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Ethiopia is widely considered one of the oldest human inhabited areas according to scientific findings in ethnographic migration studies, anthropological artifactual discoveries, anthropological skeletal remains and genetic variegation radiation analyses. As the Washington Post's David Brown put it, "the new research further shows that genetic diversity declines steadily the farther one's ancestors traveled from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia". Lucy, discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar region, is considered the world's second-oldest, but most complete and best preserved, adult Australopithecine fossil. Lucy's taxonomic name, Australopithecus afarensis, 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 (Ardi).
Ethiopia has seen human habitation for longer than almost anywhere else in the world, possibly being the location where humans began.
Evidence of Naqadan contacts include obsidian from Ethiopia and the Aegean. The first record of Ethiopia came from rock art writing. The other records of Ethiopia proper come from Egyptian traders from about 3000 BC, who refer to lands south of Nubia or Cush as Punt and Yam. The Ancient Egyptians were in possession of myrrh (found in Punt) as early as the First or Second Dynasties, which Richard Pankhurst 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 and its tributaries (i.e. the Blue Nile and Atbara). The Greek historian and geographer Agatharchides had documented ship-faring among the early Egyptians: "During the prosperous period of the Old Kingdom, between the 30th and 25th centuries B. C., the river-routes were kept in order, and Egyptian ships sailed the Red Sea as far as the myrrh-country."
The first known voyage to Punt occurred in the 25th century BC under the reign of Pharaoh Sahure. The most famous expedition to Punt, however, comes during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut probably around 1495 BC, as the expedition was recorded in detailed reliefs on the temple of Deir el-Bahri at Thebes. The inscriptions depict a trading group bringing back myrrh 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. There is some confusion over the usage of the word Ethiopia in ancient times and the modern country. The ancient Greeks used the word (Αιθιοπία) to refer to the peoples living immediately to the south of ancient Egypt, specifically the area now known as the ancient Kingdom of Kush, now a part of modern Nubia; modern usage has transferred this name further south to the land and peoples known in the late 19th and early 20th century as Abyssinia . The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica states the connection between Egypt and Ethiopia is at least as early as the Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt was very intimate, and beginning with Piye, a ruler of the Twenty-fifth dynasty, occasionally the two countries were under the same ruler. The capital of these two dynasties, however, was in the north of modern Sudan, at Napata. 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, 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, South Arabian alphabet, is translated in Greek as "Aethiopia".
The state of Sheba mentioned in the Old Testament is sometimes believed to have been in Ethiopia, but more often is placed in Yemen. 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). When he was of age, Menelik returned to Israel to see his father, who sent with him the son of Zadok to accompany him with a replica of the Ark of the Covenant (Ethiosemitic: tabot). 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 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 has often been mentioned in the Bible. An example of this is the story of the Ethiopian Eunuch 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 fourth century by Syrian monks.
Kingdom of Axum
The first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia was that of Axum in the first century AD. It was one of many successor kingdoms to Dʿmt and was able to unite the northern Ethiopian plateau beginning around the first century BC. They established bases on the northern highlands of the Ethiopian Plateau and from there expanded southward. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Axum with Rome, Persia and China 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 of Axum, mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, 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, and that Conti Rossini's identification can not be substantiated.
Inscriptions have been found in southern Arabia celebrating victories over one GDRT, described as "nagashi of Habashat [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 toward the end of the Third Century.
Christianity was introduced into the country by Frumentius, who was consecrated first bishop of Ethiopia by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria 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 into the Kingdom of Kush at Meroe 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. 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 are believed to have established themselves in the country. Since that time monasticism 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 came to power in Yemen and, announcing that he would kill all the Christians, attacked an Aksumite garrison at Zafar, burning the city's churches. He then attacked the Christian stronghold of Najran, slaughtering the Christians who would not convert. Emperor Justin I of the Eastern Roman empire requested that his fellow Christian, Kaleb, 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 records that after about five years, Abraha 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 to the change; this was the last time Ethiopian armies left Africa until the 20th century when several units participated in the Korean War. Eventually Kaleb abdicated in favor of his son Wa'zeb and retired to a monastery where he ended his days. Abraha later made peace with Kaleb's successor and recognized his superiority. Despite this reverse, under Ezana and Kaleb the kingdom was at its height, benefitting from a large trade, which extended as far as India and Ceylon, and were in constant communication with the Byzantine Empire.
