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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Peter NADIG, Department of History and Heritage Management, Mekelle University, Ethiopia

The ancient term “Aithiopia” can easily be misunderstood, as the ancient Greeks referred to most dark-skinned peoples as “Aithiopes” which may even include those living on the Arab peninsula. Early references the "Aithiopes" in the classical literature are found the two epics by Homer (8th century) ? "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey". These people live on the edge of the earth and seem generous with the sacrifice of cattle and sheep ? thus catering sumptuous feasts. According to the scant references the land of the Aithiopes was the preferred resort of the Olympian goods. Lead by Zeus all gods spent 12 days to dine there on one occasion. This seems not to have been a singular event as other gods individually expressed their keenness join again in the feast in the far land of the Aithiopes. It is difficult to align the mythological geography with the real one, but the reference to the Okeanos and the edge of the world may hint to the horn of Africa rather than just to a region south of Egypt such as Nubia or Kush. But where was this place the gods enjoyed their relaxation? A look further into the past may elucidate this. In the middle if the second millennium BC the Egyptian ruler Hatshepsut propagated the religious fiction of her being the dutiful daughter of the King of the Gods, Amun-Ra. In the texts about her famous expedition to Punt the god refers to the “Terraces of Myrrh”, which he had created as a special region of the “God’s Land” (one of the names for Punt) as a place for his exhilaration to spend the time there with his consort the goddess Hathor.