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History of Ethiopia

History of Ethiopia

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This article covers the prehistory
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 and history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

.

Prehistory


Lucy
Lucy (Australopithecus)
Lucy is the common name of AL 288-1, several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis. The specimen was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression. Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years...

, discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar
Afar Region
Afar is one of the nine ethnic divisions of Ethiopia, and is the homeland of the Afar people. Formerly known as Region 2, its current capital is Asayita; a new capital named Semera on the paved Awash - Asseb highway is under construction....

 region, is considered the world's second-oldest, but most complete and best preserved, adult Australopithecine
Australopithecus
Australopithecus is a genus of hominids that is now extinct. From the evidence gathered by palaeontologists and archaeologists, it appears that the Australopithecus genus evolved in eastern Africa around 4 million years ago before spreading throughout the continent and eventually becoming extinct...

 fossil. Lucy's taxonomic name, Australopithecus afarensis
Australopithecus afarensis
Australopithecus afarensis is an extinct hominid that lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago. A. afarensis was slenderly built, like the younger Australopithecus africanus. It is thought that A...

, means 'southern ape of Afar', and refers to the Ethiopian region where the discovery was made. Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago. There have been many other notable fossil findings in the country, including another early hominin, Ardipithicus ramidus
Ardipithecus
Ardipithecus is a very early hominin genus. Two species are described in the literature: A. ramidus, which lived about 4.4 million years ago during the early Pliocene, and A. kadabba, dated to approximately 5.6 million years ago ....

(Ardi
Ardi
Ardi is the designation of the fossilized skeletal remains of a female Ardipithecus ramidus, an early human-like species 4.4 million years old...

).

East Africa, and more specifically the general area of Ethiopia, is widely considered the site of the emergence of early Homo sapiens in the Middle Paleolithic
Middle Paleolithic
The Middle Paleolithic is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. The Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age...

.
Homo sapiens idaltu
Homo sapiens idaltu
Homo sapiens idaltu is an extinct subspecies of Homo sapiens that lived almost 160,000 years ago in Pleistocene Africa. is from the Saho-Afar word meaning "elder or first born"....

, found at site Middle Awash
Middle Awash
The Middle Awash is an archaeological site along the Awash River in Ethiopia's Afar Depression. A number of Pleistocene and late Miocene hominid remains have been found at the site, along with some of the oldest known Olduwan stone artifacts and patches of fire-baked clay, disputed evidence of the...

 in Ethiopia, lived about 160,000 years ago.

Bronze Age contacts with Egypt


The earliest records of Ethiopia appear in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, during the Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

 period.
Egyptian traders from about 3000 BC who refer to lands south of Nubia or Cush as Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

 and Yam.
The Ancient Egyptians were in possession of myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

 (found in Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

) as early as the First or Second Dynasties, which Richard Pankhurst
Richard Pankhurst (academic)
Richard Keir Pethick Pankhurst OBE is a British academic with expertise in the study of Ethiopia.-Early life and education:...

 interprets to indicate trade between the two countries extant from the beginning of Ancient Egypt's beginnings. J. H. Breasted posited that this early trade relationship could have been realized through overland trade down the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 and its tributaries (i.e. the Blue Nile
Blue Nile
The Blue Nile is a river originating at Lake Tana in Ethiopia. With the White Nile, the river is one of the two major tributaries of the Nile...

 and Atbara). The Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 and geographer
Geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

 Agatharchides
Agatharchides
Agatharchides of Cnidus was a Greek historian and geographer .-Life:He is believed to have been born at Cnidus, hence his appellation. As Stanley M...

 had documented sea-faring among the early Egyptians
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

: "During the prosperous period of the Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

, between the 30th
30th century BC
The 30th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 3000 BC to 2901 BC.-Events:* Before 3000 BC: Image of a deity, detail from a cong recovered from Tomb 12, Fanshan, Yuyao, Zhejiang, is made. Neolithic period. Liangzhu culture...

 and 25th centuries B. C.
25th century BC
The 25th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 2500 BCE to 2401 BCE.-Events:*c. 2900 BCE – 2334 BCE: Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period.*c. 2500 BCE: Rice was first introduced to Malaysia...

, the river-routes were kept in order, and Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s sailed the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 as far as the myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

-country."

The first known voyage to Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

 occurred in the 25th century BC under the reign of Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 Sahure
Sahure
- Etymology :Sahure's birth name means "He who is Close to Re". His Horus name was Nebkhau.- Biography :Sahure was a son of queen Neferhetepes, as shown in scenes from the causeway of Sahure's pyramid complex in Abusir. His father was Userkaf. Sahure's consort was queen Neferetnebty. Reliefs show...

. The most famous expedition to Punt, however, comes during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut also Hatchepsut; meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies;1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt...

 probably around 1495 BC, as the expedition was recorded in detailed reliefs on the temple of Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahari or Deir el-Bahri is a complex of mortuary temples and tombs located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the city of Luxor, Egypt....

 at Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

. The inscriptions depict a trading group bringing back myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

 trees, sacks of myrrh, elephant tusks, incense, gold, various fragmented wood, and exotic animals. Detailed information about these two nations is sparse, and there are many theories concerning their locations and the ethnic relationship of their peoples. The Egyptians sometimes called Punt land Ta-Netjeru, meaning "Land of the Gods," and considered it their place of origin.
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica states the connection between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Ethiopia is at least as early as the Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt
Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Third Intermediate Period.-Rulers:...

 was very intimate, and beginning with Piye
Piye
Piye, was a Kushite king and founder of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt from 747 BCE to 716 BCE according to Peter Clayton. He ruled from the city of Napata, located deep in Nubia, Sudan...

, a ruler of the Twenty-fifth dynasty
Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
The twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt....

, occasionally the two countries were under the same ruler. The capital of these two dynasties, however, was in the north of modern Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, at Napata
Napata
Napata was a city-state of ancient Nubia on the west bank of the Nile River, at the site of modern Karima, Northern Sudan.During the 8th to 7th centuries BC, Napata was the capital of the Nubian kingdom of Kush, whence the 25th, or Nubian Dynasty conquered Egypt...

.

Evidence of Naqada
Naqada
Naqada is a town on the west bank of the Nile in the Egyptian governorate of Qena. It was known in Ancient Egypt as Nubt and in classical antiquity as Ombos. Its name derives from ancient Egyptian nub, meaning gold, on account of the proximity of gold mines in the Eastern Desert.Naqada comprises...

n contacts include obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

 from Ethiopia and the Aegean
Aegean civilization
Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea. There are three distinct but communicating and interacting geographic regions covered by this term: Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland. Crete is associated with the Minoan civilization...

.

Classical Antiquity



There is some confusion over the usage of the word Ethiopia in ancient times and the modern country.

For example, many ancient maps of Africa, which appeared approximately at the time of the European Age of Discovery, named the continent of Africa as Aethiopia, also naming what we now call the Atlantic Ocean, as Oceanus Aethopicus.

Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 historians such as Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 and Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 used the word Aethiopia (Αιθιοπία) to refer to the peoples living immediately to the south of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, specifically the area now known as the ancient Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

, now a part of modern Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

, as well as all of Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 in general. However, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 (79 CE) uses "Aethiopia" exclusively for Sub-Saharan Africa, expressly stating that the inhabitants of the Upper Nile from Elephantine
Elephantine
Elephantine is an island in the River Nile, located just downstream of the First Cataract at the southern border of Ancient Egypt. This region is referred to as Upper Egypt because the land is higher than that near the Mediterranean coast. The island may have received its name because it was a...

 as far as Meroe
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

 in his day were not from Aethiopia, but were "Arabs". Pliny also described Adulis
Adulis
Adulis or Aduli is an archeological site in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea, about 30 miles south of Massawa. It was the port of the Kingdom of Aksum, located on the coast of the Red Sea. Adulis Bay is named after the port...

, which port he said was the Ethiopians' principal trading town. The opinion of the ancient writers on the Egyptians is more or less summed up by French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero though, in The Dawn of Civilization (1894), when he says, "By the almost unanimous testimony of ancient historians, they [the Egyptians] belong to an African race which first settled in Ethiopia on the Middle Nile: following the course of the river they gradually reached the sea"; this showing that the empire did stretch into the Lower Nile region and eventually developed into the Egyptian empire.

It is now known that in ancient times the name Ethiopia was used to refer to the nation based in the upper Nile valley south of Egypt, also called Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

, which in the 4th century CE was invaded by the Axum from the highlands close to the Red Sea. Reference to the Kingdom of Aksum designated as Ethiopia dates as far back as the first half of 4th century since inscription of Ezana Habashat (the source for "Abyssinia") in Ge'ez
Ge'ez language
Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

, South Arabian alphabet
South Arabian alphabet
The ancient Yemeni alphabet branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in about the 9th century BC. It was used for writing the Yemeni Old South Arabic languages of the Sabaean, Qatabanian, Hadramautic, Minaean, Himyarite, and proto-Ge'ez in Dʿmt...

, is translated in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 as "Aethiopia".

The state of Sheba
Sheba
Sheba was a kingdom mentioned in the Jewish scriptures and the Qur'an...

 mentioned in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 is sometimes believed to have been in Ethiopia, but more often is placed in Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

. According to the Ethiopian legend, best represented in the Kebra Negest, the Queen of Sheba was tricked by King Solomon into sleeping with him, resulting in a child, named Ebn Melek (later Emperor Menelik I
Menelik I
Menelik I , first Jewish Emperor of Ethiopia, is traditionally believed to be the son of King Solomon of ancient Israel and Makeda, ancient Ethiopia Queen of Sheba. He ruled around 950 BC, according to traditional sources...

). When he was of age, Menelik returned to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 to see his father, who sent with him the son of Zadok
Zadok (High Priest)
Zadok , was a priest descended from Eleazar the son of Aaron, who aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom, and was consequently instrumental in bringing King Solomon to throne...

 to accompany him with a replica of the Ark of the Covenant (Ethiosemitic: tabot
Tabot
Tabot , is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant...

). On his return with some of the Israelite priests, however, he found that Zadok's son had stolen the real Ark of the Covenant. Some believe the Ark is still being preserved today at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
The Church of Our Virgin Mary of Zion of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the most important church in Ethiopia...

 in Axum, Ethiopia. The tradition that the biblical Queen of Sheba was a ruler of Ethiopia who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem in ancient Israel is supported by the 1st century AD Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who identified Solomon’s visitor as a queen of Egypt and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is frequently mentioned in the Bible. An example of this is the story of the Ethiopian eunuch
Ethiopian eunuch
The Ethiopian eunuch is a figure in the New Testament of the Bible. The story of his conversion to Christianity is recounted in Acts 8.-Biblical narrative:...

 as written in Acts, Chapter 8, verse 27: "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." The passage continues by describing how Philip helped the Ethiopian understand one passage of Isaiah that the Ethiopian was reading. After the Ethiopian received an explanation of the passage and came to believe in Jesus as the "Son of God", he requested that Philip baptize him, which Philip obliged. Queen Gersamot Hendeke VII (very similar to Kandake) was the Queen of Ethiopia from the year 42 to 52. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded in the 4th century by Syrian monks.

Kingdom of Axum



The first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia was that of Axum in the 1st century AD. It was one of many successor kingdoms to Dʿmt and was able to unite the northern Ethiopian plateau
Ethiopian Highlands
The Ethiopian Highlands are a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia, Eritrea , and northern Somalia in the Horn of Africa...

 beginning around the 1st century BC. They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. The Persia
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

n religious figure Mani
Mani (prophet)
Mani , of Iranian origin was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity which was once widespread but is now extinct...

 listed Axum with Rome
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Persia, and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 as one of the four great powers of his time. The origins of the Axumite Kingdom are unclear, although experts have offered their speculations about it. Even whom should be considered the earliest known king is contested: although C. Conti Rossini proposed that Zoskales
Zoskales
Zoskales was a king in the Horn of Africa, whose realm is thought to include Axum.The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions him as ruler of the port of Adulis, whose territory extended "from the Moschophagoi ['calf-eaters'] to the rest of Barbaria .....

 of Axum, mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea is a Greco-Roman periplus, written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and India...

, should be identified with one Za Haqle mentioned in the Ethiopian King Lists (a view embraced by later historians of Ethiopia such as Yuri M. Kobishchanov and Sergew Hable Sellasie), G.W.B. Huntingford argued that Zoskales was only a sub-king whose authority was limited to Adulis
Adulis
Adulis or Aduli is an archeological site in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea, about 30 miles south of Massawa. It was the port of the Kingdom of Aksum, located on the coast of the Red Sea. Adulis Bay is named after the port...

, and that Conti Rossini's identification can not be substantiated.

Inscriptions have been found in southern Arabia celebrating victories over one GDRT
GDRT
GDRT was a king of the Kingdom of Aksum , known for being the first king to involve Axum in the affairs of what is now Yemen. He is known primarily from inscriptions in South Arabia that mention him and his son BYGT...

, described as "nagashi of Habashat
Habesha people
The term Habesha ābešā, Ḥābešā; al-Ḥabašah) refers to the South Semitic-speaking group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to those people who ruled the Axumite Empire and the kingdom known as DʿMT .Peoples referred to as "Habesha" today...

 [i.e. Abyssinia] and of Axum." Other dated inscriptions are used to determine a floruit for GDRT (interpreted as representing a Ge'ez name such as Gadarat, Gedur, Gadurat or Gedara) around the beginning of the 3rd century. A bronze scepter or wand has been discovered at Atsbi Dera with in inscription mentioning "GDR of Axum". Coins showing the royal portrait began to be minted under King Endubis
Endubis
Endubis was a king of Axum, a city in Ethiopia. He was among the earliest rulers of Aksum, and Africa for that matter, to mint coins. These coins were issued in gold and silver....

 toward the end of the 3rd century.

Christianity was introduced into the country by Frumentius, who was consecrated first bishop of Ethiopia by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 about
330. Frumentius converted Ezana, who has left several inscriptions detailing his reign both before and after his conversion. One inscription found at Axum, states that he conquered the nation of the Bogos, and returned thanks to his father, the god Mars, for his victory. Later inscriptions show Ezana's growing attachment to Christianity, and Ezana's coins bear this out, shifting from a design with disc and crescent to a design with a cross. Expeditions by Ezana
Ezana of Axum
Ezana of Axum , was ruler of the Axumite Kingdom located in present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, he himself employed the style "king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan"...

 into the Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

 at Meroe
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

 in Sudan may have brought about its demise, though there is evidence that the kingdom was experiencing a period of decline beforehand. As a result of Ezana's expansions, Aksum bordered the Roman province of Egypt
Aegyptus (Roman province)
The Roman province of Egypt was established in 30 BC after Octavian defeated his rival Mark Antony, deposed his lover Queen Cleopatra VII and annexed the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt to the Roman Empire. The province encompassed most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula...

. The degree of Ezana's control over Yemen is uncertain. Though there is little evidence supporting Aksumite control of the region at that time, his title, which includes king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan (all in modern-day Yemen), along with gold Aksumite coins with the inscriptions, "king of the Habshat" or "Habashite," indicate that Aksum might have retained some legal or actual footing in the area.

From the scanty evidence available it would appear that the new religion at first made little progress. Towards the close of the 5th century a great company of monks known as the Nine Saints
Nine Saints
The Nine Saints were a group of missionaries who were important in the initial growth of Christianity in what is now Ethiopia during the late 5th century. Their names were Abba Aftse, Abba Alef, Abba Aragawi, Abba Garima , Abba Guba, Abba Liqanos, Abba Pantelewon, Abba Sehma, and Abba Yem’ata...

 are believed to have established themselves in the country. Since that time monasticism
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

 has been a power among the people and not without its influence on the course of events.

The Axumite Kingdom is recorded once again as controlling part – if not all – of Yemen in the 6th century. Around 523, the Jewish king Dhu Nuwas
Dhu Nuwas
Yūsuf Dhū Nuwas, was the last king of the Himyarite kingdom of Yemen and a convert to Judaism....

 came to power in Yemen and, announcing that he would kill all the Christians, attacked an Aksumite garrison at Zafar
Zafar, Yemen
Ẓafār or Dhafar is an ancient Himyarite site situated in the Yemen, some 130 km south-south-east of the capital Sana'a. Given mention in different ancient texts, there is little doubt about the pronunciation of the name...