Details of the Axumite Kingdom, never abundant, become even more scarce after this point. The last king known to mint coins is Armah, whose coinage refers to the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614. An early Muslim tradition is that the Negus Ashama ibn Abjar offered asylum to a group of Muslims fleeing persecution during Muhammad'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 princess, Yodit ("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, 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 lord named Mara Takla Haymanot, who founded the Zagwe dynasty and married a female descendant of the Axumite monarchs ("son-in-law") or previous ruler. One of the highlights of this dynasty was the reign of Gebre Mesqel Lalibela, in whose reign the stone churches of Lalibela were carved.
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 their daughters. According to legends, the new dynasty were male-line descendants of Axumite monarchs, now recognized as the continuing Solomonic dynasty (the kingdom being thus restored to the biblical royal house).
Under the Solomonic dynasty, the chief provinces became Tigray (northern), Amhara (central) and Shewa (southern). The seat of government, or rather of overlordship, had usually been in Amhara or Shewa, the ruler of which, calling himself Nəgusä Nägäst, exacted tribute, when he could, from the other provinces. The title of 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.
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, and various expeditions had been sent in quest of it. Among others engaged in this search was Pêro da Covilhã, who arrived in Ethiopia in 1490, and, believing that he had at length reached the far-famed kingdom, presented to the ruler 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 was sent by the Emperor to the king of Portugal 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, and remained in Ethiopia for about six years. One of this embassy was Father Francisco Álvares, who wrote one of the earliest and not the least interesting account of the country.
The Abyssinian-Adal War
Between 1528 and 1540 armies of Muslims, under the Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi, 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. John Bermudez, 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 (archbishop), and sent to Lisbon. Bermudez certainly came to Europe, but with what credentials is not known.
In response to Bermudez's message, a Portuguese fleet under the command of Estêvão da Gama, was sent from India and arrived at Massawa 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, 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 (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 and his forces totally routed. After this, quarrels arose between the Emperor and Bermudez, 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 Bermudez was obliged to make his way out of the country.
Ethiopia had several Muslim States: Ifat of the Walashma dynasty. Adal Sultanate
The Jesuits who had accompanied or followed the Gama expedition into Ethiopia, and fixed their headquarters at Fremona (near Adwa), were oppressed and neglected, but not actually expelled. In the beginning of the 17th century Father Pedro Páez arrived at Fremona, a man of great tact and judgment, who soon rose into high favour at court, and gained 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 Alfonso Mendez was less tactful, and excited the feelings of the people against him and his fellow Europeans, until upon the death of Emperor Susenyos and the accession of his son Fasilides in 1633, the Jesuits were expelled.
The Period of the Princes
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, and the resultant decline in the prestige of the dynasty, as the beginning of the Ethiopian Zemene Mesafint ("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, the chief nobles of Ethiopia feared that the cycle of vengeance that had characterized the reigns of Tewoflos and Tekle Haymanot I would continue if a member of the Solomonic dynasty were picked for the throne, so they selected one of their own, Yostos 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 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 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 -- 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. When Iyoas assumed the throne upon his father's sudden death, the aristocrats of Gondar were stunned to find that he more readily spoke in the Oromo language rather than in Amharic, 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 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. Ras Mikael soon had him murdered, and underage Tekle Haymanot II 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 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'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 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 of Gondar (died May 18, 1721), Amha Iyasus of Shewa), who consolidated his kingdom and founded Ankober, and Tekle Giyorgis 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 of Begemder, and Ras Wolde Selassie of Tigray, who fought over control of the figurehead Emperor Egwale Seyon. Wolde Selassie was eventually the victor, and practically ruled the whole country till his death in 1816 at the age of eighty.
Dejazmach Sabagadis of Agame 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 (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) 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, 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). 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, a descendant of Meridazmach Asfa Wossen. 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, 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. 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
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 Nineteenth Century “Scramble for Africa.”
