Historic Places
The kingdom of Aksum, the first verifiable kingdom of great power to rise in Ethiopia, immerge during the first century AD. The Persian religious figure Mani listed Axum with Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great powers of his time. It was in the early 4th century that a Syro-Greek castaway, Frumentius, was taken to the court and eventually converted king Ezana to Christianity, thereby making it an official religion. For this accomplishment, he received the title "Abba Selama". At various times, including a period in the 6th century, Axum controlled most of modern-day Yemen just across the Red Sea.
During the 1st millennium Bc, Semitic people from Saba’ (Hebrew Sheba) crossed the Red Sea and conquered the Hamite on the coast of what was eventually to become the Ethiopian Empire. By the 2nd century AD the victors had established the kingdom of Aksum.  The kingdom was ruled by the Solomonid dynasty, so called because the kings claimed direct descent from the biblical king Solomon and the queen of Sheba. Aksum converted to Christianity, belonging to the same tradition as the Coptic Christians of Egypt.

Early in the 10th century the Solomonid dynasty was overthrown and replaced by the Zagwe dynasty, the ruling family of a region on the central plateau known as Lasta. Regaining control of the country around or after 1260, the Solomonids gradually succeeded in reasserting their authority over much of Ethiopia, although Muslims retained control of the coastal area and the southeast. During the reign (1434-1468) of Zara Yakub, the administration of the Ethiopian church, which had become divided by factionalism, was reformed, and religious doctrines were codified. At about this time a political system emerged that lasted until the middle of the 20th century. It was characterized by absolutist monarchs who exacted military service in return for grants of land.


The nest stop on the historic route is the graceful city of Gondar, founded by Emperor Fasilades in 1635. The city was Ethiopia’s capital until the reign of the would be reforming Emperor Tewodros II. During its long years as a capital, the settlement emerged as one of the largest and most popular cities in the realm. It was a great commercial center, trading with the rich lands south of the Blue Nile, as well as with Sudan to the West, and the Red Sea port of Massawa to the North-east.Gondar is famouse for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches. The earliest of the castles was created by Fasilades himself and is still in such an excellent state of repair that it is possible to climb its stairs all the way to the roof which commands a breathtaking view over much of the city.

The OMO valley

It would be facile to portray South Omo as some kind of living Museum. Four of Africa's major linguistic groups are represented in the region, including the so-called Omotic-speakers. All in all, depending on where one draws the lines, as many as two dozen different tribes occupy South Omo, some numbering tens of thousands, others no more than 500, each one of them culturally unique. The largest and least characteristics of these group is the Konso, skilled agriculturists who occupy the southern extension of the highlands, and who are noted for their unusual practice of sculpting eerie wooden statues to mark their grave. The most renowned of the Omotic-speakers are the Mursi, famed for their practice of inserting large clay plates in the lower lips of the women. Other important groups of the South Omo include the Hammer, Benna, Ari and Karo, whose cultures and quirks or adornment- body scarring, body painting and the like are points of interest.

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