Many years ago...like...millions of years ago...a volcano erupted and spewed its guts over part of what is the Amhara region of Northern Ethiopia.
Considering its proximity to the Rift Valley...and proliferation of volcanic activity in milleniums past...not that surprising you say.
But this volcano left a flow of lava ...later divided by the River Jordon...that was later exploited in an attempt to create a "New Jerusalem."
Sounds whacky...if it was not true!
In 1185 A.D. a baby was born...which attracted a honey bee...who called his mates...and a swarm of bees surrounded the bub.
The baby's mother unperturbed...naturally regarded it as a good omen for the future of the child.
"He'll be King of Ethiopia one day" she surmized ...and of course she was right..!
She named the child Lalibela...which means "the bee recognises his sovereignty"...and as it turned out...the bee was not the only one..!
From about the end of the first millenium A.D., as Muslim powers were challenging Axumite control of the Red Sea...and Axum's control of the ivory & gold trade, the Axumite Empire moved south into the rich grazing areas of the
During 900 to 1000 A.D. chronicles record continual warfare in the region and the Axumite Empire was eroding. Agew armies were needed to survive...integrating into Axumite culture.
And then the Agew took over.
The new rulers were from the Mountains of Lasta...long a part of the Christian kingdom...founding the Zagwe Dynasty.
But the Axumites claimed descent from the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon...Who do these Agew (Zagwe) usurpers think they are?
(See my blog "Reviving the Axumite Empire.")
So...not into one-upmanship...no...didn't cross their minds...the Zagwe claimed descent from Moses..!
In the 12th Century A.D. an angel instructed King Lalibela to carve 11 churches out of the volcanic tuff...the lava flow I refer to earlier...at his then capital Roha...with instructions as to construction...and that he did...to show the majesty of God...and the majesty of his Zagwe Dynasty.
That place is now known as Lalibela...a place of pilgrimage and legend.
Legend says Lalibela had been in exile in Jerusalem in his youth and vowed on his return he would build a new Jerusalem.
Another says he attempted to build a new Jerusalem as a consequence of the
Unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule, with the exception of the 1936-41 Italian occupation during World War II. In 1974 a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile SELASSIE (wh...more info