When Victoria, 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, under the command of Sir Robert Napier. The Ethiopians were defeated, and the British stormed the fortress of Magdala (now known as Amba Mariam) 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 then 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 contact with the Ethiopian army, but negotiations took the place of fighting, with the result that both forces retired, the Italians only leaving some 5000 troops in Eritrea, later to become an Italian colony.
Meanwhile the Emperor Yohannes IV had been engaged with the dervishes, who had in the meantime become masters of the Egyptian Sudan, and in 1887 a great battle ensued at Gallabat, 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, Gojjam, the Yejju Oromo, and Tigray.
On May 2 of that same year, Emperor Menelik signed the Treaty of Wuchale 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. A provisional treaty of peace was concluded at Addis Ababa 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 (French Somaliland) to the interior was granted by Menelik, to a French company in 1894. The railway was completed to Dire Dawa, 28 miles (45 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 Selassie seized the opportunity to annex Jimma. In 1932, the Kingdom of Jimma was formally absorbed into Ethiopia. During the reorganization of the provinces in 1942, Jimma vanished into Kaffa Province.
The Italian period and World War II
Emperor Haile Selassie's reign was interrupted in 1935 when Italian forces invaded and occupied Ethiopia.
Fascist Italy of Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopian territory on October 2, 1935, occupied the capital Addis Ababa on May 5 and formally annexed Ethiopia on May 9, 1936 after bloody battles.
The war was full of cruelty: the Ethiopians used Dum-dum bullets (the Hague Convention of 1899, Declaration III, prohibited the use in international warfare of bullets called "Dum-dum", which easily expand or flatten in the body) against the Italians from the start of the war, and this provoked the retaliation of the Italians, who used gas against the Ethiopians in the last months of the war .
Emperor Selassie was forced into exile in England despite his plea to the League of Nations for intervention against the Italians.
Italy in 1936 requested the League of Nations to recognize the annexation of Ethiopia (and Italy's colonial claim of the land and the people): all member nations (including Britain and France), with the exception of the Soviet Union, acknowledged that with votes. In 1937 Mussolini boasted that, with his conquest of Ethiopia, "finally Adua was avenged" and that slavery was abolished in Ethiopia by Italian Fascism.. Many Ethiopians died in the invasion. The Negus 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 .
The King of Italy (Victor Emmanuel III) was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia and the Italians created an Italian empire in Africa (Italian East Africa) with Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somalia.
The Italians in 1935-1940 created many infrastructures and roads in Ethiopia, like the "imperial road" between Addis Abeba and Mogadishu, and planned to bring half a million Italians to colonize and develop the Ethiopian plateaus. In October 1939 the Italian colonists in Ethiopia were 35,441, of whom 30,232 male (85,3%) and 5,209 female (14,7%), most of them living in urban areas, according to statistics of the Italian government . Only 3,200 Italian farmers moved to colonize farm areas, mainly because of the danger of Ethiopian guerrilla (that in 1940 was still controlling 1/4 of Ethiopia highlands).
The Italians did huge and expensive infrastructures, that drained the Italian economy but reduced in those years the unemployment in the Kingdom of Italy. They built 18,794 km of new asphalted roads: in 1940 Addis Abeba was connected by state-of-the-art roads to Asmara and Mogadishu.
Furthermore, 900 km of railways were reconstructed or initiated (like the railway between Addis Abeba and Assab), 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).
There was an urbanistic project for the enlargement of Addis Ababa, but these architectural plans -like all the other developments- were stopped by World War II .
In spring 1941 the Italians were defeated by British and Allied forces. On May 5, 1941, Emperor Selassie re-enterred Addis Ababa and returned to his throne. The Italians, after their final stand at Gondar in November 1941, conducted a guerrilla war in Ethiopia, that lasted until summer 1943.
With the defeat of Italy, Ethiopia annexed the former Italian colony of Eritrea, obtaining the secular Ethiopian aspiration to have a seashore.
Post-World War II period
After World War II, Emperor 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, was founded in 1950. The Constitution of 1931 was replaced with a new one in 1955. The new constitution expanded the powers of the Parliament. While improving diplomatic ties with the United States, Emperor 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.
