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[PANEL] 0213 “ART HISTORY, CHURCH ARCHITECTURE, LITURGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND HISTORICAL ISSUES IN TIGRAY”: INTER-DISCIPLINARY RESEARCHES
Emmanuel FRITSCH, Independent Researcher, France; fellow of the CFEE, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Marie-Laure DERAT; Emmanuel FRITSCH; KEBEDE Amare; Claire BOSC-TIESSÉ; Sigrid MIRABAUD;
Mario DI SALVO; Mikael MUEHLBAUER; Aurelie FABIJANEC; François GUENA
The place where the 2018 ICES is convened calls one to give a particular attention to features Tegray is celebrated for. Among the most remarkable features, the many ancient churches lying in the region witness to aspects of archaeology, history, art history, liturgical history, communities interactions within the region and as far as Nubia or Egypt, which are apt to produce a renewed and richer image of the region. The aim of the panel would be to go beyond the archaeological notions hitherto gathered about the monuments and to delve on their significance, analyzing their differences in structure and the rationale behind them, understanding the origins of these characteristics as related to liturgical changes. The plans of the edifices, certain architectonics, and the artistic rendering of certain realisations may suggest cultural and ecclesiastical ties with the Coptic Mother Church or Nubia, which new discoveries may help identify.
It therefore seems opportune that a panel be dedicated to the variety of directions suggested above, with a multidisciplinary approach, using archaeology, philology applied to historical, liturgical and other literary sources, comparative liturgiology, art history, and related field studies. In this regard, it will be useful to present the state of the research done so far and present the methodologies which it may be relevant to apply in order to progress on these matters and, in particular, help bridge the cultural gap between Egyptians and Ethiopians of the Middle Ages.
Such, and no doubt more, presentations will certainly cast a new light over little known, or even altogether unknown, aspects of the history and culture of the population of the region and their pursuits in relation with their neighbours over a few hundreds of years.
AN UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY: THE RE-SURFACING STORY OF A LONG-FORGOTTEN METROPOLITAN ECCLESIASTICAL CENTRE AT MĀRYĀM NĀZRĒT [Abstract ID: 0213-09]
The monument known as Māryām Nāzrēt has often been visited but has hitherto remained hermetic. A fresh investigation has now identified the main monument as a massive cathedral erected atop a long-pre-existing Aksumite structure by 12th-century Metropolitan Mika’el. This unique monument surrounded by satellite hermitages will be shown at the crossroad of documented history and particular architectural trends, of contemporaneous developments in Ethiopian liturgy and church building, of ecclesiastical and regal interaction with remarks on Zagwé earlier facts.
EASTERN TIGRAI IN THE CONTEXT OF ETHIOPIAN HISTORY [Abstract ID: 0213-11]
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.
FROM THE TECHNOLOGICAL ANALYSIS TO THE HISTORICAL STUDY OF THE MURALS OF QORQOR MARYAM (13TH C. AD?) [Abstract ID: 0213-07]
In the course of a multidisciplinary research project on the process of creation in Ethiopian painting – considering materials, techniques, iconography and history – we focus on murals of the Qorqor Maryam rock-hewn church. Carved out of an Addigrat sandstone formation, at the top of a cliff, the church of Qorqor Maryam is one of the largest in the region, almost completely decorated by mural paintings associated to carved figures. If they are not clearly dated, they can be seen as one of the earliest preserved testimony of the most ancient Christian mural paintings in Ethiopia. This paper will present the results of the analysis of the samples of the different materials making up the paint layers, the first observations on the process of excavation, carving and painting. It will bring them face to face with the stylistical and iconographical data to reconsider the place of this particular church in the network of rock-hewn and built painted churches of the region and in the history of the painting in Ethiopia.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TYPOLOGICAL LINES OF ANCIENT RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS AND ITS ELABORATION IN TIGRAY [Abstract ID: 0213-02]
The thousand-year old art of Ethiopian civilization has been influenced by various factors, particularly the religious architecture, in which from the outset a marked creativity was expressed. Although in every part of the Christian world the same types of churches were developed and become widespread, the particular historical events of the Tigray led them to be interpreted in a completely original way, making them 'Ethiopian' specifically because they were grafted and constructed following the stylistic canons of the ancient reign of Aksum. That tradition, which remained largely unchanged for centuries - thanks to the survival of craftsmen who passed down the traditions and preserved the patrimony of knowledge of ancient trade guilds - slowly lost its influence only towards the end of the Middle Ages. The history of religious architecture in Ethiopia was therefore derived from the overlay of the advent of Christianity into the specific territorial ambit, with a set of formal traits identifiable in syntactic and grammatical habits that articulated the structural elements with what was inherited from the past. It may therefore be exemplary to study and to identify the typological development lines of ancient religious buildings in accordance with the success, or relative success, of the relationship between the matrix model and its elaboration that determined subsequent mutations and ramifications. From the comparison it is then possible to gather the references which, from a purely architectural point of view, allow us to discern and distinguish the different typologies: from the classical basilica, with the characteristic elevation, to the many hypostyle rooms, which only maintain the original plan with a possible reference to the civilian aksumite buildings.