, burning the city's churches. He then attacked the Christian stronghold of Najran
Najran
Najran , formerly known as Aba as Sa'ud, is a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen. It is the capital of Najran Province. Designated a New town, Najran is one of the fastest-growing cities in the kingdom; its population has risen from 47,500 in 1974 and 90,983 in 1992 to...

, slaughtering the Christians who would not convert. Emperor Justin I
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

 of the Eastern Roman empire requested that his fellow Christian, Kaleb
Kaleb of Axum
Kaleb is perhaps the best-documented, if not best-known, king of Axum. Procopius of Caesarea calls him "Hellestheaeus", a variant of his throne name Ella Atsbeha or Ella Asbeha...

, help fight the Yemenite king, and around 525, Kaleb invaded and defeated Dhu Nuwas, appointing his Christian follower Sumuafa' Ashawa' as his viceroy. This dating is tentative, however, as the basis of the year 525 for the invasion is based on the death of the ruler of Yemen at the time, who very well could have been Kaleb's viceroy. Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

 records that after about five years, Abraha
Abraha
Abraha also known as Abraha al-Ashram or Abraha b...

 deposed the viceroy and made himself king (Histories 1.20). Despite several attempted invasions across the Red Sea, Kaleb was unable to dislodge Abreha, and acquiesced in the change; this was the last time Ethiopian armies left Africa until the 20th century when several units participated in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. Eventually Kaleb abdicated in favor of his son Wa'zeb
W`ZB
W`ZB or Ella Gabaz was a king of Axum . He uses the name "Ella Gabaz" on his coinage, but calls himself W`ZB in an inscription where he states he is the "son of Ella Atsbeha", or king Kaleb....

 and retired to a monastery, where he ended his days. Abraha later made peace with Kaleb's successor and recognized his suzerainty. Despite this reverse, under Ezana and Kaleb the kingdom was at its height, benefiting from a large trade, which extended as far as India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Ceylon, and were in constant communication with the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

.

Details of the Axumite Kingdom, never abundant, become even more scarce after this point. The last king known to mint coins is Armah
Armah
Armah was a king of Axum. He is primarily known through the coins minted during his reign, although it has been suggested as long ago as 1895 that he was identical to Ashama ibn Abjar, who gave shelter to the Muslim emigrants around 615-6 at Axum....

, whose coinage refers to the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614. An early Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 tradition is that the Negus
Negus
Negus is a title in Ge'ez, Tigrinya, Tigre and Amharic, used for a king and at times also a vassal ruler in pre-1974 Ethiopia and pre-1890 Eritrea. It is subsequently used to translate the word "king" in Biblical and other literature...

 Ashama ibn Abjar
Ashama ibn Abjar
According to Arabic sources, Aṣḥama ibn Abjar was Emperor or al-Najashi of Aksum at the time of Muhammad, and gave refuge to several Muslims in the Kingdom of Aksum. The term "al-Najashi" has the variant al-Negashi; it corresponds to the ancient Aksumite title Negus, with the variant Negash...

 offered asylum to a group of Muslims fleeing persecution during Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's life (615), but Stuart Munro-Hay believes that Axum had been abandoned as the capital by then – although Kobishchanov states that Ethiopian raiders plagued the Red Sea, preying on Arabian ports at least as late as 702.

Some people believed the end of the Axumite Kingdom is as much of a mystery as its beginning. Lacking a detailed history, the kingdom's fall has been attributed to a persistent drought, overgrazing, deforestation, plague, a shift in trade routes that reduced the importance of the Red Sea—or a combination of these factors. Munro-Hay cites the Muslim historian Abu Ja'far al-Khwarazmi/Kharazmi (who wrote before 833) as stating that the capital of "the kingdom of Habash" was Jarma. Unless Jarma is a nickname for Axum (hypothetically from Ge'ez girma, "remarkable, revered"), the capital had moved from Axum to a new site, yet undiscovered.

The Ethiopian Dark Ages


About 1000 (presumably c 960), a non-Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 princess, Yodit
Gudit
Gudit is a semi-legendary, non-Christian, Beta Israel, queen who laid waste to Axum and its countryside, destroyed churches and monuments, and attempted to exterminate the members of the ruling Axumite dynasty...

 ("Gudit", a play on Yodit meaning evil), conspired to murder all the members of the royal family and establish herself as monarch. According to legends, during the execution of the royals, an infant heir of the Axumite monarch was carted off by some faithful adherents, and conveyed to Shewa
Shewa
Shewa is a historical region of Ethiopia, formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire...

, where his authority was acknowledged, while Yodit reigned for forty years over the rest of the kingdom, and transmitted the crown to her descendants.

At one point during the next century, the last of Yodit's successors were overthrown by an Agaw
Agaw
The Agaw are an ethnic group in Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea.-History:The Agaw are perhaps first mentioned in the 3rd c. AD Aksumite inscription recorded by Cosmas Indicopleustes in the 6th century...

 lord named Mara Takla Haymanot
Mara Takla Haymanot
Mara Takla Haymanot was Nəgusä nägäst of Ethiopia, and the founder of the Zagwe dynasty. Some King Lists give his name simply as "Mararah", and other King Lists as "Takla Haymanot"....

, who founded the Zagwe dynasty
Zagwe dynasty
The Zagwe dynasty was an historical kingdom in present-day Ethiopia. It ruled large parts of the territory from approximately 1137 to 1270, when the last Zagwe King Za-Ilmaknun was killed in battle by the forces of Yekuno Amlak...

 and married a female descendant of the Axumite monarchs ("son-in-law") or previous ruler.

Ethiopia and the Crusades


Although Medieval Ethiopia was very isolated from the other Christian Nations, they did maintain a degree of contract through Jerusalem. Like many other nations and denominations, the Ethiopian Church maintained a series of small chapels and even an annex at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

, after retaking the Holy City in 1187, expressly invited the Ethiopian monks to return and even exempted Ethiopian pilgrims from the pilgrim tax. His motivation for this kindness is unknown; perhaps Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

 remembered the hirjah where Ethiopia sheltered the first Muslims, or perhaps it was simple kindness. Either way, his two edicts provide evidence of Ethiopia's contact with these Crusader States during this period. It was during this period that the great Ethiopian king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela
Gebre Mesqel Lalibela
Gebre Mesqel Lalibela , also called simply "Lalibela", which means "the bees recognise his sovereignty" in Old Agaw, was negus or king of Ethiopia and a member of the Zagwe dynasty. He is also considered a saint by the Ethiopian church. According to Taddesse Tamrat, he was the son of Jan Seyum and...

 ordered the construction of the legendary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
Lalibela
Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia, known for its monolithic churches. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian...

.

Later, as the Crusades were dying out in the early fourteenth century, the Ethiopian King Wedem Ar'ad dispatched a thirty man mission to Europe, where they traveled to Rome to meet the Pope and then, since the Medieval Papacy was in schism, they traveled to Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 to meet the Antipope
Antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

. During this trip, the Ethiopian mission also traveled to France, Spain and Portugal in the hopes of building an alliance against the Muslim states then threatening Ethiopia's existence. Plans were even drawn up of a two-pronged invasion of Egypt with the French King, but nothing ever came of the talks, although this brought Ethiopia back to Europe's attention, leading to expansion of European influence when the Portuguese explorers reached the Indian Ocean.

Ethiopian Empire


Around 1270, a new dynasty was established in the Abyssinian highlands under Yekuno Amlak who deposed the last of the Zagwe kings and married one of his daughters. According to legends, the new dynasty were male-line descendants of Axumite monarchs, now recognized as the continuing Solomonic dynasty
Solomonic dynasty
The Solomonic dynasty is the Imperial House of Abyssinia. Its members claim lineal descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the latter of whom tradition asserts gave birth to the first King Menelik I after her Biblically described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem .-Overview:The dynasty, a...

 (the kingdom being thus restored to the biblical royal house).

Under the Solomonic dynasty, the chief provinces became Tigray
Tigray Province
Tigray was a province of Ethiopia. The Tigray Region superseded the province with the adoption of the new constitution in 1995. The province of Tigre merged with its neighboring provinces, including Semien, Tembien, Agame and the prominent Enderta province and towards the end of 19th century it...

 (northern), Amhara
Amhara province
Amhara was the name of a medieval province of Ethiopia, located in present day Amhara Region, and the pre-1996 province of Wollo...

 (central) and Shewa
Shewa
Shewa is a historical region of Ethiopia, formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire...

 (southern). The seat of government, or rather of overlordship, had usually been in Amhara or Shewa, the ruler of which, calling himself
{{pp-move-indef}}
{{Cleanup|date=December 2007}}

{{History of Ethiopia}}
This article covers the
prehistory
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 and history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

.

Prehistory


Lucy
Lucy (Australopithecus)
Lucy is the common name of AL 288-1, several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis. The specimen was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression. Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years...

, discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar
Afar Region
Afar is one of the nine ethnic divisions of Ethiopia, and is the homeland of the Afar people. Formerly known as Region 2, its current capital is Asayita; a new capital named Semera on the paved Awash - Asseb highway is under construction....

 region, is considered the world's second-oldest, but most complete and best preserved, adult Australopithecine
Australopithecus
Australopithecus is a genus of hominids that is now extinct. From the evidence gathered by palaeontologists and archaeologists, it appears that the Australopithecus genus evolved in eastern Africa around 4 million years ago before spreading throughout the continent and eventually becoming extinct...

 fossil. Lucy's taxonomic name, Australopithecus afarensis
Australopithecus afarensis
Australopithecus afarensis is an extinct hominid that lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago. A. afarensis was slenderly built, like the younger Australopithecus africanus. It is thought that A...

, means 'southern ape of Afar', and refers to the Ethiopian region where the discovery was made. Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago. There have been many other notable fossil findings in the country, including another early hominin, Ardipithicus ramidus
Ardipithecus
Ardipithecus is a very early hominin genus. Two species are described in the literature: A. ramidus, which lived about 4.4 million years ago during the early Pliocene, and A. kadabba, dated to approximately 5.6 million years ago ....

(Ardi
Ardi
Ardi is the designation of the fossilized skeletal remains of a female Ardipithecus ramidus, an early human-like species 4.4 million years old...

).

East Africa, and more specifically the general area of Ethiopia, is widely considered the site of the emergence of early Homo sapiens in the Middle Paleolithic
Middle Paleolithic
The Middle Paleolithic is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. The Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age...

.
Homo sapiens idaltu
Homo sapiens idaltu
Homo sapiens idaltu is an extinct subspecies of Homo sapiens that lived almost 160,000 years ago in Pleistocene Africa. is from the Saho-Afar word meaning "elder or first born"....

, found at site Middle Awash
Middle Awash
The Middle Awash is an archaeological site along the Awash River in Ethiopia's Afar Depression. A number of Pleistocene and late Miocene hominid remains have been found at the site, along with some of the oldest known Olduwan stone artifacts and patches of fire-baked clay, disputed evidence of the...

 in Ethiopia, lived about 160,000 years ago.

Bronze Age contacts with Egypt


The earliest records of Ethiopia appear in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, during the Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

 period.
Egyptian traders from about 3000 BC who refer to lands south of Nubia or Cush as Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

 and Yam.
The Ancient Egyptians were in possession of myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

 (found in Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

) as early as the First or Second Dynasties, which Richard Pankhurst
Richard Pankhurst (academic)
Richard Keir Pethick Pankhurst OBE is a British academic with expertise in the study of Ethiopia.-Early life and education:...

 interprets to indicate trade between the two countries extant from the beginning of Ancient Egypt's beginnings. J. H. Breasted posited that this early trade relationship could have been realized through overland trade down the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 and its tributaries (i.e. the Blue Nile
Blue Nile
The Blue Nile is a river originating at Lake Tana in Ethiopia. With the White Nile, the river is one of the two major tributaries of the Nile...

 and Atbara). The Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 and geographer
Geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

 Agatharchides
Agatharchides
Agatharchides of Cnidus was a Greek historian and geographer .-Life:He is believed to have been born at Cnidus, hence his appellation. As Stanley M...

 had documented sea-faring among the early Egyptians
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

: "During the prosperous period of the Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

, between the 30th
30th century BC
The 30th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 3000 BC to 2901 BC.-Events:* Before 3000 BC: Image of a deity, detail from a cong recovered from Tomb 12, Fanshan, Yuyao, Zhejiang, is made. Neolithic period. Liangzhu culture...

 and 25th centuries B. C.
25th century BC
The 25th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 2500 BCE to 2401 BCE.-Events:*c. 2900 BCE – 2334 BCE: Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period.*c. 2500 BCE: Rice was first introduced to Malaysia...

, the river-routes were kept in order, and Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s sailed the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 as far as the myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

-country."

The first known voyage to Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

 occurred in the 25th century BC under the reign of Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 Sahure
Sahure
- Etymology :Sahure's birth name means "He who is Close to Re". His Horus name was Nebkhau.- Biography :Sahure was a son of queen Neferhetepes, as shown in scenes from the causeway of Sahure's pyramid complex in Abusir. His father was Userkaf. Sahure's consort was queen Neferetnebty. Reliefs show...

. The most famous expedition to Punt, however, comes during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut also Hatchepsut; meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies;1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt...

 probably around 1495 BC, as the expedition was recorded in detailed reliefs on the temple of Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahari or Deir el-Bahri is a complex of mortuary temples and tombs located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the city of Luxor, Egypt....

 at Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

. The inscriptions depict a trading group bringing back myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

 trees, sacks of myrrh, elephant tusks, incense, gold, various fragmented wood, and exotic animals. Detailed information about these two nations is sparse, and there are many theories concerning their locations and the ethnic relationship of their peoples. The Egyptians sometimes called Punt land Ta-Netjeru, meaning "Land of the Gods," and considered it their place of origin.
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica states the connection between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Ethiopia is at least as early as the Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt
Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Third Intermediate Period.-Rulers:...

 was very intimate, and beginning with Piye
Piye
Piye, was a Kushite king and founder of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt from 747 BCE to 716 BCE according to Peter Clayton. He ruled from the city of Napata, located deep in Nubia, Sudan...

, a ruler of the Twenty-fifth dynasty
Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
The twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt....

, occasionally the two countries were under the same ruler. The capital of these two dynasties, however, was in the north of modern Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, at Napata
Napata
Napata was a city-state of ancient Nubia on the west bank of the Nile River, at the site of modern Karima, Northern Sudan.During the 8th to 7th centuries BC, Napata was the capital of the Nubian kingdom of Kush, whence the 25th, or Nubian Dynasty conquered Egypt...

.

Evidence of Naqada
Naqada
Naqada is a town on the west bank of the Nile in the Egyptian governorate of Qena. It was known in Ancient Egypt as Nubt and in classical antiquity as Ombos. Its name derives from ancient Egyptian nub, meaning gold, on account of the proximity of gold mines in the Eastern Desert.Naqada comprises...

n contacts include obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

 from Ethiopia and the Aegean
Aegean civilization
Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea. There are three distinct but communicating and interacting geographic regions covered by this term: Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland. Crete is associated with the Minoan civilization...

.

Classical Antiquity


{{see|Dʿmt}}
There is some confusion over the usage of the word Ethiopia in ancient times and the modern country.

For example, many ancient maps of Africa, which appeared approximately at the time of the European Age of Discovery, named the continent of Africa as Aethiopia, also naming what we now call the Atlantic Ocean, as Oceanus Aethopicus.

Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 historians such as Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 and Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 used the word Aethiopia (Αιθιοπία) to refer to the peoples living immediately to the south of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, specifically the area now known as the ancient Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

, now a part of modern Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

, as well as all of Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 in general. However, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 (79 CE) uses "Aethiopia" exclusively for Sub-Saharan Africa, expressly stating that the inhabitants of the Upper Nile from Elephantine
Elephantine
Elephantine is an island in the River Nile, located just downstream of the First Cataract at the southern border of Ancient Egypt. This region is referred to as Upper Egypt because the land is higher than that near the Mediterranean coast. The island may have received its name because it was a...

 as far as Meroe
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

 in his day were not from Aethiopia, but were "Arabs". Pliny also described Adulis
Adulis
Adulis or Aduli is an archeological site in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea, about 30 miles south of Massawa. It was the port of the Kingdom of Aksum, located on the coast of the Red Sea. Adulis Bay is named after the port...

, which port he said was the Ethiopians' principal trading town. The opinion of the ancient writers on the Egyptians is more or less summed up by French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero though, in The Dawn of Civilization (1894), when he says, "By the almost unanimous testimony of ancient historians, they [the Egyptians] belong to an African race which first settled in Ethiopia on the Middle Nile: following the course of the river they gradually reached the sea"; this showing that the empire did stretch into the Lower Nile region and eventually developed into the Egyptian empire.

It is now known that in ancient times the name Ethiopia was used to refer to the nation based in the upper Nile valley south of Egypt, also called Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

, which in the 4th century CE was invaded by the Axum from the highlands close to the Red Sea. Reference to the Kingdom of Aksum designated as Ethiopia dates as far back as the first half of 4th century since inscription of Ezana Habashat (the source for "Abyssinia") in Ge'ez
Ge'ez language
Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

, South Arabian alphabet
South Arabian alphabet
The ancient Yemeni alphabet branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in about the 9th century BC. It was used for writing the Yemeni Old South Arabic languages of the Sabaean, Qatabanian, Hadramautic, Minaean, Himyarite, and proto-Ge'ez in Dʿmt...

, is translated in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 as "Aethiopia".

The state of Sheba
Sheba
Sheba was a kingdom mentioned in the Jewish scriptures and the Qur'an...

 mentioned in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 is sometimes believed to have been in Ethiopia, but more often is placed in Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

. According to the Ethiopian legend, best represented in the Kebra Negest, the Queen of Sheba was tricked by King Solomon into sleeping with him, resulting in a child, named Ebn Melek (later Emperor Menelik I
Menelik I
Menelik I , first Jewish Emperor of Ethiopia, is traditionally believed to be the son of King Solomon of ancient Israel and Makeda, ancient Ethiopia Queen of Sheba. He ruled around 950 BC, according to traditional sources...

). When he was of age, Menelik returned to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 to see his father, who sent with him the son of Zadok
Zadok (High Priest)
Zadok , was a priest descended from Eleazar the son of Aaron, who aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom, and was consequently instrumental in bringing King Solomon to throne...

 to accompany him with a replica of the Ark of the Covenant (Ethiosemitic: tabot
Tabot
Tabot , is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant...

). On his return with some of the Israelite priests, however, he found that Zadok's son had stolen the real Ark of the Covenant. Some believe the Ark is still being preserved today at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
The Church of Our Virgin Mary of Zion of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the most important church in Ethiopia...

 in Axum, Ethiopia. The tradition that the biblical Queen of Sheba was a ruler of Ethiopia who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem in ancient Israel is supported by the 1st century AD Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who identified Solomon’s visitor as a queen of Egypt and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is frequently mentioned in the Bible. An example of this is the story of the Ethiopian eunuch
Ethiopian eunuch
The Ethiopian eunuch is a figure in the New Testament of the Bible. The story of his conversion to Christianity is recounted in Acts 8.-Biblical narrative:...

 as written in Acts, Chapter 8, verse 27: "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." The passage continues by describing how Philip helped the Ethiopian understand one passage of Isaiah that the Ethiopian was reading. After the Ethiopian received an explanation of the passage and came to believe in Jesus as the "Son of God", he requested that Philip baptize him, which Philip obliged. Queen Gersamot Hendeke VII (very similar to Kandake) was the Queen of Ethiopia from the year 42 to 52. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded in the 4th century by Syrian monks.

Kingdom of Axum



{{main|Kingdom of Aksum}}

The first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia was that of Axum in the 1st century AD. It was one of many successor kingdoms to Dʿmt and was able to unite the northern Ethiopian plateau
Ethiopian Highlands
The Ethiopian Highlands are a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia, Eritrea , and northern Somalia in the Horn of Africa...

 beginning around the 1st century BC. They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. The Persia
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

n religious figure Mani
Mani (prophet)
Mani , of Iranian origin was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity which was once widespread but is now extinct...

 listed Axum with Rome
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Persia, and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 as one of the four great powers of his time. The origins of the Axumite Kingdom are unclear, although experts have offered their speculations about it. Even whom should be considered the earliest known king is contested: although C. Conti Rossini proposed that Zoskales
Zoskales
Zoskales was a king in the Horn of Africa, whose realm is thought to include Axum.The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions him as ruler of the port of Adulis, whose territory extended "from the Moschophagoi ['calf-eaters'] to the rest of Barbaria .....

 of Axum, mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea is a Greco-Roman periplus, written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and India...

, should be identified with one Za Haqle mentioned in the Ethiopian King Lists (a view embraced by later historians of Ethiopia such as Yuri M. Kobishchanov and Sergew Hable Sellasie), G.W.B. Huntingford argued that Zoskales was only a sub-king whose authority was limited to Adulis
Adulis
Adulis or Aduli is an archeological site in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea, about 30 miles south of Massawa. It was the port of the Kingdom of Aksum, located on the coast of the Red Sea. Adulis Bay is named after the port...

, and that Conti Rossini's identification can not be substantiated.

Inscriptions have been found in southern Arabia celebrating victories over one GDRT
GDRT
GDRT was a king of the Kingdom of Aksum , known for being the first king to involve Axum in the affairs of what is now Yemen. He is known primarily from inscriptions in South Arabia that mention him and his son BYGT...

, described as "nagashi of Habashat
Habesha people
The term Habesha ābešā, Ḥābešā; al-Ḥabašah) refers to the South Semitic-speaking group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to those people who ruled the Axumite Empire and the kingdom known as DʿMT .Peoples referred to as "Habesha" today...

 [i.e. Abyssinia] and of Axum." Other dated inscriptions are used to determine a floruit for GDRT (interpreted as representing a Ge'ez name such as Gadarat, Gedur, Gadurat or Gedara) around the beginning of the 3rd century. A bronze scepter or wand has been discovered at Atsbi Dera with in inscription mentioning "GDR of Axum". Coins showing the royal portrait began to be minted under King Endubis
Endubis
Endubis was a king of Axum, a city in Ethiopia. He was among the earliest rulers of Aksum, and Africa for that matter, to mint coins. These coins were issued in gold and silver....

 toward the end of the 3rd century.

Christianity was introduced into the country by Frumentius, who was consecrated first bishop of Ethiopia by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 about
330. Frumentius converted Ezana, who has left several inscriptions detailing his reign both before and after his conversion. One inscription found at Axum, states that he conquered the nation of the Bogos, and returned thanks to his father, the god Mars, for his victory. Later inscriptions show Ezana's growing attachment to Christianity, and Ezana's coins bear this out, shifting from a design with disc and crescent to a design with a cross. Expeditions by Ezana
Ezana of Axum
Ezana of Axum , was ruler of the Axumite Kingdom located in present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, he himself employed the style "king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan"...

 into the Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

 at Meroe
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

 in Sudan may have brought about its demise, though there is evidence that the kingdom was experiencing a period of decline beforehand. As a result of Ezana's expansions, Aksum bordered the Roman province of Egypt
Aegyptus (Roman province)
The Roman province of Egypt was established in 30 BC after Octavian defeated his rival Mark Antony, deposed his lover Queen Cleopatra VII and annexed the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt to the Roman Empire. The province encompassed most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula...

. The degree of Ezana's control over Yemen is uncertain. Though there is little evidence supporting Aksumite control of the region at that time, his title, which includes king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan (all in modern-day Yemen), along with gold Aksumite coins with the inscriptions, "king of the Habshat" or "Habashite," indicate that Aksum might have retained some legal or actual footing in the area.

From the scanty evidence available it would appear that the new religion at first made little progress. Towards the close of the 5th century a great company of monks known as the Nine Saints
Nine Saints
The Nine Saints were a group of missionaries who were important in the initial growth of Christianity in what is now Ethiopia during the late 5th century. Their names were Abba Aftse, Abba Alef, Abba Aragawi, Abba Garima , Abba Guba, Abba Liqanos, Abba Pantelewon, Abba Sehma, and Abba Yem’ata...

 are believed to have established themselves in the country. Since that time monasticism
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

 has been a power among the people and not without its influence on the course of events.

The Axumite Kingdom is recorded once again as controlling part – if not all – of Yemen in the 6th century. Around 523, the Jewish king Dhu Nuwas
Dhu Nuwas
Yūsuf Dhū Nuwas, was the last king of the Himyarite kingdom of Yemen and a convert to Judaism....

 came to power in Yemen and, announcing that he would kill all the Christians, attacked an Aksumite garrison at Zafar
Zafar, Yemen
Ẓafār or Dhafar is an ancient Himyarite site situated in the Yemen, some 130 km south-south-east of the capital Sana'a. Given mention in different ancient texts, there is little doubt about the pronunciation of the name...

, burning the city's churches. He then attacked the Christian stronghold of Najran
Najran
Najran , formerly known as Aba as Sa'ud, is a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen. It is the capital of Najran Province. Designated a New town, Najran is one of the fastest-growing cities in the kingdom; its population has risen from 47,500 in 1974 and 90,983 in 1992 to...

, slaughtering the Christians who would not convert. Emperor Justin I
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

 of the Eastern Roman empire requested that his fellow Christian, Kaleb
Kaleb of Axum
Kaleb is perhaps the best-documented, if not best-known, king of Axum. Procopius of Caesarea calls him "Hellestheaeus", a variant of his throne name Ella Atsbeha or Ella Asbeha...

, help fight the Yemenite king, and around 525, Kaleb invaded and defeated Dhu Nuwas, appointing his Christian follower Sumuafa' Ashawa' as his viceroy. This dating is tentative, however, as the basis of the year 525 for the invasion is based on the death of the ruler of Yemen at the time, who very well could have been Kaleb's viceroy. Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

 records that after about five years, Abraha
Abraha
Abraha also known as Abraha al-Ashram or Abraha b...

 deposed the viceroy and made himself king (Histories 1.20). Despite several attempted invasions across the Red Sea, Kaleb was unable to dislodge Abreha, and acquiesced in the change; this was the last time Ethiopian armies left Africa until the 20th century when several units participated in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. Eventually Kaleb abdicated in favor of his son Wa'zeb
W`ZB
W`ZB or Ella Gabaz was a king of Axum . He uses the name "Ella Gabaz" on his coinage, but calls himself W`ZB in an inscription where he states he is the "son of Ella Atsbeha", or king Kaleb....

 and retired to a monastery, where he ended his days. Abraha later made peace with Kaleb's successor and recognized his suzerainty. Despite this reverse, under Ezana and Kaleb the kingdom was at its height, benefiting from a large trade, which extended as far as India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Ceylon, and were in constant communication with the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

.

Details of the Axumite Kingdom, never abundant, become even more scarce after this point. The last king known to mint coins is Armah
Armah
Armah was a king of Axum. He is primarily known through the coins minted during his reign, although it has been suggested as long ago as 1895 that he was identical to Ashama ibn Abjar, who gave shelter to the Muslim emigrants around 615-6 at Axum....

, whose coinage refers to the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614. An early Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 tradition is that the Negus
Negus
Negus is a title in Ge'ez, Tigrinya, Tigre and Amharic, used for a king and at times also a vassal ruler in pre-1974 Ethiopia and pre-1890 Eritrea. It is subsequently used to translate the word "king" in Biblical and other literature...

 Ashama ibn Abjar
Ashama ibn Abjar
According to Arabic sources, Aṣḥama ibn Abjar was Emperor or al-Najashi of Aksum at the time of Muhammad, and gave refuge to several Muslims in the Kingdom of Aksum. The term "al-Najashi" has the variant al-Negashi; it corresponds to the ancient Aksumite title Negus, with the variant Negash...

 offered asylum to a group of Muslims fleeing persecution during Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's life (615), but Stuart Munro-Hay believes that Axum had been abandoned as the capital by then – although Kobishchanov states that Ethiopian raiders plagued the Red Sea, preying on Arabian ports at least as late as 702.

Some people believed the end of the Axumite Kingdom is as much of a mystery as its beginning. Lacking a detailed history, the kingdom's fall has been attributed to a persistent drought, overgrazing, deforestation, plague, a shift in trade routes that reduced the importance of the Red Sea—or a combination of these factors. Munro-Hay cites the Muslim historian Abu Ja'far al-Khwarazmi/Kharazmi (who wrote before 833) as stating that the capital of "the kingdom of Habash" was Jarma. Unless Jarma is a nickname for Axum (hypothetically from Ge'ez girma, "remarkable, revered"), the capital had moved from Axum to a new site, yet undiscovered.

The Ethiopian Dark Ages


About 1000 (presumably c 960), a non-Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 princess, Yodit
Gudit
Gudit is a semi-legendary, non-Christian, Beta Israel, queen who laid waste to Axum and its countryside, destroyed churches and monuments, and attempted to exterminate the members of the ruling Axumite dynasty...

 ("Gudit", a play on Yodit meaning evil), conspired to murder all the members of the royal family and establish herself as monarch. According to legends, during the execution of the royals, an infant heir of the Axumite monarch was carted off by some faithful adherents, and conveyed to Shewa
Shewa
Shewa is a historical region of Ethiopia, formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire...

, where his authority was acknowledged, while Yodit reigned for forty years over the rest of the kingdom, and transmitted the crown to her descendants.

At one point during the next century, the last of Yodit's successors were overthrown by an Agaw
Agaw
The Agaw are an ethnic group in Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea.-History:The Agaw are perhaps first mentioned in the 3rd c. AD Aksumite inscription recorded by Cosmas Indicopleustes in the 6th century...

 lord named Mara Takla Haymanot
Mara Takla Haymanot
Mara Takla Haymanot was Nəgusä nägäst of Ethiopia, and the founder of the Zagwe dynasty. Some King Lists give his name simply as "Mararah", and other King Lists as "Takla Haymanot"....

, who founded the Zagwe dynasty
Zagwe dynasty
The Zagwe dynasty was an historical kingdom in present-day Ethiopia. It ruled large parts of the territory from approximately 1137 to 1270, when the last Zagwe King Za-Ilmaknun was killed in battle by the forces of Yekuno Amlak...

 and married a female descendant of the Axumite monarchs ("son-in-law") or previous ruler.

Ethiopia and the Crusades


Although Medieval Ethiopia was very isolated from the other Christian Nations, they did maintain a degree of contract through Jerusalem. Like many other nations and denominations, the Ethiopian Church maintained a series of small chapels and even an annex at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

, after retaking the Holy City in 1187, expressly invited the Ethiopian monks to return and even exempted Ethiopian pilgrims from the pilgrim tax. His motivation for this kindness is unknown; perhaps Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

 remembered the hirjah where Ethiopia sheltered the first Muslims, or perhaps it was simple kindness.{{Cite|date=November 2011}} Either way, his two edicts provide evidence of Ethiopia's contact with these Crusader States during this period. It was during this period that the great Ethiopian king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela
Gebre Mesqel Lalibela
Gebre Mesqel Lalibela , also called simply "Lalibela", which means "the bees recognise his sovereignty" in Old Agaw, was negus or king of Ethiopia and a member of the Zagwe dynasty. He is also considered a saint by the Ethiopian church. According to Taddesse Tamrat, he was the son of Jan Seyum and...

 ordered the construction of the legendary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
Lalibela
Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia, known for its monolithic churches. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian...

.

Later, as the Crusades were dying out in the early fourteenth century, the Ethiopian King Wedem Ar'ad dispatched a thirty man mission to Europe, where they traveled to Rome to meet the Pope and then, since the Medieval Papacy was in schism, they traveled to Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 to meet the Antipope
Antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

. During this trip, the Ethiopian mission also traveled to France, Spain and Portugal in the hopes of building an alliance against the Muslim states then threatening Ethiopia's existence. Plans were even drawn up of a two-pronged invasion of Egypt with the French King, but nothing ever came of the talks, although this brought Ethiopia back to Europe's attention, leading to expansion of European influence when the Portuguese explorers reached the Indian Ocean.

