Download eBook Ethiopia has a rich and fascinating cultural heritage structured around water. The River Nile has been seen by many as the most important river in the world, and the secrets of the sources of the Nile and their mysteries have, from the dawn of civilization, attracted philosophers, emperors and explorers searching for answers. The source of the Blue Nile, Gish Abay, is believed to be the outlet of the biblical river Gihon, flowing directly from Paradise, linking this world with Heaven. The holiness of Abay the Blue Nile and its source in particular still has an important role in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In the Lake Tana region, there are also numerous other myths, traditions and rituals concerning the river.
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Nubia also known as Kush and Ethiopia was a region along the Nile in what is today northern Sudan and southern Egypt. The farthest point of the beginning of the Nile is in Uganda; this is the White Nile.
Michael Russell, LL. It was universally regarded by the poets and philosophers of Greece as the cradle of those arts which at a later period covered the kingdom of the Pharaohs with so many wonderful monuments, as also of those religious rites which, after being slightly modified by the priests of Thebes, were adopted by the ancestors of Homer and Virgil as the basis of their mythology.
In tracing the connection of the primitive people who dwelt on the Upper Nile, with the inhabitants of Arabia and of the remoter east, I have availed myself of the latest information that could be derived from Continental authors, as well as from the volumes of such of our own travelers as have ascended about the Second Cataract. Cailliaud, English, and Linant have supplied to the geographer some important notices relative to the position of certain towns and mountains, of which only the names had formerly been conveyed to our ears.
The Publishers have taken the utmost pains to embody in the map prefixed to this volume the results of the latest discoveries accomplished by British, French and American travelers, under the protection of the Turkish army. Preaching to the Falashas at Sharge New York Public Library But no consideration associated with the history of Ethiopia is more interesting than the fact that the Christian religion, received about fifteen hundred years ago, continues to be professed by the great majority of the people.
In regard to the mixture of Jewish rites with the institutions of the gospel, still observable among the Abyssinians, I have suggested some reflection which seem calculated to throw a new light on that obscure subject.
Of the literature of the same nation, so far a the relics could be collected from their chronicles and books of devotion, a suitable account has been given: connected in some degree with the brighter prospects which may yet be entertained by the friends of theological learning as arising from the well-directed efforts of certain benevolent associations in this country. For some valuable information, not hitherto published, I am indebted to William Ersking Es.
Among these a number of communications from Mr. Nathaniel Pearce, during his residence in Abyssinia, addressed to several British residents at Mocha and Bombay, and embracing the more prominent events of his history between the years and By means of these I have been enabled to ascertain the exact dimensions of several of those structures, the views of which have been given by some recent tourists with more attention to elegance than to professional accuracy in the details.
In order to render this little volume as complete as possible, the Publishers obtained the assistance of two eminent naturalists, Mr.
Wilson and Dr. Greville; to the former of whom the reader owes the instructive chapter on Zoology, while to the latter he is under a similar obligation for the Botanical outline, in which are ably described the vegetable productions of the Abyssinian provinces. To complete the plan entertained with respect to Africa, there remains yet one volume, which will appear in due time, on the History, Antiquities, and Present Condition of the Barbary States.
Edinburgh, March Introduction Aboona Salama, Metropolitan of Ethiopia New York Public Library In attempting to trace the history of the countries known to the ancients by the name of Ethiopia, we have to encounter the numerous obstacles which arise from the absence of a national literature, as well as from a succession of conquests made by a variety of barbarous tribes.
Here indeed, as in Egypt, we possess the record of monuments which indicate the genius and religion of the people by whom the land was occupied at a very distant period; but it is manifest that, in reading the language supplied by the arts, it must be extremely difficult to avoid the ambiguity inseparable from their expression in regard to the precise date at which they flourished. The ruins of cities, of temples, and obelisks may no doubt bear evidence to the wisdom of former ages, to the power of conquerors, and to the spirit of magnificence which threw a transient splendor even over the path of destructive armies; still, we cannot discover in them the genealogy of the nations to whom they were indebted for their origin, nor the earliest rudiments of that mechanical skill of which they illustrate so strikingly the progress and the perfection.
A cloud hangs over the horizon of that remote antiquity with which we are desirous to become acquainted; and as the current of time carries us still farther away from the point whither our researches are directed, we can hardly be said to enjoy the encouragement which arises from the hope of a successful result.
