A new inscription of Xerxes from Persepolis, (The Oriental by Ernst Emil Herzfeld PDF

By Ernst Emil Herzfeld

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Extra resources for A new inscription of Xerxes from Persepolis, (The Oriental institute of the University of Chicago. Studies in ancient oriental civilization. no. 5 )

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About 1270, an Amhara noble, Yekuno Amlak, drove out the last Zagwe ruler and proclaimed himself king. His assumption of power marked yet another stage in the southward march of what may henceforth be termed the “Christian kingdom of Ethiopia” and ushered in an era of increased contact with the Levant, the Middle East, and Europe. The new dynasty that Yekuno Amlak founded came to be known as the “Solomonic” dynasty because its scions claimed descent not only from Aksum but also from King Solomon of ancient Israel.

This area was only nominally a monarchy, as rival nobles fought for the military title of ras (roughly, marshal; literally, head in Amharic) or the highest of all nonroyal titles, rasbitwoded, that combined supreme military command with the duties of first minister at court. These nobles often were able to enthrone and depose princes who carried the empty title of negusa nagast. The major peoples who made up the Ethiopian state were the Amhara and the Tigray, both Semitic speakers, and Cushitic- speaking peoples such as the Oromo and those groups speaking Agew languages, many of whom were Christian by the early 1800s.

The second of these, Susenyos (reigned 1607- 32), after a particularly fierce battle between adherents of the two faiths, abdicated in 1632 in favor of his son, Fasiladas (reigned 1632-67), to spare the country further bloodshed. The expulsion of the Jesuits and all Roman Catholic missionaries followed. This religious controversy left a legacy of deep hostility toward foreign Christians and Europeans that continued into the twentieth century. It also contributed to the isolation that followed for the next 200 years.

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