The modern town of Axum does not easily show the evidence of the splendors of its glorious past. Nevertheless, the historic footprints are represented by extensive traces of noble buildings with large stone foundations, side by side with the ruins of even more impressive structures such as: temples, fortresses, and rich palaces.
The hand of nature in the form of heavy downpours of rain, seems to take the place of systematic excavations, to bring to light some of the long-buried hordes of gold, silver and bronze coins.
Was There a pre-Axum civilization of Ethiopia ?
Nevertheless, the fact that the wall is built with precise-fitting blocks of smoothly polished yellow limestone carefully placed without the use of mortar, leaves no doubt of the superb quality and craftsmanship involved.
Apart from the temple, however - which speaks eloquently of the works of a high civilization - little or nothing is known about the people who built this great edifice. This mystery also raises another mystery: how far back does Ethiopian civilization really go?
Although inscriptions and fine objects of bronze and other artifacts have been excavated from Yeha since 1909, nothing is uncovered to shade light on the above mysteries.
The Axumite Kingdom
Of the three tallest stelea, one is still standing, another is lying broken into pieces, but otherwise intact, and the third is being returned to its rightful place from Rome, where it has been standing ever since the Italian Invasion of Ethiopia during the second World War.
Post Christianity Axum
This church was built on the site of a much older church, probably resembling that of Debre Damo, dating from the 4th century AD. Only a platform and the wide stone steps remain from the earlier structure. The Cathedral is the repository of the crowns of some of Ethiopia's former emperors, and is believed to house the original Ark of the Covenant - thus making St. Mary the holiest sanctuary in Ethiopia.
The significance of Monasticism in the Ethioipian Coptic Church
As is the case with some Ethiopian monasteries, and mainly for religious reasons, women do not have the access to visit this site.
The monastery is found on a cliff 24 meters high that makes the entrance an event by itself. Monks lower a safety rope to be tied around the waist and to climb with.
This lack of access, may have preserved the art treasures of Debra Damo all through out its 1400 years history.
The treasures include an extensive collection of illuminated manuscripts, some of them not found anywhere else in Ethiopia, and intricate carvings on the beams and ceiling of the ancient church around which the monastery is built. There are also large number of paintings including several that depict the legend of the foundation of Debra Damo by Abuna Aragawi.
The monastic community is virtually self- sufficient, growing selected crops and rearing sheep and goats for their milk and meat. The monastery also has its own reservoirs, spectacular caverns hewn deep beneath the surface of the cliff-top centuries ago, somewhat similar to those at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
The Emperor's palace has been turned into a particularly interesting museum, with many exhibits of his time and subsequent historical remains.
The city is also well known as a transit point for the Camel Caravans
that bring up salt from the arid lands of the Danakil Depression. This
makes the market place an interesting sight to visit.
Intrepid visitors can also make excursions into the Danakil to visit some of the Afar nomads that trek across the region. However, please refer to the Adventure Tours: Danakil Depression page before doing so.
|Acknowledgement: This web site contains some excerpts from the various publications of the Ethiopian Tourism Commission.
Site Designed by: Integrated ICT Solutions (IICTSol)
|Last modified: Aug 28, 2008© Copyright 2006 Dinknesh Ethiopia Tour. All rights reserved.|