Egypt, from its vicinity to the Mediterranean, as also to the great thoroughfare which connects Asia with Europe, was comparatively well known to the historians of Greece. An intercourse was long maintained between the philosophers of that country and the priesthood of the Nile, which has proved the medium of much valuable information respecting the early kingdoms of Thebes and Memphis.
But the difficulty of penetrating into Western Ethiopia checked at once the ardor of ambition and the enterprise of science. The ancient historians are unanimous in the opinion, that the City of a Hundred Gates owed its foundation to a people who dwelt above the Cataracts; and that at a more recent period, when Lower Egypt began to posses a rich soil fitted for all the purposes of agriculture, and prove itself equal to the maintenance of a large population, the principal seat of government was removed to Memphis.
A similar cause perhaps, at a still later date, gave rise to the removal of the capital to its present position, as well as to the erection of the several towns which from time to time have occupied the productive plains of the Delta. To account for the facts just stated, we must suppose that the steam of emigration which, issuing from the mouths of the Euphrates, pursued its course both eastward and westward along the coast of Asia, had at an early age reached the Straits of Bab el Mandeb.
The adventurers, instead of proceeding up the Red Sea, which is remarkable for its dangerous navigation, appear to have made their way into Abyssinia by some of those mountain-passes that still connect the Arabian Gulf with the higher valleys of the Nile.
There is indeed the best reason to believe that those lateral defiles which form the line of communication between the sea and the great rivers of Ethiopia witnessed the earliest expeditions from the East; consisting of those daring spirits who, in the pursuits of commerce, or in search of more fertile lands, or hills enriched with gold, pushed their discoveries into Habesh, Nubia, and Sennaar. The sanctuaries of Nubia, for example, exhibit the same features, whether as to the style of architecture or the form of worship which must have been practiced in them, with the similar temples that have been recently examined in the neighborhood of Bombay.
In both cases they consist of vast excavations hewn out in the solid body of a hill or mountain, and are decorated with huge figures, which shadow forth the same powers of nature, or serve as emblems to denote the same qualities in the subordinate divinities which were imagined to preside over the material universe.
So strongly, indeed, were they themselves impressed with this identity, that they proceeded to perform their devotions with all the ceremonies practiced in their native land. But it is, no doubt, in the immense extent, the gigantic plan, the vast conception, which appear in all their sacred buildings, that we most readily discover the influence of the same lofty genius, and the endeavor to accomplish the same mighty object.
The excavated temple of Guerfeh Hassan, for example, reminds every traveler of the cave of Elephanta. The resemblance, indeed, is singularly striking, as are in fact all the leading principles of Nubian architecture, to that of the Hindus. In either country, the hardest granite mountains have been cut down into the resemblance of splendid buildings, the fronts of which are adorned with sculpture. In both, also, large masses of rock have been excavated into hollow chambers, whose sides are decorated with columns and statues carved out of the same stone, or lifted up into the air in the form of obelisks and pillars.
By whom and by what means these wonderful efforts have been accomplished is a mystery sunk too deep in the abyss of time ever to be clearly revealed. But we need only compare the monolithic temples of Nubia with those of Mahabalipoor, the excavations of Guerfeh Hassan with those of Elephanta, and the grottoes of Hadjur Silsili with the caverns of Ellora, to be convinced that these sacred monuments of ancient days derived their origin from the same source.
Abyssinian Group Sitting and Standing with horses New York Public Library It is universally admitted that, if we except the ancient inhabitants of Egypt, there is no aboriginal people of Africa who have so many claims to our attention as the Ethiopians, a nation which, from the remotest times to the present, has been regarded as on of the most celebrated and most mysterious.
In the earliest traditions of nearly all the civilized tribes of the East, the name of this remarkable section of mankind is to be found; and when the faint glimmering of fable gives way to the clearer light of history, the luster of their character is still undiminished.
They continue the object of curiosity and admiration; and we discover that the most cautious and intelligent writers of Greece hesitated not to place them in the first ranks of knowledge and refinement.
The praise bestowed upon them by Homer is familiar to the youngest reader. He descries them, not only as the most distant of the human race, but also as the most righteous and best beloved by the gods. The inhabitants of Olympus condescended to journey into their happy land, and partake of their feasts; while their sacrifices were declared to be the most agreeable that could be offered to them by the hands of mortals.
