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Études et essais

Māryām Nāzrēt (Ethiopia): The Twelfth-century Transformations of an Aksumite Site in Connection with an Egyptian Christian Community

Māryām Nāzrēt (Éthiopie) : d’un site aksumite à l’installation d’une communauté égyptienne chrétienne au XIIe siècle  
Marie-Laure Derat, Emmanuel Fritsch, Claire Bosc-Tiessé, Antoine Garric, Romain Mensan, François-Xavier Fauvelle and Hiluf Berhe
p. 473-507

Abstracts

The monument known as Māryām Nāzrēt in Ethiopia, near the city of Mekelle, has often been visited but has hitherto remained hermetic. A fresh investigation has identified the main monument as a massive cathedral erected atop a long-pre-existing Aksumite structure. This unique monument is surrounded by satellite hermitages, among which the one at Golegota shows remains of a small church sharing common architectural features with the cathedral. Cross-referencing these remains with information provided by a written document enables to ascribe the construction of this cathedral to the twelfth-century Metropolitan Mikāʾēl. Named by the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria among Egyptian monks, the Metropolitan was head of the Ethiopian Church. Māryām Nāzrēt was most certainly the episcopal seat in the twelfth and thirteenth century, during the reign of the Zāgwē dynasty, and hosted an Egyptian Christian community. At the crossroad of documented history and particular architectural trends, of contemporaneous developments in Ethiopian liturgy and church building, the paper deals with ecclesiastical and regal interaction in the region of Mekelle in the twelfth century.

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Excerpt

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Outline

The Site of Māryām Nāzrēt: Two Architectural Phases
A Church Belonging to the Coptic Architectural Tradition
Golegotā Among Other Satellites of a Larger Nāzrēt
A Note from Metropolitan Mikāʾēl: Text and Context
Māryām Nazrēt: A Foundation of Metropolitan Mikāʾēl, ca. 1149-1150
The Witness of Other Documents on the Coptic Community and Episcopal Residence at Māryām Nazrēt

First lines

Ever since the early 1940s, Māryām Nāzrēt has regularly been mentioned in the secondary literature as an important archaeological site presenting two levels of remains. The older ones seem to suggest Aksumite architecture, while the more recent ones—quite misunderstood so far—present Islamic features (Henze 2007: 1159). Antonio Mordini (1944-1945: 150 n. 2), who visited the place in 1940 and 1942, reports conducting a survey involving digging in the surroundings of the church, from which he extracted Aksumite coins. Both Mordini and Henze also note the association of the site with the toponym of ʿAddi Abun (in reference to the Ethiopian title of the metropolitan bishop of Ethiopia, the Abuna). This toponym is not just a modern reference since it was mentioned in the sixteenth century by João Bermudes (2010: 81) while he traveled through the region. Further, a list of metropolitans bears witness to the burial in Nāzrēt of Egyptian bishops appointed to Ethiopia as heads of the Church ...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Marie-Laure Derat, Emmanuel Fritsch, Claire Bosc-Tiessé, Antoine Garric, Romain Mensan, François-Xavier Fauvelle and Hiluf Berhe, « Māryām Nāzrēt (Ethiopia): The Twelfth-century Transformations of an Aksumite Site in Connection with an Egyptian Christian Community »,  Cahiers d’études africaines, 239 | 2020, 473-507.

Electronic reference

Marie-Laure Derat, Emmanuel Fritsch, Claire Bosc-Tiessé, Antoine Garric, Romain Mensan, François-Xavier Fauvelle and Hiluf Berhe, « Māryām Nāzrēt (Ethiopia): The Twelfth-century Transformations of an Aksumite Site in Connection with an Egyptian Christian Community »,  Cahiers d’études africaines [Online], 239 | 2020, Online since 03 January 2023, connection on 25 November 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/etudesafricaines/31358  ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/etudesafricaines.31358

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About the authors

Marie-Laure Derat

Orient et Méditerranée, CNRS, Paris, France.

Emmanuel Fritsch

Centre français des études éthiopiennes, Addis Abeba, Éthiopie.

Claire Bosc-Tiessé

Institut national d’histoire de l’art, CNRS, Paris, France.

Antoine Garric

Centre franco-égyptien d’étude des temples de Karnak, CNRS, Louxor, Égypte.

Romain Mensan

Travaux et recherches archéologiques sur les cultures, les espaces et les sociétés, Toulouse, France.

François-Xavier Fauvelle

Collège de France, Paris, France.

Hiluf Berhe

Université de Mekelle, Éthiopie.

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Copyright

© Cahiers d’Études africaines

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