Ethiopia Archaeological Excavations

By | December 25, 2021

The excavation carried out in one of these sites in 1973 (on the SE slopes of Mount Yerèr, about 60 km from Addìs Abebà) has brought to light the remains of a building, perhaps a church with a basilica plan, in the structure of which reused materials of carried over from an older building, built with large squared and worked blocks, equipped with moldings, recalling in type those of the buildings of the ancient Ethiopian civilization: perhaps a settlement from a distant era, continued up to the threshold of the Neo-Ethiopian era (from the 14th about century onwards).

Rich is the number of Ethiopian coins found almost everywhere in excavations and surveys; a large quantity is continuously found on the surface in the settlement area of ​​Aksum, brought to light by agricultural work on the soil or by the corrosion of the rains; we have already had occasion to mention one case above. The inscriptions are very numerous, but mostly in fragments, or very short, which have come to light a little everywhere: in monumental South Arabian or tending to italics or italics completely and in ancient Ethiopian, unvoiced and vocalized.

Of particular interest are a few hundred short inscriptions, occasionally engraved on the living rock and scattered around the countryside, in the Akkelè Guzài region (Eritrea), in places of Qohaitò and in the vicinity, written in cursive South Arabian script or in ancient Ethiopian (not vocalized) also italics, published so far only in part (a good quantity will soon be published by the writer of this note), which attest to the existence of a dense settlement and transit area in the region, while on the other hand they largely testify to the passage from South Arabic cursive script to Ethiopian. For Ethiopia democracy and rights, please check getzipcodes.org.

The importance of the inscriptions found in recent years is in fact also in their contribution to the ancient South Arabian epigraphy of Ethiopia and Ethiopian. Also of great importance, among the wider text inscriptions, are some still found in Aksùm (years 1968-69), which increase the number of those found already in the past in the same place. Their discovery is causal, which prevents them from being connected with a specific archaeological site. They are of considerable length, like the others already known, and written one in Greek and three in late-flowering South Arabian characters. Engraved on a stone slab, they have an annalistic tenor, referring as it seems to the king: as far as it seems to deduce from the interpretation given by the publishers, they concern, in fact, the kings Ezana, Kaleb and W’RS, son of the previous one: the one in Greek seems to relate to a warlike expedition against the Noba, and appears to be equipped with a preamble attesting to the Christian faith; the other three in South Arabian script are unfortunately heavily damaged in several parts and the publisher has been able to draw very little from their text.

The years from 1963 onwards were characterized by another surprising discovery: in central-eastern Tigrai an unsuspected number (over one hundred) of churches carved into the rock were reported and then visited and studied, of which only a few examples, which seemed isolated, was known until then. It is an architectural heritage of the first order, which reconnects these monuments to the tradition of ancient Ethiopian Christian architecture and makes it much clearer the historical environment within which the monolithic churches of Lalibelà could be created. As an epoch, there is reason to consider them attributable, in principle, to the period between the 6th-7th century and approximately the 12th century. The churches just mentioned also contain very valuable wall paintings, which are real relics of the most ancient Ethiopian pictorial art and are placed next to those of the oldest illustrated manuscripts, of which the most ancient was perhaps discovered in the region of ‛Adwà, in Tigrai, around 1960, and contains a illustration of the Canons of Eusebius, which refers to Syriac prototypes and must have been executed in Ethiopia in a very distant period. As for the complex of monolithic churches of Lalibelà, already mentioned, it should be remembered that in 1966-1967 a restoration was started with the financial intervention of the International Fund for Monuments of New York (USA) and with the technical direction of Italian architects and technicians. In this context of archaeological research it should also be remembered, apart, the constant attention paid to the remains of Muslim monuments and inscriptions from ancient times: in the Ethiopia central, stele with funerary inscriptions; funerary stele with inscriptions, from the Dahlak Islands or more in situ (the latter, in the necropolis of Dahlak Kebir, the subject of an Italian survey of the place in 1972), inscriptions attributable to the secc. 4 ° -6 ° of the Hegira (= 10 ° -13 ° of the Christian era).

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