Ethiopian Empire


Around 1270, a new dynasty was established in the Abyssinian highlands under Yekuno Amlak who deposed the last of the Zagwe kings and married one of his daughters. According to legends, the new dynasty were male-line descendants of Axumite monarchs, now recognized as the continuing Solomonic dynasty
Solomonic dynasty
The Solomonic dynasty is the Imperial House of Abyssinia. Its members claim lineal descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the latter of whom tradition asserts gave birth to the first King Menelik I after her Biblically described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem .-Overview:The dynasty, a...

 (the kingdom being thus restored to the biblical royal house).

Under the Solomonic dynasty, the chief provinces became Tigray
Tigray Province
Tigray was a province of Ethiopia. The Tigray Region superseded the province with the adoption of the new constitution in 1995. The province of Tigre merged with its neighboring provinces, including Semien, Tembien, Agame and the prominent Enderta province and towards the end of 19th century it...

 (northern), Amhara
Amhara province
Amhara was the name of a medieval province of Ethiopia, located in present day Amhara Region, and the pre-1996 province of Wollo...

 (central) and Shewa
Shewa
Shewa is a historical region of Ethiopia, formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire...

 (southern). The seat of government, or rather of overlordship, had usually been in Amhara or Shewa, the ruler of which, calling himself
{{pp-move-indef}}
{{Cleanup|date=December 2007}}

{{History of Ethiopia}}
This article covers the
prehistory
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 and history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

.

Prehistory


Lucy
Lucy (Australopithecus)
Lucy is the common name of AL 288-1, several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis. The specimen was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression. Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years...

, discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar
Afar Region
Afar is one of the nine ethnic divisions of Ethiopia, and is the homeland of the Afar people. Formerly known as Region 2, its current capital is Asayita; a new capital named Semera on the paved Awash - Asseb highway is under construction....

 region, is considered the world's second-oldest, but most complete and best preserved, adult Australopithecine
Australopithecus
Australopithecus is a genus of hominids that is now extinct. From the evidence gathered by palaeontologists and archaeologists, it appears that the Australopithecus genus evolved in eastern Africa around 4 million years ago before spreading throughout the continent and eventually becoming extinct...

 fossil. Lucy's taxonomic name, Australopithecus afarensis
Australopithecus afarensis
Australopithecus afarensis is an extinct hominid that lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago. A. afarensis was slenderly built, like the younger Australopithecus africanus. It is thought that A...

, means 'southern ape of Afar', and refers to the Ethiopian region where the discovery was made. Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago. There have been many other notable fossil findings in the country, including another early hominin, Ardipithicus ramidus
Ardipithecus
Ardipithecus is a very early hominin genus. Two species are described in the literature: A. ramidus, which lived about 4.4 million years ago during the early Pliocene, and A. kadabba, dated to approximately 5.6 million years ago ....

(Ardi
Ardi
Ardi is the designation of the fossilized skeletal remains of a female Ardipithecus ramidus, an early human-like species 4.4 million years old...

).

East Africa, and more specifically the general area of Ethiopia, is widely considered the site of the emergence of early Homo sapiens in the Middle Paleolithic
Middle Paleolithic
The Middle Paleolithic is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. The Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age...

.
Homo sapiens idaltu
Homo sapiens idaltu
Homo sapiens idaltu is an extinct subspecies of Homo sapiens that lived almost 160,000 years ago in Pleistocene Africa. is from the Saho-Afar word meaning "elder or first born"....

, found at site Middle Awash
Middle Awash
The Middle Awash is an archaeological site along the Awash River in Ethiopia's Afar Depression. A number of Pleistocene and late Miocene hominid remains have been found at the site, along with some of the oldest known Olduwan stone artifacts and patches of fire-baked clay, disputed evidence of the...

 in Ethiopia, lived about 160,000 years ago.

Bronze Age contacts with Egypt


The earliest records of Ethiopia appear in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, during the Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

 period.
Egyptian traders from about 3000 BC who refer to lands south of Nubia or Cush as Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

 and Yam.
The Ancient Egyptians were in possession of myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

 (found in Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

) as early as the First or Second Dynasties, which Richard Pankhurst
Richard Pankhurst (academic)
Richard Keir Pethick Pankhurst OBE is a British academic with expertise in the study of Ethiopia.-Early life and education:...

 interprets to indicate trade between the two countries extant from the beginning of Ancient Egypt's beginnings. J. H. Breasted posited that this early trade relationship could have been realized through overland trade down the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 and its tributaries (i.e. the Blue Nile
Blue Nile
The Blue Nile is a river originating at Lake Tana in Ethiopia. With the White Nile, the river is one of the two major tributaries of the Nile...

 and Atbara). The Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 and geographer
Geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

 Agatharchides
Agatharchides
Agatharchides of Cnidus was a Greek historian and geographer .-Life:He is believed to have been born at Cnidus, hence his appellation. As Stanley M...

 had documented sea-faring among the early Egyptians
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

: "During the prosperous period of the Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

, between the 30th
30th century BC
The 30th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 3000 BC to 2901 BC.-Events:* Before 3000 BC: Image of a deity, detail from a cong recovered from Tomb 12, Fanshan, Yuyao, Zhejiang, is made. Neolithic period. Liangzhu culture...

 and 25th centuries B. C.
25th century BC
The 25th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 2500 BCE to 2401 BCE.-Events:*c. 2900 BCE – 2334 BCE: Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period.*c. 2500 BCE: Rice was first introduced to Malaysia...

, the river-routes were kept in order, and Egyptian
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 ship
Ship
Since the end of the age of sail a ship has been any large buoyant marine vessel. Ships are generally distinguished from boats based on size and cargo or passenger capacity. Ships are used on lakes, seas, and rivers for a variety of activities, such as the transport of people or goods, fishing,...

s sailed the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 as far as the myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

-country."

The first known voyage to Punt
Land of Punt
The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was a trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals...

 occurred in the 25th century BC under the reign of Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 Sahure
Sahure
- Etymology :Sahure's birth name means "He who is Close to Re". His Horus name was Nebkhau.- Biography :Sahure was a son of queen Neferhetepes, as shown in scenes from the causeway of Sahure's pyramid complex in Abusir. His father was Userkaf. Sahure's consort was queen Neferetnebty. Reliefs show...

. The most famous expedition to Punt, however, comes during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut also Hatchepsut; meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies;1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt...

 probably around 1495 BC, as the expedition was recorded in detailed reliefs on the temple of Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahari or Deir el-Bahri is a complex of mortuary temples and tombs located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the city of Luxor, Egypt....

 at Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

. The inscriptions depict a trading group bringing back myrrh
Myrrh
Myrrh is the aromatic oleoresin of a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora, which grow in dry, stony soil. An oleoresin is a natural blend of an essential oil and a resin. Myrrh resin is a natural gum....

 trees, sacks of myrrh, elephant tusks, incense, gold, various fragmented wood, and exotic animals. Detailed information about these two nations is sparse, and there are many theories concerning their locations and the ethnic relationship of their peoples. The Egyptians sometimes called Punt land Ta-Netjeru, meaning "Land of the Gods," and considered it their place of origin.
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica states the connection between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Ethiopia is at least as early as the Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt
Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Third Intermediate Period.-Rulers:...

 was very intimate, and beginning with Piye
Piye
Piye, was a Kushite king and founder of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt from 747 BCE to 716 BCE according to Peter Clayton. He ruled from the city of Napata, located deep in Nubia, Sudan...

, a ruler of the Twenty-fifth dynasty
Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
The twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt....

, occasionally the two countries were under the same ruler. The capital of these two dynasties, however, was in the north of modern Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, at Napata
Napata
Napata was a city-state of ancient Nubia on the west bank of the Nile River, at the site of modern Karima, Northern Sudan.During the 8th to 7th centuries BC, Napata was the capital of the Nubian kingdom of Kush, whence the 25th, or Nubian Dynasty conquered Egypt...

.

Evidence of Naqada
Naqada
Naqada is a town on the west bank of the Nile in the Egyptian governorate of Qena. It was known in Ancient Egypt as Nubt and in classical antiquity as Ombos. Its name derives from ancient Egyptian nub, meaning gold, on account of the proximity of gold mines in the Eastern Desert.Naqada comprises...

n contacts include obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

 from Ethiopia and the Aegean
Aegean civilization
Aegean civilization is a general term for the Bronze Age civilizations of Greece around the Aegean Sea. There are three distinct but communicating and interacting geographic regions covered by this term: Crete, the Cyclades and the Greek mainland. Crete is associated with the Minoan civilization...

.

Classical Antiquity


{{see|Dʿmt}}
There is some confusion over the usage of the word Ethiopia in ancient times and the modern country.

For example, many ancient maps of Africa, which appeared approximately at the time of the European Age of Discovery, named the continent of Africa as Aethiopia, also naming what we now call the Atlantic Ocean, as Oceanus Aethopicus.

Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 historians such as Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 and Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 used the word Aethiopia (Αιθιοπία) to refer to the peoples living immediately to the south of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, specifically the area now known as the ancient Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

, now a part of modern Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

, as well as all of Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 in general. However, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 (79 CE) uses "Aethiopia" exclusively for Sub-Saharan Africa, expressly stating that the inhabitants of the Upper Nile from Elephantine
Elephantine
Elephantine is an island in the River Nile, located just downstream of the First Cataract at the southern border of Ancient Egypt. This region is referred to as Upper Egypt because the land is higher than that near the Mediterranean coast. The island may have received its name because it was a...

 as far as Meroe
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

 in his day were not from Aethiopia, but were "Arabs". Pliny also described Adulis
Adulis
Adulis or Aduli is an archeological site in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea, about 30 miles south of Massawa. It was the port of the Kingdom of Aksum, located on the coast of the Red Sea. Adulis Bay is named after the port...

, which port he said was the Ethiopians' principal trading town. The opinion of the ancient writers on the Egyptians is more or less summed up by French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero though, in The Dawn of Civilization (1894), when he says, "By the almost unanimous testimony of ancient historians, they [the Egyptians] belong to an African race which first settled in Ethiopia on the Middle Nile: following the course of the river they gradually reached the sea"; this showing that the empire did stretch into the Lower Nile region and eventually developed into the Egyptian empire.

It is now known that in ancient times the name Ethiopia was used to refer to the nation based in the upper Nile valley south of Egypt, also called Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

, which in the 4th century CE was invaded by the Axum from the highlands close to the Red Sea. Reference to the Kingdom of Aksum designated as Ethiopia dates as far back as the first half of 4th century since inscription of Ezana Habashat (the source for "Abyssinia") in Ge'ez
Ge'ez language
Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

, South Arabian alphabet
South Arabian alphabet
The ancient Yemeni alphabet branched from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet in about the 9th century BC. It was used for writing the Yemeni Old South Arabic languages of the Sabaean, Qatabanian, Hadramautic, Minaean, Himyarite, and proto-Ge'ez in Dʿmt...

, is translated in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 as "Aethiopia".

The state of Sheba
Sheba
Sheba was a kingdom mentioned in the Jewish scriptures and the Qur'an...

 mentioned in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 is sometimes believed to have been in Ethiopia, but more often is placed in Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

. According to the Ethiopian legend, best represented in the Kebra Negest, the Queen of Sheba was tricked by King Solomon into sleeping with him, resulting in a child, named Ebn Melek (later Emperor Menelik I
Menelik I
Menelik I , first Jewish Emperor of Ethiopia, is traditionally believed to be the son of King Solomon of ancient Israel and Makeda, ancient Ethiopia Queen of Sheba. He ruled around 950 BC, according to traditional sources...

). When he was of age, Menelik returned to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 to see his father, who sent with him the son of Zadok
Zadok (High Priest)
Zadok , was a priest descended from Eleazar the son of Aaron, who aided King David during the revolt of his son Absalom, and was consequently instrumental in bringing King Solomon to throne...

 to accompany him with a replica of the Ark of the Covenant (Ethiosemitic: tabot
Tabot
Tabot , is a Ge'ez word referring to a replica of the Tablets of Law, onto which the Biblical Ten Commandments were inscribed, used in the practices of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Tabot can also refer to a replica of the Ark of the Covenant...

). On his return with some of the Israelite priests, however, he found that Zadok's son had stolen the real Ark of the Covenant. Some believe the Ark is still being preserved today at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
The Church of Our Virgin Mary of Zion of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the most important church in Ethiopia...

 in Axum, Ethiopia. The tradition that the biblical Queen of Sheba was a ruler of Ethiopia who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem in ancient Israel is supported by the 1st century AD Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who identified Solomon’s visitor as a queen of Egypt and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is frequently mentioned in the Bible. An example of this is the story of the Ethiopian eunuch
Ethiopian eunuch
The Ethiopian eunuch is a figure in the New Testament of the Bible. The story of his conversion to Christianity is recounted in Acts 8.-Biblical narrative:...

 as written in Acts, Chapter 8, verse 27: "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." The passage continues by describing how Philip helped the Ethiopian understand one passage of Isaiah that the Ethiopian was reading. After the Ethiopian received an explanation of the passage and came to believe in Jesus as the "Son of God", he requested that Philip baptize him, which Philip obliged. Queen Gersamot Hendeke VII (very similar to Kandake) was the Queen of Ethiopia from the year 42 to 52. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded in the 4th century by Syrian monks.

Kingdom of Axum



{{main|Kingdom of Aksum}}

The first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia was that of Axum in the 1st century AD. It was one of many successor kingdoms to Dʿmt and was able to unite the northern Ethiopian plateau
Ethiopian Highlands
The Ethiopian Highlands are a rugged mass of mountains in Ethiopia, Eritrea , and northern Somalia in the Horn of Africa...

 beginning around the 1st century BC. They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. The Persia
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

n religious figure Mani
Mani (prophet)
Mani , of Iranian origin was the prophet and the founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity which was once widespread but is now extinct...

 listed Axum with Rome
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, Persia, and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 as one of the four great powers of his time. The origins of the Axumite Kingdom are unclear, although experts have offered their speculations about it. Even whom should be considered the earliest known king is contested: although C. Conti Rossini proposed that Zoskales
Zoskales
Zoskales was a king in the Horn of Africa, whose realm is thought to include Axum.The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentions him as ruler of the port of Adulis, whose territory extended "from the Moschophagoi ['calf-eaters'] to the rest of Barbaria .....

 of Axum, mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea is a Greco-Roman periplus, written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and India...

, should be identified with one Za Haqle mentioned in the Ethiopian King Lists (a view embraced by later historians of Ethiopia such as Yuri M. Kobishchanov and Sergew Hable Sellasie), G.W.B. Huntingford argued that Zoskales was only a sub-king whose authority was limited to Adulis
Adulis
Adulis or Aduli is an archeological site in the Northern Red Sea region of Eritrea, about 30 miles south of Massawa. It was the port of the Kingdom of Aksum, located on the coast of the Red Sea. Adulis Bay is named after the port...

, and that Conti Rossini's identification can not be substantiated.

Inscriptions have been found in southern Arabia celebrating victories over one GDRT
GDRT
GDRT was a king of the Kingdom of Aksum , known for being the first king to involve Axum in the affairs of what is now Yemen. He is known primarily from inscriptions in South Arabia that mention him and his son BYGT...

, described as "nagashi of Habashat
Habesha people
The term Habesha ābešā, Ḥābešā; al-Ḥabašah) refers to the South Semitic-speaking group of people whose cultural, linguistic, and in certain cases, ancestral origins trace back to those people who ruled the Axumite Empire and the kingdom known as DʿMT .Peoples referred to as "Habesha" today...

