Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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KEBEDE Amare, Mekelle University, Ethiopia

Eastern Tigrai is both a geographic and administrative expression. Administratively, it refers to the area north of Mekelle, the regional capital, and extends to the southern tip of Eritrea and the western side of the northern part of Afar. Its proximity to the Red Sea indicates that it could have been used as a trade route between the sea and the mainland and even beyond, crossing the Sudan as far as Egypt. Camel caravans, carrying bars of salt, should have traversed between the Danakil Depression and the highlands of Tigrai. Evidences of earlier settlements in the area are observed. Archaeological sites of the Pre-Aksumite, Aksumite and Post-Aksumite period are plenty in number. Aksumite type structures and hewn structures are found in abundance. The area has also served as the first resting heaven for the followers of the Prophet Mohammad. Recent archaeological excavations on the northern tip of the area under discussion have come up with sensational results that extend the much-believed period of Ethiopian civilization to the 14th CBC. Another excavation on the edge of the escarpment has led researchers to hypothesize about an independent entity that must have developed during the Aksumite period. Some researchers have also indicated that the “obscure period” of the transition of the political center of gravity from Aksum to Lasta, a period which is labeled by some historians as a ‘gap in history’, is no longer obscure. Architectural study of the ancient rock and churches of the region has provided ample information indicating that while the Aksumite civilization was declining, that civilization either continued or an independently-existing entity continued to flourish or a successor civilization flourished in Eastern Tigrai. Scholars researching the De’amat Civilization indicate that that civilization had independent entities here and there that made up the whole. If we accept this suggestion, could it be speculated that separate entity development has continued, the case in point being Eastern Tigrai? Has this entity not been dependent largely on sea trade like the Aksumite civilization? Why did the civilization in this part of Ethiopia continue without significant interruption? This article, therefore, tries to address these issues. It also greatly depends on the results of archaeological research works, as references, and pieces together the facts emanating from the outcomes. Other reference materials, legends and traditions are also considered.