By the early 1970s, despite his best efforts, Emperor Selassie's advanced age was becoming a major problem for the future of his nation. 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." Ethiopians worried for their future following his impending death. They worried too whether Emperor Selassie's successors would continue his campaigns for modernization and economic development. However, Henze's perspective can be disputed since the Emperor was not the only source of change, and many times, his views were challenged either by his council or regional leaders. People still protested his 'flight' from Ethiopia during the 1935-1936 Italian invasion, which -he declared- was necessary for him to leave the country to round up allies rather than remain in the country and fight a seemingly impossible war. Many perceived that as fleeing, probably because the western media broadcasted his absence from the country as such.
The Negus was even accused of the expensive war with Eritrean rebels, because he dismissed the federation status of Eritrea and "assimilated" it to Ethiopia in the early 1960s. Indeed, 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 of Eritrea's parliament. The Emperor declared Eritrea the fourteenth province of Ethiopia in 1962.
Those accusations, related mainly to the Eritrea independence, were (with other reasons) at the root of the growing marxist movement inside the "Intelligentsia" of Ethiopia. In the early 1970s, the Ethiopian communists received the support of the Soviet Union worldwide expansion during the Leonid Breznev leadership. This help lead to the 1974 marxist coup of Mengistu, supported even by problems related to land reforms.
The government's failure to effect significant economic and political reforms over the previous fourteen years—combined with rising inflation, corruption, a famine that affected several provinces (especially Welo and Tigray) and that was concealed from the outside world, and the growing discontent of urban interest groups—provided the backdrop against which the Ethiopian revolution began to unfold in early 1974.
Whereas elements of the urban-based, modernizing elite previously had sought to establish a parliamentary democracy, the initiation of the 1974 revolution was the work of the military, acting essentially in its own immediate interests. The unrest that began in January of that year then spread to the civilian population in an outburst of general discontent .
The Derg period
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 ("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 Selassie died on August 22, 1975. He was allegedly strangled in the basement of his palace.
Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam 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 and the Eastern Bloc, and assisted by Cuba. In December 1976, an Ethiopian delegation in Moscow 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 attacked across the Ogaden in pursuit of its irredentist claims to the ethnic Somali areas of Ethiopia. They were assisted in this invasion by the armed Western Somali Liberation Front. 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". Communism was officially adopted during the late 1970s and early 1980s; in 1984, the Workers' Party of Ethiopia (WPE) was established, and on February 1, 1987, a new Soviet-style civilian constitution 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 on September 10, 1987, and Mengistu became president.
The regime's collapse was hastened by droughts and famine, 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 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, where he still resides.
In July 1991, the EPRDF, the Oromo Liberation Front (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 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 was elected the Prime Minister and Negasso Gidada 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 was elected president.
In 1998, a border dispute with Ethiopia led to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War, which killed thousands of soldiers from both countries. While the war hurt the nation's economy, it also strengthened the ruling coalition. The border war ended in 2000 with a negotiated agreement known as the Algiers Agreement. One of the terms of the agreement was the establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation, known as the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). Another term of the Algiers agreement was the final demarcation of the disputed border area between Eritrea and Ethiopia. After extensive study, an independent, UN-associated Eritrean-Ethiopian Boundary Commission (EEBC) issued a final border ruling in 2003, but its decision was rejected by Ethiopia. As of 2007, the border question remains in dispute, while a tentative peace remains in place.
In 2005, during the general elections in Ethiopia, allegations of irregularities that brought victory to the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front 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, Ethiopia again turned to the Western powers for alliance and assistance. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, 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 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. Ethiopian troops continued to occupy Somalia in 2007 as a growing resistance begun to build up. Human Rights Watch accused Ethiopia of various abuses including indiscriminate killing of civilians during the 2007 battle in Mogadishu.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Brown, David (February 22, 2008). "Genetic Mutations Offer Insights on Human Diversity". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/21/AR2008022102739.html. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- ↑ http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/06/genographic_project
- ↑ http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2008/02/22/dna_used_to_chart_migration_of_humans/
- ↑ http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070509161829.htm
- ↑ http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/may2000/foss-m29.shtml
- ↑ http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/652/heritage.htm
- ↑ "Tanzania, Ethiopia origin for humans". BBC News. April 2, 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2909803.stm. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- ↑ http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41026000/gif/_41026369_genographic_map416.gif
- ↑ "Mother of man - 3.2 million years ago". bbc.co.uk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoric_life/human/human_evolution/mother_of_man1.shtml. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- ↑ "Oldest human offers new clues on evolution". cnn.com. http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/10/01/oldest.human.skeleton/index.html. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- ↑ Laurent Bavay, Thierry de Putter, Barbara Adams, Jacques Novez, Luc André, 2000. The Origin of Obsidian in Predynastic and Early Dynastic Upper Egypt, MDAIK 56 (2000), pp. 5-20. See on-line post: .