 [i.e. Abyssinia] and of Axum." Other dated inscriptions are used to determine a floruit for GDRT (interpreted as representing a Ge'ez name such as Gadarat, Gedur, Gadurat or Gedara) around the beginning of the 3rd century. A bronze scepter or wand has been discovered at Atsbi Dera with in inscription mentioning "GDR of Axum". Coins showing the royal portrait began to be minted under King Endubis
Endubis
Endubis was a king of Axum, a city in Ethiopia. He was among the earliest rulers of Aksum, and Africa for that matter, to mint coins. These coins were issued in gold and silver....

 toward the end of the 3rd century.

Christianity was introduced into the country by Frumentius, who was consecrated first bishop of Ethiopia by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

 about
330. Frumentius converted Ezana, who has left several inscriptions detailing his reign both before and after his conversion. One inscription found at Axum, states that he conquered the nation of the Bogos, and returned thanks to his father, the god Mars, for his victory. Later inscriptions show Ezana's growing attachment to Christianity, and Ezana's coins bear this out, shifting from a design with disc and crescent to a design with a cross. Expeditions by Ezana
Ezana of Axum
Ezana of Axum , was ruler of the Axumite Kingdom located in present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, he himself employed the style "king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan"...

 into the Kingdom of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

 at Meroe
Meroë
Meroë Meroitic: Medewi or Bedewi; Arabic: and Meruwi) is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah...

 in Sudan may have brought about its demise, though there is evidence that the kingdom was experiencing a period of decline beforehand. As a result of Ezana's expansions, Aksum bordered the Roman province of Egypt
Aegyptus (Roman province)
The Roman province of Egypt was established in 30 BC after Octavian defeated his rival Mark Antony, deposed his lover Queen Cleopatra VII and annexed the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt to the Roman Empire. The province encompassed most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula...

. The degree of Ezana's control over Yemen is uncertain. Though there is little evidence supporting Aksumite control of the region at that time, his title, which includes king of Saba and Salhen, Himyar and Dhu-Raydan (all in modern-day Yemen), along with gold Aksumite coins with the inscriptions, "king of the Habshat" or "Habashite," indicate that Aksum might have retained some legal or actual footing in the area.

From the scanty evidence available it would appear that the new religion at first made little progress. Towards the close of the 5th century a great company of monks known as the Nine Saints
Nine Saints
The Nine Saints were a group of missionaries who were important in the initial growth of Christianity in what is now Ethiopia during the late 5th century. Their names were Abba Aftse, Abba Alef, Abba Aragawi, Abba Garima , Abba Guba, Abba Liqanos, Abba Pantelewon, Abba Sehma, and Abba Yem’ata...

 are believed to have established themselves in the country. Since that time monasticism
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

 has been a power among the people and not without its influence on the course of events.

The Axumite Kingdom is recorded once again as controlling part – if not all – of Yemen in the 6th century. Around 523, the Jewish king Dhu Nuwas
Dhu Nuwas
Yūsuf Dhū Nuwas, was the last king of the Himyarite kingdom of Yemen and a convert to Judaism....

 came to power in Yemen and, announcing that he would kill all the Christians, attacked an Aksumite garrison at Zafar
Zafar, Yemen
Ẓafār or Dhafar is an ancient Himyarite site situated in the Yemen, some 130 km south-south-east of the capital Sana'a. Given mention in different ancient texts, there is little doubt about the pronunciation of the name...

, burning the city's churches. He then attacked the Christian stronghold of Najran
Najran
Najran , formerly known as Aba as Sa'ud, is a city in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen. It is the capital of Najran Province. Designated a New town, Najran is one of the fastest-growing cities in the kingdom; its population has risen from 47,500 in 1974 and 90,983 in 1992 to...

, slaughtering the Christians who would not convert. Emperor Justin I
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

 of the Eastern Roman empire requested that his fellow Christian, Kaleb
Kaleb of Axum
Kaleb is perhaps the best-documented, if not best-known, king of Axum. Procopius of Caesarea calls him "Hellestheaeus", a variant of his throne name Ella Atsbeha or Ella Asbeha...

, help fight the Yemenite king, and around 525, Kaleb invaded and defeated Dhu Nuwas, appointing his Christian follower Sumuafa' Ashawa' as his viceroy. This dating is tentative, however, as the basis of the year 525 for the invasion is based on the death of the ruler of Yemen at the time, who very well could have been Kaleb's viceroy. Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

 records that after about five years, Abraha
Abraha
Abraha also known as Abraha al-Ashram or Abraha b...

 deposed the viceroy and made himself king (Histories 1.20). Despite several attempted invasions across the Red Sea, Kaleb was unable to dislodge Abreha, and acquiesced in the change; this was the last time Ethiopian armies left Africa until the 20th century when several units participated in the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. Eventually Kaleb abdicated in favor of his son Wa'zeb
W`ZB
W`ZB or Ella Gabaz was a king of Axum . He uses the name "Ella Gabaz" on his coinage, but calls himself W`ZB in an inscription where he states he is the "son of Ella Atsbeha", or king Kaleb....

 and retired to a monastery, where he ended his days. Abraha later made peace with Kaleb's successor and recognized his suzerainty. Despite this reverse, under Ezana and Kaleb the kingdom was at its height, benefiting from a large trade, which extended as far as India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Ceylon, and were in constant communication with the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

.

Details of the Axumite Kingdom, never abundant, become even more scarce after this point. The last king known to mint coins is Armah
Armah
Armah was a king of Axum. He is primarily known through the coins minted during his reign, although it has been suggested as long ago as 1895 that he was identical to Ashama ibn Abjar, who gave shelter to the Muslim emigrants around 615-6 at Axum....

, whose coinage refers to the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614. An early Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 tradition is that the Negus
Negus
Negus is a title in Ge'ez, Tigrinya, Tigre and Amharic, used for a king and at times also a vassal ruler in pre-1974 Ethiopia and pre-1890 Eritrea. It is subsequently used to translate the word "king" in Biblical and other literature...

 Ashama ibn Abjar
Ashama ibn Abjar
According to Arabic sources, Aṣḥama ibn Abjar was Emperor or al-Najashi of Aksum at the time of Muhammad, and gave refuge to several Muslims in the Kingdom of Aksum. The term "al-Najashi" has the variant al-Negashi; it corresponds to the ancient Aksumite title Negus, with the variant Negash...

 offered asylum to a group of Muslims fleeing persecution during Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's life (615), but Stuart Munro-Hay believes that Axum had been abandoned as the capital by then – although Kobishchanov states that Ethiopian raiders plagued the Red Sea, preying on Arabian ports at least as late as 702.

Some people believed the end of the Axumite Kingdom is as much of a mystery as its beginning. Lacking a detailed history, the kingdom's fall has been attributed to a persistent drought, overgrazing, deforestation, plague, a shift in trade routes that reduced the importance of the Red Sea—or a combination of these factors. Munro-Hay cites the Muslim historian Abu Ja'far al-Khwarazmi/Kharazmi (who wrote before 833) as stating that the capital of "the kingdom of Habash" was Jarma. Unless Jarma is a nickname for Axum (hypothetically from Ge'ez girma, "remarkable, revered"), the capital had moved from Axum to a new site, yet undiscovered.

The Ethiopian Dark Ages


About 1000 (presumably c 960), a non-Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 princess, Yodit
Gudit
Gudit is a semi-legendary, non-Christian, Beta Israel, queen who laid waste to Axum and its countryside, destroyed churches and monuments, and attempted to exterminate the members of the ruling Axumite dynasty...

 ("Gudit", a play on Yodit meaning evil), conspired to murder all the members of the royal family and establish herself as monarch. According to legends, during the execution of the royals, an infant heir of the Axumite monarch was carted off by some faithful adherents, and conveyed to Shewa
Shewa
Shewa is a historical region of Ethiopia, formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire...

, where his authority was acknowledged, while Yodit reigned for forty years over the rest of the kingdom, and transmitted the crown to her descendants.

At one point during the next century, the last of Yodit's successors were overthrown by an Agaw
Agaw
The Agaw are an ethnic group in Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea.-History:The Agaw are perhaps first mentioned in the 3rd c. AD Aksumite inscription recorded by Cosmas Indicopleustes in the 6th century...

 lord named Mara Takla Haymanot
Mara Takla Haymanot
Mara Takla Haymanot was Nəgusä nägäst of Ethiopia, and the founder of the Zagwe dynasty. Some King Lists give his name simply as "Mararah", and other King Lists as "Takla Haymanot"....

, who founded the Zagwe dynasty
Zagwe dynasty
The Zagwe dynasty was an historical kingdom in present-day Ethiopia. It ruled large parts of the territory from approximately 1137 to 1270, when the last Zagwe King Za-Ilmaknun was killed in battle by the forces of Yekuno Amlak...

 and married a female descendant of the Axumite monarchs ("son-in-law") or previous ruler.

Ethiopia and the Crusades


Although Medieval Ethiopia was very isolated from the other Christian Nations, they did maintain a degree of contract through Jerusalem. Like many other nations and denominations, the Ethiopian Church maintained a series of small chapels and even an annex at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

, after retaking the Holy City in 1187, expressly invited the Ethiopian monks to return and even exempted Ethiopian pilgrims from the pilgrim tax. His motivation for this kindness is unknown; perhaps Saladin
Saladin
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb , better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant...

 remembered the hirjah where Ethiopia sheltered the first Muslims, or perhaps it was simple kindness.{{Cite|date=November 2011}} Either way, his two edicts provide evidence of Ethiopia's contact with these Crusader States during this period. It was during this period that the great Ethiopian king Gebre Mesqel Lalibela
Gebre Mesqel Lalibela
Gebre Mesqel Lalibela , also called simply "Lalibela", which means "the bees recognise his sovereignty" in Old Agaw, was negus or king of Ethiopia and a member of the Zagwe dynasty. He is also considered a saint by the Ethiopian church. According to Taddesse Tamrat, he was the son of Jan Seyum and...

 ordered the construction of the legendary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela
Lalibela
Lalibela is a town in northern Ethiopia, known for its monolithic churches. Lalibela is one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, second only to Aksum, and is a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. Unlike Aksum, the population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian...

.

Later, as the Crusades were dying out in the early fourteenth century, the Ethiopian King Wedem Ar'ad dispatched a thirty man mission to Europe, where they traveled to Rome to meet the Pope and then, since the Medieval Papacy was in schism, they traveled to Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 to meet the Antipope
Antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

. During this trip, the Ethiopian mission also traveled to France, Spain and Portugal in the hopes of building an alliance against the Muslim states then threatening Ethiopia's existence. Plans were even drawn up of a two-pronged invasion of Egypt with the French King, but nothing ever came of the talks, although this brought Ethiopia back to Europe's attention, leading to expansion of European influence when the Portuguese explorers reached the Indian Ocean.

Ethiopian Empire


Around 1270, a new dynasty was established in the Abyssinian highlands under Yekuno Amlak who deposed the last of the Zagwe kings and married one of his daughters. According to legends, the new dynasty were male-line descendants of Axumite monarchs, now recognized as the continuing Solomonic dynasty
Solomonic dynasty
The Solomonic dynasty is the Imperial House of Abyssinia. Its members claim lineal descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, the latter of whom tradition asserts gave birth to the first King Menelik I after her Biblically described visit to Solomon in Jerusalem .-Overview:The dynasty, a...

 (the kingdom being thus restored to the biblical royal house).

Under the Solomonic dynasty, the chief provinces became Tigray
Tigray Province
Tigray was a province of Ethiopia. The Tigray Region superseded the province with the adoption of the new constitution in 1995. The province of Tigre merged with its neighboring provinces, including Semien, Tembien, Agame and the prominent Enderta province and towards the end of 19th century it...

 (northern), Amhara
Amhara province
Amhara was the name of a medieval province of Ethiopia, located in present day Amhara Region, and the pre-1996 province of Wollo...

 (central) and Shewa
Shewa
Shewa is a historical region of Ethiopia, formerly an autonomous kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire...

 (southern). The seat of government, or rather of overlordship, had usually been in Amhara or Shewa, the ruler of which, calling himself {{unicode
Emperor of Ethiopia
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia until the abolition of the monarchy in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country...

, exacted tribute, when he could, from the other provinces. The title of {{unicode|nəgusä nägäst}} was to a considerable extent based on their alleged direct descent from Solomon and the queen of Sheba; but it is needless to say that in many, if not in most, cases their success was due more to the force of their arms than to the purity of their lineage.

Portuguese influence


Towards the close of the 15th century the Portuguese missions into Ethiopia began. A belief had long prevailed in Europe of the existence of a Christian kingdom in the far east, whose monarch was known as Prester John
Prester John
The legends of Prester John were popular in Europe from the 12th through the 17th centuries, and told of a Christian patriarch and king said to rule over a Christian nation lost amidst the Muslims and pagans in the Orient. Written accounts of this kingdom are variegated collections of medieval...

, and various expeditions had been sent in quest of it. Among others engaged in this search was Pêro da Covilhã
Pêro da Covilhã
Pedro or Pêro da Covilhã was a Portuguese diplomat and explorer.He was a native of Covilhã in Beira. In his early life he had gone to Castile and entered the service of Alphonso, Duke of Seville...

, who arrived in Ethiopia in 1490, and, believing that he had at length reached the far-famed kingdom, presented to the {{unicode|nəgusä nägäst}} of the country, a letter from his master the king of Portugal, addressed to Prester John.

Pêro da Covilhã remained in the country, but in 1507 an Armenian named Matthew
Mateus (Ethiopia)
Mateus also known as Matthew the Armenian was an Ethiopian ambassador sent by regent queen Eleni of Ethiopia to king Manuel I of Portugal and to the Pope in Rome, in search of a coalition to help on the increasing threat that Ethiopia faced from the growing Ottoman influence in the region, with...

 was sent by the Emperor to the king of Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 to request his aid against the Muslims. In 1520 a Portuguese fleet, with Matthew on board, entered the Red Sea in compliance with this request, and an embassy from the fleet visited the Emperor, Lebna Dengel
Dawit II of Ethiopia
Dawit II , enthroned as Emperor Anbasa Segad , better known by his birth name Lebna Dengel was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

, and remained in Ethiopia for about six years. One of this embassy was Father Francisco Álvares
Francisco Álvares
Francisco Álvares was a Portuguese missionary and explorer. In 1515 he traveled to Ethiopia as part of the Portuguese embassy to emperor Lebna Dengel accompanied by returning Ethiopian ambassador Matheus. The embassy arrived only in 1520 to Ethiopia where he joined long sought Portuguese envoy...

, who wrote one of the earliest and not the least interesting account of the country.

The Abyssinian-Adal War


{{Main|Abyssinian-Adal War}}
Between 1528 and 1540 armies of Muslims, under the Imam
Imam
An imam is an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. Similar to spiritual leaders, the imam is the one who leads Islamic worship services. More often, the community turns to the mosque imam if they have a religious question...

 Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi
Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi
Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi "the Conqueror" was an Imam and General of Adal who invaded Ethiopia and defeated several Ethiopian emperors, wreaking much damage on that kingdom...

, entered Ethiopia from the low country to the south-east, and overran the kingdom, obliging the emperor to take refuge in the mountain fastnesses. In this extremity recourse was again had to the Portuguese. João Bermudes, a subordinate member of the mission of 1520, who had remained in the country after the departure of the embassy, was, according to his own statement (which is untrustworthy), ordained successor to the Abuna
Abuna
Also see Leaders of ChristianityAbun is the honorific title used for any bishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church as well as of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church...

(archbishop), and sent to Lisbon. Bermudes certainly came to Europe, but with what credentials is not known.

In response to Bermudes message, a Portuguese fleet under the command of Estêvão da Gama, was sent from India and arrived at Massawa
Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

 in February 1541. Here he received an ambassador from the Emperor beseeching him to send help against the Muslims, and in the July following a force of 400 musketeers, under the command of Cristóvão da Gama
Cristovão da Gama
Cristóvão da Gama was a Portuguese soldier, who led a Portuguese army of 400 musketeers on a crusade in Ethiopia and Somalia against the far larger Somali Muslim army of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi aided by the Ottoman Empire...

