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Ethiopia: A Journey into the Cradle of Humanity

Sep 05, 2023 02:00PM ● By Okechukwu Nzeribe

Image: Obelisks of Aksum, Ethiopia. Photograph by Fabian Lambeck. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ethiopia is a place where marvels and ancient traditions meet, from its historical sites of rock-hewn churches, stunning sceneries, and pulsating festivals, the country holds a significant position in human history as the cradle of civilization. The country's contributions to the world of art, literature, and religion have impacted human civilization for so long. 

In 1974, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson discovered the remains of a 3.2 million-year-old female hominid which was named “Lucy”. This discovery raised questions on the origins of humanity further driving the narrative that humans originated on the African continent. The discovered fossil placed Ethiopia in the crosshairs of understanding human origins.

The remains of Lucy in the National Museum of Ethiopia. Photograph by Radoslaw Botev. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Home to the Aksumite Empire of the 8th Century, the kingdom of Aksum in Ethiopia played a significant role in trade through its control of the Red Sea. The ancient Ethiopian kingdoms of which the Aksumites were one were famous for their impressive architecture and tall obelisks. Famous amongst these wonders is the 170-foot-tall Obelisks of Axum. These wonders testify to the engineering capacity of the Askum civilization.

Ethiopia is not lacking in its Christian history. The Orthodox Tewahedo Church exists to date and has a rich cultural and religious heritage that dates back centuries. Another beautiful example of early Christian architecture in Ethiopia is found in the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These monumental churches, which are cut out of solid rock, are examples of the Ethiopian civilization's highly developed engineering and aesthetic skills. 

The Church of Saint George, Lalibela. Photograph by Thomas Fuhrmann. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In Agriculture, Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of coffee. The Ethiopian tableland is believed to be the place where wild coffee plants first grew, and it has been cultivated by Ethiopians for over a thousand years. 

The development of coffee and the subsequent trade of it around the world impacted societal ethics and international trade. Ethiopia continues to be one of the producers of coffee, which is one of the most traded commodities in the world today.

Ethiopia's contribution to art and literature is another testament to its status as the cradle of civilization. The Ge’ez language or classical Ethiopic is a Semitic language dating as far back as two millennia. Found in numerous ancient literature, such as the Jewish, Christian, and also influencing early Muslim religious texts and the Qur’an, manuscripts bearing these beautifully adorned and intricate illustrations, have provided valuable historical, religious, and cultural texts understanding of humanity’s vibrant past.

Image: Danakil Depression. Photograph by Araştırmacı Ekanrın. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ethiopia is not short of tourist destinations for those looking to explore the rich history of this beautiful nation. A visit to the Danakil Depression is a must. Located in the Afar Region, would present one with the experience of one of the hottest and driest places on the face of the Earth. 

Its landscape consists of colorful sulfur springs, salt flats, and active volcanoes. The Danakil Depression is also home to Erta Ale, one of the few continuously active volcanoes in the world. 

An unforgettable experience would be to climb to the summit and watch the lava lake's raging flames. Though the surrounding offers its challenges, the location is a tourist delight and offers one the opportunity to experience Ethiopia wild and untamed. 

Discoveries in this beautiful African nation continue to strengthen Ethiopia’s claim as the birthplace of civilization. Supported by various findings such as “Lucy” and the ancient empires with traceable roots, it remains a country with a fascinating past and a long-lasting influence on civilization. 

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 Okechukwu Nzeribe works with the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, in Anambra State, Nigeria, and loves unveiling the richness of African cultures.
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