- ↑ Agatharchides, in Wilfred Harvey Schoff (Secretary of the Commercial Museum of Philadelphia) with a foreword by W. P. Wilson, Sc. Director, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Periplus of the Erythraean Sea]: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century, Translated from the Greek and Annotated (1912). New York, New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., pages 50 (for attribution) and 57 (for quote).
- ↑ Richard Pankhurst, The Ethiopian Borderlands: Essays in Regional History from Ancient Times to The End of the 18th century (Asmara: Red Sea Press, Inc., 1997), pp.5, 7, 9.
- ↑ Yuri M. Kobishchanov, Axum, Joseph W. Michels, editor; Lorraine T. Kapitanoff, ghfmrfgjhmfhmtranslator, (University Park, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania, 1979), pp.54-59.
- ↑ Expressed, for example, in his The Historical Geography of Ethiopia (London: the British Academy, 1989), p.39.
- ↑ Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum, p. 81.
- ↑ Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum, p.56.
- ↑ Kobishchanov, Axum, p.116.
- ↑ Stuart Munro-Hay, Aksum, pp.95-98.
- ↑ Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa, pp. 472-3
- ↑ Antonicelli, Franco. Trent'anni di storia italiana 1915 - 1945, p. 79.
- ↑ Del Boca, Angelo. Italiani in Africa Orientale: La conquista dell'Impero, p.131.
- ↑ Antonicelli, Franco. Trent'anni di storia italiana 1915 - 1945, p. 133.
- ↑ Italian emigration in Etiopia (in Italian)
- ↑ Addis Abeba 1939 Urbanistic and Architectural Plan
- ↑ Paul B. Henze, Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia (New York: Palgrave, 2000), p. 282.
- ↑ Semere Haile The Origins and Demise of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Federation Issue: A Journal of Opinion, Vol. 15, 1987 (1987), pp. 9-17
- ↑ [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/ettoc.html ETHIOPIA - A Country Study (Library of Congress)
- ↑ Black Book of Communism p. 687-695
- ↑ Mengistu found guilty of genocide
- ↑ "U.S. trainers prepare Ethiopians to fight". Stars and Stripes. 2006-12-30. http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=41429&archive=true. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
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- (English) Arnaldo Mauri (2009), The re-establishment of the national monetary and banking system in Ethiopia, 1941-1960, The South African Journal of Economic History, Vol. 24, n. 2, pp. 82-130.
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- (English) Adwa: an African victory, Haïlé Gerima, US, 1999, Mypheduh Films, 97 min 
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- (English) The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century 
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- (fr) Louis Reybaud, Voyage dans l’Abyssinie méridionale, Revue des Deux Mondes, tome 27, Paris, 1841, , 
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- (Amharic) Original letters from Ethiopian emperors, website of the national archives of Addis Abeba 
- The Portuguese expedition to Abyssinia in 1541-1543 as narrated by Castanhoso; translated and introduced by Whitrich (Archive.org)
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- (English) 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
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- (English) 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
- (English) Mauri, Arnaldo (2003), "The Early Development of Banking in Ethiopia", International Review of Economics, vol. L, n. 4
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- Ethiopian warrior, Ancient Greek Alabastron, 480-470 BC
- Pankhurst, Dr. Richard. "History of Northern Ethiopia - and the Establishment of the Italian Colony or Eritrea". Civic Webs Virtual Library. http://www.civicwebs.com/cwvlib/africa/ethiopia/pankhurst/history_of_northern_ethiopia.htm. Retrieved March 25, 2005.
- ETHIOPIA - A Country Study (at the Library of Congress)
- Prince Alamayou of Ethiopia, by Lord Amulree
- Fighting Hunger and poverty in Ethiopia (Peter Middlebrook)
- "The history of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia" (Hartford Web Publishing website)