, younger brother of the admiral, marched into the interior, and being joined by native troops were at first successful against the enemy; but they were subsequently defeated at the Battle of Wofla
Battle of Wofla
The Battle of Wofla was fought on August 28, 1542 near Lake Ashenge in Wofla in the modern Ethiopian Region of Tigray , between the Portuguese under Cristóvão da Gama and the forces of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi...

 (28 August 1542), and their commander captured and executed. On February 21, 1543, however, Ahmad was shot and killed in the Battle of Wayna Daga
Battle of Wayna Daga
The Battle of Wayna Daga occurred 21 February 1543 east of Lake Tana in Ethiopia. Led by the Emperor Galawdewos, the combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeated the Muslim army led by Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi. Tradition states that Ahmad was killed by a Portuguese musketeer,...

 and his forces totally routed. After this, quarrels arose between the Emperor and Bermudes, who had returned to Ethiopia with Gama and now urged the emperor to publicly profess his obedience to Rome. This the Emperor refused to do, and at length Bermudes was obliged to make his way out of the country.

Ethiopia had several Muslim States: See Ifat of the Walashma dynasty
Walashma dynasty
The Walashma dynasty was a Muslim noble family based in the Horn of Africa. It ruled the Ifat Sultanate, in parts of what are now eastern Ethiopia, Djibouti and western Somalia.-History:...

and Adal Sultanate
Adal Sultanate
The Adal Sultanate or the Kingdom of Adal was a medieval multi-ethnic Muslim state located in the Horn of Africa.-Overview:...

.

The Jesuits


The Jesuits
Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...

 who had accompanied or followed the Gama expedition into Ethiopia, and fixed their headquarters at Fremona
Fremona
Fremona was a town in northern Ethiopia, located in the modern Tigray Region. The town was about a mile in circumference and was flanked with towers. It served as the base of the Roman Catholic missionaries to Ethiopia during the 16th and 17th centuries...

 (near Adwa
Adwa
Adwa is a market town in northern Ethiopia, and best known as the community closest to the decisive Battle of Adowa fought in 1896 with Italian troops. Notably, Ethiopian soldiers won the battle, thus being the only African nation to thwart European colonialism...

), were oppressed and neglected, but not actually expelled. In the beginning of the 17th century Father Pedro Páez
Pedro Páez
Pedro Páez Jaramillo was a Spanish Jesuit missionary in Ethiopia. Páez is considered by many experts on Ethiopia to be the most effective Catholic missionary in Ethiopia...

 arrived at Fremona, a man of great tact and judgment, who soon rose into high favour at court, and won over the emperor to his faith. He directed the erection of churches, palaces and bridges in different parts of the country, and carried out many useful works. His successor Afonso Mendes was less tactful, and excited the feelings of the people against him and his fellow Europeans, until upon the death of Emperor Susenyos
Susenyos of Ethiopia
Susenyos was of Ethiopia...

 and the accession of his son Fasilides
Fasilides of Ethiopia
Fasilides was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

 in 1633, the Jesuits were expelled.

The Period of the Princes


{{main|Zemene Mesafint}}
This era was, on one hand, a religious conflict between settling Muslims and traditional Christians, between nationalities they represented, and on the other hand between feudal lords on power over the central government.

Some historians date the murder of Iyasu I
Iyasu I of Ethiopia
Iyasu I , also known as Iyasu the Great, was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

, and the resultant decline in the prestige of the dynasty, as the beginning of the Ethiopian Zemene Mesafint
Zemene Mesafint
The Zemene Mesafint was a period in Ethiopian history when the country was rent by conflicts between warlords, the Emperor was reduced to little more than a figurehead confined to the capital city of...

 ("Era of the Princes"), a time of disorder when the power of the monarchy was eclipsed by the power of local warlords.

Nobles came to abuse their positions by making emperors, and encroached upon the succession of the dynasty, by candidates among the nobility itself: e.g. on the death of Emperor Tewoflos
Tewoflos of Ethiopia
Tewoflos or Theophilus was of Ethiopia and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

, the chief nobles of Ethiopia feared that the cycle of vengeance that had characterized the reigns of Tewoflos and Tekle Haymanot I
Tekle Haymanot I of Ethiopia
Tekle Haymanot I was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Iyasu I and Empress Malakotawit...

 would continue if a member of the Solomonic dynasty were picked for the throne, so they selected one of their own, Yostos
Yostos of Ethiopia
Yostos or Justus was of Ethiopia.According to James Bruce, he was the son of Delba Iyasu and a daughter of Emperor Iyasu I...

 to be negusa nagast (king of kings) - however his tenure was brief.

Iyasu II ascended the throne as a child. His mother, Empress Mentewab played a major role in Iyasu's reign, as well as in that of her grandson Iyoas
Iyoas I of Ethiopia
Iyoas I or Joas I was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

 too. Mentewab had herself crowned as co-ruler, becoming the first woman to be crowned in this manner in Ethiopian history.

Empress Mentewab was crowned co-ruler upon the succession of her son (a first for a woman in Ethiopia) in 1730, and held unprecedented power over government during his reign. Her attempt to continue in this role following the death of her son 1755 led her into conflict with Wubit (Welete Bersabe), his widow, who believed that it was her turn to preside at the court of her own son Iyoas. The conflict between these two queens led to Mentewab summoning her Kwaran relatives and their forces to Gondar to support her. Wubit responded by summoning her own Oromo
Oromo people
The Oromo are an ethnic group found in Ethiopia, northern Kenya, .and parts of Somalia. With 30 million members, they constitute the single largest ethnic group in Ethiopia and approximately 34.49% of the population according to the 2007 census...

 relatives and their considerable forces from Yejju.

The treasure of the Empire being allegedly penniless on the death of Iyasu, it suffered further from ethnic conflict between nationalities that been part of the Empire for hundreds of years—the Agaw, Amharans, Showans, and Tigreans
Tigray-Tigrinya people
Tigray-Tigrinya are an ethnic group who live in the southern, central and northern parts of Eritrea and the northern highlands of Ethiopia's Tigray province. They also live in Ethiopia's former provinces of Begemder and Wollo, which are today mostly part of Amhara Region, though a few regions...

 -- and the Oromo newcomers. Mentewab's attempt to strengthen ties between the monarchy and the Oromo by arranging the marriage of her son to the daughter of an Oromo chieftain backfired in the long run. Iyasu II gave precedence to his mother and allowed her every prerogative as a crowned co-ruler, while his wife Wubit suffered in obscurity. Wubit waited for the accession of her own son to make a bid for the power wielded for so long by Mentewab and her relatives from Qwara
Qwara Province
Qwara was a province in Ethiopia, located between Lake Tana and the frontier with Sudan, and stretcing from Agawmeder in the south as far north as Metemma...

. When Iyoas assumed the throne upon his father's sudden death, the aristocrats of Gondar
Gondar
Gondar or Gonder is a city in Ethiopia, which was once the old imperial capital and capital of the historic Begemder Province. As a result, the old province of Begemder is sometimes referred to as Gondar...

 were stunned to find that he more readily spoke in the Oromo language
Oromo language
Oromo, also known as Afaan Oromo, Oromiffa, Afan Boran, Afan Orma, and sometimes in other languages by variant spellings of these names , is an Afro-Asiatic language, and the most widely spoken of the Cushitic family. Forms of Oromo are spoken as a first language by more than 25 million Oromo and...

 rather than in Amharic
Amharic language
Amharic is a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia. It is the second most-spoken Semitic language in the world, after Arabic, and the official working language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Thus, it has official status and is used nationwide. Amharic is also the official or working...

, and tended to favor his mother's Yejju relatives over the Qwarans of his grandmothers family. Iyoas further increased the favor given to the Oromo when adult. On the death of the Ras of Amhara, he attempted to promote his uncle Lubo governor of that province, but the outcry led his advisor Wolde Leul to convince him to change his mind.

It is believed that the power struggle between the Qwarans led by the Empress Mentewab, and the Yejju Oromos led by the Emperor's mother Wubit was about to erupt into an armed conflict. Ras Mikael Sehul
Mikael Sehul
Mikael Sehul was a Ras or governor of Tigray 1748–71 and again from 1772 until his death...

 was summoned to mediate between the two camps. He arrived and shrewdly maneuvered to sideline the two queens and their supporters making a bid for power for himself. Mikael settled soon as the leader of Amharic-Tigrean (Christian) camp of the struggle.

The reign of Iyaos' reign becomes a narrative of the struggle between the powerful Ras Mikael Sehul and the Oromo relatives of Iyoas. As Iyoas increasingly favored Oromo leaders like Fasil, his relations with Mikael Sehul deteriorated. Eventually Mikael Sehul deposed the Emperor Iyoas (7 May 1769). One week later, Mikael Sehul had him killed; although the details of his death are contradictory, the result was clear: for the first time an Emperor had lost his throne in a means other than his own natural death, death in battle, or voluntary abdication.

Mikael Sehul had compromised the power of the Emperor, and from this point forward it lay ever more openly in the hands of the great nobles and military commanders. This point of time has been regarded as one start of the Era of the Princes.

An aged and infirm imperial uncle prince was enthroned as Emperor Yohannes II
Yohannes II of Ethiopia
Yohannes II or John II was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Iyasu I, and brother of Emperors Tekle Haymanot, Dawit III and Bakaffa....

. Ras Mikael soon had him murdered, and underage Tekle Haymanot II
Tekle Haymanot II of Ethiopia
Tekle Haymanot II was as Admas Sagad III of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

 was elevated to the throne.

This bitter religious conflict contributed to hostility toward foreign Christians and Europeans, which persisted into the 20th century and was a factor in Ethiopia's isolation until the mid-19th century, when the first British mission, sent in 1805 to conclude an alliance with Ethiopia and obtain a port on the Red Sea in case France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 conquered Egypt. The success of this mission opened Ethiopia to many more travellers, missionaries and merchants of all countries, and the stream of Europeans continued until well into Tewodros
Tewodros II of Ethiopia
Tewodros II was the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1855 until his death....

's reign.

This isolation was pierced by very few European travellers. One was the French physician C.J. Poncet, who went there in 1698, via Sennar and the Blue Nile. After him James Bruce
James Bruce
James Bruce was a Scottish traveller and travel writer who spent more than a dozen years in North Africa and Ethiopia, where he traced the origins of the Blue Nile.-Youth:...

 entered the country in 1769, with the object of discovering the sources of the Nile, which he was convinced lay in Ethiopia. Accordingly, leaving Massawa in September 1769, he travelled via Axum to Gondar, where he was well received by Emperor Tekle Haymanot II. He accompanied the king on a warlike expedition round Lake Tana, moving South round the eastern shore, crossing the Blue Nile (Abay) close to its point of issue from the lake and returning via the western shore. Bruce subsequently returned to Egypt at the end of 1772 by way of the upper Atbara, through the kingdom of Sennar, the Nile, and the Korosko desert.

During the 18th century the most prominent rulers were the emperor Dawit III
Dawit III of Ethiopia
Dawit III , also known as Dawit the Singer, was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty. He was the son of Iyasu I and his concubine Kedeste Krestos.Three important religious events happened during his reign...

 of Gondar (died May 18, 1721), Amha Iyasus
Amha Iyasus
Amha Iyasus, better known as Ammehayes , was a Meridazmach of Shewa, an important Amhara noble of Ethiopia...

 of Shewa), who consolidated his kingdom and founded Ankober
Ankober
Ankober is a town in central Ethiopia and one of the capitals of the former kingdom of Shewa. Located in the Semien Shewa Zone of the Amhara Region, Ankober is perched on the eastern escarpment of the Ethiopian Highlands 40 kilometers to the east of Debre Birhan, with a latitude and longitude of ,...

, and Tekle Giyorgis
Tekle Giyorgis I of Ethiopia
Tekle Giyorgis I was Emperor of Ethiopia intermittently between 20 July 1779 and June 1800, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

 of Amhara) - the last-mentioned is famous of having been elevated to the throne altogether six times and also deposed six times. The first years of the 19th century were disturbed by fierce campaigns between Ras Gugsa
Gugsa of Yejju
Gugsa of Yejju was a Ras of Begemder , and Inderase of the Emperor of Ethiopia. According to Nathaniel Pearce, he took the Christian name of Wolde Mikael. He was the son of Mersu Barentu and Kefey, the sister of Ras Aligaz. Both Bahru Zewde and Paul B...

 of Begemder, and Ras Wolde Selassie
Wolde Selassie
Wolde Selassie He was an Overlord of Tigray-Mereb Milash and a Ras Bitwoded of Ethiopia. He was the second son of Dejazmach Kefla Iyasus Amdamikael, hereditary chief of Enderta...

 of Tigray, who fought over control of the figurehead Emperor Egwale Seyon
Egwale Seyon of Ethiopia
Egwale Seyon or Gwalu was of Ethiopia, and a member of the Solomonic dynasty...

. Wolde Selassie was eventually the victor, and practically ruled the whole country till his death in 1816 at the age of eighty.

Dejazmach Sabagadis
Sabagadis
Sabagadis was a Dejazmach or governor of Tigray, a province in northern Ethiopia. He was the son of Shum Waldu of Agame, and a member of the Irob people.- Life :...

 of Agame
Agame
The Agame is a former province in northern Ethiopia, now part of the Tigray Region. Its inhabitants include the Irob people, a region where tradition states the legendary Makeda was born and raised...

 succeeded Wolde Selassie in 1817, through force of arms, to become warlord of Tigre.

Restoration of Imperial power


Under the Emperors Tewodros II (1855–1868), Yohannes IV
Yohannes IV of Ethiopia
Yohannes IV , born Lij Kassay Mercha Ge'ez, was Emperor of Ethiopia from 1872 until his death.-Early life:...

 (1872–1889), and Menelek II (1889–1913), the empire began to emerge from its isolation. Under Emperor Yohannes IV, the "Age of the Princes
Zemene Mesafint
The Zemene Mesafint was a period in Ethiopian history when the country was rent by conflicts between warlords, the Emperor was reduced to little more than a figurehead confined to the capital city of...

" (Zemene Mesafint
Zemene Mesafint
The Zemene Mesafint was a period in Ethiopian history when the country was rent by conflicts between warlords, the Emperor was reduced to little more than a figurehead confined to the capital city of...

) was brought to an end.

Emperor Tewodros (or Theodore) II was born Lij Kassa in Qwara, in 1818. His father was a small local chief, and his relative (possible uncle) Dejazmach Kinfu was governor of the provinces of Dembiya
Dembiya
Dembiya is a historic region of Ethiopia, intimately linked with Lake Tana. According to the account of Manuel de Almeida, Dembiya was "bounded on East by Begemder, on South by Gojjam, on West by Agaws of Achefer and Tangha...

, Qwara and Chelga between Lake Tana and the northwestern frontier. Kassa lost his inheritance upon the death of Kinfu while he was still a young boy. After receiving a traditional education in a local monastery, he went off to lead a band of bandits that roved the country in a Robin Hood-like existence. His exploits became widely known, and his band of followers grew steadily until he led a formidable army. He came to the notice of the ruling Regent, Ras Ali, and his mother Empress Menen Liben Amede (wife of the puppet Emperor Yohannes III
Yohannes III of Ethiopia
Emperor Yohannes III was the last of the elder "Gondar" line of the Solomonic dynasty to reign over Ethiopia. He was the son of Tekle Giyorgis. He was largely a figurehead, with real power in the hands of the Enderase or Regent, Ras Ali II a princeling of the Oromo ruling family of the district of...

). In order to bind him to them, Ras Ali and the Empress arranged for Kassa to marry Ali's daughter, and upon the death of his uncle Kinfu, he was made chief of Kwara and all Dembea with the title of Dejazmatch. He turned his attention to conquering the remaining chief divisions of the country, Gojjam, Tigray and Shewa, which still remained unsubdued. His relations with his father-in-law and grandmother-in-law deteriorated however, and he soon took up arms against them and their vassals, and was successful.

