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TRACING PRE-CHRISTIAN RITUALS IN ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY [Abstract ID: 0101-06]
Since its introduction in the 4th century, Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity has preserved practices borrowed from pre-Christian religions and local cults. Evidence that supports this hypothesis can be seen in religious ritual ceremonies, material culture use, animal symbolism and particularly in the landscape and localities where churches were established. Of special interest are the myths associated with the construction of some of the churches: many churches were made in a special geological or natural landscape, in prohibitively inaccessible areas – which, however, were believed to be previously centers of cultic traditions. The main objective of this research is to test a hypothesis which postulates that churches were founded according to the characteristics and nature of religious practices predating Christianity, with associated ritual ceremonies and the material culture use re-purposing more ancient traditions for the newly introduced Christian worship. These themes are examined from both an archaeological point of view and an anthropological perspective. The research is based on data collected from some of the sacred ruined places and churches and from the Sa’si’e’t Tse’da Emba and Ganta Afeshum districts of Eastern Tigray, Ethiopia.