Arts & Culture Sciences

The Lost City in Africa Reveals Christian Origins in Ethiopia

Archaeologists excavate the remains of a city from influential ancient civilization, but not much is known in East Africa. These findings reveal the origins of Christianity in Ethiopia.

As quoted from CNN, this buried settlement has one of the oldest churches in Africa and was inhabited around 1,400 years before disappearing into the dusty highlands of northern Ethiopia around 650 AD.

Beta Samati, as the city is called, is part of the Aksum empire or kingdom. But before his discovery, archaeologists thought the area had been abandoned when the ruling class in the empire established its capital elsewhere.

Based on the results of research, the kingdom of Aksum ruled the region between 80 BC to 825 AD and was one of the main powers of the world at that time, known to conquer the surrounding area and trade with the Roman Empire. The kingdom was later converted to Christianity in the 4th century.

In 2009, archaeologists interviewed local residents in the area near the discovery. They then suggested that researchers investigate a hill near the modern village of Edaga on Wednesday. As it turned out, it was a 25 m high mound of land formed by waste and debris that had accumulated over several generations of occupation.

“That is part of the local people ‘s word of mouth. They only know that there is an important place in their area without knowing why,” said Michael Harrower, professor of archeology at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the study.

From these instructions, excavations were carried out until the lost city was revealed. Radiocarbon dating shows people first started living in the city around 750 BC and remained occupied throughout the Aksumite period, capturing important moments in Ethiopian history.

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“The Aksum Empire is one of the most influential ancient civilizations in the world, as well as one of the most widely unknown. Beta Samati experienced the official conversion of Aksum from polytheism to Christianity and the rise of Islam in Arabia,” he added.

Archaeologists also found the remains of large basilica dating from the fourth century. Buildings such as these were the main places of early Christian worship in Ethiopia. The sites in Beta Samati seem to be one of the first in the kingdom of Aksumite and were built shortly after King Ezana changed the kingdom to Christianity during the middle of the fourth century AD.

“That’s why this discovery is very important,” said Aaron Butts, professor of Egyptian language from Catholic University, Washington, DC.

“Based on archeological data combined with radiocarbon dating, it shows that the basilica originated in the fourth century, ensuring that the building was among the earliest churches in sub-Saharan Africa,” he continued.

Interestingly, the relics found on the site show Roman, Pagan and Christian influences. This illustrates the cultural diversity of civilizations from that era.

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