History and Religions

Archeology and pre- History

The East African Rift Valley is almost certainly where modern human beings and their hominid ancestors evolved, and Ethiopia has as strong claim as any African country in this respect. The remains of "Lucy" which date back 3.5 million years and the recent discovery of Ramidus, a 4.4 million year old hominid fossil, mark Ethiopia as the cradle of mankind. Both were discovered in Hadar, along the Awash River, in the east of the country. They completed the missing link between apes and men.
Melka Kunture is also an important archaeological site. Here 1.5 million year old stone tools were found. Several cave paintings and stone monuments are located in different parts of the country, namely Dilla, in the South and Dire Dawa, in the east.

Important pre historic remains include recently discovered late Stone Age paintings and engravings as well as evidence of very early cereal cultivation. Archeological and pale ontological studies confirmed that by 1000BC northern Ethiopia supported an agricultural and an urbanized civilization of some magnitude. One of the major pre Axumite sites in northern Ethiopia is Yeha where there is a large a well preserved stone temple estimated to be at least 2500 years old.

Oral tradition and History

According to oral tradition Ethiopia was settled by Ethiopic the great grand son of Noah. Ethiopic son Aksumai founded the capital of Aksum and a dynasty of rulers that lasted for between 52 and 97 generations. Queen Makeda of Sabea (Sheba) who belongs to this dynasty ruled Ethiopia and Yemen for 31 years. Her son Menelik from King Solomon is believed to have brought the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia and kept in Axum Zion church.

The Solomonic dynasty founded by Menelik  is believed to have ruled Ethiopia almost unbroken till 1974 when the 237th Solomonic monarch, Hailesilasie was toppled in 1974 revolution. The oldest written version of the Makeda legend is found in the highly fanciful 14th C geez volume known as Kibrenegest (glory of kings). The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is unique in its Jewish influence found among the Felasha people who are believed to arrive during the times of queen Sheba.

Archeological and written sources prove that by 1000 B.C Northern Ethiopia supported an agricultural and settled way of life. It was this so called pre –Axumite Empire which laid the foundation for Axumite Empire that was to follow.

Ethiopia has a long, rich and colorful history. Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian civilizations in the world and with the longest archeological record of any country on earth.
The roots of modern Ethiopia lies in the Axumite Empire. The Axumite Empire as described in the periplus of the Eritrean Sea stretched along the coast from modern day port Sudan south to Berbera and as far as the Nile.

Main & Traditional Religions

The main religions in Ethiopia are Christianity and Islam. There is no reliable figure for the relative distribution and proportion of Muslims and Christians in Ethiopia. The concentration of Muslims is in the eastern parts of the country. The Majority of Ethiopian Christians belongs to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Orthodox Christianity was introduced to Axum in the 4th C AD by two Syrians who reached Axum and served the Axumite king and finally managed to covert king Ezana to Christianity in about 330 AD. After its conversion Axum also emerged as an important religious centre & site of the countries most important and revered church St. Mary of Zion built in the 4th c AD. Orthodox became the official religion of the country and spread to the southern part of the kingdom with the later arrival of the Nine Saints from the Roman Empire. Until recently a population of indigenous Ethiopian Jews (Bet Israel) or Felasha was concentrated in the part of Amhara Region. Centuries of warfare and persecution had reduced their numbers and most of the survivors were airlifted to Israel in 1980s.

We believe that the original Ark was brought to Axum in the 1st millennium Bc & that it rests there to this day. The “Tabot” (a replica of the original Ark) is the most holy item in Every Ethiopian Orthodox church.

Islam and the relations: Hadith recounts that prophet Muhammed sent some of his followers to Ethiopia in AD 615 to avoid persecution by the quaresh ruling class in Arabia. At Aksum the refugees were shown hospitality by the Axumite Christian Kingdom and returned home safely after the end of persecution in Arabia.

Other Exotic religious Denominations such as Catholicism and Protestantism have found their way to the country and they are practiced widely in the south most numerously among the Cushitic and Omotic speakers.
Animism belief in trees, mountains, rivers etc is still practiced mainly by people living in remote parts of the country.