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Posts Tagged ‘king Ezana’

Early Churches Found in Ancient African kingdom of Axum | በጥንቷ አክሱም ግዛት ውስጥ የሚገኙ ቀደምት አብያተ ክርስቲያናት

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on December 10, 2022

👉 Courtesy: Cambridge University Press, Friday, December 9, 2022

💭 Archaeologists have made an important discovery in the Kingdom of Axum, a major ancient power in Northeastern Africa, identifying two churches from shortly after the Axumite’s conversion to Christianity. These are some of the first churches in the Kingdom reliably dated to this key period.

The Axumite Kingdom ruled much of the northern Horn of Africa in the first millennium AD, stretching from Ethiopia to Arabia, and was an important contemporary of the Roman Empire. Like their Mediterranean neighbor, the Axumite leader, King Ezana—converted to Christianity in the 4th century AD but securely dated churches from this period are rare.

However, two churches from the important Axumite port of Adulis, in modern Eritrea, are helping fill this gap. One is an elaborate cathedral, complete with the remains of a baptistry, that is located near the center of the city and was first excavated in 1868. The other, first excavated in 1907, is in the east and features a ring of columns that show it once had a dome.

Over a hundred years since these churches were first excavated, archaeologists are re-examining these buildings with modern techniques. Dr. Gabriele Castiglia, from the Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, is part of a team digging them back up and carrying out radiocarbon dating on the site. This new data has allowed them to accurately reconstruct their history, with their findings published in the journal Antiquity.

“This study provides one of the first examples of Axumite churches excavated with modern methods and chronological data coming from modern dating methods,” said Dr. Castiglia.

The research revealed construction began on the cathedral between AD 400–535, whilst the domed church was built AD 480–625. This makes them some of the earliest securely dated churches in the Axumite Kingdom, and the oldest known outside the capital’s heartlands. This shows a relatively rapid spread of Christianity through the Kingdom of Axum.

“Having a precise chronology for these churches is key to understanding how the process of conversion to Christianity shaped the geographical and cultural area,” said Dr. Castiglia.

Crucially, the buildings show that the spread of Christianity was not the result of a single factor, like a mandate by King Ezana. The churches have elements from many traditions, reflecting the diverse influences on the kingdom’s conversion. The domed church, for example, is unique in the Axumite Kingdom and appears to be inspired by Byzantine churches. Meanwhile, the cathedral is built on a large platform in the Axumite tradition.

The churches can also shed light on the later arrival of Islam. Adulis underwent a period of gradual decline and the churches eventually fell into disuse. Dr. Castiglia found that this was not the end of their lives –the cathedral was re-appropriated as a Muslim burial ground. The continued use of existing sacred spaces could indicate the region’s conversion to Islam was also a multicultural phenomenon, with local customs mixed in with the new religion.

“This is one of the first times we have the material evidence of re-appropriation of a Christian sacred space by the Islamic community,” said Dr. Castiglia.

Together, these buildings show the religious history of the Horn of Africa was cosmopolitan, with diverse groups influencing the spread of beliefs.

New Dates Obtained for Ethiopia’s Early Christian Churches

According to a statement released by Cambridge University Press, Gabriele Castiglia of the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology and her colleagues have examined and dated two Christian church sites in an ancient port city in the Kingdom of Axum, which included parts of northeastern Africa and southern Arabia in the first millennium A.D. One of these early churches has a baptistry and may have been a cathedral. It was built in the large platform style identified with the Axumite tradition, while the second church features a ring of columns indicating that it had a Byzantine-style dome. King Ezana of Axum is known to have converted to Christianity in the mid-fourth century. The new radiocarbon dates indicate that the cathedral was built between A.D. 400 and 535, and the domed church was built between A.D. 480 and 625. Castiglia said that determining a precise chronology for these churches is key to understanding how the process of conversion to Christianity shaped the geographical and cultural area. The variety observed in the two churches suggests the religion’s spread was not the result of a single factor, such as a mandate from the king, she explained. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Antiquity. To read about excavations of an early Christian basilica at another site in Ethiopia, go to “Early Adopters.”


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Ethiopia: The First Christian Nation?

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on March 5, 2013


My note: Our forefathers were confident enough to answer it with YES! But the question whether Pope Pius XI was defender of Ethiopia — historical sources indicitae the contrary, that Pope Pius XI recognised Italian sovereignity over Ethiopia

For centuries, historians have widely accepted the argument that Armenia was the first Christian nation. This important claim has become a source of national pride for Armenians and has remained virtually undisputed for centuries — until now.

Armenians will likely be up at arms when they learn that a new book — “Abyssinian Christianity: The First Christian Nation?” — is challenging their claim, presenting the possibility that Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea) was the first Christian nation.

The Acts of the Apostles describes the baptism of an Ethiopian eunuch shortly after the death of Christ. Eusebius of Caesaria, the first church historian, further tells of how the eunuch returned to his land to diffuse the Christian teachings.

And the earliest Ethiopian monastic tradition is linked to the account of the Holy Family visiting Ethiopia, centuries before the Christian monastic movement emerged. According to the legend, the Child Jesus and the Virgin Mary were transported from Egypt on a silver cloud. Their arrival symbolized the renewal of the Covenant, which began when Menelich brought the Ark from Jerusalem to Ethiopia.

Continue reading…


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