ST CYRICUS’ CHURCH AT WEQRO, EAST TEGRAY: A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION AND INTERPRETATION OF ITS SALIENT ARCHITECTONICS.ST CYRICUS’ CHURCH AT WEQRO, EAST TEGRAY: A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION AND INTERPRETATION OF ITS SALIENT ARCHITECTONICS. [Abstract ID: 0213-01]
The church of Cherqos Wukro, as it is commonly referred to, is in fact more correctly named Qirqos Weqro, i.e. St. Cyricus church. Together with Mika'el Amba and despite differences, it is in obvious dependence upon Abreha waAsbeha but, contrary to the two churches named, it had become almost impossible to study because of the maintenance work which, understandably, had become necessary. As it happened, the maintenance work became the occasion which allowed for a complete investigation of the church. I propose to report about the original condition of the structure and discuss particular architectonics and their liturgical rationale.
"THE CANOPIED CIRCUIT": RECONSTRUCTING VEILS IN MEDIEVAL ETHIOPIAN ROCK-CUT CHURCHES [Abstract ID: 0213-04]
Silk textiles probably have never been so numerous as they are today in Ethiopia. Each church has nearly ubiquitous textile hangings distinguishing the altar space from that of the laity. Luxury silks are still imported from the same locales such as Greece, India and Egypt, as in the medieval period. Francisco Alvares, a member of the Portuguese delegation to Ethiopia in the early 16th century, remarked with wonder at the vast quantities of silk covering church interiors in Tigray, Ethiopia. Similarly, in the chronicles of the destructive campaign of Ahmad Ibrahim, which occupied the Christian state from 1529 to 1543, silks from Byzantium, India and Egypt are remarked upon with the destruction of each church. While a systematic overview of objects in Church sacristies has yet to be undertaken in Ethiopia, few medieval silks remain. The 6th century monastery of Debra Damo in Tigray, which was not comprehensively raided in the 16th century, however, has yielded a number Egyptian textiles from the Fatimid and Ayyubid dynasties. In the absence of textile survivals, I offer a reconstruction of lost wall hangings through a comprehensive and typological study of the ornamental low relief carvings on the walls and ceilings of the rock-cut churches of Wukro Cherqos and Abreha wa-Atsbeha.
TOWARDS A CULTURAL HERITAGE INFORMATION SYSTEM BASED ON 3D MODELS OF ETHIOPIAN ROCK-HEWN CHURCHES [Abstract ID: 0213-08]
This paper presents the beginning of an on-going research project that aims to develop a heritage information management system for Ethiopian Rock-Hewn Churches. The proposed digital platform will contain data on the history, preservation and restoration of this cultural heritage. This system will give access to different types of information, thus offering a broad range of complementary data for several purposes and different users. The research project is led by a multidisciplinary team of French researchers: historians, curators, specialists in rock behaviour and painting technique and conservation, architects and computer scientists. For each church, the system will provide a 3D model from which it will be possible to interactively visit the church and to get linked annotations to architectural elements and wall paintings.
These semantic annotations will be architectural and historical data on construction, composition of the churches, symbolic and religious explanations, and also data on the thermal and hygrometric ambient atmosphere inside the church, degradation and explanation of possible causes etc. Thus, the platform will offer a user-friendly tool for locating parts of each church and its paintings, and for providing data on these elements. The platform is intended for several users. It will be used by researchers, teachers and students for studying the history of the churches and wall-painting degradation and for preparing programs of restoration etc. In a more general manner, the platform will be used by any person involved in Ethiopian heritage preservation and valorisation. We will demonstrate the research progress on the first church Maryam Qorqor in the province of Tigray. From this case study we will outline the progress in the development of the information system. More precisely we will describe the 3D reconstruction methodology we have used, the problems we have faced, the chosen solutions and the outcomes.