders introduced Islam to Nubia and it gradually supplanted Christianity. While there are records of a bishop at Qasr Ibrim in 1372, his see had come to include that located at Faras. It is also clear that the "Royal" church at Dongola had been converted to a mosque around 1350.

Somalilands (Djibouti, Somalia)

Most historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, and other researchers believe that the modern Somalis are descendants of migrants from the northwest in what is today Ethiopia, while others support theories that include an indigenous origin for most Somalis. The Somalis, as a Cushitic-speaking people form a part of a diverse continuum of the larger Afro-Asiatic peoples, but do bear close ties to other Eastern Cushitic peoples including the Oromo, Afar, and Sidama.
Numerous old theories regarding origins in Arabia and other places, in part based upon local beliefs, have largely been discarded as increasing evidence now supports a more indigenous Somali existence in the region that can be traced back to the 1st millennium BCE. The ancient ancestors of the Somali people appear to have split off from an early Cushitic group, whose geographic origins remain largely speculative, and are referred to as the Sam who were themselves a sub-type of the Omo-Tana and are believed to have lived in an area roughly corresponding to modern northern Kenya and southern Somalia over 2,000 years ago. These proto-Sam peoples evolved into the bulk of the Somalis as the Sam transitioned into Somaal and later the Somali people. The Somali people are believed to have moved into the Zeila region by at least 750 CE and then expanded into all of what is today Somalia by displacing the Oromo.
It's very likely that Somalis were already influenced with Islam through a small group of persecuted muslims who settled in parts of East Africa during the time when the Great Ethiopian Emperor Amrah of Aksum gave sanctuary to the Prophet's followers, but it wasn't until the coming of Arab traders in the 10th century CE that would significantly shape much of modern Somali culture. Trading communities that were already present since the first century AD according to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea began to trade with the Arabian Peninsula and it significantly altered Somali society as the vast majority converted to Islam. Arabic culture greatly influenced the Somalis as their language borrowed a significant amount of Arabic vocabulary and came to be written using Arabic script. Due to the conversion of the Somalis to Islam, conflict with the neighboring Christians of Ethiopia led to numerous wars from the 13th to the 16th century. After the Somali Ajuuraan Dynasty collapsed in the 18th century Omani rule started as a trade network spanning much of the Arabian Sea from Zanzibar to Arabia making Somalia an important center of early trade. In-spite of Arab rule along the coast, the Somali tribes of the interior exercised almost total independence and often raided the coastal settlements until the Arabs began to withdraw by the 19th century. Egypt and Britain both attempted to colonize Somalia with the British having been successful in forming a protectorate over northern Somaliland. Italy later claimed the southern portions of Somalia.

Eritrea

The oldest written source of the territory currently known as Eritrea is the chronicled expedition launched to the fabled Punt (or "Ta Netjeru," meaning land of the Gods) by the Ancient Egyptians in the 25th century BC under Pharao Sahure[5]. Later sources from the Pharao Hatshepsut in the 15th century BC present a more detailed portrayal of an expedition in search of incense. The geographical location of the missions to Punt is described as roughly corresponding to the southern west coast of the Red Sea.

The earliest evidence of agricultural settlement, urbanism, trade and agriculture is found in the region inhabited by people dating back to 3500 BC in the archaeological sites called the Gash group. Based on the archaeological evidence, there seems to have been a connection between the peoples of the Gash group and the civilizations of the Nile Valley namely Ancient Egypt and Nubia.[8] Ancient Egyptian sources also give references to cities and trading posts along the southwestern Red Sea coast, roughly corresponding to modern day Eritrea, calling this the land of Punt famed for its incense. Expeditions to this very land were launched by the Ancient Egyptians as early as the 25th century BC and were chronicled in detail.

In the highlands, in one of the capital city Asmara's suburbs Sembel at the mouth of the river Anseba, another site was found from the 9th century BC of another agricultural and urban settlement which traded both with the Sabeans across the Red Sea and with the civilizations of the Nile Valley further west along caravan routes that followed the Anseba River. Around this time, several cities with a high amount of Sabean remains (inscriptions, artifacts, monuments, architecture etc) seem to emerge in the central highlands and along the central coast including one called Saba. Some are undoubtedly built on top of older sites.

Around the 8th century BC, a kingdom known as D'mt was established in what is today northern Ethiopia and Eritrea, with its capital at Yeha in northern Ethiopia and which had extensive relations with the Sabeans in present day Yemen across the Red Sea. After D'mt's decline around the 5th century BC, the state of Aksum arose in the northern Abyssinian plateau. It grew during the 4th century BC and came into prominence during the first century AD, minting its own coins by the 3rd century, converting in the 4th century to Christianity, as the second official Christian state (after Armenia) and the first country to feature the cross on its coins. According to Mani, it grew to be one of the four greatest civilizations in the world, on a par with China, Persia, and Rome. In the 7th century AD; with the advent of Islam across the Red Sea in Arabia, Aksum's trade and power on the Red Sea began to decline and the center moved farther inland to the highlands of what is today Ethiopia and the state was eventually defeated by Islamic as well as other internal forces circa 850 or 950 AD