On February 11, 1855, Kassa deposed the last of the Gondarine puppet Emperors, and was crowned negusa nagast of Ethiopia under the name of Tewodros II. He soon after advanced against Shewa with a large army. Chief of the notables opposing him was its king Haile Melekot
Haile Melekot
Haile Malakot was Negus of Shewa, a historical region of Ethiopia, from 12 October 1847 until his death. He was the older son of Negus Sahle Selassie and his wife Woizero Bezabish Wolde...

, a descendant of Meridazmach Asfa Wossen
Asfa Wossen
Asfa Wossen was a Meridazmach of Shewa, an important noble office of Ethiopia...

. Dissensions broke out among the Shewans, and after a desperate and futile attack on Tewodros at Dabra Berhan, Haile Melekot died of illness, nominating with his last breath his eleven-year-old son as successor (November 1855) under the name Negus Sahle Maryam (the future emperor Menelek II). Darge
Darge Sahle Selassie
Ras Darge Sahle Selassie was an Ethiopian prince. He was the son of Negus Sahle Selassie of Shewa and half-brother to Negus Haile Melekot, and the much respected and much loved uncle of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia....

, Haile Melekot's brother, and Ato Bezabih, a Shewan noble, took charge of the young prince, but after a hard fight with Angeda, the Shewans were obliged to capitulate. Sahle Maryam was handed over to the Emperor, taken to Gondar, and there trained in Tewodros’s service, and then placed in comfortable detention at the fortress of Magdala. Tewodoros afterwards devoted himself to modernizing and centralizing the legal and administrative structure of his kingdom, against the resistance of his governors. Sahle Maryam of Shewa was married to Tewodros II’s daughter Alitash.

In 1865, Sahle Maryam escaped from Maqdala, abandoning his wife, and arrived in Shewa, and was there acclaimed as Negus
Negus
Negus is a title in Ge'ez, Tigrinya, Tigre and Amharic, used for a king and at times also a vassal ruler in pre-1974 Ethiopia and pre-1890 Eritrea. It is subsequently used to translate the word "king" in Biblical and other literature...

. Tewodros forged an alliance between Britain and Ethiopia, but as explained in the next section, he committed suicide after a military defeat by the British. On the death of Tewodros, many Shewans, including Ras Darge, were released, and the young Negus of Shewa began to feel himself strong enough, after a few preliminary minor campaigns, to undertake offensive operations against the northern princes. But these projects were of little avail, for Ras Kassai of Tigray, had by this time (1872) risen to supreme power in the north. Proclaiming himself negusa nagast under the name of Yohannes (or John) IV, he forced Sahle Maryam to acknowledge his overlordship.

When Tewodros (emperor from 1855 to 1868) died in 1868, three men emerged hoping to become the next emperor: Wagshum Gobaze Gebre Medhen of Lasta, King Menelik II of Shewa, and Dajazmach Kassa Mercha of Tigray. Wagshum Gobaze was the ruler of Amhara, Wag, and Lasta (Pankhurst, R. 1998, 162). When Tewodros was killed, Gobaze occupied Gondar and crowned himself Emperor Tekle Giyorgis II. No one took his coronation seriously because there was no abun (Prouty, C. and Rosenfeld, E. 1982, 169). The second aspiring man, Menelik, became prominent once he escaped from Tewodros’ imprisonment in 1865. After his escape, with the support of family and friends, he became the ruler of the province of Shewa. But it was the third man, the one who wanted the title the least, who became the next true leader of Ethiopia.

In early 1868, the British force seeking Tewodros’ surrender, after he refused to release imprisoned British subjects, arrived on the coast of Massawa. The British and Dajazmach Kassa came to an agreement in which Kassa would let the British pass through Tigray (the British were going to Magdala which Tewodros had made his capital) in exchange for money and weapons. Surely enough, when the British completed their mission and were leaving the country, they rewarded Kassa for his cooperation with artillery, muskets, rifles, and munitions, all in all worth approximately £500,000 (Marcus 2002, 71-72). This formidable gift came in handy when in July 1871 the current emperor, Emperor Tekle Giyorgis II, attacked Kassa at his capital in Adwa, for Kassa had refused to be named a ras or pay tribute (Marcus, H. 2002, 72). Although Kassa’s army was outnumbered 12,000 to the emperor’s 60,000, Kassa’s army was equipped with more modern weapons and better trained. At battle’s end, forty percent of the emperor’s men had been captured. The emperor was imprisoned and would die a year later. Six months later on 21 January 1872, Kassa became the new emperor under the name Yohannes IV (Zewde, B. 2001, 43).

Interactions with European colonial powers


{{main|1868 Expedition to Abyssinia|Battle of Adwa|Ethiopian coup d'état of 1928 }}
Ethiopia was not colonized by a European power until 1936 (see below); however, several colonial powers had interests and designs on Ethiopia in the context of the 19th century “Scramble for Africa
Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa or Partition of Africa was a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914...

.”

When Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

, Queen of the United Kingdom, in 1867 failed to answer a letter Tewodros II of Ethiopia had sent her, he took it as an insult and imprisoned several British residents, including the consul. An army of 12,000 was sent from Bombay to Ethiopia to rescue the captured nationals
1868 Expedition to Abyssinia
The British 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia was a punitive expedition carried out by armed forces of the British Empire against the Ethiopian Empire...

, under the command of Sir Robert Napier. The Ethiopians were defeated, and the British stormed the fortress of Magdala (now known as Amba Mariam
Amba Mariam
Amba Mariam is a village in central Ethiopia. It was known as Magdala or Meqdela during the reign of Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia...

) on April 13, 1868. When the Emperor heard that the gate had fallen, he fired a pistol into his mouth and killed himself. Sir Robert Napier was raised to the peerage, and given the title of Lord Napier of Magdala.
The Italians
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 now came on the scene. Asseb, a port near the southern entrance of the Red Sea, had been bought from the local sultan in March 1870 by an Italian company, which, after acquiring more land in 1879 and 1880, was bought out by the Italian government in 1882. In this year Count Pietro Antonelli was dispatched to Shewa in order to improve the prospects of the colony by treaties with Sahle Maryam of Shewa and the sultan of Aussa.

In April 1888 the Italian forces, numbering over 20,000 men, came in contact with the Ethiopian army, but negotiations took the place of fighting, with the result that both forces retired, the Italians only leaving some 5,000 troops in Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

, later to become an Italian colony.

Meanwhile the Emperor Yohannes IV had been engaged with the dervish
Dervish
A Dervish or Darvesh is someone treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path or "Tariqah", known for their extreme poverty and austerity, similar to mendicant friars in Christianity or Hindu/Buddhist/Jain sadhus.-Etymology:The Persian word darvīsh is of ancient origin and descends from a Proto-Iranian...

es, who had in the meantime become masters of the Egyptian Sudan, and in 1887 a great battle ensued at Gallabat
Battle of Gallabat
The Battle of Gallabat was fought 9–10 March 1889 between the Mahdist Sudanese and Ethiopian forces. It is a critical event in Ethiopian history because Nəgusä Nägäst Yohannes IV was killed in this battle...

, in which the dervishes, under Zeki Tumal, were beaten. But a stray bullet struck the king, and the Ethiopians decided to retire. The king died during the night, and his body fell into the hands of the enemy (March 9, 1889). When the news of Yohannes’s death reached Sahle Maryam of Shewa, he proclaimed himself emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia, and received the submission of Begemder
Begemder
Begemder was a province in the northwestern part of Ethiopia. There are several proposed etymologies for this name...

, Gojjam, the Yejju Oromo
Yejju Oromo
Yejju Oromo is a tribe of the Barentu branch of Oromo people. They are one of the northernmost tribes of the Oromo people, which is the second largest ethnicity in Ethiopia....

, and Tigray.

On May 2 of that same year, Emperor Menelik signed the Treaty of Wuchale
Treaty of Wuchale
Treaty of Wuchale was a treaty signed by King Menelik II of Shewa, later the Emperor of Ethiopia with Count Pietro Antonelli of Italy in the town of Wuchale, Ethiopia, on 2 May 1889...

 with the Italians, granting them a portion of Northern Ethiopia, the area that would later be Eritrea and part of the province of Tigray in return for the promise of 30,000 rifles, ammunition, and cannons. The Italians notified the European powers that this treaty gave them a protectorate over all of Ethiopia. Menelik protested, showing that the Amharic version of the treaty said no such thing, but his protests were ignored.

On March 1, 1896, Ethiopia’s conflict with the Italians, the First Italo–Ethiopian War, was resolved by the complete defeat of the Italian armed forces at the Battle of Adowa
Battle of Adowa
The Battle of Adwa was fought on 1 March 1896 between Ethiopia and Italy near the town of Adwa, Ethiopia, in Tigray...

. A provisional treaty of peace was concluded at Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia...

 on October 26, 1896, which acknowledged the independence of Ethiopia.

Regarding the question of railways, the first concession for a railway from the coast at Djibouti
Djibouti
Djibouti , officially the Republic of Djibouti , is a country in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east...

 (French Somaliland) to the interior was granted by Menelik, to a French company in 1894. The railway was completed to Dire Dawa
Dire Dawa
Dire Dawa is one of two chartered cities in Ethiopia . This chartered city is divided administratively into two woredas, the city proper and the non-urban woreda of Gurgura....

, 28 miles (45.1 km) from Harrar, by the last day of 1902.

When Menelik II died, his grandson, Lij Iyassu, succeeded to the throne but soon lost support because of his Muslim ties. He was deposed in 1916 by the Christian nobility, and Menelik's daughter, Zauditu, was made empress. Her cousin, Ras Tafari Makonnen, was made regent and successor to the throne.

Upon the death of Empress Zauditu in 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen, adopting the throne name Haile Selassie, was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. His full title was “His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings of Ethiopia and Elect of God.”

Following the death of Abba Jifar II of Jimma, Emperor Haile Selassie seized the opportunity to annex Jimma. In 1932, the Kingdom of Jimma
Kingdom of Jimma
The Kingdom of Jimma was one of the kingdoms in the Gibe region of Ethiopia that emerged in the 19th century. It shared its western border with Limmu-Ennarea, its eastern border with the Sidamo kingdom of Janjero, and was separated from the Kingdom of Kaffa to the south by the Gojeb River. Jimma...

 was formally absorbed into Ethiopia. During the reorganization of the provinces in 1942, Jimma vanished into Kaffa Province
Kaffa Province, Ethiopia
Kaffa was a province on the southwestern side of Ethiopia; its capital city was Jimma. It was named after the former Kingdom of Kaffa.Kaffa was bordered on the west by Sudan, on the northwest by Illubabor, on the north by Walega, on the northeast by Shewa, on the east by Sidamo, and on the...

.

The Italian period and World War II


{{main|Second Italo-Abyssinian War|East African Campaign (World War II)}}
Emperor Haile Selassie's reign was interrupted in 1935 when Italian forces invaded and occupied
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
The Second Italo–Abyssinian War was a colonial war that started in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire...

 Ethiopia.

The Italian army, under the direction of dictator Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

, invaded Ethiopian territory on October 2, 1935. They occupied the capital Addis Ababa on May 5. Emperor Haile Selassie plead to the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 for aid in resisting the Italians. Nevertheless the country was formally annexed on May 9, 1936 and the Emperor went into exile.

The war was full of cruelty: the Ethiopians used Dum-dum
Dum-dum
An expanding bullet is a bullet designed to expand on impact, increasing in diameter to limit penetration and/or produce a larger diameter wound. They are informally known as a Dum-dum or dumdum bullets...

 bullets (prohibited by the Hague Convention
Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907)
The Hague Conventions were two international treaties negotiated at international peace conferences at The Hague in the Netherlands: The First Hague Conference in 1899 and the Second Hague Conference in 1907...

 of 1899, Declaration III) and the Italians used gas (prohibited under the Geneva Protocol
Geneva Protocol
The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, usually called the Geneva Protocol, is a treaty prohibiting the first use of chemical and biological weapons. It was signed at Geneva on June 17, 1925 and entered...

 of 1922). Many Ethiopians died in the invasion. The Negus
Negus
Negus is a title in Ge'ez, Tigrinya, Tigre and Amharic, used for a king and at times also a vassal ruler in pre-1974 Ethiopia and pre-1890 Eritrea. It is subsequently used to translate the word "king" in Biblical and other literature...

 claimed that more than 275,000 Ethiopian fighters were killed compared to only 1,537 Italians, while the Italian authorities estimated that 16,000 Ethiopians and 2,700 Italians (including Italian colonial troops) died in battle.

Italy in 1936 requested the League of Nations to recognize the annexation of Ethiopia: all member nations (including Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

), with the exception of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, voted to support it. The King of Italy (Victor Emmanuel III) was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia
Emperor of Ethiopia
The Emperor of Ethiopia was the hereditary ruler of Ethiopia until the abolition of the monarchy in 1974. The Emperor was the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country...

 and the Italians created an Italian empire
Italian Empire
The Italian Empire was created after the Kingdom of Italy joined other European powers in establishing colonies overseas during the "scramble for Africa". Modern Italy as a unified state only existed from 1861. By this time France, Spain, Portugal, Britain, and the Netherlands, had already carved...

 in Africa (Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa
Italian East Africa was an Italian colonial administrative subdivision established in 1936, resulting from the merger of the Ethiopian Empire with the old colonies of Italian Somaliland and Italian Eritrea. In August 1940, British Somaliland was conquered and annexed to Italian East Africa...

) with Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somalia. In 1937 Mussolini boasted that, with his conquest of Ethiopia, "finally Adua was avenged" and that he had abolished slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 in Ethiopia.

The Italians invested substantively in Ethiopian infrastructure development. They created the "imperial road" between Addis Abeba and Massaua, the Addis Abeba - Mogadishu
Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

 and the Addis Abeba - Assab
Assab
Assab is a port city in the Southern Red Sea Region of Eritrea on the west coast of the Red Sea. In 1989, it had a population of 39,600. Assab possesses an oil refinery, which was shut down in 1997 for economic reasons...

 . 900 km of railways were reconstructed or initiated (like the railway between Addis Abeba and Assab
Assab
Assab is a port city in the Southern Red Sea Region of Eritrea on the west coast of the Red Sea. In 1989, it had a population of 39,600. Assab possesses an oil refinery, which was shut down in 1997 for economic reasons...

), dams and hydroelectric plants were built, and many public and private companies were established in the underdeveloped country. The most important were: "Compagnie per il cotone d'Etiopia" (Cotton industry); "Cementerie d'Etiopia" (Cement industry); "Compagnia etiopica mineraria" (Minerals industry); "Imprese elettriche d'Etiopia" (Electricity industry); "Compagnia etiopica degli esplosivi" (Armament industry); "Trasporti automobilistici (Citao)" (Mechanic & Transport industry).

Much of these improvements were part of a plan to bring half a million Italians to colonize the Ethiopian plateaus. In October 1939 the Italian colonists in Ethiopia
Italians of Ethiopia
Italians of Ethiopia are the colonists from Italy who moved to colonize Ethiopia in the 20th century, and their descendants.-History:The 1880s were marked by the Scramble for Africa in Ethiopia and Eastern Africa, when the Italians began to vie with the British and French for influence in the area...

 were 35,441, of whom 30,232 male (85.3%) and 5,209 female (14.7%), most of them living in urban areas. Only 3,200 Italian farmers moved to colonize farm areas, where they were under sporadic attack by pro-Haile Selassie guerrillas.

In spring 1941 the Italians were defeated
East African Campaign (World War II)
The East African Campaign was a series of battles fought in East Africa during World War II by the British Empire, the British Commonwealth of Nations and several allies against the forces of Italy from June 1940 to November 1941....

 by British and Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 forces. On May 5, 1941, Emperor Haile Selassie re-entered Addis Ababa and returned to the throne. The Italians, after their final stand at Gondar
Gondar
Gondar or Gonder is a city in Ethiopia, which was once the old imperial capital and capital of the historic Begemder Province. As a result, the old province of Begemder is sometimes referred to as Gondar...

 in November 1941, conducted a guerrilla war in Ethiopia
Italian guerrilla war in Ethiopia
The Italian guerrilla war in Ethiopia was as an armed struggle fought from the summer of 1941 to the autumn of 1943 by remnants of Italian troops in Italian East Africa, following the Italian defeat during the East African Campaign of World War II.-History:...