Twelve days the powers indulge the genial rite, Returning with the twelfth revolving light. To what, it has been asked, shall we attribute this early renown of one of the most sequestered nations of the earth?
How did its fame penetrate the formidable desert with which it is surrounded, and which even now presents an almost insuperable bar to every one who attempts to reach its ancient capital?
But if they are more than fiction,- if the reports concerning this wonderful people are founded in truth,-then they become of the greatest importance to ancient history, and possess the strongest claims to our notice But it must not be concealed that considerable ambiguity attaches to the term Ethiopian; because it was applied by all classes of writers among the Greeks, not so much to denote a country bounded by certain geographical limits, as to describe the complexion of the inhabitants, whatever might be their position with respect to other nations It will not seem strange, therefore, that we find Ethiopians scattered over a considerable part of the ancient world.
Africa, no doubt, contained the greater portion of them; but it is equally true that a large tract of Asia was occupied by a race who bore the same designation; and as India was often made to comprise the southern division of the former continent, so, in like manner, Ethiopia was frequently described as including Southern India.
Homer, who seems to have collected all the fragments of historical and geographical knowledge which were scattered among the learned of his age, recognizes the distinction now explained, and speaks of the Ethiopians as extending from the rising to the setting of the sun. This division was generally followed by succeeding writers, although with little accuracy in the use of names; and while we admit that there might be no real difference in the lineage of the two principal families now pointed out, it is at least manifest that they presented to the eye of the Grecian geographers such peculiarities, especially in the color of the skin, as to seemed to justify the discrimination which we find established in their works.
But it is obvious, at the same time, that there was a greater affinity between the Ethiopians on the eastern shores of the Arabian Gulf and those on the African side, have between these last and the other swarthy tribes in the interior of Libya.
Herodotus, indeed observes that the Asiatics have straight hair, while such as dwell above Egypt have it very much curled. It is certain, however, that all the black inhabitants of Africa do not display this quality; for many of the natives of the Upper Nile, through their skins are of a very dark hue, have hair resembling that of Europeans, being neither curled nor woolly. The one, described by him as aboriginal, he includes under the general appellation of Ethiopians; while the other, which appeared to have sprung from an Arabian race, must have removed into the country at an early epoch, where they continued, even in this day, to follow a wandering mode of life.
That such was the case under the Persian government is evident from what we are told respecting the army of Xerxes, whom they must have attended in his expedition into Greece. The Arabians and Ethiopians are associated by the historian under one leader. It would now be extremely difficult to draw a precise line of distinction between the original tribes and those whose lineage might perhaps be traced to the Arabian immigrants.
The latte have not only dwelt in the land more than two thousand years, and mingled freely with the older stock, but their language also has been so generally adopted by the natives, that it can no longer be employed as a decisive characteristic. Female Churning with Male Sitting next to her, Abyssinia New York Public Library Heeren is, however, of opinion that all who do not speak Arabic must be aboriginal, as he considers it very improbable that the Asiatic settlers would exchange their more improved tongue for the rude dialect of barbarous hordes, to who, in all respects, they would naturally consider themselves superior.
But no one, who views all the difficulties of the case, will maintain that, after the lapse of twenty-three centuries, the line of descent can be otherwise marked than by those physiological qualities in feature and form which neither length of time nor most intimate mixture can altogether obliterate. From the discoveries made by recent travelers in the western parts of Africa, it is no longer doubtful that there has existed in it, from very ancient times, a numerous people who are neither Moors nor Negroes.
They are indeed divided into many tribes; but all speak the same language which is entirely different from Arabia, and is found, in fact, to be no other than that which is used by the Berbers in the Atlas Mountains. With regard to their color, though it certainly is not uniform, the difference seems to depend in a great measure on the place of abode and the manner of living; and properly speaking, it amounts to nothing more than a mere variation of tint, which is lighter or darker according to circumstances.
The western portion of this race are white, as far as the climate and their habits will allow it. Others are of a yellow cast, like the Arabs; some are swarthy; and in the neighborhood of Sudan there is a tribe which is said to be completely black. Their lineaments, however, do not all resemble those of the negro. They are similarly made, and rather tall. Commerce is their principal occupation, which they carry on between the interior and the countries bordering on the northern coast.