During the medieval period, contemporary with and following the disintegration of the Axumite state, several states as well as tribal and clan lands emerged in the area known today as Eritrea. Between the 8th and 13th century, northern and western Eritrea had largely come under the domination of the Beja, an Islamic, Cushitic people from northeastern Sudan. They formed five independent kingdoms known as: Naqis, Baqlin, Bazin, Jarin and Qata. The Beja brought Islam to large parts of Eritrea and connected the region to the greater Islamic world dominated by the Ummayad Caliphate, followed by the Abbasid (and Mamluk) and later the Ottoman Empire. The Ummayads were already in direct possession of small stretches of the Eritrean coastline and the Dahlak archipelago by the 8th century. The Beja imposed themselves as rulers but did not impose their cushitic language or culture on their subjects but rather adopted the local Ge'ez based language. This language evolved over time into the Tigre language which to this day is the lingua franca of the predominantly Muslim lowlands and northern coast of Eritrea. Later, in the 15th and 16th centuries, northern Eritrea and its coastline were taken over completely by the Ottomans who were to remain there for over 300 years and govern it from the port of Massawa. Meanwhile, the central highlands and adjacent coastline became the site of a Christian Kingdom called Midre Bahri or Midre Bahr meaning sea-land in Tigrinya and Tigre respectively, and ruled by the Bahr Negash or Bahr negus (meaning king of the sea) that was loosely affiliated with the Abyssinian kingdoms of the south (but at times also became involved in conflict with them in alliance with the Ottomans). The domain of the kingdom was for most of its history restricted to north of the perennial river Mareb and which still serves as a natural boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia today. The other Abyssinian kingdoms south of the river therefor commonly referred to Midre Bahri as Mareb Mellash meaning 'beyond Mareb' (in the Amharic language of the Amhara who had come to dominate Abyssinia since the 13th century). The feudal authority of the Bahr Negash later waned and was replaced by a Republic known as Hamasien, which was based on a land-owning peasantry (citizenry) in the central highlands who ruled by elders councils or shimagile and maintained it's entire young and able male population as a standing army. The southern coastline meanwhile was populated by the Afar and Saho speaking Islamic chiefdoms or clan lands which by the 16th century had evolved into the centralized Adal Sultanate (along with territories currently in eastern Ethiopia, Djibouti and Northern Somalia).

An Ottoman invading force under Suleiman I conquered Massawa in 1577, building what is now considered the 'old town' of Massawa on Batsi island. They also conquered the towns of Hergigo, and Debarwa, the capital city of the contemporary Bahr negus (ruler), Yeshaq. Suleiman's forces fought as far south as southeastern Tigray before being repulsed. Yeshaq was able to retake much of what the Ottomans captured with Abyssinian (Ethiopian) assistance, but he later twice revolted against the Emperor of Abyssinia with Ottoman support in an attempt to take the Abyssinian throne. By 1578, all revolts had ended, leaving the Ottomans in control of the important ports of Massawa and Hergigo and their environs, and leaving the province of Habesh to Beja Na'ibs (deputies). The Ottomans maintained their dominion over the northern coastal areas for nearly 300 years. Their possessions were left to their Egyptian heirs in 1865 and were taken over by the Italians in 1885.

Originally posted to dopper0189 on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 06:17 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Nicely done! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Floja Roja, curmudgiana, vox humana

      Tho I could've been proactive in terrypinder's diary and simply clicked your name to find it, I decided it was more fun to poke ya and call you a nut over there so I could get a link over here and Rec you up without a lot of effort.

      :)

      Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
        Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
      Tempest even in reason's seat.

      by GreyHawk on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 06:59:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  NEEDS TO BE UP ON THE REC LIST (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, Floja Roja, vox humana

    come on folks!

    ok now i'm going back to read in depth now!

  •  Can anyone tell how to pronounce (0+ / 0-)

    "Djibouti"? Please tell me it's not "jih-booty".

    Current House tally: 233 Democrats, 202 Republicans. Kudos to Ciro Rodriguez for putting the icing on a wonderful election year cake.

    by Nathaniel Ament Stone on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 07:12:17 PM PST

  •  Ethiopia isn't a "Christian nation" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, curmudgiana, vox humana

    I posted this comment on another diary, but I'll just repeat myself.

    It's more than a little misleading to describe Ethiopia as a "Christian nation".  Figures differ but all of the figures put the Muslim population above 30%.  Furthermore, there has been official separation of church and state since 1974.  No ethnic group in Ethiopia accounts for more than a third of the population.  The Oromo and Amhara are the two biggest groups.

    One problem with a lot of stuff written about Ethiopia it completely or partly ignores the non-Semitic speaking and non-Tewahedo citizens of Ethiopia.  Referring to Abyssinia is one such thing because the cognate term Habesha only refers to the Semitic-speaking (predominantly Christian) Ethiopians and ignores the other people who live in the modern Ethiopia.

    •  I added a part about Rastafarians (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreyHawk, curmudgiana, vox humana

      I also added a part about one of the Prophet Muhammad companions being Ethiopians. I also should have made a distiction between the rulers of Ethiopia who often see themselves as the bastion of East African Christianity and the people of Ethiopia.