, that lasted until summer 1943. After the surrender of Italy, Ethiopia annexed the former Italian colony of Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

.

Post–World War II period


After World War II, Emperor Haile Selassie exerted numerous efforts to promote the modernization of his nation. The country's first important school of higher education, University College of Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa University
Addis Ababa University is a university in Ethiopia. It was originally named "University College of Addis Ababa" at its founding, then renamed for the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I in 1962, receiving its current name in 1975.Although the university has six of its seven campuses within...

, was founded in 1950. The Constitution of 1931
1931 Constitution of Ethiopia
The 1931 Constitution of Ethiopia was the first document intended as a modern constitution for that country. It was promulgated in "an impressive ceremony" held 16 July 1931 in the presence of Emperor Haile Selassie, who had long desired to proclaim one for his country.In the preface to his...

 was replaced with the 1955 constitution
1955 Constitution of Ethiopia
Emperor Haile Selassie proclaimed a revised constitution in November 1955 of the Empire of Ethiopia. This constitution was prompted, like its 1931 predecessor, by a concern with international opinion...

 which expanded the powers of the Parliament. While improving diplomatic ties with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Haile Selassie also sought to improve the nation's relationship with other African nations. To do this, in 1963, he helped to found the Organisation of African Unity.

In 1961 the 30-year Eritrean Struggle for Independence began, following the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I's dissolution of the federation and shutting down the Eritrean parliament. The Emperor declared Eritrea the fourteenth province of Ethiopia in 1962. The Negus
Negus
Negus is a title in Ge'ez, Tigrinya, Tigre and Amharic, used for a king and at times also a vassal ruler in pre-1974 Ethiopia and pre-1890 Eritrea. It is subsequently used to translate the word "king" in Biblical and other literature...

 suffered criticism due to the expenses involved in fighting the Nationalist forces.

By the early 1970s Emperor Haile Selassie's advanced age was becoming apparent. As Paul B. Henze explains: "Most Ethiopians thought in terms of personalities, not ideology, and out of long habit still looked to Haile Selassie as the initiator of change, the source of status and privilege, and the arbiter of demands for resources and attention among competing groups." The nature of the succession, and of the desirability of the Imperial monarchy in general, were in dispute amongst the Ethiopian people.
Perceptions of this war as imperialist were among the primary causes of the growing Ethiopian Marxist movement. In the early 1970s, the Ethiopian Communists received the support of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

. This help lead to the 1974 marxist coup of Mengistu.

The government's failure to effect significant economic and political reforms over the previous fourteen years created a climate of unrest. Combined with rising inflation, corruption, a famine that affected several provinces (especially Welo
WELO
WELO is a radio station broadcasting a Adult Standards format. Licensed to Tupelo, Mississippi, USA, the station serves the Tupelo area. The station is currently owned by Jmd, Inc..-History:...

 and Tigray
Tigray Province
Tigray was a province of Ethiopia. The Tigray Region superseded the province with the adoption of the new constitution in 1995. The province of Tigre merged with its neighboring provinces, including Semien, Tembien, Agame and the prominent Enderta province and towards the end of 19th century it...

) but was concealed from the outside world, and the growing discontent of urban interest groups, the country was ripe for revolution. The unrest that began in January 1974 became an outburst of general discontent. The Ethiopian military, with assistance from the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

, began to both organize and incite a full-fledged revolution.

The Derg period


{{main|Derg|Ethiopian Civil War|Red Terror (Ethiopia)|Ogaden War}}
After a period of civil unrest which began in February 1974, the aging Emperor Haile Selassie I was removed from his position. On September 12, 1974, a provisional administrative council of soldiers, known as the Derg
Derg
The Derg or Dergue was a Communist military junta that came to power in Ethiopia following the ousting of Haile Selassie I. Derg, which means "committee" or "council" in Ge'ez, is the short name of the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army, a committee of...

 ("committee") seized power from the emperor and installed a government which was socialist in name and military in style. The Derg summarily executed 59 members of the former government, including two former Prime Ministers and Crown Councilors, Court officials, ministers, and generals. Emperor Haile Selassie died on August 22, 1975. He was allegedly strangled in the basement of his palace.

Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam
Mengistu Haile Mariam
Mengistu Haile Mariam is a politician who was formerly the most prominent officer of the Derg, the Communist military junta that governed Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987, and the President of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia from 1987 to 1991...

 assumed power as head of state and Derg chairman, after having his two predecessors killed, as well as tens of thousands of other suspected opponents. The new Marxist government undertook socialist reforms, including nationalisation of landlords' and church's property. Before the coup, Ethiopian peasants' way of life was thoroughly influenced by the church teachings; 280 days a year are religious feasts or days of rest. Mengistu's years in office were marked by a totalitarian-style government and the country's massive militarization, financed by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and the Eastern Bloc, and assisted by Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

. In December 1976, an Ethiopian delegation in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 signed a military assistance agreement with the Soviet Union. The following April, Ethiopia abrogated its military assistance agreement with the United States and expelled the American military missions.

In July 1977, sensing the disarray in Ethiopia, Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 attacked across the Ogaden
Ogaden
Ogaden is the name of a territory comprising the southeastern portion of the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia. The inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Somali and Muslim. The title "Somali Galbeed", which means "Western Somalia," is often preferred by Somali irredentists.The region, which is...

 in pursuit of its irredentist
Irredentism
Irredentism is any position advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. Some of these movements are also called pan-nationalist movements. It is a feature of identity politics and cultural...

 claims to the ethnic Somali areas of Ethiopia (see Ogaden War
Ogaden War
The Ogaden War was a conventional conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia in 1977 and 1978 over the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. In a notable illustration of the nature of Cold War alliances, the Soviet Union switched from supplying aid to Somalia to supporting Ethiopia, which had previously been...

). They were assisted in this invasion by the armed Western Somali Liberation Front
Western Somali Liberation Front
The Western Somali Liberation Front was a separatist rebel group fighting in eastern Ethiopia to create an independent state. It played a major role in the Ogaden War of 1977-78 assisting the invading Somali Army...

. Ethiopian forces were driven back far inside their own frontiers but, with the assistance of a massive Soviet airlift of arms and Cuban combat forces, they stemmed the attack. The last major Somali regular units left the Ogaden March 15, 1978. Twenty years later, the Somali region of Ethiopia remains under-developed and insecure.

From 1977 through early 1978, thousands of suspected enemies of the Derg were tortured and/or killed in a purge called the "Red Terror
Red Terror (Ethiopia)
The Ethiopian Red Terror, or Qey Shibir , was a violent political campaign in Ethiopia that most visibly took place once Communist Mengistu Haile Mariam achieved control of the Derg, the military junta, 3 February 1977...

". Communism was officially adopted during the late 1970s and early 1980s; in 1984, the Workers' Party of Ethiopia
Workers' Party of Ethiopia
The Workers' Party of Ethiopia is a Communist party in Ethiopia that was, from 1984 to 1990, the only legal political party in the country.-The Commission to Organize the Party of the Workers of Ethiopia:...

 (WPE) was established, and on February 1, 1987, a new Soviet-style civilian constitution
1987 Constitution of Ethiopia
The 1987 Constitution of Ethiopia was the third constitution of Ethiopia, and went into effect on 22 February 1987 after a referendum on 1 February of that year. Its adoption inaugurated the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia .-Contents:...

 was submitted to a popular referendum. It was officially endorsed by 81% of voters, and in accordance with this new constitution, the country was renamed the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
The People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was the official name of Ethiopia from 1987 to 1991, as established by the Communist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam and the Workers' Party of Ethiopia...

 on September 10, 1987, and Mengistu became president.

The regime's collapse was hastened by droughts and famine
1984 - 1985 famine in Ethiopia
A widespread famine affected the inhabitants of today's Eritrea and Ethiopia from 1983 to 1985. In northern Ethiopia, famine led to more than 400,000 deaths; over half this mortality can be attributed to human rights abuses that caused the famine to come earlier, strike harder, and extend further...

, which affected around 8 million people, leaving 1 million dead, as well as by insurrections, particularly in the northern regions of Tigray and Eritrea. The regime also conducted a brutal campaign of resettlement and villagization in Ethiopia
Resettlement and villagization in Ethiopia
Resettlement and villagization in Ethiopia has been an issue since the late nineteenth century, due to the overcrowded population of the Ethiopian highlands...

 in the 1980s. In 1989, the Tigrayan Peoples' Liberation Front (TPLF) merged with other ethnically based opposition movements to form the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In May 1991, EPRDF forces advanced on Addis Ababa. Mengistu fled the country to asylum in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

, where he still resides.

Hundreds of thousands were killed due to the Red Terror, forced deportations, or from using hunger as a weapon. In 2006, after a long trial, Mengistu was found guilty of genocide.

Post-Derg period


In July 1991, the EPRDF, the Oromo Liberation Front
Oromo Liberation Front
The Oromo Liberation Front , or OLF, is an organization established in 1973 by Oromo nationalists to promote self-determination for the Oromo people against what they call "Abyssinian colonial rule". It has been outlawed and labeled as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government...

 (OLF), and others established the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) which was composed of an 87-member Council of Representatives and guided by a national charter that functioned as a transitional constitution. In June 1992, the OLF withdrew from the government; in March 1993, members of the Southern Ethiopia Peoples' Democratic Coalition
Southern Ethiopia Peoples' Democratic Coalition
The Southern Ethiopia People's Democratic Coalition is a political party in Ethiopia. At the last legislative elections held on 15 May 2005, the Coalition was part of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces that won 52 out of 527 seats in the Council of People's Representatives .It was founded in...

 also left the government.

Eritrea separated from Ethiopia following the fall of the Derg in 1991, after a long independentist war.

In 1994, a new constitution was written that formed a bicameral legislature and a judicial system. An election took place in May 1995 in which Meles Zenawi
Meles Zenawi
Meles Zenawi Asres is the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Since 1985, he has been chairman of the Tigrayan Peoples' Liberation Front , and is currently head of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front .Meles was born in Adwa, Tigray in Northern Ethiopia, to an Ethiopian father from...

 was elected the Prime Minister and Negasso Gidada
Negasso Gidada
Dr. Negasso Gidada Solon was the President of Ethiopia from 1995 until 2001. He is the son of Gidada Solon, one of the first local ministers of the Protestant church in the Dembidolo area in western Ethiopia.Dr...

 was elected President. Also at this time, the members of the Parliament were elected. Ethiopia's second multiparty election was held in May 2000. Prime Minister Meles was one again elected as Prime Minister in October 2000. In October 2001, Lieutenant Girma Wolde-Giorgis
Girma Wolde-Giorgis
Girma Wolde-Giorgis is the current President of Ethiopia.- Political career :He was elected President on 8 October 2001, as a relative unknown and a surprise choice, by a unanimous vote of the Ethiopian Parliament. The Ethiopian presidency is largely a symbolic office with little power...

 was elected president.

In 2005, during the general elections in Ethiopia, allegations of irregularities that brought victory to the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front is the ruling political coalition in Ethiopia. It is an alliance of four other groups: the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization , the Amhara National Democratic Movement , the South Ethiopian Peoples' Democratic Front The Ethiopian People's...

 resulted in widespread protests in which the government is accused of massacring civilians (see Ethiopian police massacres).

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with the rise of radical Islamism
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

, Ethiopia again turned to the Western powers for alliance and assistance. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Ethiopian army began to train with US forces based out of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) established in Djibouti, in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Ethiopia allowed the US to station military advisors at Camp Hurso.

In 2006, an Islamic organisation seen by many as having ties with al-Qaeda, the Islamic Courts Union, spread rapidly in Somalia. Ethiopia sent logistical support to the Transitional Federal Government
Transitional Federal Government
The Transitional Federal Government is the current internationally recognized government of the Republic of Somalia. It was established as one of the Transitional Federal Institutions of government as defined in the Transitional Federal Charter adopted in November 2004 by the Transitional...

 opposing the Islamists. Finally, on December 20, 2006, active fighting broke out between the ICU and Ethiopian Army. As the Islamist forces were of no match against the Ethiopian regular army, they decided to retreat and merge among the civilians, and most of the ICU-held Somalia was quickly taken. Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 accused Ethiopia of various abuses including indiscriminate killing of civilians during the 2007 battle in Mogadishu. Ethiopian forces pulled out of Somalia In January 2009, leaving a small African Union force and smaller Somali Transitional Government force to maintain the peace. Reports immediately emerged of religious fundamentalist forces occupying one of two former Ethiopian bases in Mogadishu shortly after withdrawal.

See also

  • History of Africa
    History of Africa
    The history of Africa begins with the prehistory of Africa and the emergence of Homo sapiens in East Africa, continuing into the present as a patchwork of diverse and politically developing nation states. Agriculture began about 10,000 BCE and metallurgy in about 4000 BCE. The history of early...

  • Italians of Ethiopia
    Italians of Ethiopia
    Italians of Ethiopia are the colonists from Italy who moved to colonize Ethiopia in the 20th century, and their descendants.-History:The 1880s were marked by the Scramble for Africa in Ethiopia and Eastern Africa, when the Italians began to vie with the British and French for influence in the area...

  • Kingdom of Jimma
    Kingdom of Jimma
    The Kingdom of Jimma was one of the kingdoms in the Gibe region of Ethiopia that emerged in the 19th century. It shared its western border with Limmu-Ennarea, its eastern border with the Sidamo kingdom of Janjero, and was separated from the Kingdom of Kaffa to the south by the Gojeb River. Jimma...

  • List of Emperors of Ethiopia
  • List of heads of government of Ethiopia
  • List of Presidents of Ethiopia
  • Rulers of Ethiopia
    Rulers of Ethiopia
    - Heads of state :*Emperors of Ethiopia*Presidents of Ethiopia- Heads of subdivisions :*Rulers of Bosha*Rulers of the Gibe State of Limu-'Enarya*Rulers of the Gibe State of Gera*Rulers of the Gibe State of Goma*Rulers of the Gibe State of Guma...

  • People of Ethiopia
    People of Ethiopia
    Ethiopia's population is highly diverse. Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language. The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigreans make up more than three-fourths of the population, but there are more than 80 different ethnic groups within Ethiopia. Some of these have as few as 10,000 members....

  • Political history of Eastern Africa
    Political history of Eastern Africa
    -Ancient and Medieval history:*25th century BC: Earliest recorded Egyptian expedition to the Land of Punt in the Horn of Africa organized by Pharaoh Sahure of the Fifth Dynasty....

  • Politics of Ethiopia
    Politics of Ethiopia
    Politics of Ethiopia takes place in a framework of a federal parliamentary republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government.The prime minister is chosen by the parliament. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and...

  • Subdivisions of Ethiopia

Videography


Historical documents


Articles

  • A Brief History of Trade and Business in Ethiopia from Ancient to Modern Times, Dr. Richard Pankhurst, 1999: set of 2 articles published in the Addis Tribune summarizing a speech by Dr. Pankhurst at the 74’th District Conference and Assembly of Rotary International, in Addis Ababa 7–9 May 1999
  • Ethiopia Across the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, Dr. Richard Pankhurst, 1999: set of 3 articles published in the Addis Tribune newspaper in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the relations between Ethiopia and countries on the Indian Ocean in ancient and early medieval times
  • A History of Early Twentieth Century Ethiopia, Dr. Richard Pankhurst, 1997: set of 20 articles published in the Addis Tribune summarizing the history of Ethiopia from the beginning of the 20th century until the 1960s
  • History of Northern Ethiopia – and the Establishment of the Italian Colony or Eritrea, Dr. Richard Pankhurst, 1999: article published in the Addis Tribune showing how Eritrea has historically been a part of Ethiopia
  • Mauri, Arnaldo (2003), "The Early Development of Banking in Ethiopia", International Review of Economics, vol. L, n. 4
  • Mauri, Arnaldo (2009), The re-establishment of the national monetary and banking system in Ethiopia, 1941-1963, The South African Journal of Economic History, Vol. 24, n. 2, pp. 82–130.

External links


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