Their moral character has been favorably estimated; and it is thought that, if their talents were duly cultivated, they would probably become on of the first nations in the world. The account of Hornemann is confirmed by Captain Lyon, who asserts that the Tuaricks, one of the tribes here alluded to, are the finest race of men he ever saw; tall, straight, and handsome, with a certain air of independence which is very imposing.
They are generally white; the dark-brown of their complexion being only occasioned by the heat of the climate. Their weapons are a long sword and a dagger, without which no one is ever seen abroad, and an elegant spear highly ornamented and sometimes made entirely of iron. Their language has been already described as the Berber, which they maintain to be very ancient, and is still spoken extensively in Western Africa. The Tibboos are a different people from that now described, in appearance, manner of living, and even in language.
Their color is a bright black; but their features partake not in the smallest degree of the negro character. They have aquiline noses, fine teeth, and lips formed like those of Europeans. In the language of Herodotus, however, they would be included among Ethiopians; having the dark skin, which is his estimation, formed the distinguishing mark of all the nations to whom he applied the term.
They were not known by their present name till the era of the Grecian kings of Egypt. Their language, of which Burkhardt has given us some specimens, is quite different from the Arabic; and in this, as well as in their external appearance, they present an affinity to the natives of the Arabian peninsula.
They are of a dark-brown color, with hair somewhat curled, either b nature or art, but not at all woolly. Their visage has no resemblance to the negro physiognomy. The men are well formed, strong and muscular, with fine countenances. They are very thinly clad; but are all armed with a spear five feet long, a dagger, and a large shield made of the skin of the hippopotamus.
Males Standing with Shields Abyssinia New York Public Library In ascending the Nile we meet with several other tribes, who, it is very probable, either belong to the Nubian race, or derive their descent from a common origin.
They posses good forms and features, manifest a warlike disposition, and carry into the field of battle the same kind of weapons which were used by their remote ancestors. They commonly fight on horseback, and are armed with a double-pointed spear, a sword, and a large buckler. Map of Africa New York Public Library It is established by the clearest testimony of ancient history, that at a very remote period the Ethiopians carried on a considerable trade, in which the Arabians, long known as navigators and voyagers to India, bore a prominent part, as might indeed be inferred from the relative position of the several countries.
Of this international traffic in the southern regions the strongest evidence still remains, and there is no doubt that the gold of Africa, the spices of India, the precious productions of Arabia, occupied the laborious carriers of the desert long before the date of our historical records. The prophet Isaiah notices the commerce of the Egyptians and Ethiopians in a manner which renders it perfectly clear that these celebrated nations had already enriched themselves by their exertions in this branch of industry.
The long journeys in the desert, and the marauding habits of the roving barbarians by whom the wilderness was infested, rendered some spiritual influence necessary for its protection; and hence it is presumed that mercantile transactions were usually conducted in the vicinity of temples, and sometimes within their walls. This indeed the natural emporium for the produce of Inner Africa; being the extreme point of the gold-countries towards the land of the Pharaohs, while, from its proximity to Arabia Felix, it constituted the most appropriate mart for goods conveyed from the remoter East.
Whence all the colonies were sent out. Hence he draws an inference, which will not be hastily questioned by any competent judge, that the first seas of commerce were also the first seats of civilization. Exchange of goods let to exchange of ideas; and by his collision of mind was first struck out the sacred fame of humanity.
The connection between merchandise and the usages of religion was not confined to the wandering tribes of Africa, buy may be traced throughout the ancient world wherever men collected in great numbers to celebrate the rites of a national faith. As the adoration presented to the gods was not thought complete without the addition of more expensive offerings, the worshiper repaired not to the stated festival unless accompanied with beasts for sacrifice, or with frankincense and other spices to perfume the air.
History Of Ethiopia Nubia And Abyssinia
However, despite the recognizance of socio-economic and political changes, Ethiopia still faces enduring problems and challenges to its stability and continuity. The political past haunts the country while it is facing the future with optimism and hope. The contributors in this edition examine historical and contemporaneous issues with different lenses; they investigate the multiplicity and complexity of the contradictions that define traditional and modern Ethiopia. The contributions highlight the significance of the instability, dislocation, conflict and transformation inherent in any society. None of these writings, however, celebrate the forces that create the conflict; they are cautious not to glorify the present and romanticize the past.
NUBIA and ABYSSINIA (Egypt and Ethiopia)
History Ethiopia Nubia Abyssinia