      Also like much of Africa Ethiopia is a country made of several large ethnic groups, so your point is well taken about generalizing.

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power"

      by dopper0189 on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 07:38:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ethiopia is also the birth place of coffee (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreyHawk

      Legends say a goat herder saw his goats eat the bean, and get energized. In a way coffee drinking is a morning ritual so maybe I should have included this part too!

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power"

      by dopper0189 on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 07:45:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Saying that helps! (0+ / 0-)

      Since we are in a 'war against Islam' and because we don't fancy the 'Islamic Courts' of Somalia, so calling Ethiopia a 'Christian' nation helps rally the minds and focus on our anti-Muslim message, just as our war on discredited 'equal opportunity' helps us to maintain our inner racism.

      Onward Christian soldiers...
      The Crisades are coming back again.

  •  Fascinating! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, dopper0189

    You did not mention the Falashmura.  How do they fit in to the history?

    •  Falashmura (4+ / 0-)

      Are actual Beta Israel (Ethiopian jews) who converted to Christianity and then reconverted to Judaism in recent times. The fact that they are Jewish has been backed up by DNA evidence, otherwise the conversion would not let many of the immigrate to Israel.  They are considered to be part of the lost tribe of Dan. Some Jewsih Rabis think they are decendents of Jews from Yemen when Ethiopian ruled that land (forgive me I can't remember how to spell Jews of Yemenese ancestry). There are about 90,000 Beta Israel and I think about 85% have left Ethiopia for Israel.  I tend to believe the Yemenese story due to the large Jewish population at the time, but King Solomon did have "contact" there also (The Queen of Sheba) so who knows?

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power"

      by dopper0189 on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 07:54:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Jews were persecuted their too, I will add this (4+ / 0-)

        The first relatively certain reference to the Beta Israel, however, comes only in the early 14th century during the reign of Amda Seyon (r.1314-44). During his reign he sent troops to fight people "like Jews"  It is these regions that would later go on to be areas of frequent Beta Israel rebellion against the Solomonic dynasty for the next three centuries. During this time period, however, religion was less important to the Emperors than loyalty, and rebellious Beta Israel leaders often formed alliances with other enemies of the Emperor despite differing faiths. The late 14th century Christian monk Qozmos, for instance, copied the Orit (Old Testament) for the Beta Israel communities and led them against local Christians before being defeated by Emperor Dawit I. Likewise, the governor of Tsellemt used both Jewish and Christian troops in a revolt of the 15th century. The first personal campaign against rebelling Beta Israel areas didn't come until the reign of Emperor Yeshaq (r.1414-29), however. It was with his defeat of the governors of Semien and Dembiya that religious pressure began, as well as the conferral of lower social status upon Jews. Yeshaq forced them to convert or lose their land (which would be given away as rist, a type of land qualification that rendered it forever inheritable by the recipient and not transferrable by the Emperor), decreeing "He who is baptized in the Christian religion may inherit the land of his father, otherwise let him be a Falash" possibly the origin for the term "Falasha" (Falash, "wanderer," or "landless person"). Some of the worst massacres, attacks and forced conversions of the Christian kingdom occurred in the 1400s, under Emperor Zara Yaqob, who even added the title "Exterminator of the Jews" to his name.

        In the 15th century, Abba Sabra, an archbishop of Coptic Christianity, chaplain of the court and tutor to the heir to the throne, converted to Judaism and fled with the heir and with his priestly disciples to the Jewish vassal kingdom of Gondar. He and his followers were warmly received by Gondar's rulers and were allowed to continue their monastic life as Jews, settling near to Jewish villages and continuing to study sacred texts, so that they and those they won to their way of life became in subsequent generations learned celibate Jewish monks or hermits supported by local villagers, leading lives of prayer and study. Together with the priests who led ceremonies (who were not of any priestly lineage but were chosen for aptitude from village children), the monks maintained Jewish learning and traditions.

        1624 marked the end of Beta Israel autonomy in Ethiopia, when Emperor Susenyos confiscated their lands, selling many into slavery and forcibly baptizing others. Their writings and religious books were burned and the practice of any form of Jewish religion was forbidden in Ethiopia] A great deal of traditional Jewish culture and practice was lost or changed as a result of this period of oppression. Nevertheless, the Beta Israel appear to have flourished, during this period, due to the presence of the capital of Ethiopia, Gonder, in Dembiya, surrounded by Beta Israel lands. They served as craftsmen, masons, and carpenters for the Emperors from the 16th century onwards, roles that were typically shunned as lowly and unhonorable as compared to farming. According to accounts by European visitors of that time, Portuguese merchants and diplomats, French, British and other travellers. These accounts also testify that some knowledge of Hebrew remained even in the 17th century. For example, Manoel de Almeida, a Portuguese diplomat and traveller of the day, writes that: "The Falashas or Jews are ... of [Arabic] race [and speak] Hebrew, though it is very corrupt. They have their Hebrew Bibles and sing the psalms in their synagogues."

        -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power"

        by dopper0189 on Thu Dec 28, 2006 at 08:06:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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